After keeping a low profile since he left his longtime chef position at Cowboy Ciao in 2009 -- with the exception of his solo appearance at last spring's Devoured Culinary Classic -- this weekend Bernie Kantak returns to Old Town Scottsdale with the launch of his very own restaurant, Citizen Public House.
Set to soft-open on Saturday (doors officially open Sunday), the upscale "new-fashioned" gastropub is located in a completely renovated building that previouly housed the nightclub Next, and was the original location of Trader Vic's. It's decked out with leather booths, mahogany accents, a stainless steel-topped bar, and vintage family photos for a nostalgic vibe. There's also a private upstairs dining room, a semi-private, 12-seat alcove, and a patio.
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Kantak met his partners, Andrew Fritz and Rich Moe, during his days at Cowboy Ciao and Kazimierz, and here, they'll be handing the front of the house and an ambitious beverage program that showcases craft beers, inventive cocktails, and wine.
Meanwhile, Kantak has created an enticing menu of contemporary American pub grub with a lot of unique twists. Here, the popcorn is heirloom, popped in Tenderbelly bacon fat, while the mac 'n cheese goes for the jugular with gorgonzola and Emmental cheeses. The burger is made with decadent wagyu beef, and there's a lamb burger, too. Like the grilled Halloumi cheese sandwich, it's served on a Serbian lepijna roll (a salute to Kantak's Eastern European roots).