By New Times
By Robrt L. Pela
By Lauren Saria and Heather Hoch
By Deborah Sussman
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Kathleen Vanesian
By Eric Schaefer
By Heather Hoch
Diners at the table next to us ask about the dishes that have my companion and me in such bliss, and suddenly, the whole room is sharing stories about the most memorable Hoffman creations they've had. One table swears by the from-scratch bread pudding, another adores the soups, while another adores the osso buco, the braised veal shank in stewed tomatoes with mushroom risotto and Marsala glaze.
Hoffman's offers a full Italian menu alongside its Austrian fare, and it's pleasing -- bruschetta with fresh roasted garlic purée and sweet yellow tomato medley, or lobster and shrimp diavolo over lemon fettuccine with crushed Italian peppers, roasted aglio elefante (elephant garlic) and white wine butter sauce. At any other restaurant, they'd be the stars of the show. But I can't resist those fun-sounding Viennese dishes, heavy as they may be in the hot summer.
That rehrucken turns out to be medallions of venison loin, apple smoked for tenderness and grilled medium-well to remove much of the common gamy flavor. It's an interesting arrangement, served atop crispy sun-dried tomato spaetzle with soft-poached bok choy and wild mushroom ragout. I like its aggressive flavors just fine, but more delicate taste buds will do better with kalbskotelett natur, a juicy oven-roasted veal chop with poached asparagus and potatoes. One neighboring table of new friends suggests I try the truthahn roulade, and it's an excellent recommendation, bringing pan-seared turkey stuffed with creamy Camembert and lingonberries over crunchy butter lettuce and toasted walnuts. We make short work, too, of grill teller mit Austrian speck knodel, a mixed grill of succulent veal, pork and beef tenderloin filets with wilted savoy cabbage, Emmenthaler cream and a tennis-ball-size dumpling rich with bacon.
623-937-7016. Summer hours: Lunch, Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Dinner, Thursday through Saturday, 4 to 10 p.m.
As we fill up on all the fine food, we've got to admit, it is getting kind of hot in the small dining room. One party moves to another table directly beneath the single ceiling fan, but my group has nowhere to go. That's Arizona summer for us, our server smiles, adding that heat is part of the reason for the restaurant's current crazy hours (this is a fairy tale experience, with Hoffman's only open two days a week for lunch, and three nights for dinner).
Then our server returns, grinning widely. She's prepared a special dessert for us, her own recipe for keeping cool. It's a martini glass filled with ice cubes, and topped with a poof of whipped cream. We're lapping it up, loving it and laughing, and then she returns with another dish. This time it's sorbet, tart beyond belief with margarita and blackberry flavors.
Charming Hoffman's. It's all entirely picture perfect.