Arizona Spring Restaurant Week is just around the corner, the 10-day event during which bargain-seeking diners come out in droves to restaurants all over the city and state. Overall, there a lot of yawn-inducing menus on this year's list, but I've found a few that could be genuinely interesting -- even to the most jaded food lovers.
This year's Arizona Spring Restaurant Week -- don't forget, there's another restaurant week event in the fall -- will take place from Saturday, May 17, to Sunday, May 26. You can see the complete list of participating restaurants and their menus for yourself on the Arizona Restaurant Week website. Reservations are recommended. Call the restaurants to make yours.
The Clever Koi Cuisine: Modern Asian Price: $30
Now that the guys over at Clever Koi have had time to settle in, I'm hopeful they can really starting pushing the boundaries at this modern Asian restaurant. The Restaurant Week menu indicates that they are. It includes quite a few dishes I'd be interested in trying, including the sriracha-roasted pork ribs, steak "Cobb" bibimbap, and spicy seafood hot pot. Plus, at just $30 for three courses, this is one of the better deals out there during the event.
Tomato & Melon Salad: Pickled Onions, Peanuts, Frisee, Mizuna, Tempura Avocado, Lemongrass Vinaigrette (V)
Sriracha Roasted Pork Ribs: Frisee, Daikon Cole Slaw (G)
Edamame Fritters: Roasted Chilies & Corn, Sweet Chili Sauce (G,V)
Steak "Cobb" Bibimbap: Grilled Bulgogi Flat Iron, Bacon, Tomato, Scallion, Tempura Avocado, Soft Egg (G)
Spicy Seafood Hot Pot: Shrimp, Catfish, Wood Grilled Octopus, Cilantro, Scallion, Lime
Summer Corn Ramen: Roasted Corn Broth, Summer Squash, Chilies, Asparagus, Miso Butter (V)
Roasted Banana Fritters: Five Spice Sugar, Red Miso Caramel
"Almond Joy" Rice Pudding: Chocolate Coconut Rice / Toasted Almond Toffee (G)
G-Gluten Free V-Vegetarian
Binkley's Restaurant Cuisine: Contemporary American Price: $40
Whether or not you're interested in molecular gastronomy, it's nearly impossible to deny that spending $40 to dine at Binkley's Restaurant is a deal. The chef's credentials alone make it a bargain, and once you take into consideration that the menu is one of the most interesting offered by any of the participating restaurants, it makes this pick a no-brainer. Just about every amuse bouche listed -- from the carbonated grape with crème fraiche, ricotta, and walnut to the Blueberry Bomb with lime honey -- sounds like a one-of-a-kind experience you won't find anywhere else, especially at that price.
Chicken Liver Mousse fruit bread crostini, apricot mustardo, and cornichon
Gazpacho with Basil Oil
Carbonated Grape crème fraiche ricotta and walnut
Miniature Sloppy Joe gaufrette potato chip and caperberry
Chilled Sweet Corn Soup blue crab, spring beans, sumac crème fraiche, vanilla-black pepper olive oil, corn puddin' milk jam, cornbread
Blueberry Bomb with Lime Honey Grapefruit-thyme Soda
Wild Boar Shank Ragout chocolate-pumpernickel pasta, leeks, cherries, hazelnuts, parmesan
Tropical Fruit Jello Shot Lava Lamp Smoked Salted Maple Crème Brulee Lemon, Hibiscus and Mint Digestif
White Chocolate Semifreddo raspberries, yellow curry oat streusel, macaron, caramel chocolate sauce
Mignardises Horseradish Granola
Tonto Bar and Grill Cuisine: Southwestern Price: $30
Between the long drive (that is, unless you live in Carefree) and the not-exactly-inexpensive price tag, Tonto doesn't make it into our dining calendar nearly as often as it probably deserves. But the good news is that the restaurant is offering a tempting menu during Restaurant Week for just $30. I like that this menu offers something to appeal to every taste, with options ranging from fairly straightforward tortilla crusted crab cakes to more elevated dishes such as orange barbecued salmon with sweet potato poblano corn hash, spaghetti squash, spinach, roasted garlic and mesquite honey jus. It's the kind of destination that will satisfy your obnoxious food friends and picky eaters.
Compressed Arugula Salad with Spanish Manchego, Candied AZ Pecans, Sun-Dried Cherries, Tart Green Apples and Pistachio Vinaigrette
Tortilla Crusted Crab Cakes with Jicama Roasted Green Chile Slaw and Chipotle Aioli
Fresh Beet Salad with Fossil Creek Goat Cheese, Watercress, Sun-Dried Cranberries, and Raspberry Vinaigrette
Orange Barbecued Salmon with Sweet Potato Poblano Corn Hash, Spaghetti Squash, Spinach, Roasted Garlic and Mesquite Honey Jus
Ancho Chili Rubbed 6 oz. Filet, Crimini and Scallions, Manchego Scalloped Potatoes, AZ Roasted Corn Cream and Adobo Demi
Root Beer Braised Short Ribs with Sweet Potato, Caramelized Onion and Leek Gratin, French Beans with Garlic and Smoked AZ Pecans, Root Beer Reduction
Warm Buttermilk Chocolate Cake with Warm Chocolate Buttermilk Sauce and Candied Pecan Ice Cream
Lemon-Lime Sour Cream Meringue Pie with Raspberries, Sliced Kiwi, Baked in an Almond Crust
Crème Brulee with Piloncillo Caramel Swirl, Salted Pepita Lace Cookie, Fresh Seasonal Berries
Selection of Housemade Sorbets served with Anise Pizzella Cookie
Little Cleo's Seafood Legend Cuisine: Seafood Price: $30
Yet another $30 bargain meal. I'll happily admit that if I have to be caught at a Sam Fox restaurant, I'd much rather have it be Little Cleo's than any other "concept." And quite frankly, the crispy frog legs with fish sauce, roasted cashews and Thai chile sap on this menu sound absolutely delicious. I'd definitely skip the fish and chips in favor the Bouillabaisse, though, which sounds like a quite a deal if it's actually loaded with scallops, mussels, and shrimp.
(Choose One) New England Style Clam Chowder
Crispy Frog Legs l fish sauce, roasted cashews, thai chili sap
Grilled Octopus l crispy masa, watercress, charred serrano
Black Kale l apple, clementines, bacon, amish cheddar, almonds
(Choose One) Traditional Fish & Chips l celery seed coleslaw
Grilled Ahi Tuna l mushroom ginger dumplings, spicy caramelized soy*
"Bouillabaisse" l scallops, mussels, shrimp, tomato, fennel, saffron*
(Choose One) Buttermilk Pie l seasonal fruit
Brioche Donuts l salted chocolate, vanilla custard, strawberry preserves
Posh Restaurant Cuisine: Improvisational Price: $40
I've had the chance to try Josh Hebert's food on multiple occasions, so I won't hesitate to recommend Posh. If you're at all open to the idea of letting the chef design your meal on a whim, then Restaurant Week would be a great opportunity to try just go for it. Generally, the cheapest menu at Posh is a five-course option that will set you back $60. The Restaurant Week menu will get you only four courses, but at least it won't break the bank for you and a date.
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