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: The Standard Location: 10050 N. Scottsdale Road, Ste. 127 Open: Less than a week Eats: Healthy grab-and-go Price: $20+ per person
Over the last few months, restaurants with a focus on healthy food and grab-and-go options have been popping up all over town. The Arcadia neighborhood might be the best example of the recent trend, with several of these market/restaurants popping up at all once.
But the newest of this breed of eatery has put its roots down in a different part of town, specifically at 10050 N. Scottsdale Road, in the former home of Abe's of Scottsdale Deli. The Standard serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and offers the neighborhood two bars, a spacious patio, and market-style takeout dining options.
Unlike some other spots that have tried to combine several different restaurant concepts into one, The Standard doesn't suffer from a confusing layout. On the downside, its location in the corner of a forgettable strip mall makes it easy to overlook altogether. (If you're heading south on Scottsdale Road and you pass California Pizza Kitchen, you've gone too far.)
Managing partner Billy Sims says the idea to combine a restaurant, market, and bar into one stemmed from the existing layout of the space, which was home to Sandbar before it moved up to Desert Ridge. To take advantage of Sandbar's old outdoor bar, The Standard's owners have built out the patio space to include a full outdoor bar and AstroTurf-ed corner with cozy lounge chairs.
Inside there's a more formal dining room, another full bar, and a glass-encased private dining room. The market side of the restaurant is located in the back corner, while the open kitchen can be viewed from throughout the space.
There are separate menus for breakfast and lunch/dinner, as well as for the market side of the operation. The breakfast menu includes coffee and espresso drinks, fresh juices, and smoothies. The small selection of food choices includes a ham, egg, and cheese melt on ciabatta bread ($5) and a breakfast burrito ($6).
We tried one of the six made-to-order juices. The trying-too-hard names -- Purple Drank and The Virgin Mary -- might make you want to pass, but the Envy made a nice mid-morning snack. Because it's packed with vegetables including red kale, celery, and broccoli, you might expect this less sweet than it actually is -- that's thanks to the addition of pear, lemon, and apple.
The restaurant's eclectic lunch and dinner menu includes options ranging from a Mediterranean Duo with hummus and baba ganoush ($10) to a Bibimbap Rice Bowl with crispy brown rice, vegetables, smoked tofu, and ponzu ($17). Lighter entrees include a selection of salads and sandwiches.
We tried the Ahi Tuna Sandwich, which features slices of lightly seared ahi tuna and a carrot ginger slaw. The lightly tart slaw added a nice texture, but the majority of the flavor came by the way of the mildly spicy Sriracha mayo. The most surprisingly enjoyable aspect of the dish was the multigrain bread; with a touch of butter and a light toasting it made the perfect base for a light, healthy lunch.
The sandwich came with a side of The Standard House Salad, but the greens were heavy with a very tart house vinaigrette, making us wish we'd paid the extra $2 for a different side. The Lemongrass Soba Noodles with sesame oil, ginger, and green onions sounded like it may have been a better option.
The Standard's selection of beer, wine, and cocktails definitely surpasses those found at some other restaurant/markets around town. There are 15 red wines, white wines, and sakes available both by the bottle and glass, as well as more than a dozen beers available either on tap or by the bottle.
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A menu of signature cocktails ranges from the simple Shakermaker with Cruzan rum, lime juice, simple syrup, and herbs, to the more exotic Ring of Fire, which includes sake, agave, lemon juice, triple sec, and jalapenos.
Located just around the corner from Chaparral High School, The Standard will be hoping to capitalize on the needs of on-the-go students and parents looking for a healthy-quick dinner option. The price point may seem a bit high for some, but convenience does comes at a cost and the quality of The Standard's food seems poised to make it a solid neighborhood spot.