Campfire Bistro at Tom's Thumb Fresh Market Fires Up Some Good Eats
Get This: Beef Brisket
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).
Restaurant: Campfire Bistro at Tom's Thumb Fresh Market Location: 9393 East Bell Road, Scottsdale Open: Three months Eats: Southern-style barbecue Price Point: About $11 to $30 a person
Talk about multitasking.
Like the love child spawned from an errand-running orgy, Tom's Thumb Fresh Market in North Scottsdale has put a high-end car wash, gas station, coffee shop, bistro, farmers market, and wine shop all in one convenient location. And if you're hungry (and who wouldn't be after all those to-dos), there's Campfire Bistro, the counter-service eatery inside the market open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Campfire's eats certainly match the market's friendly yet decidedly upscale errand-running parts. And with the exception of a few technical difficulties, it's worth a pop-in if you're in the area.
Pulled Pork Sandwich
Headed up by chef Tudie Frank-Johnson, formerly chef and owner of D'licious Dishes, the gourmet take-out eatery in Phoenix that closed last August after a three-year run, Campfire Bistro's menu features Frank-Johnson's Southern-style barbecue (also available for take-out) along with some other Mexican and American favorites.
The barbecue, smoked over hickory and pecan hardwoods, is very good -- tender and with a notable rich, smoky flavor. There is a sandwich of pulled pork ($7.99) loaded with meat atop a grilled bun; and better beef brisket that, when not served barely warm, is wonderful as a meal ($10.99) or sliced and atop a large, fresh salad ($10.99) of greens, tomato, red onion, toasted pecans, and blue cheese crumbles with a honey chipotle vinaigrette dressing. (A minor complaint, but the salad's glass bowl, while beautiful, is too deeply tapered at the bottom, making the mixing of the salad's ingredients difficult.)
Black-n-Bleu Cheese Burger with Fries
To kick its flavor up a notch, burger lovers can add jalapeño bacon to Campfire's Black-n-Bleu Cheese Burger ($8.99) with grilled onions, tomatoes, and chipotle aioli. Hopefully, unlike my experience, the friendly counter person will ask for a requested temperature for the patty and not simply serve it well done.
Sides like fries, slaw, and country potato salad are solid, but be warned: a selection of fries means a heapin' helpin' portion size -- so be hungry or share with a friend. Better yet, split the baked mac-n-cheese ($7.99). On the menu as an entree, this creamy and cheesy delight's best feature is its crispy crumb topping.
Red Chile Cheese Enchiladas
And when it comes to over-seasoning, Campfire needs to pay closer attention to dishes like the smoked meat chili (cup $3.99) and red chile cheese enchiladas ($9.99). They look wonderful, but on my visit both were over-salted -- the enchiladas to the point of being left on the table, uneaten after just a few bites.
Campfire Bistro is inside Tom's Thumb Fresh Market, so eating there means grabbing one of a handful of tables in and around displays of barbecue products in wooden crates and selections of olive oils and cheeses found by way of blackboard signs. It's a well-thought out space -- big enough to hold a large variety of products yet laid out in a way that's friendly, comfortable, and conducive to browsing.
Campfire Grill's dishes, served up on white plates or inside baskets, can nearly make you forget you just ordered at a counter -- or that your car is going through the Polish Tunnel next door. And if it can adjust a few technical difficulties with some of its dishes, its selection of tasty eats is sure to make errand running in North Scottsdale a tasty endeavor.
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