Second Helpings

What's New: When the calendar turns to November, we know it's time to welcome three things to the Valley: brown air, winter visitors and new restaurants.

I can't get excited about the first two. But a trio of new eating spots has caught my eye. I'm looking forward to checking them out in a few weeks, after they've gotten a chance to work out the opening kinks.

• McCormick & Schmick's docked at the Esplanade a couple of weeks ago. It's a successful seafood chain that started out in Portland, Oregon, almost 30 years ago and now boasts some two dozen outlets across the country.

The menu is printed twice daily, for lunch and dinner, offering at least 30 fresh varieties of fish. It makes for good reading.

The sample menu I got includes items like Lake Superior whitefish, Panama red grouper, Prince Edward Island mussels, Maine lobster, Fijian mahimahi, Alaskan halibut, Idaho rainbow trout, Hawaiian ahi tuna, Catalina thresher shark, Washington Dungeness crab and Guaymas rock shrimp.

The prices look surprisingly reasonable. Except for lobster and crab, none of the fish entrees broke the $20 barrier. Seafood pastas come in between $11 and $14, while you can get a salmon burger for $6.65.

• The new Scottsdale Marriott at McDowell Mountains (16770 North Perimeter Drive) has joined the hotel restaurant competition with Zambra Grille.

The menu is Mediterranean, with Spanish accents. The cold tapas include mixed olives and feta cheese, mushrooms in a clove saffron marinade and Serrano ham with Idiazabal cheese and figs. Hot appetizers feature more familiar items like chicken brochette, pizza and fried calamari.

Entrees, priced from $12 to $22, include a vegetarian paella, zarzuela (a Spanish seafood stew), rack of lamb, sirloin coated with Gorgonzola, and chicken breast with mushrooms and manchego cheese, as well as the inevitable ahi tuna, served here with cannellini beans and green apples in a Madeira sauce.

• Bistro America has moved into the space at 4747 North Seventh Street, the site of the old Eddie's Grill. It's run by the same folks behind Michael's at the Citadel.

The menu promises "comfortable American cuisine." That means starters like split pea soup with ham hocks, "crispy little fish" and onion rings, stuffed portabella mushrooms and potatoes Rockefeller. Entrees, which range from $10.95 to $18.95, include braised lamb shank with root vegetables, pot roast with red potatoes, rigatoni with rock shrimp, meat loaf with mushroom gravy and cod with steamed potatoes and cabbage.

Wine Time: Thursday, November 18, marks the day this year's Beaujolais Nouveau is released.

That's cause for celebration at Bistro 24, at the Ritz-Carlton. For three days, November 18-20, the restaurant is offering a three-course, fixed-price Beaujolais menu, which includes a glass of the current vintage. The price is $42, plus tax and tip.

Suggestions? Write me at [email protected] or New Times, P.O. Box 2510, Phoenix, AZ 85002.

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Howard Seftel