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  • Article

    Getting Cocky - Better be good -- and it is

    Waiting for a table at Asia de Cuba on a recent Saturday night, my friends and I knew time was dragging on when we started to nurse the ice cubes left from our 15-dollar rum cocktails. Even though we'd made reservations days earlier, we found ourselv...

    by Michele Laudig on March 8, 2007
  • Article

    Family Style - Escargot there

    Restaurants conjure their magic in many ways, and sometimes it takes some pretending on the part of the guest. When I want to be wined and dined, I can easily imagine I'm in another city or country (or at least not in a strip mall). I'll buy into the...

    by Michele Laudig on March 1, 2007
  • Article

    Wright On - Lodge in your mouth

    Say the name Frank Lloyd Wright, and suddenly I'm 18 again, new to New York City and stressing out about one of my very first college assignments. I have no idea how I'm going to write five pages about the famed architect's glorious Guggenheim Museum...

    by Michele Laudig on February 22, 2007
  • Article

    Leggo My Fuego - Breaking the Curse of the Doomed Location

    I could probably dig up a really good statistic to illustrate the fleeting nature of the restaurant industry, but why bother? We've all stumbled upon great dining discoveries that were inexplicably shuttered on a later visit, leaving us scratching ou...

    by Michele Laudig on February 15, 2007
  • Article

    Posh Poseur - Don't pass the bar

    An extended dance remix of the Stone Roses' track "Fool's Gold" was blaring out of the sound system as I tried fruitlessly to flag down my waiter on a recent visit to The Vig, a sleek new watering hole in Arcadia. How appropriate, I thought t...

    by Michele Laudig on February 8, 2007
  • Article

    Raw Power - Briny deep impact

    As a food critic, I often find myself meticulously planning my restaurant visits weeks or months ahead of time. Too bad, because I love spontaneity so I try to toss some last-minute dining choices into the mix. My friends and co-workers seem to ge...

    by Michele Laudig on February 1, 2007
  • Article

    Sweet Spot - Breath of fresh air for a chain-choking 'hood

    I had no idea I wanted a D-Backs jersey, but when a friend gave me one for Christmas in the perfect size, with the new team colors of white, red and black I was thrilled. Now I can't wait for the next season to start so I can wear it to the ballp...

    by Michele Laudig on January 25, 2007
  • Article

    Heaven Can Wait - Served by the bell

    It's not a good thing when a restaurant makes you feel like you're in an airport. Or a cafeteria. Or even worse, an airport cafeteria. That's exactly how I felt when I visited the two-month-old 7th Heaven Eatery at the Camelback Esplanade. Consid...

    by Michele Laudig on January 18, 2007
  • Article

    Hidden in Plain View - The "little French place" done right

    Let me apologize to the cult of Coup Des Tartes: Your little gem is just way too wonderful to keep a secret. This intimate French bistro has been around for nearly a decade, and yet it still seems off the radar. Of course, local foodies are familia...

    by Michele Laudig on January 11, 2007
  • Article

    Slim Chance - Resolving to eat better? Here's a week's worth

    Getting dressed this morning, I looked in the mirror and realized I've been getting into the holiday spirit a little too much I'm starting to look like I'm "great with child." But I'm pretty sure my curves-gone-wild aren't signaling a bun in the...

    by Michele Laudig on January 4, 2007
  • Article

    Old-School Eats - A good place to stick your buns

    I have to start wondering about the food when all people have to say about a restaurant is how neat it is. "Oh, it's so Arizona!" "That place is really cool in an old-school way." "You gotta check out the bar." That's fine and all, but w...

    by Michele Laudig on December 28, 2006
  • Article

    Expense Account - Truffles no trifle

    I wanted to fall in love. For years, I've been curious about a certain elegant stranger with the whole package: good looks, exquisite taste, and an impressive pedigree. I knew it would take money to get acquainted with this seductive presence, bu...

    by Michele Laudig on December 21, 2006
  • Article

    Memoirs of an Eggplant - A tastefully spicy sequel

    Sometimes all it takes is a taste of something or even just the scent to transport me to another place. I think of sangria-fueled New York dinner parties when I eat ropa vieja, the tomatoey Cuban beef dish. Fresh cilantro in a hot bowlful of ...

    by Michele Laudig on December 14, 2006
  • Article

    Nice Tip - Birth of the brews

    When Malcolm Gladwell wrote The Tipping Point a few years ago, he pointed to fashion trends like Hush Puppies as evidence of how trends reach critical mass in the same way viruses spread through the population. But he may as well have been writing ab...

    by Michele Laudig on December 7, 2006
  • Article

    Worth the Drive - Hidden jewel in a master-planned community

    "Geez, Michele, are we driving to New Mexico?" The two guys I was dragging to dinner weren't particularly hungry when we hopped on the I-10 in central Phoenix, but by the time we were pretty far out on the Santan 202 that new stretch of highway ...

    by Michele Laudig on November 30, 2006
  • Article

    Beyond Sushi - Touring Japanese

    My Japanese friends must get a kick out of me. I hang out with Yuko and Chinatsu every year when I visit Japan, a place I've been obsessed with since childhood. (Blame it on Hello Kitty, Mr. Miyagi, and the early '80s wave of Japanese fashion desi...

    by Michele Laudig on November 23, 2006
  • Article

    Ivy League - A multi-tasking marvel

    So much eye candy, so little time. Visiting Olive & Ivy, a new dining hot spot at the Scottsdale Waterfront, is sensory overload in every way. Open about a month now, Olive & Ivy is the latest enterprise from Fox Restaurant Concepts' Sam Fox, mast...

    by Michele Laudig on November 16, 2006
  • Article

    Farm Fresh - La vida local

    I've always loved to read menus. All it takes to make me hungry for a dish I haven't tried yet is a vivid description and a dash of my own imagination. But I should be up front with you here, before I delve into writing about Quiessence, a charmi...

    by Michele Laudig on November 9, 2006
  • Article

    Ice Age - Delayed gratification

    Everyone has desperation meals. You know, those old standbys you eat when there's nothing in the fridge, you're tired, time-strapped, and possibly broke, and you're way too hungry to go to the grocery store and hunt for ingredients. (Besides, everyon...

    by Michele Laudig on November 2, 2006
  • Article

    The Hole Truth - Ain't too proud to bagel

    It's hilarious and pathetic to recall my notion of a bagel when I was a kid: rock-hard frozen rolls, usually six to a bag, that needed to be nuked or toasted to be edible. To actually be palatable, they needed to soak up a good slathering of butt...

    by Michele Laudig on October 26, 2006
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