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
No, I've decided I'm being completely fair in not appreciating this mediocre restaurant. Café Citron is no French fantasy I care to inhabit.
Over lunch at another French cafe, the always lovely Sophie's in central Phoenix, another friend and I are comparing notes on our crazy summer dining scene. She's convinced nobody goes out to eat after the temperatures hit 110, and if they do, the restaurants can't be making any money. Given the flurry of half-off coupons and special "sizzling savings" offers that arrive in my mailbox every day, I'm thinking she might be right. That Café Citron doesn't open for breakfast until 9 a.m. doesn't work for me -- it's already too hot by then to consider wolfing down seven-grain French toast filled with mascarpone and bananas under Frangelico syrup. When other restaurants are practically begging for my business, I'm not exactly charmed by forking out $8.95 for a nice enough but hardly notable omelet tucked with mushrooms, onions, fresh herbs and Gruyère, or $7.95 for a spinach, garlic, tomato and fresh basil model.
I adore the niçoise salad served at Sophie's. It's a masterpiece of seasoned and grilled ahi tuna fillet with romaine hearts, fresh white anchovies, hard-boiled eggs, olives and roasted garlic aioli. My server at Café Citron promises me this bistro's version is like "seafood filet mignon," and it's fine stuff, with ahi seared rare, tossed with boiled red skin potatoes, crisp green beans and pear tomatoes in a light red wine vinaigrette. Still, what's up with charging $14.95 for an appetizer-size plate, in a place that has gorgeous views of a babbling fountain in the mall's open-air courtyard, but requires that I dribble ice cubes down my chest so I don't swelter?
6166 N Scottsdale Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85253-5438
Region: Paradise Valley
480-948-5101. Hours: Breakfast and lunch, Monday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Breakfast, lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Breakfast and lunch, Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Some dishes are just lazy. Café Citron has a croque monsieur -- it could hardly be a self-respecting French bistro without one. There's so little of the excellent grilled ham, though, virtually no trace of cheese, and nary a lick of béchamel that I resent being charged $6.95 for what's essentially a bread sandwich. Sophie's has taken its excellent croque off its summer menu, but I can still get a superb rendition at Christopher's French cafe in the Biltmore, bargain-priced at just $9.95 at happy hour through the fall (all the free A/C we can suck up included). There's barely any roast beef in a watercress, tomato and horseradish sandwich; and just a thin veil of prosciutto in an asparagus, poached egg and Gruyère concoction.
Amazingly, Café Citron doesn't serve wine. There's no cheese plate (need I point out that both Sophie's and Christopher's have some of the most tempting, well-priced imported cheese selections in town?). Small food portions maybe I could overlook, even at these prices, but no goblets of sparkling grape to sip? Sacrebleu!
My friend, basking in the glory that is his true, fantastic French palace, could only laugh.