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
But the promise of creamy grits was overwhelmed by too much spicy sausage — the proportions were off. Mac and cheese was simply bland, even with the addition of crispy pancetta, while manchego and pancetta-topped roasted Brussels sprouts were undercooked and lacking the alluring caramelized sweetness I'd anticipated. Likewise, roasted root veggies with my pork osso buco confit weren't remotely tender.
The kitchen had better luck with salads, including a chopped salad whose champagne vinaigrette and bits of pumpkin seed brittle made ultra-fresh, organic vegetables sparkle. A composition of butter lettuce, toasted pecans, grapes, and candied lemon vinaigrette was simple yet craveable.
Back to that pork osso buco confit: It was impressively succulent, with a pile of buttery, lightly pan-fried homemade spaetzle that I couldn't stop shoveling into my mouth. Mustard-tinged sauce, braised lentils, and juicy meat made the cast-iron petite chicken appealing. Wood-fired mussels were another hit, swimming in a luxurious shallot and white wine broth with chunks of fennel. After eating every last bivalve and the garlic toast that came with them, I began drinking that savory ambrosia in earnest.
3717 E. Indian School Road
Phoenix, AZ 85018
Region: East Phoenix
Chicken and dumplings in herbed saffron cream were bright with carrots, celery, and fresh peas but needed a dash of salt, while short ribs with mashed potatoes and green beans needed more red wine reduction. Yes, they were fork-tender as described on the menu, yet with every biteful, I longed for a bit of sauce. Both of those dishes should've been stellar. Shepherd's pie, with lightly spicy, saucy beef bourgignon beneath a mantle of mashed potatoes, was more satisfying to eat.
Desserts showed more personality — especially the dense, sticky fig and pecan pie. The filling had the nostalgic taste of Fig Newtons (a plus, in my book), baked into a flaky crust and perked up with awesome homemade cream cheese and citrus zest ice cream. Seductive maple bourbon vanilla cream was the highlight of brioche bread pudding, which has since been replaced by a decent pear-blueberry cobbler.
Will chef Justin Beckett push the envelope, or will he stay in familiar and predictable territory?
The spotlight is all his. We'll have to wait and see.