Run, Florist, Run

Willo Baking Company is credited by many for bringing world-class bread to the Valley. Since it opened in early 2000, Willo has become the baker of choice for most of our area's fine restaurants, charming connoisseurs with its commitment to from-scratch loaves baked daily without preservatives. Now, owner David Lacy is operating his own eatery, with the debut of My Florist Cafe, adjacent to the bakery on McDowell, just east of Seventh Avenue.

It's an odd name, but reflective of the cafe's former tenant -- you guessed it, a flower shop. A light menu includes salads and sandwiches, with a lengthy wine and beer list including sake and port. Check out the asparagus salad, tossing roasted asparagus with mushrooms, caramelized red onions, artichoke hearts and Roma tomatoes with field greens, feta, lemon-thyme dressing and slices of apricot almond bread. My picnic pick's the cafe clubhouse, a sleek combo of shaved Parma prosciutto, turkey breast, provolone, Jarlsberg and spinach pressed in a petite loaf. And Lacy's personal contribution is the PBJ, an upscale take of homemade roasted peanut butter spread with grape or seedless blackberry Chambord preserves on sesame bread.

Gather your drinking buddies: The restaurant stays open until midnight.

Say Pwah? Okay, we'll bite -- what exactly is this new place called Cafe ah Pwah, slated to open in Gilbert this fall? Apparently, it's another entree into the world of eclectic dining. While the name sounds Hawaiian, the menu reads upscale, with appetizers such as Yukon gold potato blini with buttered leeks, eggplant caviar, oven-dried tomato, wilted baby spinach and saffron oil. Entrees get funky, including pan-seared spotted skate wing with anchovy and caper-infused risotto, parsley sauce and tomato confit. For dessert, ah Pwah serves specialties such as sautéed bananas with dark brown sugar and Meyers spiced rum, served in a puff pastry cup with caramel ice cream.

Rancho Rip-Off: We'd like to know who's behind the deceptively named Richann's Pinoy Grill, a restaurant at 35th Avenue and Dunlap. Rancho Pinot Grill owner Chrysa Kaufman was too busy laughing in surprise to comment when asked if she knew of the place. And she's been too busy opening her new Nonni's Kitchen to check it out in person. All we know is that there's no listing for the restaurant in the phone book, directory assistance or state liquor records. Oh, and that the state health department is threatening to shut it down after recent miserable scores of 67 and 63 on its inspections.


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