Opening Friday: Christopher's at the Biltmore

What? Chef Christopher Gross already has a restaurant at Biltmore Fashion Park, you say.

Actually, Mother's Day was the last day for Christopher's Fermier, his long-running bistro at the upscale shopping center at 24th Street and Camelback. Now he has a new spot called Christopher's (on the ground level, next to Macy's), which will open this Friday (assuming he passes the final city inspections scheduled for this week).

At the moment, Gross is busy moving stuff out of his old space, and is antsy to get things rolling at the new one. "Put me to work!" he told me, laughing.

The menu at Christopher's will include lots of familiar favorites, such as wild mushroom soup with foie gras, house-smoked salmon, smoked truffle-infused filet mignon, and hanger steak with sauteed shallots. There will also be plenty of new things to try, from duck confit and fig pizza, to pied de cochon (pig trotters) with sweet breads.

Night owls will be happy to hear that Christopher's will offer an after-hours menu 'til 2 a.m. Meanwhile, the in-house lounge, called Crush, will serve a variety of small plates (smoked salmon, cheeses, salads, and other nibbles).

Gross mentioned his history with running fine-dining restaurants in the Valley, from a 140-seat high-end restaurant in North Scottsdale, to a 60-seater in Phoenix.

"It's really hard to do the big high-end restaurants," he said, explaining that next month he'll launch C144 -- an intimate, 12-seat dining room. It'll be reservation only, with nightly eight-course tasting menus.

Don't be surprised to see streamlined versions of C144 dishes appear on the regular menu, which Gross plans to change up in about a month. "I want to still have the high-end aspect to it, and this will make it fun for everybody in the kitchen."

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