Window Dressing

After being closed for a month, The Phoenician's Windows on the Green has reopened with a new decor and a new menu. In a surprising -- and entirely refreshing -- promotion, the new menu is being introduced with reduced prices through April 1.

Savings average 10 percent, which adds up, considering appetizers range from $7 to $10, entrees cost $18 to $26, and desserts come in at $5 to $7.

The discounts are offered to encourage diners to try what's called a preview menu, says Marguarite Clark, director of public relations for The Phoenician. "To be honest, it's also to keep critics at bay, understanding that it's a brand-new menu that may get some tweaking."

The new look and cuisine focuses on a Southwest grill concept, including a lounge with a billiards table and private dining space. Dishes look fun, such as guacamole prepared tableside, green chile posole with smoked duck leg, baked potato pie, and Colorado rack of lamb with creamy poblano grits. Sign me up for the citrus and pine nut cake filled with goat cheese, topped with orange caramel and cajeta ice cream.

Crew Coup: What brings a chef from Napa Valley's famous French Laundry restaurant to a low-profile cafe hidden in Carefree's el Pedregal? According to new Crew "an eat place" chef Kevin Binkley, an opportunity to escape from the "stuffiness" that usually accompanies notable restaurants.

Well, Crew is the place for kicking back, certainly. It's a favorite of mine for sunset drinks on the patio, overlooking what desert remains after the encroachment of the Terravita subdivision and the Target shopping mall. The menu's no slouch, though. Check out the seared ono salad over ruby grapefruit, avocado, red grapes, fennel and blood-red vinaigrette; or hibiscus-smoked rainbow trout over toasted walnut orzo and bourbon-apple jus.

Chez New: Chez Bubba's original restaurant on First Street has closed, but fans of the Carribbean/Creole cuisine can get their fix at the new location in Heritage Square, Seventh Street and Adams.

Kill the Cook: How to respond when the manager of an assemble-it-yourself Asian wok buffet repeatedly -- annoyingly -- asks if I like how my dish is prepared? Who's to blame if I don't? Finally, I reply, no, I'm a vegetarian, and there's meat in this bowl. He pauses. Stammers. Well, did you put meat in it? Ah. That's the last time he interrupts my lunch.


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