It's been over a year since Phoenix's The Parlor named Logan Stephenson executive chef following the departure of chef Jared Porter, who left the restaurant to open Clever Koi in midtown. And since then there's been plenty written about how Porter's been doing but little about how The Parlor's been carrying on without him.
Suffice it to say the bar's doing fine. The Parlor's Michael Allmandinger took home the top prize in the Devoured Cocktail Competition last month and has put forth a menu of drinks that are right on par with the restaurant's top-notch menu of seasonal Italian cuisine. A menu that -- at least for now -- features an irresistible risotto dish with shrimp, spinach, tomato, and olive vinagrette.
The first thing that will set this dish apart from the risotto you're making at home is that The Parlor probably uses a different type of rice: Carnoroli. This type of superfino-grade Italian rice offers a higher starch content than the more common Arborio variety. And since risotto is slow cooked in order to release starch and create that ideal creamy texture, more starch is a good thing. Carnoroli is a large plump grain that can absorb liquid while still maintaining a firm inner texture.
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In this dish you end up with a creamy plate of risotto mixed with tomato, super fresh spinach and thin slices of garlic, to lend a little spice to the mix. The olive vinagrette adds a subtle touch of pungency too.
But the star of the dish are clearly the four head-on Kaua'i white shrimp piled artfully in the middle of the plate. The oversized crustaceans are grilled to perfect pink, a process that gives each a nice bit of black char that's a nice accent against the creamy risotto. The sweet shrimp are also super tender and quite impressive to look at, if that counts for anything.
The Parlor changes its menu seasonally, so no promises on how long this dish will be around, though our server says it debuted about a month or so ago, making it relatively new. And if you save room, we also recommend you don't skip the Banana Cream Pie Triffle. It's totally worth the extra calories.