Cafe Reviews

Second Helpings

Get Lost: What were the worst-selling dishes that chefs cooked up last year?
Nation's Restaurant News, an industry journal, recently asked well-known chefs about their biggest 1995 menu flops. Among the specialties that diners rejected:

* Veal cheeks. Said the chef: "The dish was wonderful, but it was disastrous. Nobody wanted it. People would visualize the poor baby veal and say, 'Oh no!'"

* Sauteed sardines served over phyllo dough, with ratatouille and a black olive vinaigrette. Ugh.

* Grilled sweetbreads. "We could not give the sweetbreads away," the chef admitted. (Ithink they're are great, especially the ones at Vincent's, dusted with blue cornmeal.)

* Licorice parfait. "I found Americans don't like licorice," confided the chef.

* Baked sticky-rice pudding topped with caramel.
* Fish mousse mixed with morel-leek cream and butternut-squash sabayon. "Maybe it was too cutesy," was the kitchen's assessment.

* Sudanese boiled eggs with chicken and tomato broth.
* Salt cod with squid in squid ink.
* Spaghettini with sun-dried tuna roe. "It's a good dish," claimed the chef. "It's just that not everybody likes it."

Restaurant Update: Think the Valley is saturated with restaurants? People in the business sure don't. The latest evidence: Chez Georges, in the Scottsdale Promenade, next to Sushi on Shea, at 7000 East Shea. It's operated by the former proprietor of Mes Amis, the Borgata.

He thinks the Valley will take to a menu of French/Californian fare that he calls "light Provencal." Look for lots of Mediterranean herbs and spices flavoring entrees like grilled fish and leg of lamb. He also aims to keep prices down. Most entrees range from $10 to $14.

Such Is Life Altos is also on the move. This wonderful Spanish/Basque restaurant, which opened above Such Is Life almost two years ago, is headed to Camelback Village Plaza, at 5029 North 44th Street, just north of Camelback Road. The owner, Miguel Araujo, has severed his partnership with the operator of Such Is Life, which continues to occupy the lower floor at 3602 North 24th Street. Araujo promises basically the same dishes at the new location, at basically the same prices.

Three years ago, Mike's Golden Crust occupied a dinky storefront in a west-side strip center. Then the crowds forced it to move into bigger digs on 35th Avenue north of Greenway Road.

Now Mike's is going big time all the way to Scottsdale with a second branch at 4327 North Scottsdale Road. At last, east siders won't have to cross into the avenues to enjoy first-rate, budget-friendly Greek/Italian fare.

Meatless Meeting: Are you looking to find like-minded people who share your interest in vegetarianism? The Vegetarian Society of Phoenix meets the second Saturday of every month, from 5 to 7 p.m., at 2701 North 16th Street. Stop by and pick up a copy of its vegetarian guide, a listing of local vegetarian-friendly restaurants. It's $3.95 for members, $4.95 for nonmembers.

For more info about the society, or to order a guide, call Pat Zahn at 569-3092.--Howard Seftel

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Howard Seftel

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