Chow Bella

Cafe: Avalon in Scottsdale

We hope you don't mind if we get a bit English major on you for a moment. You see, this week's cafe column has us thinking about Avalon. Yes, we mean the sacred island from the Arthurian legends. It is said to be the very location where Arthur's Excalibur was forged and where the legendary king himself made his final resting place.

Several locations have been identified as the "real" Avalon, but we're not willing to buy into proposed locales based solely on conjecture. We'd rather get symbolic. If there's one thing that represents the notion an island paradise for immortals in The Valley, we think we can all agree that it's Avalon in Scottsdale. Right about now, some coastal cuisine is the sort of ambrosia we'd prefer to feast know, if we were legendary immortals.

Food Critic Michele Laudig on Avalon (the restaurant): 

Without a doubt, Avalon feels like it should be in one of the trendier areas to the north. The front driveway swoops past palm trees and an infinity-edge fountain. Just past the entrance, you can perch at the bar or sip a specialty cocktail on a curvy banquette. An elegant lighting fixture assembled from tiny pieces of glass hangs above a communal table in the middle of the dining room, surrounded by booth seating. Beaded drapes partition the space, and strategic lighting makes mosaic tile and dark wood accents gleam. It's sexy, cool, and low-key.

Accordingly, the kitchen went for subtlety rather than flash. I could see how the menu catered to the hotel crowd with predictable dishes like Caesar salad, shrimp bruschetta, and prime NY steak. But just for kicks, I ordered the basic baby field greens salad to see if the strawberries really were "ripe" as described. Indeed, they were ruby-colored and sweet, the greens fresh and tender, the champagne tangerine vinaigrette a vibrant complement to creamy goat cheese and candied walnuts. Simple but effective...full story

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Jonathan McNamara