This is one of the few spots in town where you'll find us outdoors in summer, under the twinkly lights, drinking a cold glass of Chardonnay.
Such is not the case with Different Pointe of View, located on top of an 1,800-foot mountain just north of Thunderbird Road. You can enjoy this spectacular outlook while sampling from a wine cellar stocked with a mere 86,000 bottles; more than 800 different wines are carried on the menu. Chef Ivan Flowers runs a kitchen that keeps pace nicely with the staggering alcoholic assemblage.
Bonus points if you can name the star witness in the state's most infamous corruption trial who was involved in a fatal car accident exiting the restaurant.
We lean back into the comfortable lobby couches at the Ritz, and sip. Then we pig out. Er, we mean nibble. We promise, after Jeffrey's tea we will never make fun of a cucumber sandwich again. Now we understand that whole lemon curd thing. And we will never forget the pastries, nor the chocolate dipped strawberries.
Sated, we sink back into the pillows and sip more tea, our reverie broken when Jeffrey politely clears his throat to announce the presence of a birthday girl in the lobby and then launches into song.
What a tea party!
On such evenings, we're grateful to the very kind staff at C-Fu Gourmet. The cavernous hall of a restaurant is a great spot for dim sum, and an even better place to let the kids run (almost) free. From the fish tanks in the front to the generally empty sections in the back, this is a place where kids definitely feel like members of the family.
You won't find mac 'n' cheese or chicken nuggets on this expansive menu, but what kid doesn't like to cover herself in white rice, or slurp egg drop soup? Speaking of slurping, we've had many fun family contests, slurping lo mein noodles at C-Fu, and as long as you pad the tip a little, no one will mind the mess you leave behind.
The nice kid behind the counter even gave us a coloring book and pack of crayons, promising that if the kid colors the back, we can bring it in for a free child meal next time. We do have to warn you, though: There's an enormous fake swordfish on the wall at the Mill Avenue location. This led to an uncomfortable conversation:
"Mommy, look at the fish!" "Uh-huh."
"Mommy, remember when the orange Dorothy fish died and Daddy flushed her down the toilet?"
"Mommy, why did orange Dorothy die?"
"Um, um. Uh. Um, don't you want some more of that delicious quesadilla, sweetie?"
As a parent, you can't prepare for everything, but at least this way you can prepare to avoid McDonald's.
But then we learned that PCH's executive chef is Mensur Duzic, a German-trained chef who has worked in Bosnia and, upon his immigration to the Valley, for resorts all over town, including The Buttes in Tempe and the Sunburst Resort in Scottsdale.
On a recent visit to see someone else's sick kid, we tried the food with a clearer head. Sure enough, Duzic's talents were evident in the roast chicken, and you'd never get away with paying $2.75 for a half chicken at the fancy restaurants where he used to work.
Okay, we admit, the surroundings might be a bit of a downer, even with the colorful artwork on the walls. But once a year, Chef Duzic donates a meal for 10 to a hospital fund raiser. (Check the hospital's Web site for future details.) You can eat well and do good. What could taste better?
But settle in and check out the sleek decor, then look at the menu, and you'll be reminded of AZ 88, the quasi-gay bar in Scottsdale, one of the first cool places to drink and dine in the Valley. Some AZ 88 originals opened Corbins, and it was a smart move -- the place was packed on a Monday night in August.
If we were dining at AZ 88, we would have ordered a salad, natch. But when in Rome, we figured. So we got onion rings. They were very, very good.
That's why we were so delighted to hear a squeal when we passed Cold Stone Creamery. We like Cold Stone's ice cream, sure, but for us, it's no big deal -- we can have it any time, at one of dozens of shops that the Scottsdale-based company runs in town. But our friend was through the door, already placing her order in, well, a New York minute. Turns out Cold Stone's the hottest thing to hit Manhattan since Coors started selling beer east of the Mississippi. But it's still hard to get to, in the Big Apple. There isn't a Cold Stone on every corner -- yet.
We watched our friend gorge on a vanilla/cookie dough mix-in and thought to ourselves, "See? Phoenix isn't so bad after all."