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Best Appetizers Phoenix 2000 - Ridge Cafe

The status of appetizers has changed in American restaurants. It used to be that most starters were mild-mannered offerings, designed to keep diners quiet while the kitchen had time to work on the main event. Appetizers used to be little more than tossed salad, soup, deep-fried veggies and, in a nice place, perhaps a shrimp cocktail.

Today, in good restaurants, appetizers are works of art. They're prepared as meticulously and creatively as entrees -- sometimes even more so.

At Ridge Cafe, however, appetizers aren't just as elaborate as entrees, they're almost as big -- at half the price of a full dinner.

The chefs here serve up a generous asparagus and shrimp combo, with beautiful veggies served cool and crisp under two truly jumbo shrimp in a tidy, red onion and dill vinaigrette. What could be better than a massive chile relleno, a pristine pasilla pepper in lacy batter stuffed with whole mushroom, chicken breast and jack cheese? And how about a mussel appetizer, bringing a generous baker's dozen of bivalves in a savory white wine, tomato, garlic and fennel broth?

A few slices of bread, a glass of wine, and there's simply no room left in our bellies. Change is good, we've been told. We have to agree.

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