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An Early Look at "FnB" - Scottsdale, AZ

Shame on me for eating at FnB on its opening night. Condemn me to hell for eating there on opening night with the secret intent to write about it here. Clearly, I’m showing my amateur status. I’ve never been to a restaurant on opening night and expected a litany of service hiccups and culinary screw-ups. It doesn’t matter that FnB is owned/managed by Pavle Milic, the charismatic consummate professional with a Rain Man-like knack for remembering names. It doesn’t matter that the small kitchen is the domain of Charleen Badman, who has enough laurels that she could rest on them indefinitely if she wanted. And it doesn’t matter that schmooze-mistress Marianne Belardi is working the room. The fact is: it’s opening night. Stuff happens.

Yet, remarkably, stuff DIDN’T happen at FnB on opening night.

Pavle Milic was in his element, tending to his new creation and keeping an eye on every move…quick to greet patrons as they entered. His wife was there also, introducing herself and expediting food from the kitchen. (Should we tell CPS that mom and dad were both working and the kids were locked in the walk-in freezer?!) Chef Badman was calm and cool, working in concert with Sous Chef Sasha Levine.

The room isn’t dramatically different from its Sea Saw and Digestif incarnations, but it has warmth that was previously absent, as well as a tad bit more space. The tile on the floor is spectacular, clearly a product of Milic’s perfectionism. The lighting is soft, and the space feels more “New York City neighborhood place” than “Scottsdale hipster hangout.” That’s a good thing.

And then there’s the food. We are talking about a restaurant, right? We started with Benton Farm’s Country Ham, Cheddar and Pickled Vegetables. Simple, clean flavors. Great to nosh on pre-meal. We also had the Crispy Rock Shrimp & Jalapeno Tartar. I love rock shrimp, and these flash-fried crustaceans were light, flavorful and completely lacking any trace of oil from the fryer. The Jalapeno Tartar had a nice burn to it, which I loved. I wasn’t as crazy about the Sweet Squash Ravioli with Horseradish and Almonds, but I’ve already heard many raves about it. Kudos to the Chef for the interesting pairing of horseradish with the ravioli; the combination worked well but I didn’t feel dazzled.

The star of the starters was the Fried Green Tomatoes with Green Goddess Dressing and Feta. Okay, so I’m a sucker for anything with “Green Goddess” on it but, the fact is, this was absolutely delicious. The tomatoes were firm and bursting with tomato juiciness, and the dressing had a slightly tart flavor that played nicely with the saltiness of the feta cheese and the acidity of the green tomatoes. Order this appetizer.

The four of us ended-up ordering each entrée on the menu. I had the Braised Lamb Shank with Chickpeas, Couscous and Pickled Turnips. The pickled turnips were an absolutely brilliant addition to this dish. Their tartness cut some of the richness of the lamb shank and resulted in an absolutely perfect entrée. The slightly Mediterranean flavor and preparation seemed a bit out of place on the menu and I almost hesitated ordering it, but the end result was truly spectacular and definitely one of the better lamb preparations I’ve had in recent memory.

I can’t speak to the other entrees because I did not try them, but the Roast Jidori Chicken with Spaetzle, Wild Broccoli and New Garlic (as opposed to old?) was deemed very crispy yet still juicy and flavorful.

My wife, who makes trout often at home, loved her Boneless Trout with Sunchokes, Caramelized Onions and Dill…and the portion was gargantuan. The Flatiron Steak with Radish Salsa Verde and Fingerling Potatoes was deemed very good and I noticed many of them leaving the kitchen. My only critique: offer more bread with the entrees, because the sauces would be great for sopping up with some good, crusty bread.

We skipped dessert and headed over to The Sugar Bowl. Granted, I’m not much of a dessert guy but nothing excited us enough to stay for dessert and, besides, it was nice to get outside and enjoy the cool evening.

FnB has amazing promise. Like Noca, it can be a destination meal, or a great place to nosh at the counter and have a drink. There were several little touches that I liked: the selection of magazines and newspapers at the entrance, making it inviting to solo diners and giving it a “neighborhood” feel. Orders were taken by hand, on paper. While seemingly insignificant, it says to me that they care about getting you order right and, besides, there is a certain quaintness about it.

FnB is an enchanting concept: homey, comfortable, warm…with a little something for everyone. I would expect that the small menu will expand a bit as the kitchen and servers get into a groove but I sure like the idea of a lean-and-mean operation with a focus on quality food and sincere hospitality.

----------------------------

FnB

7133 E. Stetson Drive

Scottsdale, AZ 85251

480-254-7133

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  1. Forgot to mention that photos of the meal are posted at www.ericeatsout.com

    1. Thanks for being willing to take one for the team, though it sounds like you didn't have to suffer too much. With the promise of new menu items at Cowboy Ciao and the apparently successful launch of FnB, perhaps the Kasperski empire is poised for a rebound.

      Side note: "new garlic" = green garlic = spring garlic = garlic that has yet to start forming a bulb. I think Maya's Farm was selling it at the farmer's markets this past spring.

      -----
      Cowboy Ciao
      7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

      2 Replies
      1. re: hohokam

        Hohokam - There was no sacrifice involved whatsoever! Thanks for the clarification on "new garlic." I like to eat, but don't always know what I'm eating!

        EJS.

        1. re: hohokam

          The new garlic is spring garlic, a young a early garlic with the greens still attached. We sold it last spring and we ahve it again right now. Chefs love the bright taste and you can find it at our farmer's markets as well. I added some to turkey stock this year on T-Day and it was exceptional.

        2. Great review, and enjoyed your pictures too! We weren't able to make it for opening night, so really looking forward to a visit within the next couple of weeks.

          1. Thanks for the early look. We're heading to FnB Friday night, and I'm looking forward to sitting at the bar and watching the chefs at work.

            Barry

            1. I was able to try FnB over the weekend, and also had a great experience. I completely agree with ejs on the restaurant space itself. The place has great atmosphere--the splash of color from the tile, the cream colored walls, the dimly lit spherical ceiling lights, tealight candles, etc. Really works beautifully, and has great character while still seeming very relaxed/laid-back. Pavle doubled as our server for the night, and did a great job, clearly wanting to ensure everything was perfect. It was also fun to hear his descriptions of the dishes, as he's obviously quite proud of what they're doing. And rightfully so...

              I think all the dishes that I tried were already detailed above, so no need to go over them all again. I will say, however, that everything was uniformly excellent. From the delicious olive bread and oil (devoured several plates), to the exceptionally tender jidori chicken, and flatiron (really enjoyed the 'liveliness' and freshness of the salsa verde combined with the beef--cooked perfectly btw). I also had a few bites of the cauliflour au gratin and the brussels sprouts sides, and could have actually eaten a couple bowls of these. Both sides tasted great, and it was really nice to have vegetable side dishes that were interesting, and well cooked and prepared. Although too full for desert, they all sounded really enticing and were tough to resist. I'm especially looking forward to giving the cherry-chocolate bread pudding a try.

              I'll definitely be back, and am very excited to have FnB around. The place has an impressive level of charm and service, and fantastic food to match.

              1. Hello everyone this is Pavle...I wanted to make a quick correction on the restaurant's phone number. The number is 480-425-WINE (9463).
                Thank you for coming in to give us try!

                1. Just adding that FnB's website is up:

                  http://www.fnbrestaurant.com/

                  AND this weekend they're debuting an all-Arizona wine list. Very excited about that, cool idea.
                  http://www.facebook.com/FnBScottsdale...

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Rubee

                    looking forward to trying it. although i will say, as a web developer, it bugs me when your restaurant debuts it's website without the most critical piece of information - THE MENU!

                    1. re: azhotdish

                      Timely! Just received the menu in a newsletter. I want it all.

                      http://www.cowboyciao.com/enewsletter...

                  2. Stopped into FnB last night for an drink / app before heading to Petite Maison for staff meal. Loved the place, and looking forward to returning for dinner soon. My only complaint would be that right now the glassware for the b-t-g wines, which are now all from AZ (minus the Gruet from NM), is in need of a serious upgrade. The bread and oil are really nice as previously pointed out. I ordered the fried green tomatoes w/green goddess and feta ($11). My southern family could learn a thing or two from these, which were lightly fried in polenta flour and crisp. I had a glass of the Arizona Stronghold "Nachise" ($10), which is a great example of the quality wines being produced in this state. Mari and Pavle are as nice as can be, and it was great to see everyone smiling. They do an industry thing from 10p-midnight, similar to Petite Maison, which last night was a tomatillo salsa w/chips, chilequiles, some type of meatballs, and two beers (one was Negro Modelo) for $2. Very cool. The music also changes to something more upbeat.

                    I hope this place does well! I will be back very soon.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: azhotdish

                      Do recall how much the food was that's offered at the late night/industry meal? Were the prices reduced relative to the main menu?

                      Glad you had a good time, I'm really looking forward to heading back sometime soon.

                      1. re: crsin

                        the chilaquiles and meatballs were $10.

                        1. re: azhotdish

                          Thanks. Your post prompted me to head over there for their industry specials last night. Two of us shared the chips and salsa, meatballs, and chilaquiles, and all of the items were really delicious, and we left stuffed. The total came out to around $16 per person, including one of their $2 beers, tax and tip. It was a serious bargain. I'll definitely be doing it again.

                          1. re: crsin

                            FYI crsin you can follow PM on twitter and get their daily staff meals!

                            1. re: drewb123

                              Yup, I try to check it anytime there's a chance I can make it there. Thanks

                              Not sure if FnB does the same (likely on their facebook?)

                              1. re: crsin

                                Yes, FnB also posts their weekend late-night specials on Facebook, and Twitter (via @ciaomari).

                    2. Finally got to FnB this week and had a great time Tuesday night.

                      Pavle was his usual charming, welcoming self, and we also met his lovely wife Emily, who greeted us at the door. We waited a few seconds while they cleared a couple of seats at the bar, sat down and ordered a bottle of one of my favorite Arizona whites - Pillsbury "Casa Blanca" pinot gris, and settled in with the menu.

                      We started with a plate of Benton's ham. We're huge fans of this delicious country ham from Tennessee, and at FnB they serve it in thin velvety slices with Beehive cheddar, toasted ciabatta, and pickled baby vegetables. I could have ordered another. Next up were the popular fried green tomatoes - lots of flavor (they soak the tomato slices in buttermilk for up to a day) with a crispy cornmeal batter, topped with a handful of greens (I forget, maybe arugula?) with Green Goddess dressing with just the right balance of tarragon, and crumbled feta. Great start, and nice portions too. I could have made a meal of just the appetizers.

                      But I was glad I didn't, because for my entree, I just loved the leeks smothered in mozzarella and topped with a fried egg and crispy breadcrumbs. I mentioned to Chef Badman that with the sweet tender leeks, oozy egg yolk, creamy moz, and crunch from the bread crumbs, it was perfect comfort food, really satisfying. Hmmm. I want it now. I'm not a big steak eater but I likewise loved E's flat-iron steak. In fact, I couldn't stop stealing bites. Cooked on the new mesquite grill FnB just acquired, it was juicy and perfectly medium rare, sliced and topped with a bright salsa verde, and, although it doesn't happen often, I love when my husband raves about vegetables. In this case, it was the delicious white and purple cauliflower that came with. We were really already too full but had to share the recommended bread pudding, made with that fantastic chocolate cherry sourdough bread from the Phoenician Bakery. A mulled cider with rum and chatting with engaging Mari finished up a great dinner on a chilly night.

                      I agree with others about the vibe here, there's something so welcoming and warm about FnB. Details show too - from that pretty mosaic floor to those frosted globe lights which my husband commented on were bright enough to see the menu (a pet peeve of his), but still dim enough to cast a nice glow on the room. I also love how the bar surrounding the open kitchen contributes to a convivial atmosphere, yet you can also have a romantic dinner for two at a cozy table tucked alongside the painted brick walls. Casual, yet sophisticated, this is my kind of place.

                      Great spot, we'll definitely be back, and very impressive for a restaurant that has been open for only a few weeks.

                      Also, love the AZ wine list here - great selection of some of my favorites. IIRC, some wineries featured were Dos Cabezas, Pillsbury, Page Springs, Callaghan, Arizona Stronghold, and Canelo Hills. We're always introducing out-of-town friends to Arizona wine when they visit, and FnB is now the perfect place to bring them.

                      Recent article:
                      Arizona Wines Star at FnB
                      http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepub...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Rubee

                        I love your review of this. It encapsulates everything down to a tee that I felt too. The ham and cheese plate and fried green tomatoes are next on my list to try and I said the same thing to Charleen about the leek dish. Damn! Now I want 'em... Chris had the steak too and not only did I pick off his plate and eat his leftovers the next day but he said this was the first time he thought he had eaten cauliflower due to his former (yes, former, thank you!) pickiness, but he LOVED it. I previously had the mulled cider and bread pudding and they were not to shabby (aka wonderful).

                        And you are spot on with the ambience. The lighting is so comforting and perfect still for menu reading. The music is perfect. I think we heard Nina Simone and other various forms of sultry blues to swinging jazz while we were there. Both times I have been there I appreciated this.

                        And, of course. The fact that they are utilizing local product and an exclusive AZ wine menu, well, AMEN!

                        I am venturing to say that this may be my favorite Spaghetti Western Productions restaurant yet-good job guys! See you there soon Rubee!

                      2. Thanks so much, ejs. We just returned from a trip to Phoenix and tried FnB after reading your review and comments of other. We absolutely loved the place and can't stop telling people about it. I had the leeks with the egg on tops which I'm still dreaming about. Everything was terrific and the people who work there are so friendly and fun. My husband insisted we return a second time just for the butterscotch pudding. Can't wait to go back!

                        1. Had a chance this past weekend for another visit to FnB to check out the new menu items, and between my two girlfriends and I, we tried almost all of them.

                          The soup of the day was made with ricebeans (a small, slender, white bean about the size of a grain of rice) in a flavorful pork and chicken stock packed with diced carrots, swiss chard, escarole, and tomatoes, and garnished with parm and croutons. The entree special of the night was a 10 oz. mesquite-grilled ribeye served with snap peas, fingerling potatoes, and an olive relish, though we didn't order it.

                          Loved the new appetizers. We started with a special of McLendon’s mesquite-grilled asparagus on a bed of cauliflower puree, topped with fried beet chips and sprinkled with chervil. FnB really makes me fall in love with vegetables. Next to share were pickled beets, hazelnuts, and black-pepper ricotta on crostini garnished with pickled fennel, and the excellent duck and port pate with green peppercorns, served with toasted ciabatta, roasted cippolinis and pickled vegs and half a pickled egg. It is so hard not to order those braised leeks, but this time finally tried a new vegetable to me - the fresh broccoli spigarello - sauteed with garlic and chili infused oil. Lastly, ordered the roasted Jidori chicken which is as flavorful, crispy, and juicy as everyone says, served with spaetzle, wild mushrooms and green garlic. Another favorite was the new pasta dish - garganelli (a handmade rolled pasta) with Romanesco cauliflower, Meyer lemon, parm and crispy prosciutto.

                          We also made sure we were late enough to check out the late-night menu (after 10 pm). Last weekend I ordered the spicy Jidori wings ($3) and they also had burgers ($10) with Double Check Ranch beef on MJ English muffins with McLendon’s vidalia onion rings and a choice of cheddar or blue cheese. Burger looked great, but didn't try it. Although AZHotDish made the mistake of sitting next to me so I stole one of his delicious onion rings.

                          We of course washed this down with Arizona wine. For me, I began with a glass of Page Springs "Vino de Barrio Blanca" (Sauvignon Blanc/Malvasia/Chard/Gewurztraminer blend) and then Dick Erath's Cimarron "Monsoon Red" (Barbera/Sangiovese/Zin blend). Though I have to recommend the cocktails here as well. On past visits, I've started with the Ginhound with gin, grapefruit, mint, and candied peel. After dinner on this trip, I had a glass of the fantastic Garnier VEP green chartreuse as a digestif, and later asked Pavle's wife Emily to surprise me with a cocktail. Her choice was a cocktail with vodka, pink grapefruit juice, and Aperol. Perfect!

                          Another great night and another wonderful time. I love this place.

                          -----
                          FnB
                          7133 E Stetson Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Rubee

                            We just got home from our second very enjoyable visit to FnB. We started by sharing an apple, endive, pecan & Maytag blue cheese salad that was a wonderful balance of sweet, rich and spicy. Oops, did I forget to mention that before the salad we actually enjoy some freshly pulled mozarella? What a fabulous treat! It's always great fun to see the mozarella being pulled - but even more fun to get to enjoy it so fresh.

                            I found the garganelli to be the perfect pasta dish for my taste: flavorful roasted romanesco, crispy prosciutto di Parma, meyer lemon & parmesean with this delightful pasta - I can't imagine how it could have been better. I shared a little with husband, but not much! He had his hands full with the Ribeye. Cooked to perfect med-rare over the mesquite grill, as Rubee described above with farm fresh snap peas & fingerling potatoes on the side with olive relish atop the steak. Chef Charleen really has a touch with the vegetables. I recognized those fingerling potatoes from the Farmer's Market -- I bought some myself last week and they did not taste nearly as good -- or is it just that everything tastes better when someone else prepares it and serves it to you in such a fun, friendly environment? Could be!

                            We finished up with a wonderfully sweet & tart (mostly sweet) Meyer lemon sticky cake with sweet coconut & strawberry 'compote' - topped with vanilla ice cream. It was hard to select just one dessert, but this one hit the spot this evening.

                            If I can manage to stay up past my bedtime this weekend, I'm very tempted to visit for their late-night menu -- they are planning to serve Sancocho. Which I had Pavle explain to me TWICE, it sounded so good.

                            1. re: MesaChow

                              I love it that we all gravitated to the fingerlings at the farmer's market. I made them Monday night with roast chicken and a simple salad using McClendon's amazing greens. They were the best potatoes to come out of my kitchen in a long time. I can't wait to try FnB.

                            2. re: Rubee

                              Thought I'd mention that FnB is featuring a "Meet the Wine Maker Series". Three courses with wine pairings, $48 pp. I already have my reservations for the Canelo Hills (from Sonoita) dinner next week, I especially like their sparkling chardonnay.

                              May 11th : Canelo Hills - Joan and Tim Mueller
                              May 18th : Dos Cabezas - Todd Bostock
                              May 25th : Oak Creek - Firian Wahl
                              June 1st : Pillsbury - Sam Pillsbury
                              June 8th : Kief-Joshua - Kief Manning
                              June 15th : Keeling-Schaefer - Rod K. and Jan S.
                              June 22nd : Callaghan - Kent Callaghan
                              June 29th : Arizona Stronghold - Mike Herrick
                              July 6th : Javelina - Rod and Cynthia Snapp
                              July 13th : Caduceus - Tasting room manager
                              July 20th : Alcantara - Bob and Barbara Predmore

                              More info:
                              http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/bell...

                              -----
                              FnB
                              7133 E Stetson Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                            3. Not having eaten a full meal at FnB I still have to highly recommend it as I went in on a weekend night for their staff meal. We had korean noodles with braised short rib and a fried egg on top for ten dollars which was a steal for the amount of short rib in the dish. The short rib was great and the broth with the noodles struck was full of flavor with just enough kick to enjoy but not detract from the rest of the dish. Also, we were offered a special grilled cheese sandwich made with a beehive cheddar(i think it was their smoked promontory but don't quote me) for five dollars which was amazing.

                              Unfortunately after a long night at work I don't remember all the details, including what wines we had, but I had some sort of white blend that was exactly what I told the server I was looking for. Also after chatting with our server it was cool to hear how the servers and the chefs all have worked together for so long, really shows to me that the owners and chefs know what they're doing and treat their employees well.

                              Our service was great, we talked to everyone in the kitchen, there was a really great crowd drinking FnB's 2 dollar beer specials, and overall I wouldn't have changed anything(except maybe them not serving the korean noodles every week).

                              1. Winemaker Dinner was worth every penny. One of the best meals we have ever eaten from beginning to end. AZ wines are amazing. Thanks for introducing us to them Pavle!