Review: Posh (Scottsdale)
Posh, which according to the dictionary means “smart and fashionable,” apparently also means “really good but no menu.” Set on the ground floor of Optima CamelView, the architecturally striking Hanging Gardens of Babylon-esque luxo-loft development on Scottsdale Road, Posh will defy your notion of what a restaurant is and challenge your palate.
If you’ve read any press on Posh, you already know that patrons choose from a list of proteins, comment about any particular likes and/or dislikes, choose the number of courses you want and Chef/Owner Joshua Hebert and his team take care of the rest.
Although the concept might sound gimmicky, the fact is, Joshua and his crew and turning out some really good food, and some of it touches on greatness.
Case in point: the foie gras torchon with smoked blueberries, and brulee of spun sugar. I’ve always felt like Kevin Binkley consistently turns out some of the best foie gras in town, but this preparation was better than anything I’ve ever had at Binkley’s with the exception of his “Menage a Foie.” Creamy, delicately sweet and wonderful in flavor. Chef Hebert said it well: “Foie gras is meat-flavored butter.”
There were many other high points. My wife and I deliberated over whose soup course was better; I had the artichoke bisque and she had gazpacho. Although she hates basil (should have mentioned that on the non-menu), the subtle basil flavor gave this gazpacho an excellent, if non-traditional, aroma and flavor. And the “Beet-Flavored Fruit Leather with Goat Cheese” amuse bouche made for a mouth watering start to the evening.
Less successful was the Miso-Glazed Pork Belly, which lacked the crispy texture on top and was over-sauced. My Frog’s Leg with Peas and Morels was a nice change of pace and something only seen on the Don & Charlie’s menu down the street, but it was slightly undercooked and the morels were overpowering for such a delicate meat.
Although I specifically noted that I didn’t want venison, I got it anyway. Chalk it up to the fact that the kitchen was dealing with its first busy week after Howard Seftel’s very positive review. And, candidly, I’m really glad they screwed up because I really loved the venison. Served with a rhubarb sauce and Japanese eggplant, it was probably the first venison I’ve ever enjoyed and was cooked to a perfect medium rare.
The Soft Shell Crabs were served with a cauliflower puree and fresh Squash Blossoms from McClendon Farms, but I really thought that the Squash Blossoms should have been cooked. Instead, I’m fairly sure they were there as a colorful accent but I ate them anyway.
One of the absolute highlights of the meal was the Cheese Course. I’m kicking myself for not writing down what cheeses were served because they were all delicious. One was a blue that was VERY “blue” and had an almost crispy texture, one was a soft cheese and there was also a Spanish cheese. I don’t know what they were but they were all great, the presentation beautiful, and a very welcome surprise. The cheese was followed by a Meyer Lemon Lollipop made on-the-fly using the Grant Achatz-inspired “anti-griddle”…fabulous.
For a restaurant so new, staffed by such a young team, I have to give Joshua credit for getting so many of the details right. His wife, who was helping with the front of the house, was gracious and checked-in on us to make sure the evening was going well. The wine pairings were thoughtful and unique, ranging from Alsace to Greece and many places in between. Joshua was friendly and engaging, even though he went to Brophy. (it’s an inside joke) And the room has a very cool urban vibe that befits its surroundings.
Will the concept of “improvisational cuisine” stand the test of time? It’s very tough to say and if I had a crystal ball you can be sure that I wouldn’t be using it to predict the future of a restaurant. But I wouldn’t bet against Hebert and his team. Their energy, youthfulness, and desire to push the boundaries may serve them very well.
Henry Louis Mencken once said “The one permanent emotion of the inferior man is fear – fear of the unknown, the complex, the inexplicable.” The folks at Posh will challenge your fear of the unknown, and you’ll thank them for doing it.
Additional details and photos available at www.ericeatsout.com
I had a thread to help me narrow down choices for a splurge dinner on a recent trip to Scottsdale but since POSH ended up being the spot of choice, thought I should add it in here.
I have to say that I really wanted to love this place - lovely space, fun seating to watch the kitchen, nice enough wine list (a champagne BTG would have been nicer!) but at the end of the night, only one course out of five and the lovely goodie bag of cookies/biscotti really thrilled.
Popcorn soup - fun idea but the viscous texture of the puree and along with soft kernels of popped corn guaranteed to stick in every molar made it something I do not need to have again.
Bruleed Fois Gras - excellent foie and, again, a fun idea but for me it was all richness and sweetness(spun sugar on top of bruleed sugar with reduced fruit sauce) and only half a strawberry to provide any texture or brightness. Would have made a great dessert - definitely better that the dessert I had!
Gnocchi with curried coconut cream sauce with summer squash, chantrelles - It took a few bites for this dish to grow on me. I was not thrilled by another sweet-sounding dish right on the heels of the foie but the delicacy and richness came together perfectly and I almost licked the bowl. The only drawback was that the sadly few chantrelles were so lightly cooked as to be a little crunchy still. Perhaps that was intended to keep the dish fresher.
Fig charlotte and Chocolate Sandwich - Seriously underwhelmed with this one. The charlotte featured watery figs with a filling so overwhelmingly almondy, it probably would have overpowered even figs at the height of flavor. The sandwich was kind of two rectangles of standard-tasting chocolate with a dab of white chocolate mousse in between. Just completely not worth the calories - and I don't even count calories.
They were super sweet after noticing that the plate was set aside after two bites and offered a replacement. Desperate for something fresh that would echo my favorite course, I asked for a light and crunchy salad.
Red leaf lettuce and roasted sweet peppers - My main issue with the salad was that despite the baby-sized lettuces (approximately 8 small to very small leaves with a 1/2 teaspoon of julienned roasted red and yellow peppers) was that they were tough. My first bite - one of the mid-sized leaves - took way longer to chew than a leaf of lettuce ever should. And again with a sweeter dressing!
In their favor, the server mentioned that they were busier that night than they had ever been so maybe it was just my bad luck. I probably won't rush back to find out though. :(
I notice that Posh is doing a special early bird 4 course menu for $35 for the summer. Do you think this would be worth it or would we leave hungry? We haven't been yet so thought this would be a good introduction but also thinking it might be best to just splurge and do the extended course menu instead.
Nice review, ejs, I'm glad you liked the foie and the overall meal. I really like this concept, to take the night off from making decisions and let it play out as it will. Glad to hear the Seftel review gave them a bump - it was never half-filled the two times I've been in. Hope to get back real soon.
Sounds like a very nice meal. I really enjoy the concept of surrendering yourself to whatever the chef feels like making you. It's part of what I love about some of my favorite places that explicity encourage it, like Tucson's Cafe Poca Cosa, and other places that may not mention it directly but have chefs that, if requested, have the confidence to piece together a great meal that may very well exceed anything you might order for yourself. It's Posh's taking this to a whole new "in-your-face" level that's getting me excited. Add it to my list...
Thanks for the review, as always.
Thank you for the informative and detailed review. I've read some reviews, but your's is the best.
Hey, if someone can beat NOCA, or Chef Binkley, with foie gras, I am in. I've only had but a very few, that were better, and they were not on this continent.
Gotta' dine at Posh. Wife has a b'day coming up, so maybe this will be our choice, thanks to your review.