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Apr 4, 2012 01:05 PM

Ambiance and fine chow

Superb food (any fine cuisine ... really) is essential, but a quiet and refined atmosphere is needed for this outing.


Tempe/Scottsdale preferred, but we are flexible

Coming in from out of town to host some special friends



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  1. I was once a big fan of elements at the Sanctuary (Paradise Valley, but near Scottsdale), but it fell off. My wife, who is very critical has dined there twice recently, and ruled that they are back "on track." I trust her. Great views, cool bar, new menu and things should be great.

    For just food, I like NOCA, but there is NO view, just the food. New chef is doing some fun, and interesting things, and the service is very good, to great, but still, no views.



    2 Replies
    1. re: Bill Hunt

      Thanks, Hunt,

      Checked out the website for elements and a few on-line reviews (taken with a flake of Fleur de Sel). Looks very promising. Thanks again.


      1. re: flexidenny

        Hope that they have turned a corner. We have to host a special dinner, and they are in the running, based on my wife's recent experiences. In general, they fit the bill, and with their old abilities, if returned, should be just fine.

        Good luck,


    2. House of Trick's in downtown Tempe sounds like a perfect fit, especially with this beautiful evening weather.

      5 Replies
      1. re: jkgourmet39

        Also, the outdoor patio at TCooks at the Royal Palms would be a good fit.

        1. re: Random987

          I will offer a +1 for T. Cooks, either inside, or out. We have never had a weak meal, whether brunch, or dinner.

          House of Tricks gets good reviews, but we have never been. Need to correct that.

          I will also add Lon's at the Hermosa. If the weather is lovely, their patio is excellent. Inside is not bad - what I would term elegant rustic, with an emphasis on the former.


          1. re: Bill Hunt

            House of Tricks does get good reviews. I ate there a couple years ago and found it completely unremarkable. It wasn't terrible, but there was nothing that I could get excited about eating and the execution seemed a little sloppy. Service wasn't horrible, but could have used a lot of improvement. My cousin ate there on a seperate occasion and came to the exact same conclusions. Couldn't figure out why everybody likes this place so much.

            1. re: fledflew


              Sounds like our experience with FnB, which gets "over-the-top" recs., but we just do not "get it." To us, it is mediocre, at the very best, though their eclectic AZ-centric wine list is appreciated. Nothing on our visit, enticed us to return. Still, many others think that it is the ultimate Phoenix-Scottsdale dining experience. Color us, less than impressed at all levels.


        2. re: jkgourmet39

          We had a wonderful meal - and innovative/delicious - at House of Tricks last evening. We enjoyed it thoroughly but it would not fit the OP's requirement for "refined". The patio at T.Cooks would be a better fit. I would give House of Tricks the nod for an innovative menu but T.Cooks wins hands down for "quiet and refined atmosphere". As much as we enjoyed our evening, I would not call House of Tricks either "quiet" or "refined" but I would bestow those words on T.Cooks. Each has a patio and dining al fresco at this time of year is lovely. I would suggest the OP check the menus online for further information. Each property is unique, each is situated in an historic residence, but they are quite different in ambience; not at all comparable. The gardens and grounds of T.Cooks are lovely. A pre-dinner drink, strolling the property, is a lovely idea.

        3. Thanks to all for the informed and considered suggestions and opinions.

          Will make a decision and reservation this evening.

          Will post after the event (first week in May) with our thoughts.

          Thanks again,


          1. Thanks to all for the suggestions which provided two good meals this week.

            Hunt -- you're wife is right -- elements is, "on track." The service, from my initial phone call to make the reservation (they gave me a table exactly as I had requested) through the wait staff was, essentailly, perfect.

            The carpaccio might have been a little embarrassed to be all gussied up with golden raisins, cashews, fried kale, and ginger drizzle, but it was excellent. Firey calamari -- excellent. Citrus cured pork belly -- aahhhhhhhh.

            Rib steak with a chili sauce (the special), chicken breast, butterfish, short ribs, pork chop, and carrot/millet ravioli -- everyone was very pleased with their dish.

            Good wine selection (reds are mostly American)

            Desserts were fine if, perhaps, a slight step below the rest of our meal.

            Nice view. Fairly refined atmosphere.

            I highly recommend elements.

            And, as it happened, we lunched at House of Tricks earlier in the day. Food (three of us) was great, but ..... the service ...... and this was on one of the very busy graduation days ... was lacking. Had a reservation -- seated (inside) immediately -- but, the soup listed on the daily menu was incorrect and they were out of one of the entrees, so two of us had to think about other choices. It then took quite a while for our server to return to take the order and it took forever to get the food onto the table.

            At the end of the meal, the server announced that it was their 25th anniversary and said that she had chocolate for us as she tossed three Hershey Kisses (dark) on the table and turned on her heels. This is a scene that should be included in a movie where the essence of unthoughtful service is to be represented. It should be a comdey -- we burst into laughter.

            The food at The House of Tricks was certainly good enough that I would eat their again anytime and I would hope for a better service experience.

            Thanks again to all. You helped make our evening a great success.


            2 Replies
            1. re: flexidenny

              Thanks for the report.

              Elements sounds great.

              I prefer Tricks at Lunch vs. Dinner. Not for the ambiance. This place is pretty casual, and I think it is overpriced at Dinner.

              1. re: flexidenny

                <Hunt -- you're wife is right -- elements is, "on track." The service, from my initial phone call to make the reservation (they gave me a table exactly as I had requested) through the wait staff was, essentailly, perfect.>

                That is good to know. We are hosting another couple there in a few weeks, and I have been holding my breath.

                Thank you,