Scene Over Cuisine: Six Valley Restaurants that Aren't All That
The scene at Casey Moore's.
For her latest review in the current edition of New Times, our restaurant critic Laura Hahnefeld headed to Scottsdale to check out the sushi -- and the scene -- at Pearl, a place better known for racy pictures of pearl thongs than anything racy on the plate. That got us thinking -- where else does the food take a backseat to fashion? We set our Chow Bella troops to work and trust us, it wasn't hard to come up with a list of six more spots. What do you think? Let us have it (er, share your thoughts) in the comments section.
Someone has to say it, so it might as well be us -- Casey's, we absolutely love sitting out on your patio drinking beers with our friends on warm autumn days or hanging out on a Friday watching the swarms of hip twenty-somethings put on their weekly fashion show, but could you please change up your menu?! For as long as we can remember the Casey Moore's menu has gone unchanged (okay they did add hummus and a wrap of sorts about two years ago but that hardly qualifies as "change") and over the past few years it seems as though the quality of food in general has been on the decline. How exactly do you fuck up your food when you have been making the exact same things for over ten years?! Overcooked fries, terrible Caesar salads, clam chowder that would be better off used as wallpaper paste, a grilled cheese with bread so "toasted" it turns the roof of your mouth raw -- and that's just the patio menu. If you can't get fries right there is no way we are dropping $20 on a steak in the dining room. Besides, how would people check out our sweet new American Apparel deep-v if we're inside> This hipster haven is packed most nights of the week and the service is great but we gave up eating here long ago -- unless it's midnight and we have no other choice.
What other Valley hotspots cool off when it comes to the food? Find out after the jump.
RnR and Culinary Dropout looked so promising -- till they opened.
We'll admit to standing outside of this uber-cool Phoenix burger shop to pay $10 for a juicy burger and a shopping cart full of crispy sweet potato fries at midnight on cold January night -- but that was back in 2004. We didn't know any better. These days, Biltmore area scenesters still flock to this late night burger joint but we think it's more for the delux sized scene and massive draft beer selection then the overpriced burgers. Don't get us wrong -- the burgers are okay but for $10 we need to you to put your heart back into them like when you first opened. We have been the victims of stale buns, forgotten bacon and crumbly overcooked meat and too many times. The fries and your house made aioli can only save you so many times, big D.
Bliss/reBAR seems like it got confused somewhere in between Trendybar Land and the world of serving actual food. There are always a few plaid-wearing hipsters lounging away at the outdoor bar, but inside the restaurant side things get a little more obscure. As much as we love feeling oh-so-cool for dining at a downtown Phoenix hidden treasure, the menu's underwhelming flavors and scant portion sizes make this spot much better for drinking than dining.
As the self-described rebel child of the Fox restaurant concept family, maybe we shouldn't be so surprised that Culinary Dropout is also the weakest link of Sam's bunch. Culinary Dropout is a train wreck combination of gastropub-meets-Scottsdale-hangout where young people with too much money can gather after a long day of shopping. With a menu dominated by alcohol, maybe we shouldn't be so offended by the armchairs that make eating food all but impossible. Although the decor certainly holds up to Fox standards, the atmosphere takes the main stage at this spot, leaving little room in the spotlight for the food.
The menu at Hula's features an array of island-themed dishes, but the shining stars (and what most people seem to be ordering anyway) are starters. Munching on a plate of crispy coconut shrimp rolls and spicy thai fish cakes while Joe Versus the Volcano plays on the wall certainly makes for an excellent midweek mind-vacation but if all you're looking for is an island escape in the middle of the desert, screw the food and drown your troubles in a big-ass Classic Mai-Tai.
People watching? Check. Two-story outdoor patio facing Scottsdale Road? Check. A Bloody Mary that makes you wish it was Sunday everyday? Check. Food that tastes as good as the girl with the lowcut shirt that is serving you looks? Not a chance. If you were to judge the food at this high-end sports bar by the masses waiting outside the front door for their chance at a table you would probably think that it was at least halfway decent.No one is really going to wait 30 minutes in 100 degree weather for mediocre food, right? Wrong. Whoever's in the kitchen is phoning this one in. Bland breakfast tacos with pale eggs that taste just like the ones from a cheap buffet and salsa that we swear came out of a jar labeled "Pace". Sandwiches that we have renamed "sad-wiches," which are served with a sparse amount of straight-outta the freezer bag fries and lets not forget about mac & cheese, which is beyond help.The only thing worth waiting for at this establishment is your chance to be seen in your sweet new bedazzled jeans and freshly bleached tips.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.