Bistro Bland

High hopes for Uptown 713 were dashed by horrid service and mediocre chow

The salmon over wilted spinach was somewhat better. I liked the crusty exterior of the fish, rather than the salmon itself, which was a bit drab. But I really must knock the mashed potatoes, which were so dry that they could have passed for instant. At first, I thought this may have had something to do with the fact that Uptown 713 is run by the same folks who operate Living Fit Gourmet, a meal prep and delivery service that promises a healthful alternative to diet food. But when I spoke to Uptown 713 owner Phil Guana, he assured me that these were two entirely different entities and that Uptown 713 was not intended to showcase some sort of diet cuisine. Which eliminates the only excuse I can come up with for the lack of butter, cream, or anything that might have made those mashed potatoes taste less like uncooked Bisquick.

I could sit here and flay every item we tried that night as mercilessly as Jim Caviezel's Jesus character gets whipped in The Passion of the Christ, but it's enough to point out that nothing was out-and-out rank, only that you could eat better and often for less at other spots. Whether it was the chicken Napoleon -- sliced fowl sandwiched between spinach with red peppers and buffalo mozzarella -- or the special of pasta with clams and marinara, the restaurant invariably made me yearn for tastier renditions I've had.

Regarding the desserts, I would say the place had the worst flan I've ever had in my life, which it must have really had to try hard at, because even the flan you can purchase pre-made and prepackaged is superior to U-713's moistless excuse for a custard. However, the bananas Foster crepe was one of the few exceptional items on the menu, the only thing I'd order again for certain if I were kidnapped and my captors forced me to return. The combination of bananas, rum and brown sugar, wrapped in a crepe and topped with vanilla ice cream, was exquisite.

Banal board: Uptown 713's menu lacks originality and excellence.
Jackie Mercandetti
Banal board: Uptown 713's menu lacks originality and excellence.

Location Info

Map

Uptown 713

713 E. Palo Verde Drive
Phoenix, AZ 85014-2598

Category: Restaurant > New American

Region: Central Phoenix

Details

Calamari fritti: $8
Chicken pot stickers: $7
Mama's caramel flan: $7
Billy burger: $10

602-274-1332. Lunch, Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Dinner, Tuesday through Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m. Breakfast, Saturday and Sunday, 6:30 a.m. to noon.

East Palo Verde Drive (one block south of Bethany Home Road off Seventh Street)

This might have ended the outing on an up note, had I not made the mistake of asking if the restaurant had any after-dinner liqueurs, an inquiry that left our waitress befuddled until she asked someone else and discovered it had two or three. More exotic concepts for U-713 include such alien terms as originality, excellence and good service.

One entertaining side show was the presence of a big-haired psychic named Debby who read my palm and told me a lovely tale of how enviable my life is and would continue to be in the future. I was tempted to ask Debby if she could read the cards and tell me why Uptown 713 couldn't get its act together with regard to the care and feeding of its customers. But I figured that wasn't quite fair. Miss Cleo couldn't even solve that conundrum!

I didn't tell Debby that I have my own otherworldly powers when it comes to bistros such as U-713. So allow me to consult my crystal ball and play oracle with this piece of psychic advice to my readers: The one sure way to avoid a disastrous dining experience at U-713, and save yourself some dead presidents in the process, is to make a U-turn before you ever arrive.

E-mail stephen.lemons@newtimes.com

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