BEST OVERALL DINING EXPERIENCE Phoenix 2006 - Binkley's Restaurant
Cave Creek: home of javelinas, biker bars, speed traps and ? fine dining? Hell, where'd you think all those folks in their million-dollar pads go to graze? To Binkley's Restaurant, of course, a little patch of genteel Napa Valley amidst the giant rocks and saguaros. Chef Kevin Binkley, who once worked side-by-side with Thomas Keller at Keller's much-ballyhooed French Laundry in Napa, commands the kitchen, while Binkley's wife and ma?tre d' Amy works the front. The combination of flawless service and nonpareil grub keeps the small, elegant eatery booked reservation-wise most nights of the week. As the menu changes, the latter might include such French-inspired American cuisine as poached pear stuffed with duck liver mousse or monkfish medallions, with pattypan squash, polenta, and one sublime sliver of monkfish liver. Service, on the other hand, boasts Riedel stemware, serviettes tied with red ribbons, and periodic palate-cleansers to amuse your bouche. Only bad thing about Binkley's is that you have to hoof it all the way to Cave Creek to get there. Is it worth the drive? Well, what do you think?