Cafe Reviews

Lunch Be a Lady: Exploring the Arcadia Lunch Scene

Page 3 of 3

Across 44th Street at Chestnut, the price point is about the same, though you'll quickly find that this beautiful restaurant is like a cheap designer knockoff: On the surface, it looks right, but look a little deeper and you'll find the imperfections.

The exposed kitchen, marble bar, crystal and metal cake plates, large apothecary jars, and turn-of-the-century aesthetic make you want to like it. The Cartel Coffee, MJ Bread, and McClendon's Select produce make you want to like it. After sitting at the counter for 20 minutes only to be told that I had to order at the register, I was a little peeved -- especially since the restaurant was nearly empty.

Service aside, the food -- once it finally arrived -- was lackluster. The five-spice tofu bahn mi with pickled and fresh vegetables sounds like a recipe for tons of flavor, but the thick, spongy bread and seemingly uncooked tofu made up most of the dish, resulting in a blandly unpleasant flavor. It's both insulting to what the Vietnamese sandwich should be and to vegetarians, who aren't desperate for options, especially with the vegetarian-friendlier Flower Child opened right across the street.

On the greens side, the Chestnut Chopped should be a showing of the restaurant's capabilities in salad form, since it bears the joint's name. The plate came to me with wilted, brown "greens," dry chicken, heirloom tomatoes that looked past their prime, French feta, and some other veggies, all drenched in balsamic vinaigrette. It was a sad display for salad, but downright depressing when you factor in the $13 price.

The highlights of the meal came from the Billy Club sandwich, which was good only because it had bacon on it, and the blueberry lavender cupcake. If you like a lighter whipped cream frosting on dense cake, this treat does the trick, but, like most of the Chestnut offerings, it didn't impress on the flavor front, giving only hints of floral lavender and almost no tart, sweet blueberry at all.

But the lunch must go on. So I headed to Indian School and 36th Street to The Market by Jennifer's. The catering business turned dine-in establishment was opened by Jennifer Russo-Fitzgerald about six months ago and already has completely revamped its philosophy from a lot of catering-centric grab-and-go options to a larger focus on dining in.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Heather Hoch is a music, food, and arts writer based in Tucson. She enjoys soup, scotch, Electric Light Orchestra, and walking her dog, Frodo.
Contact: Heather Hoch