Best Dining as Theater - 2009
If you really want to appreciate chef Kevin Binkley's food, be sure to bring your sense of humor to dinner. Binkley, who worked for renowned chef Thomas Keller at The French Laundry, is undoubtedly serving some of the most creative, sophisticated cuisine that Arizona has to offer, incorporating classical French techniques into his seasonal American menu. But for all the precision and polish of the kitchen, the vibe in the dining room is surprisingly relaxed, brightened with moments of pure delight when guests get the next round of dishes. In between courses that look like artwork on a plate — potatoes adorned with fried sage and thick slices of black truffle, or maple-glazed pork tenderloin nestled with baby zucchini and butternut squash — the waitstaff delivers a flurry of playful amuses bouches that inevitably spark conversation. How about the fruity "lava lamp" shot, served on a color-changing LED coaster, or the tiniest baked potato you've ever seen? It's an experience you won't soon forget.