BEST COMFORT FOOD (2003)
Barmouche may be a fancy-looking restaurant, owned by a big-name celebrity chef (Mark Tarbell). It may have upscale dishes like "laitue," organic butter lettuce with Roquefort cheese and walnut dressing. But we go there for the things that everybody loves and understands -- mom's home cooking. Tuesdays through Saturdays, there are Blue Plate Specials (chicken fried steak, spaghetti and meatballs, fish and chips). Every day, there are the cozy basics, like "Mark's Mom's Mac & Cheese," biscuits and country gravy, or baked veal meat loaf. Desserts can't be missed -- chocolate banana bread pudding, ice cream sandwiches, an old-fashioned banana split and peach cobbler hit the spot. Not only cozy, though, this comfort cuisine is gourmet, prepared with loving care and the best ingredients (that cobbler gets its fruit from the local farms of Queen Creek, so we know it's fresh). It's the best of two worlds -- like mother's cooking, if we had grown up in the house of Julia Child.