Cafe Reviews


Dough Boy: If I were presumptuous enough to make a small addition to the Lord's Prayer, it would be this: "Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And please, please, make it good."

Well, it looks like my prayer has finally been answered. The Valley now has a first-class, topnotch bakery where we can get our daily loaves. It's named Arizona Bread Company, and it's at 7000 East Shea in Scottsdale, behind Bobby McGee's and across from Sushi on Shea. Open for about three months, Arizona Bread Company is run by Ohio transplants who told me they used to be in the optical business. Then they decided to study the art of bread-making. They're obviously good students. They carry about 20 varieties of bread, all of which prove to me that man can live by bread alone. The French baguette, a true test, is outstanding, crunchy and chewy. Italian rosemary bread, raisin-pecan sourdough and European rye are irresistible. Look for focaccia, challah (on Fridays) and the Saturday special, fougasse, a fragrant sage-and-walnut flat bread. With Arizona Bread Company and Pierre's Pastry Cafe right across the street from each other, bread and pastry lovers will probably be jamming up the Scottsdale Road/Shea Boulevard intersection more than ever. They won't regret the inconvenience. Arizona Bread Company is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Call 948-8338. Seeing Double: The Valley's tremendous restaurant growth is having one unpleasant side effect. Yes, promising places continue to open--check out Cafe Brazil, the Brazilian restaurant on East Indian School Road; Tarbell's, the new bistro at 32nd Street and Camelback; and Nola's, the upscale Mexican place at Biltmore Fashion Park.

But a lot of the restaurant expansion is simply old wine in new bottles. Hops! Bistro and Brewery, Steamers, California Pizza Kitchen, Sam's Cafe, Thai Lahna, Marco Polo Cafe, Nina L'Italiana Ristorante, Houston's, Christopher's and 5 & Diner are just some of the places that have opened or are about to open new outlets. I guess it's only natural for them to try to take advantage of their reputations and cash in on the Valley's growth and improving economy. Several more well-known dining spots, I hear, are looking to follow the same pattern.

So what's my problem? It's this: How many Hops!, Marco Polo Cafes and 5 & Diners does the Valley need? I'm fond of all of these places, but cloning successful restaurants is not the way to perk up the eating-out scene. And when chefs try to operate far-flung operations and are forced to become accountants, administrators and personnel managers, the charm and quality of the cooking that attracted us to their restaurants in the first place are likely to suffer. Of course, it's easy for me to say I'd like to see imaginative chef/entrepreneurs taking culinary risks instead of duplicating a tried-and-true formula. It's not my money that might go down the drain. Still, I hope the creative urges that have turned Phoenix into a pretty sophisticated restaurant town in the past few years haven't begun to dry up.

Suggestions? Write me at New Times, P.O. Box 2510, Phoenix,

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Howard Seftel