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Jan 27, 2010 07:23 AM

Culinary Dropout, New Restaurant - Scottsdale

Is anyone planning to go to the opening of the new Fox restaurant "Culinary Dropout" tonight? I'm thinking of bringing an out-of-towner there Friday night if it's any good... so if anyone checks it out, please post a review!

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  1. We went to the preview lunch yesterday and REALLY liked it. I've only been to a couple Fox establishments (North and one visit to Sauce), but really liked the cool but comfy vibe here, the menu, and a great cocktail list with some of my classic favorites (Moscow Mule, Pisco Sour, Last Word, French 75), but also creative ones like the bacon-infused Absolut Bloody Mary, and my favorite so far - the "Sauerkraut". Unique, but surprisingly delicious and well balanced gin-based cocktail with St. Germain elderflower, lemon juice, simple syrup, orange marmalade, and Dijon. My husband was leery to try mine, but agreed it was his favorite yesterday. I also enjoyed the raspberry caipirinha - perfect to start with on a sunny afternoon.

    We settled in on the comfy banquette and took quite a few minutes as there were so many things that appealed to us on the menu (sheep's milk ricotta app with olive oil and crusty bread, artichoke salad, pork belly Cubano, shimp po'boy, turkey pastrami on pretzel bread, short rib orecchiette...)

    E ended up starting with the soup of the day - New England clam chowder, and then the bistro steak with blue cheese sauce. Both were perfectly cooked to his specifications, medium rare on the juicy steak, and "well done" on the fries. I started with fresh briny oysters from British Columbia/Paradise Cove that came with cocktail sauce and mignonette (though sans shallots). For lunch, I feasted on choices from the Antipasti section, and chose bresaola, Jamón ibérico (which just melted on the tongue), & sopressata, with port salut & morbier cheese. The plates were served with crispy grissini breadsticks and these fantastic Luxardo cherries that were so good with the creamy cheeses.

    Too full for dessert, so will save that for next time. I should also mention that we had excellent service from Georgia, who also had great recommendations and knew her cocktails. Front of the house was also enthusiastic and it's always nice to be greeted so warmly when you walk in the door. The atmosphere is dark with cushy leather banquettes, but brightened with the shimmery green chandeliers and wall of windows, a bit "modern rock and roll". The patio looked likewise comfortable with fabric-covered banquettes and low tables, and the large bar will be especially nice when they can roll up the garage doors.

    We're heading to the preview of "Blood into Wine" next month at the Scottsdale W and my husband liked Culinary Dropout so much, he suggested that we return for dinner after. Sounds good to me.

    (For you Arizona wine fans, "Blood into Wine" info, tickets still available):

    Culinary Dropout
    7135 E Camelback Rd #125, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

    5 Replies
    1. re: Rubee

      Wow, great review, and the cocktails sound delicious! I definitely want to go now, although I'm a little nervous that they might not have very much for non-meat-eaters (although I eat fish & shellfish). Hopefully they'll have at least one entree geared towards the veg crowd.

      1. re: coastalgypsy

        There seem to be quite a few options, especially if you eat fish and shellfish - a couple of salads (I almost ordered the artichoke one) and I was also eyeing the shrimp po'boy and the fish and chips. Other seafood options include mussels, salmon, sole, and tuna. Also, saw grilled vegetable side dishes and a butternut squash cannelloni.

        Here's a link to the menu:

        1. re: Rubee

          Thanks for that link - looks like plenty of great options! I just called and they said they don't take reservations... so I guess on Friday night I'll have to hope for the best - but with those great drinks at the bar (acai mojito!!!ginger margarita!!!), the wait would be tolerable!

          1. re: coastalgypsy

            I had to post back after my trip to Culinary Dropout. It was packed (Friday night), and since they don't take reservations, my friend & I awkwardly squeezed in between the bar and dining tables (all the stools at the bar were taken as well). Thankfully, it was only about a 15-20 minute wait. I had the acai mojito (which was refreshing, but weak, and mostly ice) and he had the Sauerkraut cocktail, which was delicious, much sweeter than we expected.

            The two of us were placed at a large table, and soon after, a group of young Scottsdale-ites sat down with us. I'm not crazy about communal tables, but I bit my tongue. Throughout the meal I kept myself entertained by listening to the chippies next to me checking out every guy in the place and rating them. Fun.

            The oyster appetizer was delicious, the only issue was that they were served with two delicious sauces but no spoon to put them on the oysters with. So we skipped the sauces, which was fine.
            My friend ordered some antipasti: house pickled peppers, I think there were 3 or 4 of them - very good, grilled asparagus (salty, firm and delicious), dolce gorgonzola (tasty, mild cheese selection) and warm bread.

            I ordered the Seared Tuna Salad which was really delicious, and a good-sized portion at that. Loved the ginger dressing, the tuna was perfect. My only issue was the wasabi peas scattered throughout; I constantly went from chewing the soft tuna to crunching on really hard dried peas, and I kept thinking I was breaking a tooth. At the end, the only remains in the bowl were dried wasabi peas...

            We skipped dessert and planned on going to Roka Akor for some $6 shochu.

            All in all, once they work the kinks out with service (they only opened last week), I think it'll be a success. Just don't go on a Friday night if you don't like being elbow-to-elbow with snotty girls who are more interested in the juice sitting at the bar than the juice in their Home-Ec Martini...

            1. re: coastalgypsy

              Thanks for the update, I was wondering what you thought. I think I'll be avoiding it on weekends.....

    2. Stopped by for happy hour last week on a whim. Given the length of the antipasti menu, my girlfriend and I thought it would be great for wine and nibbles but I was unimpressed. The olives were pitted, which I thought was odd, the crusty bread and olive oil consisted of buttered toasted bread, again, odd, and the "good" olive oil (as described on the menu) was not tasty. And I'm no olive oil snob, my point of reference is my costco olive oil at home. The salumi were great, and sliced nice and thin, which I love, and the cheeses were great (port salut, a soft blue and a hard sheep), but they didn't provide cheese knives, which made it a little awkward. I guess, given the location and ambiance, I'd give it another try for the sandwiches and stick more towards the homey comfort man food, but it kind of bothered me that they seemed to have expended more effort on the chandeliers than the food details.

      12 Replies
      1. re: yamalam

        I second the fact that they're overlooking important details. I guess I didn't notice the lack of cheese knives and just used my butter knife for our cheese selection -- but the fact that you don't get a spoon with your silverware and then they serve an oyster platter with 2 sauces and don't include a small spoon ... Are people pouring the sauce clumsily onto the oysters? Do people travel with their own spoons these days? I don't know. All I can surmise is that their cocktails are so complicated with various elements, maybe they're spending too much time on those that the food service is an afterthought....

        1. re: yamalam

          "it kind of bothered me that they seemed to have expended more effort on the chandeliers than the food details"

          this is the m.o. for fox restaurant concepts, unfortunately. they spend millions of dollars on the decor (take a look @ olive & ivy) while the restaurant puts out below-average food. some of it is at least passable (read: bloom, greene house), but most is aimed at the see-and-be-seen crowd.

          1. re: azhotdish

            Azcentral says Fox describes it as a "chef-driven bar," looking to attract less "Scotttsdale socialites" and more "foodies" and "industry people."

            Doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

          2. re: yamalam

            Wow, kind of glad now we went for a leisurely lunch, had a great server, and I ordered the delicious oysters and charcuterie. Now that I think about it, we didn't have spoons with the sauces for the oysters, though I asked our server, and she had no problem bringing us one right away.

            We've definitely changed our plans now though. Heading to The Mission or Petite Maison instead of Culinary Dropout after "Blood into Wine" premiere (BTW, sold out since I mentioned it above).

            The Mission
            3815 North Brown Avenue, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

            Petite Maison
            7216 E Shoeman Ln, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

            1. re: Rubee

              Rubee, please post your review of "blood into wine" if possible. We also tried to purchase the VIP tix 2 weeks ago but they were already sold out.

              1. re: Da Beebz

                Will do! And I'll be sure to keep it local-specific by posting on pre- (maybe Metro) and post-restaurant stops. ; )

                BTW, here are the nationwide screenings (including Tempe 2/26 through 3/4):

                Also, the night before, next Thursday, Noca is having a "Blood into Wine" premiere dinner with Caduceus and Arizona Stronghold pairings, though unfortunately we can't make it. It's going to be hosted by Maynard James Keenan.

                3118 E. Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

                Metro Brasserie
                7114 E Stetson Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                1. re: Da Beebz

                  PS. According to the W, there are still limited rooms (rooms include two General Admission tickets) and VIP table and cabana reservations available.

                  W Scottsdale Hotel
                  7373 E Camelback Rd, Scottsdale, AZ

                  1. re: Rubee

                    $2000 for a cabana seating 8 and not even facing the screen seems a bit pricey! Thanks for the heads up on NOCA! Fortunately there was still room left so we were able to get a reservation. I think value wise this was alot better than the $325 tix for the W event. I'll just watch the screening the following week in tempe. Btw, W Boston is bettah ;-)

                    1. re: Da Beebz

                      Still $$$ but a friend just told me she talked to the W and the cabana is now $1000, private screen, 2 bottles of wine, 10 tickets. Actually not too bad at $100 pp - too bad the 10 people I could have thought of already have tickets ; )

                      1. re: Rubee

                        Just FYI - 80 General Admission (with wine) tickets released today for "Blood Into Wine" premiere this Friday.


                        1. re: Rubee

                          thank you! will definitely look into the tix!

                2. re: Rubee

                  I wish we could have FOUND our server to have him bring us a spoon for the oysters but he disappeared into the madness for about 25 minutes... oh well.

              2. We'll be checking it out with another couple in the next week or so. Any tips on items that are "must haves"...or "must not haves?"

                1 Reply
                1. re: ejs1492

                  My tip is if the server advises you their fried chicken is in the same realm as lo lo's don't take the bait. Although very good it was not nearly as good as our server tried to claim. Also, I like to think of myself as a pisco sour connoisseur after spending a month in Peru this summer and I found theirs was weak and not properly chilled.

                  I don't want this to sound like a negative review however since I only tried the fried chicken and one bite of my dining partners burger, but of those things I wasn't blown away. Our service was great however on a busy night.

                2. Had a small bite here tonight and was unimpressed with the atmosphere but somewhat enjoyed my food.

                  One of my biggest pet peeves is restaurants who really want to be a club ( Tao Vegas, LAVO Vegas, etc. ) and this falls into the same category for me.

                  Granted it was Friday night but the bar was absolutely packed with what can only be described as the "I-desperately-need-to-be-seen" crowd. The restaurant itself was somewhat busy - a few empty tables here and there, but the bar was where all the action was. I was a single but after viewing what was going on at the bar I was tempted to take a table to myself in the dining room but I did wander over to the bar and found a seat outside ( but it was no easy feat as both the inside and the outside bars were packed ).

                  I had the cold smoked salmon with poached egg and the pickled peppers/crusty bread with olive oil.

                  The salmon was good. It was served with an aioli, sliced tomatoes with capers, shaved & pickled red onion, a poached egg, and the same "crusty bread" as was served with the antipasti. The tomatoes were definitely ripe and flavorful and the shaved/pickled onions were good but the poached egg was almost over-hard. This is unacceptable in any circumstance unless requested IMO ( because really ... isn't the point to be runny and delicious?). But beyond that I actually enjoyed the salmon dish.

                  I have to say that I enjoyed the olive oil despite someone earlier posting that they couldn't see anything special to it. My favorite olive oil is at Pizzeria Bianco and this definitely held a candle to it although not quite the same. The bread was definitely crusty. The pickled peppers were okay. A little firm for my liking but that's not to say that they were prepared incorrectly.

                  What bothered me the most was the "scene" there. I'm just of the opinion that restaurants should be places to enjoy FOOD - not places to get your groove on. That being said, I will definitely head back to sample some more of the offerings ... I just won't do it on a weekend night.

                  Pizzeria Bianco
                  623 E Adams St, Phoenix, AZ 85004