All You Can Eat, or Else

Sushi eaters clean their plates -- or pay the price

Sushi 101 at Rural and University in Tempe has introduced an all-you-can-eat sushi special for $19.95, but diners had better read the fine print before diving in. It reads, "Restrictions: Leftovers will be charged (at) full price, including rice."

This means that diners who bite off more than they can swallow will face some hefty penalties on their bills. Can't finish that shrimp tempura roll, maguro or spicy salmon hand roll? You'll find the full menu price of each added to that $19.95.

Folks trying to sneak in more value by not eating the rice on their nigiri sushi will be charged the full sushi price, too.

"It's not a buffet," explains a server. "We tell everyone up front how it works. They can order as much as they want from our sushi chefs, but it should be only as much as they can actually eat."

Tapas Dancing: Lovers of terrific Spanish cuisine have been lamenting the loss of Altos since the Phoenix and Ahwatukee locations closed suddenly in February. But now it's back -- sort of. Bistro Madrid has opened in the Ahwatukee spot, at 42nd Street and Chandler Boulevard. The menu remains the same, the decor is the same, and new owner Sasha Cosic (he of the charming Va Bene Italian eatery down the street) even managed to snag not only the Ahwatukee Altos' chef, but also the chef from the original Phoenix operation.

"The only difference is that prices are a bit lower," says Cosic.

Bistro Madrid currently serves dinner seven days a week and will be open for lunch by the end of May.

Devil's in the Details: I've been reading a 1957 cookbook, out of morbid fascination with what was once considered "cuisine to entertain company." Author Helen Corbitt's recommendation for her "most successful" cocktail party dip makes me wince: 1 cup of sour cream mixed with 3/4 cup chopped, canned French fried onions mixed into a "crunchy paste." Oh, the shame.

I'd much rather have been invited to the party Roaring Fork chef Robert McGrath threw at the James Beard House in Manhattan last week. The Scottsdale chef was brought in to showcase his unique "elevated cowboy food," including Rocky Mountain oysters with chipotle hollandaise, and grilled, dry-aged rib eye with red bell pepper ketchup and green chile macaroni.

But what got me really interested was McGrath's take on another retro American dish that used to show up on cocktail tables everywhere. His modern hors d'oeuvre? Deviled quail eggs with beluga caviar.

Wonder what he could do to rescue that sour cream-onion mess.

 
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