By Eric Schaefer
By New Times
By Rachel Miller
By Eric Schaefer
By Heather Hoch and Lauren Saria
By Robrt L. Pela
By Heather Hoch
By New Times
Never underestimate the public's love of trash. We've all seen the styles -- '70s disco wear, jeans that aren't acid-washed but simply unwashed, stumble-out-of-bed hairstyles and anything related to WWF or reality television. Whatever the reason, it's suddenly cool to have no class.
Now folks in major markets are happy to eat trash, with a burgeoning collection of diners proudly flaunting a lack of taste. At Ike restaurant in New York and Butter in San Francisco, for example, wanna-be Bubba crowds are paying to eat honest-to-God Swanson TV dinners. For $6, visitors to these self-titled "white-trash bistros" can get best-selling Salisbury steak or baby-sitter-inspired vittles like SpaghettiOs and Tater Tots. Want milk and cookies? Restaurants are sending out Oreos and Chips Ahoy, with cow juice served in school-lunch cartons, complete with straws.
Frankly, the appeal eludes me. When eating out, my chef of choice isn't Boyardee. What's next, Dumpster-diving diners? But the trend does help explain the enormous popularity of Scottsdale's new grunge kitchen, Mickey's Hangover. Partly bar, partly downscale restaurant, Mickey's proudly refers to its setting as trailer park, and its cuisine as white soul food. It's currently one of the hottest spots in town for twentysomethings looking to hook up over a Mogen David 20/20 and a grilled-cheese sandwich.
7414 E. Arlington Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85250
Region: North Scottsdale
Santa Fe rolls: $6
Zucchini fritters: $6
Mini chili cheese dogs: $8
Chicken gyro: $8
"Jesus on the Mountain": $9
Cheese steak: $9
Pesto Alfredo pizza: $10
Again, the appeal eludes me. While the atmosphere is definitely a blast, Mickey's food is a bust overall. Dishes are entirely inconsistent, ranging from pretty good to pretty frightening. And while Mickey's promotes its food as trashy, this is Scottsdale, after all. That grilled-cheese sandwich is fashioned of Cheddar, Muenster, provolone and Parmesan on Texas toast. It's just not good Cheddar, Muenster, provolone and Parmesan on Texas toast. Do toothless trailer folks sup on roasted garlic vegetables and Muenster burritos? And do they chow on Ensenada fish tacos with roasted alote cabbage and lime sauce? Don't know, but they do at Mickey's. As odd as it sounds, this menu isn't trailer park enough to make the theme interesting.
This is an unusual quandary: Mickey's either needs to step down its food to simple Velveeta on Wonder bread, or step it up and cut back on the cute, low-class dining concept.
Mickey's is offered by Randy Smith, a local nightclub entrepreneur known for his sense of style and humor. He's also owner of Six, a sleek new nightclub nearby that offers an upscale grazing lounge that pushes the envelope with a unisex rest room. Glass walls remain transparent until a patron locks the door, then the walls cloud over with amber light, rumor goes.
There's a fable behind Mickey's, we're told, about a crazy uncle who stumbles home one day after two-fifths of whiskey, and writes a will giving his nephews his $4,000 estate. The money is to be spent on building a bar that looks like his "doublewide" and serves food with his favorite recipes from Ohio. The hangout celebrates Mickey's illustrious past, including his Monster truck, his career as a prison guard and his love for Lotto tickets, bingo and table dancers.
Smith has achieved the look. With Mickey's beat-up living room ambiance, we might as well be hanging out in the basement of Wayne's World. The decor, if you can call it that, features a casual '70s flair highlighted by olive-and-orange drapes, banged-up and mismatched furniture, faded rumpus room carpet and a pool table. Partyers lounge on old couches and armchairs that look more like they belong in a slummy front yard than next to Scottsdale's Fifth Avenue shopping district.
How cool is it? Don't look for a sign. There's just a small name tag at the front of the brick building, which is next door to the Arthur Murray dance studio.
It's all great fun, with hip-hugger, tank-top-clad waifs cuddling up to young men dressed for the unemployment line. The music is terrific, blending '70s favorites with indie, electronic, post-rock, post-punk and soundtracks from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. After too many yuppified Scottsdale-area bars, this is the first place that's made me want to revive my clubbing days.
With such a comfortable atmosphere and the universal appeal of cheap drinks, it would be an easy cop-out to say people don't really come to Mickey's for the food. But they do. Visits during happy hour, at 9 p.m. and at 2 a.m., find tables full of nachos, pizzas and sandwiches. The place has become popular for late-night nibbling, serving its full menu until a half-hour before closing time. And a few items do show the potential of the kitchen.
An appetizer of Santa Fe rolls is excellent, pairing four fat taquitos stuffed with chicken and chiles with a thin, potent jalapeño sauce. The shells are crispy, the white-meat bird generous and the chiles blissful. Another starter of zucchini fritters is unusual but successful, dicing the vegetable with kernel corn and cheese, then frying it up in crab cake fashion to be slathered with a mayonnaise-like Creole dipping sauce.
But the backbone of any bar nosh, chicken wings, is boring. Who needs another everyday drummette, well-fleshed but flaccid under lifeless honey barbecue, sweet and hardly spicy "mo-rocken" or the bland Buffalo-flavored sauce? My wing-loving companion isn't happy that our order includes only one wing. The rest are drumsticks. A small crock of spinach and artichoke dip is simply awful, the cheese gummy and rancid, the artichokes chewy, accompanied by greasy tortilla chips. And the kitchen manages to kill the calamari by dumping the bits in a horrendous pasty flour that turns into Elmer's glue when dipped in a sugary, chunky tropical dipping sauce. Mickey's sofa groupings encourage sharing with strangers, but we can't give the critters away.