Second Helpings

Restaurant Update: Ever since it opened, Gregory's Grill has been one of this town's best restaurants. If a fabulous recent meal there is any indication, the food can't get much better. So chef/proprietor Gregory Casale is doing the next best thing: He's making the place bigger.

The restaurant currently occupies a tiny storefront, with room for maybe two dozen customers, in Papago Plaza, at the southwest corner of Scottsdale Road and McDowell. But it's expanding into the adjacent vacant store, doubling capacity. A new three-year lease means Casale is committed to the location until 2001. If you're a fan, you have a lot to be thankful for. Gregory's Grill will still be BYOB, and the chef won't be doing much fiddling with the menu.

I'm thankful that Casale decided against moving to north Scottsdale and turning Gregory's Grill into a 200-seat restaurant. That's what the BYOB restaurant that occupied this site before Gregory's Grill, Cafe Patou, did. While the food at the new spot is still quite good, Cafe Patou lost its personal touch and BYOB charm.

Moving uptown is a tempting option--more customers, more exposure, more profit. Chef Casale must have had a difficult decision. But, speaking as a satisfied customer, I think he made the right one.

If you haven't been to Gregory's Grill, give it a try before it shuts down for expansion in August. Casale recently added a dynamite appetizer to his list, pan-seared foie gras, served in a sweet potato tart with a strawberry rhubarb compote, moistened with 20-year-old balsamic vinegar. It's one of the best things I've put my lips around this year. Entrees like the Kobe-style beef tenderloin, marinated for 72 hours in beer, and grilled Alaskan halibut in a green coconut curry, will take your breath away. Don't forget to bring wine. Corkage is $6 per bottle.

Gregory's Grill is at 7049 East McDowell in Scottsdale. Call 946-8700.
Wine Press: Arizona's fledgling wine industry is eager to make a name for itself, and spread the word about its offerings. But last month's edition of Ag Activities, the Arizona Department of Agriculture's newsletter, didn't do much for the cause.

The newsletter featured an article boasting about the industry's recent successes in tasting competitions. Readers learned that Dos Cabezas Wineworks of Sonoita took home a gold medal for its "Savignon [sic] Blanc" and a silver medal for its "Chardenet" [sic]. Kokopelli Winery of Willcox, meanwhile, nabbed a bronze medal for its "Pino [sic] Noir."

I don't know about you, but if Arizona wine promoters can't even spell Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, I don't know how much faith I'd have in their ability to make them.

Arizona currently has 13 wineries, most located in the southern part of the state near Sonoita and Willcox. A trip to the wineries makes a great summer weekend getaway--days aren't as brutally hot as here in the Valley, and the nights cool off.

For a copy of the Arizona Wineries brochure, call 1-888-742-5334.

--Howard Seftel

Suggestions? Write me at hseftel@newtimes.com or New Times, P.O. Box 2510, Phoenix,

 
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