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Feb 11, 2010 10:09 AM

Review: St. Francis - Phoenix, Arizona

Another report back on a recent trip to Arizona. Here is a report back as a thank you to all.

Pictures can be viewed at:

This post is a report back on my original post:

I really didn't do too much research prior to selecting St. Francis as one of our meals while in Phoenix. But I got a recommendation from someone on Chowhound, checked out the menu online, and heard it was in a restored bank and the menu looked very reasonably priced.

Aaron Chamberlin is the owner/chef of the St. Francis restaurant. I was surprised to find out that Chef Chamberlin has worked for an impressive number of chefs and restaurants in his career including Jean-Georges Vongerichten of the NY restaurant empire, Michel Richard of Washington DC restaurants, and Nancy Oakes of Boulevard in SF.

Chef Chamberlin's goal was to create a restaurant that feels like a home away from home and a community gathering spot. The restaurant strives to serve seasonal American food that is simple, honest, and a has good value. We'll see if the restaurant reaches those goals.

A lot of thought and consideration went into the remodeling of the space for St. Francis. The space definitely has a modern yet rustic and homey, hip feel to it. The waiter informed us that this space was once a bank, a doctor's office, and a few other things.

Pictured here is a Market List that lists different seasons of the year and what vegetables and fruits are in season. An excellent reminder and commitment from the restaurant that only seasonal vegetables and fruits at their prime will be used for your meal.

Almond Margarita and Prickly Ricky
Fortunately, we arrived to St. Francis at the right time. Cocktail Hour!! Served from 4-6pm everyday. All mixed drinks were $5 and all beers $3. A nice and condensed list of about 6 cocktails and various bottled and draught beers.

Baked goat cheese, tomato, walnut herb pesto and toasted bread - 8
This appetizer was an excellent beginning to our meal. Here we have a ramekin filled with goat cheese, tomatoes, and walnut herb pesto that is then baked to get it nice and hot. Really enjoyed this starter. The tang and creaminess of the goat cheese and the sweetness and tang of the tomatoes coupled with the herbaciousness (is that a word?) of the pesto was great.

Pumpkin Soup with apples and creme fraiche - 6
This soup was velvety smooth and the natural sweetness of the pumpkin was really evident. I liked the fact that apples were added to give this soup some flavor contrast with the sweetness and tartness of the apple. I felt this soup was a bit too salty but enjoyed it regardless.

Roasted Pork Chop, fresh corn polenta, sweet peppers and whole grain mustard sauce - 19
I have never in my life eaten a pork chop that was so succulent, tender, and juicy. Having prior experience with Kurobuta pork at Spago in L.A. and Nob Hill in L.V., there was no comparison. The pork as St. Francis was vastly superior to the versions I have had at other places. The corn polenta absorbed the jus of the pork and the whole grain mustard sauce, elevating the polenta to an even tastier stratosphere. My favorite dish of the night. Checkout the Laguiole cutlery in the picture, excellent choice of cutlery. It's the nice little touches like this that make St. Francis special.

Seafood soup with shrimps, mussels, clams, fish, and aromatic vegetables - 19
What kind of food blogger would I be if I didn't eat seafood? An incomplete one. Luckily, I have a wife that loves seafood, now I am a complete food blogger again. Here is what she recalls from this dish. Beautifully presented dish in the clay pot with with the herbs and seafood strategically strewn throughout. Seafood in the dish were nicely cooked, but the broth was too salty, overwhelming the flavors of the seafood.

Proof that this building was at one point a bank. Located right next to the women's toilet bowl. Nice toilet paper holder don't you think?

Is St. Francis a home away from home? The restaurant has a modern and yet rustic feel to it, yet it still manages to feel homey. The restaurant stays true to its original goals of simple, honest, and good value. On this particular night we had some dishes that were great and others that were good. (Due to some heavy handed salting.) Regardless, we still had an overall good meal and enjoyed the experience.

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  1. What's the parking situation & do they have a bar area for solo diners?

    1. coastalgypsy - St. Francis has complimentary valet parking. At least I hope and think it was?? Pretty sure of this. There is also parking across the street if you don't want to valet. There is a bar area toward the front of the restaurant for drinks and solo dining. Hope this info helps.

      2 Replies
      1. re: TNT Adventures

        The valet parking is indeed complimentary (except for a tip for the attendant of course).

        The restaurant is also a very short walk from the Central/Camelback light rail station.

        In addition to the main bar, there is a small counter (fours seat I believe) that faces into the kitchen. That may be the best place to sit during a first time visit.

        1. re: silverbear

          Silverbear - Thanks for the great recommendation on St. Francis, it was one of my favorites on the trip. Thanks for the additional info too.

      2. We ate there when we were in town over the holidays. Absolutely wonderful meal. Good wine list, also. The madeira by the glass is a great value, also, when it comes time for dessert.

        Well done on the review.

        1. I have visited St. Francis twice now, both for drinks. The first time I was there I enjoyed a glass of prosecco and my husband the lemonade cocktail.

          Love the atmosphere, very personable service.. and thats when we were informed about their happy hr that included complimentary snacks and so forth.

          Visit #2 we decided to check out the happy hr and take advantage of some comp snacks...we were NEVER told to go enjoy or given plates to go and receive the snaks that sat at the opposite end of the bar... I was really aggravated about the unpersonalized service as well as the couple next to me felt the same.

          I am just speaking my mind and wouldn't return based on the experince.

          Also I decided to just grab a piece of bread and bring it back to my seat and was STILL not offered a plate to put the snacks on.. RIDICULOUS the bartender was for sure preoccupied taking inventory or something but c'mon offer us plates and let us know we can help ourselves. I am sure the owner would not be pleased

          Sorry for venting

          2 Replies
          1. re: drewb123

            Did you notice what type of "snacks" they were offering when you went and grabbed the bread?

            1. re: coastalgypsy

              Yes, there was a wonderful foccacia with broccoli and sundried tomatoes and cheese- delciious!, almonds, olives, poatao chips (homemade). Nice spread but noone told us to help ourselves or offer utensils and so forth.

          2. Checked out the pictures on your blog - you're either a professional photographer or should consider becoming one. Composition and lighting were great, particularly considering the challenging lighting conditions in most restaurants. Nice blog!

            1 Reply
            1. re: mesafoodie

              drewb123 - Sorry to hear you had some bad service at St. Francis. Seem to be a very casual restaurant, but that doesn't mean they couldn't have offered you a plate and made you aware of the snacks.

              mesafoodie - Thank you so much for the compliment. Unfortunately, I am no where near a professional photographer. I shoot with a Nikon D40, but am ashamed to admit that I don't really know how to use it all that well.