St. Francis (PHX)
Looking forward to trying St. Francis this Wednesday. Not sure I would bring my two boys here for dinner (terrible two's and all), but a quick glance at the online menu noticed cheese pizza and a green salad offered at no charge under the "kiddos" section. Nice touch. I am thinking the fig/goat cheese/arugula pizza will be ordered!
We went the first time without our child. Doing so allowed us to take the meal at a relaxed pace and sit at the bar seats where we could watch the ktichen action. Nevertheless, we may bring our own toddler in the future -- especially if dining during off-peak hours. The menu we were handed listed not only pizza, but also pot roast as a complimentary entree for children. Of course, I think a lot of kids would also love the roast chicken on the menu, and two little ones could probably split a serving of it.
My wife and I had dinner there tonight. We were both pleased. Hohokam's observations sort of rang true for us, but not in a negative way. In find at most American / European restaurants that the bookends of the meal (apps and dessert) pack the most flavor while the entree is more of a substantial hunk of protein or starch unlikely to offend. After all, most customers will tolerate a small starter with a taste they don't care for, but will send back an unsatisfactory entree. For that reason, chefs are more likely to play it safe with the main course. As for the wine, I found the list small but of high quality. Big wine lists overload me with too much information and too many choices.
We had sweet corn chowder and fingerling potatoes as starters. The latter was perfect in all ways that one anticipate for such a dish. The potatoes were more surprising. Their presentation was almost like tempura, and they were flavored with fresh rosemary and sage leaves. Very nice.
Our entrees were the seafood soup (or stew or bowl or whatever) and halibut. Both were quite good. We also had some polenta as a shared side and a chocolate hazelnut parfait for dessert. Service was excellent, and we sat at a four-seat bar that looked directly into the kitchen. I got to observe the line cooks making several instances of a fig, arugula, and goat cheese flatbread that looked like an incredible shared starter or meatless entree. That's definitely something I'll try next time.
The renovation of the building is impressive with an expansive patio and an open bar facing Camelback. There's complimentary valet parking, and the restaurant is only 1.5 blocks from the Central/Camelback light rail station.
We went about 3 weeks ago, which was maybe just a week or 2 after they had opened.
We enjoyed our starter and our dessert, but I was somewhat underwhelmed by the main courses we ordered (wood oven seafood "stew"; pork chop) and by the limited wine selection. I recognized, of course, that it was much too early to pass judgment on the place. To their credit, the staff were actively seeking feedback and seemed to be taking critiques seriously without being defensive. They conveyed my comments to the kitchen, and (I think) they implied that the wine selection was going to be expanded.
On our next visit, I think I'll suggest to my partner that we play it safe and double up on the apps but split an entree. I'd like to give St. Francis another chance or two, but I'm reluctant to spend as much as we did on our first visit until I can be reasonably sure that the kitchen can deliver the goods.
I recommend giving the place a try, but keep in mind that the kitchen crew might still be finding their sea legs.