More changes afoot on Stetson Drive (Scottsdale)
Matt Taylor of Metro leaving town, and Payton Curry moving on to Caffe Boa.
Any impressions from anyone of the new places that have opened recently to fill some of the gaps: Tutto, Acua, etc.?
It's right on the ground floor of the condo building, facing Scottsdale Rd. Free (valet) parking for Posh customers underground.
The restaurant was very good although there were hits and misses. I'll do a full writeup in a bit but there were some stellar dishes (like the wild boar bacon) and some fairly pedestrian dishes (like sirloin). It's an innovative "menu" approach where you cross out protein you don't want out of a list of 15 or so choices, indicate preferred cooking temp for fish and meat, whether you will eat raw fish or meat, and any dislikes or other directions, along with number of courses (4 to 8, with or without wine pairing). That is about it.
So you don't get to pick what you want really, just what you don't want. That is both good (I like surprises) and bad (I don;t like boring surprises).
Just trying to figure out why the chef served what he did was enigmatic as well. We were a 4 top. For the "salad" course, 3 of us got a very refreshing shredded greens and blueberry salad. My wife got popcorn soup (lovely creamy corn soup with a couple of popcorn as garnish). The guys got the same fish course, the ladies each had something different. Four different meat servings (one of which was a piece of med-well sirloin served to me...although my indicated preference was rare to med-rare). Four different dessert servings. Have to check my notes as I'm missing a course...oh ya, how can I forget. The foie. Nicely seared, way too sweet (imo). It had a caramelized coating, was topped with spun sugar, and paired with a late harvest chenin that just didnt have the acidic cut to go with the luscious fat and the sugar. I still ate it all. 8-)
Overall, having 4 different small plates led to some dish envy (we did share bites here and there). If I go again, it will be just with my wife so we can split each dish. That would be fun I think.
It seems most of the Southbridge-area developments were launched with higher-end aspirations just as the economy went dire. Thus the area has suffered from too many destination places in one area, with too many new places competing for attention and thus didn't have a chance to develop regulars.
Similarly, there's not much of a draw for people who want a decent value meal. I work nearby with teachers, nurses and others who want to meet up weekly for a good, yet wallet friendly lunch and there's not much there. And that's too bad as the daytime crowd can turn into the nightime bigger spenders. Lunch at Metro - a burger & fries + drink is a $20 outing.
I'm not faulting any one place, but it's nice to have a mix of choices. Insert a Carolina's, Fry Bread House, Chuck Box, Lees, etc into the mix and there would be a stream of locals heading over and being exposed to other offerings.
Digestif is now closed (but plans are to reopen it as a different restaurant).
We went for a final dinner last week, and Payton had mentioned this past Sunday was his last day. Glad we were able to get a visit in before he left. Fun time - sat at the counter next to Carl of Seacat Gardens and had a great meal. Highlights were the spicy Tabasco/panko-crusted "Popcorn Sweetbreads" with Calabrian chile aioli, and confit tuna and caper bruschetta, but also loved the fresh fettucini with grilled chicken and pesto, and a bowl of garlicky littleneck clams. Enjoyed a couple of Demon Vert cocktails too - gin, absinthe, velvet falernum. Had a chance to chat with Chef Curry and his lovely new bride for a while (ha - why are we always the last to leave?) and I'm really looking forward to visiting Caffe Boa and trying the menu he is creating there.
On other circuitous-Stetson-related news, Pavle is leaving Prado to open up his own restaurant. His last day will be November 15.
7114 E. Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85351
Where will Pavle wind up?
I am simultaneously saddened at the downturn of the Kasperski fortunes and happy the the Wisnewskis landed Payton Curry. Caffe Boa has been consistent in their commitment to local fresh ingredients and bringing good food to the people. I have been a fan for what seems like half my life. Bringing house-made charcuterie to their menu only makes me happy; I only hope they don't forego their other specials; I will cry if they let their osso bucco fall by the wayside. Not to mention -- Caffe Boa is easier for me to get to for happy hour. I just owe all of my early groundbreaking foodie discoveries to that corner of restaurant row.
I would like to mention I was at Cowboy Ciao for lunch last week and the mushroom pan-fry and cuppa red chocolate are as good as ever. I had a little hitch in my throat when I went by the old Sea Saw space. The experiences I had there, the tastes I experienced .... it's like someday driving by Binkley's and finding it paved over.