First Taste

Nimbus American Bistro & Brewery: Monkey See, Monkey Need to Do (Better)

When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and 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, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

Restaurant: Nimbus American Bistro & Eatery Location: 7001 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale Open: Two months Eats: Burgers, pizzas, sandwiches Price Range: $11 to $30 per person

The Scottsdale Seville Center, located at the corner of Scottsdale Road and Indian Bend Road, has gone to the monkeys -- the Nimbus monkey that is.

In March, the Tucson-based craft beer brewery, Nimbus, brought its second location of chews and brews to the Valley, in the former home of Taberna Mexicana. Along with a happy hour and over 16 beers on tap, there's a sizable menu of brewpub favorites like burgers, pizzas, sandwiches, and snacks.

Despite its nationally ranked craft beers brewed, Nimbus has work to do in the kitchen if the monkey wants the food to complement the brews.

For starters, my friendly server couldn't say enough about the customer favorite Monkey Burn, ($6) a plate of fried sliced jalapeños served with a cream cheese dip. They certainly were tasty, featuring a mild heat more than a "burn," and they were not greasy, despite their being fried. Don's Infamous Meatballs ($8), however, were another story. Named after the owner, I can only speculate that they've become "infamous" for what was a lack of seasoning. Dipping the six golf-ball-size meatballs in their accompanying plum and housemade barbecue sauces made them better, but only marginally.

Oddly enough, one of those same sauces, the Nimbus Oatmeal Stout barbecue sauce, was nearly absent from my Nimbus Oatmeal Stout barbecue pork sandwich ($10.) The slow-cooked meat, although tender and moist, could have used the extra flavor. But the real problem wasn't the pork -- it was the pile of greasy tumbleweed onions packed on top of it and a barely-there coleslaw.

And if you enjoy the dizzying highs and lethargic lows of a good ol' fashioned carb load, Nimbus' mac 'n' cheese pizza ($9) is for you. Featuring housemade mac 'n' cheese, bits of bacon, and cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, this must-share 10-inch pie, with its soft, chewy crust, certainly satisfies. But I would have appreciated a topping such as roasted red peppers, jalapeño, or broccoli to add a dash of color and texture to the monochromatic pie and its heavy, bread-y bites.

Despite its being open for two months, the sprawling and somewhat bare interior of Nimbus feels as though it moved into a space so big it didn't have enough furniture and decor to fill it. And on my early-evening visit, the house lights were suddenly turned up, as if it were time to go home (maybe that's why my entrees came out nearly right after my apps). There is a nice patio,, though, which is where most guests seemed to be enjoying themselves.

But until the Nimbus monkey can do as good a job in the kitchen as he does in the brewery, I won't be in either spot. I'll be drinking my beer at home.

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