After keeping a low profile since he left his longtime chef position at Cowboy Ciao in 2009 -- with the exception of his solo appearance at last spring's Devoured Culinary Classic -- this weekend Bernie Kantak returns to Old Town Scottsdale with the launch of his very own restaurant, Citizen Public House.
Set to soft-open on Saturday (doors officially open Sunday), the upscale "new-fashioned" gastropub is located in a completely renovated building that previouly housed the nightclub Next, and was the original location of Trader Vic's. It's decked out with leather booths, mahogany accents, a stainless steel-topped bar, and vintage family photos for a nostalgic vibe. There's also a private upstairs dining room, a semi-private, 12-seat alcove, and a patio.
Kantak met his partners, Andrew Fritz and Rich Moe, during his days at Cowboy Ciao and Kazimierz, and here, they'll be handing the front of the house and an ambitious beverage program that showcases craft beers, inventive cocktails, and wine.
Meanwhile, Kantak has created an enticing menu of contemporary American pub grub with a lot of unique twists. Here, the popcorn is heirloom, popped in Tenderbelly bacon fat, while the mac 'n cheese goes for the jugular with gorgonzola and Emmental cheeses. The burger is made with decadent wagyu beef, and there's a lamb burger, too. Like the grilled Halloumi cheese sandwich, it's served on a Serbian lepijna roll (a salute to Kantak's Eastern European roots).
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.