Heaven Can Wait

Served by the bell

It's not a good thing when a restaurant makes you feel like you're in an airport. Or a cafeteria. Or even worse, an airport cafeteria.

That's exactly how I felt when I visited the two-month-old 7th Heaven Eatery at the Camelback Esplanade. Considering some of its neighbors — sexy, slinky Merc Bar, and expense-account-friendly McCormick and Schmick's — I wasn't surprised to see the place bill itself as "upscale comfort food in a classy yet casual environment." But I also wasn't surprised when reality didn't match up with the press-release hype, as is often the case. Overpriced cafeteria food was more like it.

Tucked amid the office towers and parking garage, in a sprawling corner space that used to house Franco's Italian Caffe, 7th Heaven certainly has the location. Just think of all the captive cubicle dwellers spilling into the Esplanade retail complex over their lunch hour, eager to grab a quick bite with co-workers. And the folks moving into all those luxury high-rises that keep popping up, eager to walk to food. Cha-ching! I don't blame those people for eating here — it's a convenience thing, obviously — but I just can't see anyone else making the effort. It's not worth driving around the garage to find a precious parking spot, and I certainly wouldn't bother to walk here from Biltmore Fashion Park, even if the pedestrian tunnel under Camelback Road was finished.

Sensory overload: 7th Heaven Eatery swirls out of control.
Jackie Mercandetti
Sensory overload: 7th Heaven Eatery swirls out of control.

Location Info

Map

7th Heaven Eatery

2501 E. Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85016

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: East Phoenix

Details

Huevos rancheros: $8.97

Orzo salad: $8.97

Real Deal Philly: $8.97

Sicilian Arrabiata: $8.97

602-954-5119, >>web link.
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

2501 East Camelback Road (Camelback Esplanade)

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It's too bad. Somebody clearly dumped a ton of money into this place, only to come up with a Crayola-colored, faux-happy, institutional vibe that doesn't make the food taste any better. I sat with a table full of friends considering other comparisons besides an airport cafeteria — a Disney food court! a pediatrician's office! — and then one guy nailed it: "This feels like we just walked on to the set of Saved by the Bell."

In other words, 7th Heaven has all the cheesy glory of a late-'80s teen sitcom. But not in a good way.

The restaurant's outdoor patio is pretty innocuous. Inside, it's bright blue swirls everywhere you look, from the floors to the walls. The busy motif is repeated in dizzying turned-metal table tops, and swaths of metal mesh suspended from the ceiling, illuminated with iridescent halogen track lights. Wooden chairs upholstered in blue, green, yellow and orange look like an explosion of Chiclets in the vast, open dining room. A row of flat-screen monitors display the menu above the front counter, which has built-in cases for showing off pastries near each of two entrances. There's a long rack of magazines along one wall, and in the back corner, there's a bar lit up in electric blue.

If it sounds kind of exhausting, well, it is. But it's the menu that really brings "trying too hard" to a whole new level. There are more than 60 items to choose from, and reading through them is an exercise in absurdity. Of course, the place has all kinds of salads and sandwiches and pizzas and burgers. There's an array of breakfast dishes served all day, right alongside all-American dinner fare like meat loaf and macaroni and cheese. Depending on your mood, you could order a glass of wine and some fried calamari, a smoothie and a hummus plate, or a latte and a pastry. Or if you're craving something ethnic, 7th Heaven has linguini, yakisoba, and fajitas.

It's as if the place is trying to be a one-stop shop for any and every possible dining scenario, and that's where it really falls short. Better to have a well-edited menu of well-prepared dishes than to go overboard and achieve mediocrity, at best.

And speaking of mediocrity, where to begin? The Swiss mushroom burger was a generic patty and plain bun, with predictable toppings — better than fast food, but not particularly flavorful or juicy. The only thing that made the veggie burger any different from a run-of-the-mill Gardenburger was the nine-grain ciabatta it was served on, and as far as I could tell, the only thing "upscale" about it was the nine-dollar price. Actually, make that $8.97 — every price on the menu at 7th Heaven ends in the number seven.

According to my sweetie — a Pennsylvania native like me, and a full-on cheese-steak connoisseur — the "Real Deal Philly" sandwich and its side of fries was sadly similar to the $6 steak and fries combo at the Steak Escape, only about three bucks more. I took a few bites and had to agree. A straightforward pile of thinly shaved beef, melted cheese, and grilled onions and peppers on a soft roll, it was neither a disappointment nor a standout.

The orzo salad was a fine mix of cool pasta and fresh spinach with slivered almonds, crumbles of feta, warm slices of chicken, and a drizzle of sweet balsamic dressing. And "Her Sister's Chinese Chicken Salad" was a harmless bowl of chicken strips, won tons, iceberg and romaine lettuce, mandarin oranges, and ginger-tinged Asian dressing. It was hard to find fault with it, but the portion was a total turnoff — there must've been two pounds of food in that bowl. Who wants to feel like a pig at a trough when they're eating a salad? The ginormous cheese crisp we ordered made more sense as a super-sized appetizer, and gratefully, it wasn't greasy.

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7 comments
Henry James
Henry James

Sounds like your experience with Bliss. I still can't believe what crappy food I received at 7th Heaven, and at Bliss. I still can't believe how rude the owner of Bliss, Kevin Kelly was to me when I complained. He acted like he was God! What an arrogant turd. I think I will wait for your reviews before I dine anywhere.

marian
marian

Firstly, i would like to critique you, you seem like an arrogant, pig-headed type of person, who wouldn't know a good restaurant if it came up an slapped you in the face. I think 7th Heaven is great. Yes they needed to tweak a few things when they first opened as many new resturants do. But the food is great, and i have tried many things there. The quality and quantity are great, yes maybe it may be alot of food, and you may not need to finish it all, but you get way more than is expected for what you pay. Next door you have "other resturants" who offer some similar items, but you would end up paying double for them, and in my opinion they are not even half as good. Did you try the fish tacos? they are some of the best, and i dont even like fish, as are the fish and chips, and the philly is amazing! so is the orzo salad-one of my favs! and the mac etc! Also the breakfast all day is so refreshing, how many places around there are even open for breakfast- let alone offer it all day! There is also a new happy hour, which offers good size appetizers for under $2! and has beer and wine for on average more than 60% off the reg price. Also the service is outstanding! Its quick and wonderful! The counter staff greet you as if you were their first costumer of the day, you feel welcomed! You also get your food brought to you with a smile, and get pleasant conversation and attention while you are dining. How many restaurants offer that! I hope for your sake you go back again and see how they have improved...as a critic i would have assumed that you would know that it takes a successful business a few months to work out kinks and problems...IF they had the mistakes you said they did, well at least the had the opportunity to change...and did they have improved vastly if what you say is the truth! O and when you walk in or are sitting down, you do get either a manager, the owner or one of the staff great you and treat you like a regular.The owner is such a sweet man, and treats you wonderfully. Some of the nicest,friendliest and sweetest people work there and its a pity you are to blind and cynical to see it! Btw, i am being nice to you( i could be ruder!)...The counter staff take care of you to, and make sure you have everything you need and offer to get or do anything for you, they offer to split meals on different plates-before you even have to ask, they are so accommodating with adapting to the menu items - one costumer before me was very picky and the server helped them with a continuous smile and was able to help them with their request!How many places around the valley have great food, a pleasant and fun atmosphere AND the customer service! Like i said before i hope you have the humility to go back and see with new eyes this wonderful place...you owe it to your readers and to yourself! Thats all Mx

Randy
Randy

I have to say after reading your review I and others now realize that you are out of touch with reality.I took several of my clients there two days ago, the food & service exceeded our expectations I took them there only after one of my clients said he would like to try it I pulled up your review for him to read and he said "let's form our own opinion" luckily I listened to him.I also wanted to respond to your "cubicle-dweller" comment, I have many of them who work for me and they are some of the finest people in our community unfortunately pompous people like you who are obvuiosly out of touch with the rest of our community try to build yourself up by using ignorant phrases like "cubicle-dweller" I hope you did not get paid for this review and if your employer has any sense he/she will be wise enough to see through you as we do.

Brenna
Brenna

Hey, after reading your review I almost refused to eat at 7th Heaven. I joined a friend there for happy hour, and it was a really cute place, with a nice patio. They have a very decent happy hour M-F. All wine is 1/2 price, including bottles. The food on the appetizer menu is 1/2 price, also. We shared a very decent bottle of Pino Grigio for $18.00, and had 2 huge appetizers for $8.00 total. The pulled chicken quesadilla was very good and they split it on to 2 plates for us (without us asking), we each got 3 large cuts. The hummus dip plate was not exciting but it was huge and the greek salad to the side was very good. We had so much food we took 1/2 of it home. The bar attendant offered to keep our wine chilled and would refill our glasses. A gentleman who must have been a manager checked up on us constantly, as did the bartender. So the food is not overly exciting. The staff is the most attentive (which goes a long way in my book) that I have witnessed, and this was the best happy hour deal I have seen in a while.I will definitely go back for happy hour!

Jamie
Jamie

I am also not a "cube dweller" and I love to have lunch at 7th Heaven. The food is always delicious and the service is stupendous AND it�s convenient. Aren�t those the basic components that make a restaurant worth dining at? Almost every time I�ve had lunch there the owner or manager goes out of their way to ask me about my meal and say hello. I agree that the d�r is somewhat �loud� per se but I think it�s refreshing that it�s a different environment. The attention to detail is quite impressive, actually.

As for the quality of the food; Are you sure you actually ate there? The reason I ask is because I�ve had several items on the menu and the Tortilla Chicken Soup and Orzo Salad are two of my favorite items. They are full of flavor and nothing reminiscent of �cafeteria� food.

Your sarcastic, clich�nalogies couldn�t be anymore wrong in my opinion.

Ben
Ben

I actually did not mind this restaurant. I ordered their 7th heaven melt and I had some left over, there was flavor and it looked good. I think the restaurant itself was very, blue but not overpowering, i was there on a Sunday and i liked the light airy nature of the restaurant.

laydbug104
laydbug104

I recently visited 7th Heaven Eatery, by choice and not because I am a near-by "cubical-dweller." I was extremely impressed with the selection and quality of food. I've been looking for a place where my friends and I can all get what we are in the mood for. Maybe next time you should try "reviewing" a restaurant with your readers in mind instead of your cynical attitude.

 
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