Cafe Reviews

All Museum Cafes Are Not Created Equal: PAM's Palette and The Heard's Courtyard Cafe

If you don't consider museum cafes to be a worthwhile dining destination, then it's likely you've never eaten at Palette, the cafe at the Phoenix Art Museum. It's one of downtown Phoenix's better dining spots despite the fact that the menu items bare corny names that change (thought the food does not) with the museum's exhibits. Dishes such as the "No Salad for Old Men" fig salad satisfy with fresh ingredients prepared by Santa Barbara Catering Company, the same company that does the food at The Farm at South Mountain.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Heard Museum's Courtyard Cafe. The Southwestern-inspired menu features items including posole that will likely disappoint with its very salty broth. A better option will be the grilled cheese, which features roasted balsamic onions, sautéed mushrooms, and slabs of Tallegio and Fontina cheeses.

See also: Chodang Tofu and BBQ in Chandler: A Korean Love Story

Here's an except from this week's review:

Whatever you order (or if you're just there for a cocktail from Palette's impressive full-service bar), indulge in a plateful of the hot, crispy Flash Gordon Fries, dusted with Parmesan and herbs and served with a side of piquant paprika aioli that you'll want to spread on everything else you eat. I recently took a snobby British friend to Palette who, when I requested an order of fries as a starter, rolled her eyes. "You Americans and your French fries," she moaned, then proceeded to Hoover up every last crumb of these world-class frites. (She ordered them as a side for her sandwich, as well.)

Hungry for more? Read our full review of PAM's Palette and The Heard's Courtyard Cafe.

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela