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Love is in the air with appetizers such as the foie gras over creamy polenta with beet slices, fresh berries, and a port reduction. Entrees quicken our heart with delights like seared Chilean sea bass with shrimp pot stickers and crisp chicken in a spicy crayfish broth, and Italian Cowboy veal chop garnished with Sicilian green olives, peppercorns and artichoke hearts.
After dinner, we cuddle on the desert-landscaped patio, spooning in the glow of a fireplace and splashing waterfall. Our whispered sweet nothings are seconded by the faraway howl of a coyote. What's not to love?
But, hey, we'll lie about our affiliations if it gets us seated for the surprising sustenance served here. This is old-style class all the way, rich with tableside presentation and a grande dame atmosphere of ornate chandeliers and brocade fabrics. Food is over-the-top classic. Remember appetizers like beef consommé (stocked with root vegetables, tomato concasse and fresh basil), or prawns Provençal, sautéed with garlic and pimientos? Entrees even sound elegant: Lobster Lord Randolph, truffled and flambéed in Courvoisier; and duckling aux framboise with raspberry bigarade sauce. Sunday brunch is something special, too, served with unlimited champagne and made-to-order omelets, eggs Benedict, carved prime rib, smoked salmon and retro-but-loved deviled eggs and thick-sliced pâté.
For creative, quiet, unexpectedly elegant dining, Palm Court is our best frond.
That's only $1.59 to $1.75 per person for such delights as green chile mushroom phyllo pockets, baked pesto Brie en croûte, smoked salmon with artichoke hearts and cream cheese, and cold noodle sesame ginger chicken with oriental vegetables. Healthful platters abound, such as salads -- chef, Caesar chicken, albacore tuna, Greek, antipasto or crispy Parmesan chicken. Then there are balsamic portabella mushrooms and sherry-glazed roasted onions with rosemary flatbread, or crispy scallion shrimp won tons with tamari dipping sauce.
Why take a chance on the perfect party? Just order the perfect platter from Flancer's.
There's real Arizona history here, with black booths that once seated stars like Billy Martin, Harry Caray, John McNamara and Stan Musial. The jerseys on the walls are from the greatest players, autographed by the best, and hung alongside World Series-issue bats signed by modern-day teams.
There's also welcome value at lunch and dinner: The Pink Pony Special, a hefty sirloin steak complete with soup or salad, baked or French fried potatoes or rice pilaf, hot biscuits and honey, is just $15. Main courses remind us of Sunday dinner at Grandma's: golden pan-fried chicken, genuine calf's liver with bacon and onion, and -- for a fancy treat -- prime rib or barbecued pork ribs.
When you want to remember old-time Arizona, ride on over to the Pink Pony.
The menu offers some notable Mediterranean-influenced favorites: jumbo shrimp slicked in a delightfully wicked lemon-habanero glaze, teamed with glazed mushrooms and roasted pancetta sauce; or ravioli stuffed with ample butter-braised lobster and caramelized shallots in a ghostly rich beurre blanc. Fish, too, is fantastic, such as buttery Coast Chilean sea bass sided with cranberry beans, pequillo peppers and a smoked bacon-lobster jus. Still, in this setting, food is almost an afterthought. Surrounded by such natural, pure Arizona beauty, even cardboard would taste good.
Originally a seafood restaurant, the property wraps around a Disney-style "pier" overlooking an "ocean" that's more blue-painted concrete moat than splashing shore. Thick, tall stucco walls seclude the patio in a cozy, quiet courtyard decorated with wagon wheels, hanging chiles and a fountain.
It's a fine, fair-weather spot to kick back and sip on a major margarita and enjoy specialty dishes like Santa Fe duck ravioli (crispy chipotle pasta with smoked duck and Brie cream sauce), carne adovada or a searingly spicy habanero cheeseburger (with a free glass of milk to extinguish the flames). For a comfortable price -- about $8 at lunch, $15 at dinner -- and a laid-back outdoor experience, park it at Carlsbad Tavern.
Once we're stuffed, we summon strength for a quick shopping spree through this wood-floored, cottage-decorated eatery, filling our bags with cozy antique knickknacks. Then, it's home for a nice, long nap.
For breakfast, Kiss the Cook smacks of the best.