Judging by its somewhat lofty name, you might get the impression that Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen indulges in a fair amount of pretension. Maybe you picture a dining room plastered with Rothko lookalikes and a long-winded cocktail menu featuring drinks that are more complicated than they are delicious. Or maybe, as a friend confessed to me recently, you have found the restaurant’s name downright confusing, and you’ve been left wondering if it’s one of those date night paint-and-wine art studios.
As I found out, Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen is not a working art studio, nor is it pretentious. The restaurant’s name, in case your weaving terminology is a little rusty, is a reference to the two basic types of thread that make up a woven fabric. It’s a metaphor for the restaurant’s “modern Sonoran” concept, described on its website as an “artistic tapestry of the Sonoran Desert.”
Though it might sound high-minded, it’s not untrue. The dishes at Weft & Warp do often weave local flavors and ingredients into the traditional canvas of high-end resort cooking. The results are less self-conscious, and often more delightful, than you might imagine. This small, artfully named hotel restaurant located at the new Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa, as it turns out, is one of the most interesting and satisfying new restaurants to open in the Valley thus far this year.
The luxury Hyatt property is situated just north of Old Town in the space that formerly housed the Cottonwood Suites. After extensive renovation, the Andaz has emerged as a breezy, quietly chic resort, featuring casita-style bungalows, views of Camelback Mountain, and a resolute devotion to Midcentury Modern design.
The restaurant is situated deep inside the resort, far enough away from the main entrance to make you forget about the din and clamor of Scottsdale Road. On the way to the restaurant, you might be distracted by the assortment of designer chairs in the lobby, or by the small gift shop stocked with locally made art, watercolor sets, and midcentury coloring books. An indie acoustic playlist emanates softly over the house speakers. If there is an underlying house philosophy at Andaz, it might be summed up as something I saw written on a hotel guest’s T-shirt on a recent visit: “No Bad Vibes.”
The relaxed ambiance is carried over into the restaurant, which is just beyond the lobby. The dining room is open and airy, a cheerful space where natural light pours in through floor-to-ceiling windows. Tables are arranged in various configurations, with an eclectic assortment of seating options, including banquettes, low-slung leather chairs, ornately plush designer numbers, and comfy love seats. The house designer, I’m fairly certain, must entertain a mild obsession with beautiful chairs.
There is a U-shaped bar in the middle of the room, overlooking a display wall that showcases a colorful assemblage of books and art. The restaurant’s most notable design point, though, is the exhibition kitchen, which features floor-to-ceiling glass walls that leave most of the kitchen action fully visible to anyone passing by.
The executive chef at Weft & Warp is Adam Sheff. “We call him Chef Sheff,” a server told me on a recent visit.
Adam Sheff previously cooked at the Park Hyatt in Washington, D.C., among other properties, and he seems to have taken to the dramatic change in scenery, his menu embracing and playing with desert ingredients and flavors in a way that rarely feels contrived.
You’ll find, for instance, simple but refined small-plate offerings like Arizona-grown Medjool dates, sliced and served with fresh cream and pistachio crumbles. Even more intriguing are the Crow’s Dairy goat cheese dumplings. The dumplings are rolled in dark onion ash and served on a rich, buttery tangle of spaghetti squash. The black onion ash is a subtle twist, imbuing the dumplings with a pleasantly acrid undertone, and lifting a fairly common dish into new and exciting territory.
There is a wonderful braised lamb belly, too. The fall-apart hunks of meat, full of succulent, earthy flavor, are served with a rather flat and watery chimichurri sauce. But the meat is so beautifully cooked, the dish proves impossible to resist. A watermelon salad served with a dappling of quark and fried chicken skin is less successful. The watermelon and cream are fine and refreshing, but the chunk of chicken skin served on top feels superfluous and clunky.
On the small, well-composed entrée menu, there is more than enough to make up for any disappointing starters. A whole roasted chicken, accented with preserved lemon and complemented with a dark, earthy adobo sauce, is succulent and delightful. A Sonoran “risotto” made with local wheat berries, wild rice, and quinoa is richly textured and surprisingly indulgent, thanks to a generous infusion of Parmesan. It’s far from a traditional risotto, but its inventiveness is hard not to love, and it also happens to be delicious.
Flank steak is tender and beautifully cooked. But what makes the dish so memorable is the exquisite Kilt Lifter beer and onion puree on the side, a slightly sweet, rich gravy that puddles around the meat, soaking into the steak and amplifying its flavor.
A Kurobuta pork chop is nearly flawless, the tendrils of pink meat exceptionally succulent. The pork is served with a deceptively simple black bean puree, which ripples with earthy flavor that perfectly complements the sweetness of the pork.
Whole trout is beautifully seared on the kitchen’s plancha grill, the fish delivered with a crisp and golden veneer. But the subtly sweet flavor of the fish is nearly overwhelmed by an overly assertive and indelicately vinegary romesco sauce.
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For dessert, it would be mistake to skip a slice of the house olive oil cake, which is made with Queen Creek olive oil and paired with a nicely tart winter citrus salad. The bright citrus works wonderfully with the moist, dense cake. There’s also a very good mesquite chocolate tart, its gritty crust redolent of the aromatic and earthy sweetness that you just can’t get from conventional white flour.
Mesquite flour is nothing new around these parts, of course, but it still feels mildly and pleasantly surprising to come upon it here, a local flavor artfully woven into the menu of a swanky new resort restaurant. This is something Weft & Warp’s refined yet laid-back menu is doing very well.
Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen
6114 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 6:30 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Sunday and Monday, 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Braised lamb belly $14
Grilled flank steak $28
Kurobuta pork chop with black bean puree $32
Mesquite tart $9