When a new spot opens in town, we're eager to check it out, 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 — an occasion to sample a few items and satisfy curiosities (both yours and ours).
Gastromé Market opened in September, bringing a well-curated collection of gourmet goodies to Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale. The upscale marketplace quickly established itself as a place where people with great taste can go to buy things that taste great.
Its small but sophisticated inventory includes jars of local and imported ingredients such as jams, olive oils, and balsamic vinegars along with daily deli items, fresh bread, and a concise yet eclectic wine collection. An artisan meat and cheese counter rivals anything in the Valley. If you’re shopping to impress, whether it’s for a host gift, romantic dinner at home, or holiday party spread, you likely can’t do better than this.
The exceptional cocktails, though, are where the bar really shines. All 14 drinks on the list ($16 each) offer a savvy spin on the classics.
Also notable is the Divina Costiera, an ideal aperitif that the server described as “a lemon drop with a Ph.D.” It was a deftly balanced delight of not overly piney gin, Italian mandarin honeysuckle, lemon, amber honey, and bitters. It had a whiff of lemony sweetness and the slightest tinge of acidity, but nothing cloying or puckery.
The dinner menu is concise, with three pasta plates and four entrees, including an 18-ounce Terra Farm Wagyu Ribeye Bistecca for $125. Nine appetizers, including a salumi and formaggi chef's board ($28) made with wares from the market, are a tip-off that sharing is the right move.
The autumn squash Bolognese ($24) was wildly mischaracterized, marred by a mediocre aqcua pazza, a tomato-based sauce typically used in seafood dishes, instead of the typical rich tomato, onion, and carrot base of a Bolognese. Meanwhile, the gently charred zucchini and squash, trumpet mushrooms, basil, and paper-thin wedges of Grana Padano added wisps of fall flavor, although more texture would be a welcome contrast to the mushy sauce.
The corn pudding accompaniment was dry, crumbly, and overly sweet, tasting more like a dessert, and the chicken, which the server said was brined for two days, was a tad too salty.
The food didn’t hit quite the right notes all the time, but because it shares some ingredients with the market, the quality was impeccable. The menu advertises that the pastas are locally made by Sonoran Pasta Co., the seafood is sustainably sourced, and the meats are humanely raised.
Chef Christopher Brugman of private chef business Season Your Soul Hospitality initially oversaw and developed the menu, but now Adam Sanchez has been hired. He's leading the team and overseeing the cheese and catering departments. He has an impressive resume working with legendary French chef Jacques Pépin — recipient of a James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award — and as a chef and cheesemonger for the most Michelin-starred chef in the nation, Thomas Keller at The French Laundry in Yountville, California.
Service, on the other hand, was extraordinary: Other than the rogue chicken recommendation, the server was a superhero. He was the epitome of professionalism, from his warm welcome to his patient, thorough explanations, and conscientious check-ins.
And he managed this while tending bar, serving six bar patrons, and juggling four tables that were seated within a few minutes of each other. His graciousness, efficiency, and hustle were award-worthy.
However, it is a superb venue for sharing bites before hitting the bars, a quiet date night, or a ladies-who-lunch outing while picking up party fixings, a special bottle of wine, gift baskets, or stocking stuffers for the gourmands on your holiday list.
The Restaurant at Gastromé
7704 East Doubletree Ranch Road, Scottsdale