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Now Open: Gilbert Speakeasy Conjures Harry Potter and Other Books

The blue kegs indicate where The Novelist begins.
The blue kegs indicate where The Novelist begins. Allison Trebacz
The Novelist is a new craft kitchen concept restaurant inside the Gilbert O.H.S.O. To get there, follow signs for the patio, because there’s only one way in. It’s adjacent to the patio bar and tucked behind a two-story wall of blue-lighted kegs. A window between the kegs offers a view into the swanky bar. Right away, you will note the drastically different color scheme.

The entrance isn't exactly hidden, but there's still an exclusivity to The Novelist.

You walk through the kegs and find yourself transported. There's a bar to the right with powder-blue leather barstools. The kitchen has a colored mural that brings light to the dim space, infusing the upscale setting with pops of orange and rivets of neon green and fuchsia.

The Novelist is a special treat for readers. Checks are brought out, tucked in the pages of a book; the mural above the kitchen is an homage to Harry Potter. Paintings depict influential female writers like J.K. Rowling, Mary Shelley, Charlotte Bronte, and others.

click to enlarge Literary paintings swirl across parts of the interior - ALLISON TREBACZ
Literary paintings swirl across parts of the interior
Allison Trebacz
The dining room is carpeted. Red leather booths are situated around mahogany topped underneath a large chandelier. It feels like a reading-lounge-meets-modern-smoking-room.

According to Ken Laresh, executive chef, The Novelist is meant to be a stepping stone from O.H.S.O. to its sister restaurant, The Covenant, an upscale concept kitchen in Scottsdale that cooks just about everything in a 900-degree oven. The Novelist’s menu puts elements of its related restaurants on display.

click to enlarge The Novelist does upscale bar food - ALLISON TREBACZ
The Novelist does upscale bar food
Allison Trebacz
Some of the overlapping dishes include ceviche, roasted beets with goat cheese and a vanilla vinaigrette, and crab cakes. The Novelist has also included a few O.H.S.O. staples, like the Cubano sandwich and the Arcadia veggie burger. All sandwiches at The Novelist are served with truffle fries.

Food matches the upscale setting: sea bass, mushroom ravioli with lobster cream sauce, nachos with braised pork, and the mac and cheese balls with poblano coulis. The flavors at The Novelist fuse higher-end cuisine with the tried-and-true character of standard bar fare.

The best reason to go The Novelist may be weekend brunch. The menu includes $15 bottomless Champagne, salmon-avocado toast, eggs Benedict with pork shoulder bacon, and breakfast nachos topped with an over-easy egg and green chile queso.

The restaurant is also offering a $7 happy hour that includes eight $7 appetizer options; deals on beer and wine; and $7 house craft cocktails, many made with O.H.S.O.’s own spirits. A few that stand out are the Goblet of Fire, a nod to Harry Potter that features mezcal, muddled jalapeno, and elderflower liqueur, as well as the Gone Girl, which combines lemon vodka, lemon juice, champagne, and more.

click to enlarge Mac and Cheese balls - ALLISON TREBACZ
Mac and Cheese balls
Allison Trebacz
The novelist is a great new addition to the Gilbert restaurant scene. The restaurant is serving good food and great drinks. It’s also a worthy place to sip a cocktail as you wait for a table at O.H.S.O., and vice versa. The location is win for people who like to drink while waiting, or who like to drink period.

The Novelist. 335 North Gilbert Road, #103, Gilbert; 602-775-5490.
Monday to Friday 4 to 10 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
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