Could any restaurant in the Valley possibly be generating more excitement right now than tiny FnB, the cozy, convivial spot that ever-gracious front-of-the-house multitasker Pavle Milic opened late last year with chef Charleen Badman?
Not in my book.
Local food fanatics are raving about this place, where something as humble as braised leeks becomes a seductive dish with homemade mozzarella and oozing fried egg, and the wine list is a proud showcase of Arizona's best. If you've ever encountered Milic at any of his previous gigs -- most recently Prado and Digestif -- you know that doting service is also a given here.
Word is out on FnB, and now, Milic says he's been approached by both the New York Times and Food + Wine magazine.
Times reporter Damon Darlin talked to Milic about the locavore movement, and a photographer came out to shoot the restaurant today for an article set to appear in the business section of this Sunday's issue.
"The locavore movement is normally associated with things we eat," says Milic, explaining that FnB's all-Arizona wine list is what caught the newspaper's attention. (Read this feature story I wrote on one of the winemakers featured at the restaurant.)
He says there's usually a bit of a disconnect between restaurants' menus, which often promote local ingredients, and their beverage programs, which mostly steer clear of Arizona wines. Since introducing the wine list, Milic says he's doing "anything to raise awareness," and plans to host an upcoming blind tasting for a panel of wine luminaries.
Food + Wine restaurant editor Katie Krader also visited FnB recently, as well as (rumor has it) Prado, St. Francis, and Mabel's on Main. According to Milic and another friend of mine, she really enjoyed Badman's cooking.
It's not certain whether Food + Wine will feature FnB in an upcoming article, but one thing's certain: Krader also heads up the magazine's annual Best New Chefs search, whose winners are announced in April.
I have a feeling this is the calm before the storm for FnB -- in the best possible way.