Elite Night Snack

(Monkfish--lotte in French--is perhaps the world's ugliest fish, with a head twice as wide as its tail and a huge mouth filled with dozens of razor-sharp pointy teeth. At one time in France, it was illegal for fishermen to bring it into port with the head on--authorities didn't want people to be frightened.)

Gulf shrimp with risotto isn't particularly imaginative, but it's skillfully prepared. Still, it's not as entertaining as the bouillabaisse, halibut or monkfish.

When the kitchen moves from the sea to dry land, however, it's not nearly as effective. It's not a matter of talent--it's a matter of ingredients. Frankly, the meat here simply isn't as good as it should be.

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Wrigley Mansion Club

2501 E. Telawa Tr.
Phoenix, AZ 85016

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: East Phoenix

Take the rack of lamb. At $34, I expected it to knock me over. But the meat was fatty, and not especially tender or flavorful. A peppy mint-pear chutney and a nifty sage spätzle side couldn't overcome the animal-protein shortcomings.

The grilled beef tenderloin suffered from the same affliction. It's an ordinary piece of beef, without any of the prized qualities you'd find in high-end steaks. And once again, terrific sides of wild mushrooms and mashed butternut squash weren't enough to pick up the slack. The scallop of veal, snazzily teamed with fresh peas, wild mushrooms and Yukon potatoes, struck me the same way.

Desserts end the meal on a high note. Apple cake topped with a Calvados mousse and served with a tart green apple sorbet tastes like autumn in Normandy. You won't want to share the rich chocolate cake teamed with chocolate espresso mousse, accompanied by a scoop of marvelous cappuccino gelato from Berto's. Pear shortcake filled with candied walnuts also presses the right buttons. The only sweet-tooth misstep: an unenergized Bailey's Irish Cream cheesecake, with almost no cheese or liqueur punch.

Don't leave yet. Linger over an espresso, which somebody here knows how to make.

Most of us can only dream about living the high life. The swanky Wrigley Mansion Club is a fine place to fantasize about it.

Wrigley Mansion Club:
Salmon cakes
$11.50
Bouillabaisse
26.00
Beef tenderloin
28.00
Chocolate cake
8.50

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