First Taste

Baratin: Casual Complement to FnB and Simply Stellar Locally Focused Food

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, 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: Baratin Location: 7125 E. 5th Ave., Scottsdale Open: One month. Eats: American Price point: $11 - $30 per person

Last month, the potent pair behind FnB -- front-of-the-house pro Pavle Milic and chef Charleen Badman -- launched their three-concept dining, wine, and grocery experience at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Craftsman Court (in the Kiva Center) in Scottsdale.

All under one roof, the three concepts include a neighborhood market with a focus on local goodies called the Bodega; AZ Wine Merchants, a small retail wine store; and a cafe, Baratin, a casual complement to FnB where the menu changes daily. (You can see a slideshow of the revamped interiors here.)

Let's pop in to Baratin and take a bite, shall we?

Depending on where you enter, making it into Baratin might mean going through AZ Wine Merchants (worth a peek) or the Bodega market (harder to resist) with its selections of goodies like hand-pulled mozzarella, Tender Belly bacon, veggies from McClendon's Select, homemade sugars, and so-good MJ Bread. The good news: You can resume shopping by leaving the same way you came in.

Milic told the Republic that the idea for Baratin (which means "sweet talker" in French) came from a popular Parisian bistro and wine bar, which also was a source of inspiration for FnB's interior. Indeed, Baratin is small and quaint -- the kind of place that feels perfect for a casual and priced-right lunch or light dinner and a glass of wine.

Though there are only about 30 seats in Baratin, the high ceiling and large windows make the bistro's contemporary yet approachable space feel more open than cramped. A small menu, limited to a salad, vegetable, pâté, sandwich, and dessert, definitely won't appeal to those who like a large selection, but if you're a fan of FnB's seasonal creations, chef Charleen Badman, or locally procured ingredients, then choosing a few dishes from five or six items shouldn't be a problem -- most, as expected, are exceptionally good.

On my visit, I started with tasty pickled mussels, a cold dish featuring mussel meat swimming in a briny broth, brightly flavored with parsley, onions, peppers, and capers. I followed that with a wonderfully rustic salad ($9) featuring blood oranges, arugula, black olives, radishes, and shaved Parmigiano.

A luscious liver pâté ($8) from a Jidori chicken -- a type of free-range bird common in Japan, hyper-local, and beloved for its freshness -- came next. I also enjoyed the Jidori chicken's tender meat, roasted on a sandwich ($10) along with grilled onions, arugula, tomato, and melted Manchego cheese between slices of crunchy bread.

And what better ending to a Badman dinner than with a Badman dessert? In my case, a jarful of her dreamy and rich butterscotch pudding ($5). Pure bliss.

Badman's fresh, locally focused food, a quaint and comfortable atmosphere, reasonable prices, and outstanding service mean Baratin is poised to be a must-stop in Scottsdale and a casual alternative to the higher-end FnB. And Baratin's two neighboring shops, featuring local goodies and Milic's favorite wines, make the experience all the more delectable.

Hey FnB fans, have you been to Baratin yet? What did you think?

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Laura Hahnefeld
Contact: Laura Hahnefeld