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Confluence Restaurant

36889 N. Tom Darlington Dr.
Carefree, AZ 85377
480-488-9796
Critics' Pick
Confluence Restaurant

Chris Malloy

This restaurant's riverine name refers to the fluid joining of culinary influences. Chef Brandon Gauthier pulls from traditions across southern Europe, Asia, and North America, combining them with impressive skill and vision. Victoria Gauthier manages the dining room and beverage program. Brandon's food is seasonally sensitive fine-dining New American with technical chops and creative charm. He effortlessly toggles between acoustic (fried chicken, carnitas tacos) and electric (confit wagyu beef cheek, watermelon soup). The electric dishes — characterized by imagination and flavor detonations — can be spectacular. That watermelon soup, yellow, reaches distant realms of fruity flavor with apricot and pickled cherries, spoonfuls cold, bracing, and wildly refreshing come 114 degrees. Brandon also, for instance, poaches pear in sake, fans slivers around angel food cake, adds candied pecans, then jolts the airy desert with small peaks of vibrant yuzu curd. Simple dishes, those of a few experimental touches rather than many, also hit the spot. Sunchoke soup is rich and nutty. Iberico pork shoulder is rich and nutty in a wholly different, more animal way, dissolving on the tongue in a rush. Fennel and lion's mane mushrooms anchor a sandwich that satisfies more than seems possible. Brandon cooked for Kevin Binkley for roughly a decade. In February 2018, mentee bought the space that would become Confluence from mentor. Today, the Gauthiers' Carefree restaurant is one of the most underrated in the Valley. New Normal: Confluence is asking customers to call ahead for reservations. A takeout menu is available on the website.

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