Dining Guide of North Valley Restaurants click here  


Salty Sow offers its James Beard House Menu for a limited time only

 WHO:  Executive Chef Harold Marmulstein and Salty Sow, the American Gastropub serving contemporary farmhouse fare.

 WHAT:   In celebration of its upcoming dinner at the iconic James Beard House in New York, Salty Sow’s Chef Harold Marmulstein will be previewing the special evening’s dinner for a limited time only. Leading up to the exclusive event in Manhattan on February 27th, Chef Marmulstein will share his five-course menu alongside wine pairings on select Wednesday evenings. Chef Marmulstein and Salty Sow invite Phoenix locals to enjoy this farm-to-table inspired dinner.





OYSTER STUFFED BOUDIN FRITTER with chipotle remoulade

PASTRAMI SALMON with corn pancake

-- Scarpetta Rose 3th Edition --

-- Little Larry’s --

-- Assorted Hand-Crafted Sips --

 1st Course


frisée, Salty Sow bacon lardons, candied pork belly, 110 minute egg, roasted beets, pickled onions, radish, carrots, Texas goat cheese, sweet onion dressing

-- Fall Creek Sauvignon Blanc, 2012 Texas Hill Country --

 2nd Course


wrapped in prosciutto di Parma, Asiago polenta, shaved fennel salad

-- Flowers Chardonnay, 2011 Sonoma Coast --

 3rd Course


cold-smoked, with Falls Mill stone-ground white corn cheese grits, bacon-apple chutney, whole grain mustard jus

-- Halter Ranch Cote de Paso, 2010 California --

 4th Course


roasted butternut squash, green pumpkin seeds, Texas honey, balsamic syrup

-- Mer Soleil Late Harvest Viognier, California --

 5th Course


cane syrup, Texas honey, nutmeg ice cream

-- Pedro Ximénez Sherry, Spain --


WHEN:   Wednesday January 15th, Wednesday January 29th and Wednesday February 15th

WHERE:                4801 East Cactus Road          Scottsdale, AZ 85254

RESERVATIONS: $55 for five courses, $75 with wine pairings. Seating is limited, call for reservations. 602.795.9463       

 ABOUT SALTY SOW: Salty Sow is an American Gastropub that serves contemporary farmhouse fare. Hand-crafted meats, cocktails and entrees are served fresh daily, mindfully sourced from local farms and purveyors. Modern and unpretentious, Salty Sow’s chef-driven menu delivers thoughtful, farm-to-table eats in a casual setting, making it a trusted neighborhood eatery. Visit their website for more information on the menu and hours at www.saltysow.com. For details about Salty Sow at the James Beard House visit http://www.jamesbeard.org/events/austin-farmhouse.


Windsor   5223 N Central Ave  Phoenix, AZ 8501  (602) 279-1111

Category: American (New)

It's about as good as it gets for a late lunch - early dinner - venue downtown Central just north of Camelback at Oregon east side. I almost missed it, being sort of low key there tucked back without a lot of flash. Just green and bricks and glass. Easy parking and greeted at the door and she knew immediately who I was meeting. I felt like I was among a group of very attractive well dressed stylish friends. Seat was a nice comfy padded bench with a lit candle on the table and subdued lighting... or maybe that was because it was raining gently outside and soft grey skies. Unusual for Phoenix this summer yes...  
Herbal passion fruit tea was delicious and that and water were refilled frequently. The Country  Vegetable Chopped Salad had kale, pickled artichokes,  avocados, radish, lettuce greens, Brussels sprouts, grape tomatoes, carrots, corn, croutons, breaded fried okra, hard boiled eggs, a creamy mild ranch dressing, and smoked salmon. Delicious!  It came with a nice chunk of country bread. My friend Annie had the Salmon and asparagus which she said was divine.
Nice ambiance for conversation, fairly prices and perfect service. Will be back again!


Beachwood BBQ   Seal Beach

Categories: Barbeque, Pubs

The Pulled Pork Sandwich has a pretzel top bun that is delicious and the pork was perfection. A spicy slaw and an assortment of sauces to your liking. The Buffalo Sloppy Joe was spicy and rich. Creamed Spinach was so luxurious it's almost a dessert! The Cornbread Casserole with cranberries was delightful. Even the Hibiscus Tea was wonderful. Only a block from the pier of course there was a wait on Sunday afternoon but so worth it! Pictured above Fried Green Tomatoes and below
Chili Cheese Fries. So delicious!


La Piazza Al Forno
Gourmet Brick Oven Pizzeria and Italian Kitchen

Dining Review
By LeeAnn Sharpe

La Piazza Al Forno Gourmet Brick Oven Pizzeria and Italian Kitchen, 5803 W. Glendale Ave., in Historic Downtown Glendale. 623-847-3301 Hours Mon-Thur Lunch 11am-3pm Dinner 5pm-8pm, Fri-Sat 11am-9pm Select Sundays. Website: www.lapiazzaalforno.blogspot.com

Their menu states, “Our passion is crafting delicious Italian meals using simple time honored recipes… Just like the original Pizzerias and Trattorias of Italy, La Piazza is a place for friends and family to gather for good food.”

It was just by chance that my friends and I ended up at La Piazza. But what a fortuitous chance that was. Just south of Murphy Park at 58th Ave & Glendale, it’s tucked away in an almost hidden store front. The food was excellent and the people very friendly. And the prices were very moderate with generous portions.

We all started off with a side salad of mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cheese and cucumbers with a nice Italian dressing, $3. A basket of Italian Bread was $1.50. They offer a short beer and wine list. We had a nice house red wine $5.25 glass. They also offer Calamari $7, Shrimp $7, and Bruschette $3 for Appetizers and a good variety of salads as well.

My favorite has always been Chicken Marsala and its one dish I always compare at any new Italian restaurant. The Chicken Marsala is a grilled chicken breast topped with mushrooms in a Marsala Wine Sauce with a side of pasta $10. It was delicious and large enough serving to make two meals. It made a great lunch the next day!

Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce $7 or with Meatballs or Italian Sausage $9, both were tasty and filling. My friend is sensitive to too spicy foods, but enjoyed the meatballs saying they were just right. Just like Momma used to make! Another had the Italian Sausage and was very pleased with the taste and texture. Some places are too greasy, but these were perfect and flavorful.

The menu offers Ravioli $8, Parmigiano $8, Scampi $12, Linguine $10, Rigatoni $10, Lasagna $9, and Fettuccine Alfredo $8, as you would expect from any respectable Italian restaurant. They offer a selection of sandwiches including Meatball $6, Sausage & Peppers $6 and The Godfather $6.

But saving the best for last, you have to try their pizza! The wood fueled brick oven pizza brings you back to the classic pizza of years past. The crust has texture, volume and flavor to it and is crispy and tasty. Fresh ingredients like mozzarella, ricotta, basil and garlic generously top a pie you can pick up in your hand and feel some weight. They offer a nice menu of “Specialty Pizzas” with a wide selection of traditional (not designer) toppings for only $11 for the 14” to $17 for the 16”. If you want a pizza with real taste, check this one out. It’s a real treat after too many plastic and cardboard tasting pizzas the chains serve up. Now that I’m spoiled for good pizza, it will have to be La Piazza’a!

A family operation, La Piazza Al Forno owned by the Piazzas, (Justin, Rachel, Dennis, Anita and the kids), will make you enjoy family dinners out without breaking the bank and in an atmosphere you will feel comfortable. And the food will make you smile as much as the company!



Silver Spur Saloon & Eatery

 by Cowgirl Connoisseur

Silver Spur Saloon & Eatery formerly known as the Satisfied Frog at Frontier Town 6245 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, AZ 85331www.silverspursaloon.com  (480) 488-3317

  I’ve been going to the Satisfied Frog now Silver Spur Saloon in Cave Creek for years. And yes, I heard all about the change in ownership when the previous owner didn’t pay his bills. Sad that it happens, but when he didn’t have the bucks to pay the staff or maintain the property, its best he left and let someone who can take care of it take over.  I would hate to lose the great restaurant because it is such a landmark in Cave Creek. So hurray and good luck to the new management! By the way did you know the name back in the 1970's was Silver Spur Saloon, so they went back tot he old days name! And their remodel has done wonders to clean the place up!

 Some people say it’s the atmosphere. Others say it was the waitresses legs. I always liked the popcorn machine at the door. But more than anything it has always been the food. When you sit down to eat you want a good quality delicious meal and that’s what has impressed me the most at the Silver Spur Saloon. It’s always good food.

 Lunch time I enjoy the Taco Salad $8.99, the Chicken Quesadilla $8.99, the Pulled Pork $9.99, a Burger $8.99 or Brisket Sandwiches $9.99. And there is soup that is to die for! The Southwestern Chili Cream Soup is world famous!  The Soup/Salad Bar ($9.99 or $2.99 added to any entrée) is great with the best Vegetable Beef Soup you can find anywhere!

 For dinner the Steaks and Prime Rib (market price) are great but my favorite is the ribs! Of course they come with all the extras of your choice of potato, vegetables and salad. They also have this Ultimate Chow Wagon, sort of a sampler platter if you can’t make up your mind. It’s Beef Ribs, Brisket and Smoked Chicken ($15.99) all on one plate with Coleslaw, Beans and Bread. You can upgrade to Pork Ribs for $3 additional.  They have a special smoker bbq out back that makes the best bbq around.

 My daughter and her friends make the Silver Spur Saloon their destination for every special occasion. They get the giant margarita to share and always have a great time. You can’t beat the atmosphere for a fun gathering.  

 Frontier Town, where Silver Spur Saloon is located, has two bars, a bunch of novelty stores, a wedding chapel and the restaurant. The entire complex is built around a Western theme with rugged pine interiors and splashes of modern-day neon and quirky art and signs. It keeps the dining experience interesting as diners catch a humorous quote on one of the signs and their entire table gets a light hearted giggle. A blend of road-tripping families, tourists, locals who know where to get a good meal and newlyweds make up the clientele. Special events bring in big crowds and the crew at the Silver Spur Saloon are always up to the challenge.

4th of July Fireworks, NASCAR Sundays, "Chicago Cubs" Headquarters for the ball games on TV, the Annual Fiesta Days Rodeo & Parade in April and the Annual Wild West Days in November are a few of the annual events you can find the place hopping.

After lunch or dinner take a stroll through all of the little shops like Glory Bee for great southwest apparel at fabulous prices. And Suzanne’s Hot Stuff for some spicy treats to take home.  Jewelry, leather, souvenirs and more are available in the many shops. There’s even a barber shop and beauty salon. So next time you are looking for an adventure and a good meal, check out the Silver Spur Saloon at Frontier Town. The do weddings and banquets there too!


Vogue Bistro and Bar

By LeeAnn Sharpe

A new slice of gastronomic heaven has opened in the northwest valley. Vogue Bistro and Bar, located in Marley Park at 15411 W. Waddell Rd. in Surprise is pleased to bring Cordon Bleu Culinary School trained Chef Aurore de Beauduy, most recently the former Chef at the Silverleaf Country Club located in DC Ranch in Scottsdale, to create contemporary American cuisine with a French bistro influence.  Now you can fulfill those gourmet desires Tuesday through Saturday,11:00 AM – Midnight or at Sunday Brunch from 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM. They are closed Mondays.

 The ambiance is contemporary upscale with a crisp clean black and white décor. Located in the Bashas Shopping center on the far west end of the center, it’s not at all what you would expect for a neighborhood bistro in Surprise. They have brought class to the area, with style and service you would expect in the finest cities of the world. But then many of the residents in Surprise and Sun City are world travelers who will return frequently for the more sophisticated dining experience near home.

 Our server, a delightful young lady, recommended a bottle of wine, Barro Rose Pinot Grigio from Italy (www.bacchannalwines.com) glass $9/ bottle $32 from the extensive wine list. Most of their wines are imported. We were pleased with her suggestion and the opportunity to taste two of her recommendations. 

 Vogue owner Roman Yasinsky suggested Frito Misto $4 the tempura-fried calamari, seasonal vegetables, ginger bits, with a light aioli dip. He brought us an extra spicy dip to try as well. The presentation is delightful with swirled crisps piled high. Both dips and the calamari were very nice.  

Additional “Starters” on the menu include Bruschetta $3 with Chef Aurore’s daily topping selection; Escargot $7 a delicate escargot sauteed in herb infused garlic butter and baked in a puff pastry; Smoked Salmon $9 luxurious house-smoked salmon, crème fraîche, pickled caperberries, red onion, artisan toast points. The smoked salmon is also available whole, for take out orders; Olives $7 house-marinated premium Mediterranean olives; Artisan Cuts $9 country-style pâte, assorted artisan sausages, salami and cured meats, olives, toasted almonds, Dijon mustard and warm handcrafted bread; Skewer $7 a daily selection of skewer grilled savory meats or seafood served with local seasonal greens and shaved Parmesan; Cheese $7 fine artisan cheeses from the world’s best producers.

 Next chef sent us a delicious Burotta Cheese Caprese $8. The creamy cheese from Italy is a special appetizer/salad not on the menu, and a unique twist on the traditional Caprese. Fresh basil and tomato accented with an Italian balsamic and this heavenly cheese that melts in your mouth instantly, lighter and sweeter than a traditional mozzarella. It was very much a pleasant surprise to experience something new and so delicious.

 The Vogue Salad $8 with frisee, arugula, gorgonzola blue cheese, dried cranberries, pecans, pumpkin seeds and bits of applewood-smoked bacon tossed in warm sherry vinaigrette can be a meal in itself when topped with steak $4, chicken $4 or fish $4. The flavors of each unique ingredient combine to a flavor explosion so wonderful and satisfying.  

In addition to the wonderful list of basics on the menu everyday, Chef Aurore prepares specials and I was luck enough to experience her Duck seared breast confit paired with red cabbage in a fig emulsion $28. Tender and flavorful, the duck had a fig emulsion sauce that complemented the red cabbage perfectly. It was accompanied by a butternut squash soufflé that was more like a dessert with its naturally sweet light as air texture.

 My dining companion enjoyed a Chilean Sea Bass $17 with endive and burotta cheese, basil and vinaigrette. Extremely light with a mild flavor, the bass is a good choice for warm summer dinners.  

 Other entrees on the menu include Steak Frites $15, all natural, prime grade Black Angus onglet steak prepared “medium rare” with brandied peppercorn sauce and served with Vogue Fries; Roasted Chicken $15, half chicken slowly roasted to perfection in herb-garlic jus, and served with Yukon Gold potatoes and roasted carrots; Fish $15, daily seasonal fish served with roasted sweet potatoes, local greens and warm citrus. She’ll also be doing daily specials like osso buco, daurade, foie gras, cassoulet and duck confit.

 Under the category of “Accessories” you will find some unusual but exciting offerings. Vogue Fries $3 are incredible according to several sources. Crisp and delicious, they are a perfect accompaniment to any sandwich or entrees and are served with a savory dipping sauce. I can’t wait to return to try the Sweet Potato Fries $3 described as luscious and healthy on the menu, but “orgasmic” by a fellow diner. Vanilla Butternut Squash $3 is local organic butternut squash with vanilla beans, and Georgia pecans caramelized in maple syrup. Spelt Risotto $3 a healthy spelt grain seasoned with savory herbs is not likely to be found on many a menu in the valley. Garlic Mash $3 is hand mashed Golden Yukon potato with roasted garlic and herbs. And when was the last time you had Mashrooms $5 wild mushrooms sauteed with aromatic herbs. You must also try the Vogue Mac & Cheese $3 which is Chef Aurore's creative take on a timeless classic. It’s made with truffles and juicy bits of pancetta.  The next table ordered the delicious creamy spinach $3 and commented yummy. I have never seen Plantains $3 on a valley menu before. The Caribbean treasure is delicate, sweet and scrumptious.  

Dessert was Crème Bruelle with strawberries as good as I’ve ever experienced anywhere. Other desserts include chocolate pot de crème $5, pineapple tatin $5 and a cheese plate $7. Cappuccino and coffee topped off this incredible meal.



 Vogue’s daily menu offers a wide assortment of paninis, gourmet burgers, salads and fresh fish, chicken and steak dishes. Sandwiches include the popular (customers drive miles out of their way for this burger!) Vogue Burger $8 all natural, fresh ground Black Angus, Gorgonzola Blue cheese, applewood-smoked bacon, caramelized onion chutney, arugula, organic mixed greens, our special brioche bun; Blue Jeans Burger $8 all natural, fresh ground Black Angus, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, red onions, pickles, on a special brioche bun; Chicken Panini $8 grilled breast of chicken, Asiago cheese, roasted red peppers, grilled zucchini, arugula, fresh basil aioli, press-toasted artisan baguette; Garden Panini $8 zucchini, Japanese eggplant, roasted red pepper, oven-dried tomatoes, Manchego cheese, fresh basil aioli, on press-toasted artisan bread; Cheese Panini $7 Manchego and Cheddar blend, on press-toasted artisan bread;  Fish Panini $9 seared White Fish, organic mixed greens, oven roasted tomatoes, herb infused caper-lemon sauce, on press-toasted artisan bread.

 I had the Chicken Panini at a Vogue catered affaire, which is how I came to find this hidden treasure. They do catering and special parties in style! The Panini was a delicious blend of flavors and was accompanied by a selection of salads, both green and pasta.  

Chef Aurore de Beauduy’s and co-owner Roman Yasinsky  daily signature dishes are certain to wake up the northwest valley to the finest French bistro experience you can find anywhere. Vogue is  reasonably priced, contemporary cuisine presented in a warm and inviting atmosphere. Add "designer" martinis, bourbon bar, and a craft beer selection to please the true beer connoisseur and you are certain to return time and again. Vogue Bistro offers dinner and bar service until midnight except Mondays. Be sure to make this your destination for lunch or dinner soon. We found it a great choice for before or after Sundome theatre. Or the new UltraStar Cinema is only a mile east.

For more information or reservations, call 623-544-9109 or visit www.voguebistro.com.
All photos by LeeAnn Sharpe



Roka Akor By LA Sharpe   Brief video of Roka Akor
Roka Akor a Dining Review  February 15, 2008
You will want to make a note of this new “Hip Robatayaki Cuisine” restaurant, ROKA AKOR. It is located in north Scottsdale at 7299 N. Scottsdale Road, Phone 480.306.8800. Keep that number handy as I’m sure there will be long lists for reservations. Look for the tall blue spiral sculpture out front. Food doesn’t get better than this!
Pic left: COO & Group Exec Chef Nicholas Watts &
Chief Proprietor Rainer Becker

Native New Zealander Chef Nicholas Watt brings his 16 years of international experience and raving success in London to his first Roka location in the U.S. The handsome Watt roamed the dining room engaging his guests with a genuine boyish charm speaking of his days in New Zealand where his mother cooked with the freshest fish. He wanted to bring that to his restaurants. Study in Toyko and his love of fresh fish make Roka a perfect fit for his talents.  

 My dining companion Julie and I started out with edamame (v) $3.50: steamed edamame with sea salt, hotate no miso-shiru $5.60: white miso soup with scallop and spring onion and maki rolls. We could have chosen any from about 11 different maki options including kappa maki (v) $3.60: a cucumber and sesame roll, chirashi maki $6.90: spicy sashimi fish selection with spring onion and cucumber, age watari gani $8.60: softshell crab, cucumber, kim chi, and chilli mayonnaise, kankoku fu yaki buta $6.30: korean roast pork loin, shiso and chilli cabbage, california maki $6.30: crab meat, avocado and toblko. But we chose the ebi no atama $7.60: a heavenly combination of crispy prawn, avocado, chilli chrysanthemums and dark sweet soy.  We would have been happy eating these all night! 

General Manager Jeffrey Berkowitz stopped by our table to welcome us and make certain everything was to our liking. He was totally attentive to each guest all evening. All of the staff was obviously trained to the highest level and the service was beyond any you can find anywhere in the world. Eli was our wonderful server, explaining dishes and making excellent suggestions, but the entire wait staff worked together to bring out dishes as they were ready. And each came wrapped in smiles and genuine concern for every desire being met. I can not see how they could have made the dining experience more enjoyable. Executive chef Bjoern Weissgerber directs the symphony of cuisine to perfection.

 I love how they label vegetarian dishes with a (v). Some diners might be a little apprehensive about experimenting with unusual dishes or flavors. There’s no need to fear here. Everything is prepared in such a way as to give your palette a thrill ride to ecstasy!

Dishes are on the small side so you can graze through multiple options. Health conscious will find many very healthy low fat opportunities here. Sauces are light and grilling keeps dishes healthy.

 The snacks, salads & soups included a wide variety of flavors such as baechu kim chi (v) $4.00: napa cabbage in garlic and hot chilli, butaniku to hotate no gyoza $6.50: pork and golden scallop dumplings, lobster to awabi no gyoza $14.00: lobster and abalone dumplings (I wish I had tried these! They look fantastic!) The gyu no tataki to truffle $14.00: beef tataki with pickled daikon and winter truffle and the abura bouzu no tataki shiro asparagus zoe $12.00: butterfish tataki, white asparagus with yuzu shallot dressing and the maguro no tataki $14.00: tuna tataki salad with apple mustard dressing all piqued my interest as well, but will have to wait for my next visit.

 Robatayaki Cuisine relies heavily on the 25 foot long robata Japanese oak charcoal grill which is open to the dining area. Sit at the bar facing the grill so you can watch the dozen or so chefs as they work in unison under the direction of the lead chef who hollars out orders in Japanese and they all respond in a loud crisp retort as if clapping out of a huddle. The robata tradition has been handed down for centuries by Japanese fishermen who cook their daily catch over a charcoal fire and use oars as serving platters. An exceptional ventilation system pulls the little bit of smoke straight up but leaves the room with a warm gentle scent that is very pleasing. Smoke sensitive need not worry. I am the most sensitive to smoke and never had an itch or sniffle all evening.  You can also sit in the large dining area with earthy aesthetic clean lines on oak tables and very comfortable cushioned chairs. There’s also an outside patio and an enchanting private event room with a long wood slab table that can be divided in half.    

Roka Akor dishes look magical in their presentation. The maguro to caviar no tartar, uzura no tamago zoe $12.00: tuna tartar, sevruga caviar and quail's yolk are served in a dish with a boat like sail in a bed of crystal ice. We had the ebi no kushiyaki $32.50: wild jumbo Madagascan prawn with yuzu koshyu chilli paste with a magical taste like nothing you’ve ever experienced. It starts out with a mild tender prawn taste tinted with a touch of blue watercress and then the fire of the chilli paste presents itself in a subtle burn. Delicious! The presentation on a long dish includes the jumbo prawn head looking like a creature out of a Jacque Cousteau documentary.    

 My favorite was the sake teriyaki $12.00: salmon fillet teriyaki infused with the smokey grill flavor and complemented by the most delicious teriyaki sauce, not too thick or sweet, just right with a lightness and tang that made me want more!  

 We also enjoyed the gin tara no saikyo-yaki $24.00: black cod marinated in yuzu miso and homemade hajikami. It was a very lightly blackened cod presented wrapped in a leaf with a sweet white sauce on the side. The cod was beautifully elegant in look and taste. 

 My friends enjoyed the niku no asparagus teriyaki $9.60: beef and asparagus teriyaki skewer and kobuta no ribs yawaraka nikomi $18.00: baby back ribs glazed with a spiced master stock and cashew nuts. What a flavor combination! That’s what it’s all about at Roka Alor, freshness and flavors presented in delicious combinations, simple yet powerful.

 I want to go back (many times) to try the kamo no muneniku hachimitsu sansho fumi $24.00: duck breast basted with honey and sansho pepper or the kankoku fu kohitsuji $26.00: lamb cutlets with korean spices. The hireniku no pirikara yakiniku $28.00: beef fillet with chilli, ginger and spring onion also looked marvelous!  

Robata vegetables fill the menu out but who has room for so much! Next time I will try the ko nasu (v) $6.60: eggplant in mirin, ginger and soy and the nimono (V) $5.00:grilled sweet potato with sesame and sweet soy.  

Did I mention the sashimi-nigiri zushi selections which included  hon maguro- blue fin $16.00: kihada maguro - yellow fin $10.00: bigeye ocean trout $6.60: shima aji - stripped jack fish $10.00: hamachi - yellowtail $5.30: nme dai - new zealand snapper $5.60: tako - octupus $10.00: sake - salmon $6.60: hotate - scallops $12.00: suzuki - seabass $6.60: ikura - salmon roe $9.00: tai - seabream $8.00: unagi - freshwater eel $10.00: ika - squid $9.00:ama ebi - sweet shrimp $6.60: ebi - shrimp $8.00: and kaki - oyster $7.90: The tokusen displays botan ebi sashimi $14.60: extra large sweet shrimp served with oscietra caviar uni - sea urchin  sashimi $15.00: gunkan $12.00: o-toro - fatty tuna $26.00: wagyu gunkan $16.50: wagyu sushi, oscietra caviar, spring onion and fresh ginger, kinme dai - japanese red snapper $12.00. 

Dozens of colorful bottles of shochu, a traditional Japanese distilled spirit flavored with apples, pears and raspberries, hang over the bar. Two climate-controlled wine cases hold 600 bottles apiece behind 14-foot-high glass. Bartenders were trained in London and blend the most delicious concoctions not to be found anywhere else, unless you visit Roka in London. The Green Tea and Pear Bellini $12.00 is the perfect combination of the pear shochu and champagne, crisp and light and delicious!

 For dessert we had the sorbet with two miniature scoops of tangy ice cream perched on top of a crystal ice mountain. Delightful! And Julie had the chocolate pudding, more of a cake with green tea filling, so rich and beautifully presented. Each piece is a work of art,  a feast for the soul as well as the palette.

 Designer Noriyoshi Muramatsu with the award winning Tokyo-based firm Super Potato designed the bar and lounge. The décor is so subtle in its simple uncomplicated lines, but makes bold statements. The wall on one end features a wave pattern that evokes an ocean feel.  Walls are made of rammed earth, so rocks, straw and dirt are part of the visual and tactile experience. The wood slats in front of the windows and the wide wooden bar around the grilling space is made of reclaimed Irish Oak matching the tables. Heavy glass doors have wood handles. Even the restrooms have natural wood counters and fully enclosed stainless steel stalls with a round European style commode. The elegant water faucets flow freely without a touch, producing perfect temperature warm water. Even the lighting is controlled in a subdued by sufficient level in each area of the establishment. Attention to detail has been mastered on every level. Chef Watt mentioned even the freezers are of a medical lab quality enabling them to freeze to the optimal temperature to keep food perfect.    A Japanese ceramic artist was commissioned to hand design the serving plates and bowls in a variety of sizes and shapes that invite touch. All are hand-made, rustic ceramic pieces with grainy textures and nature inspired earthen colors. Great thought went into the design like a slight triangular bend in the soup bowl to make them easy to drink. And simple esthetic enhancement carved into serving plates, not just painted on.

 Chef Watt’s blend of contemporary Japanese cuisine and the desert of north Scottsdale is sure to be a big hit. I hope you can get a reservation and enjoy this magical delight!

ROKA AKOR is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily for lunch and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily for dinner. Reservations 480.306.8800. 

Video review



Grimaldi’s Coal Brick-Oven Pizzeria Review

By LeeAnn Sharpe

 With locations in NY, NJ, Arizona, Las Vegas and Dallas, Grimaldi’s is what we once expected of a pizzeria, but is nearly lost in the world today. To find a real coal brick oven is harder and harder to find and the difference in the smoky taste is immeasurable.

 The menu placemat says Patsy Grimaldi is a purist when it comes to pizza. He learned his trade from Uncle Lancieri who trained the man credited with opening the first pizzeria in America in 1905. The coal oven gives a unique flavor and crisp crust not possible from gas, convection or wood stoves. His secret recipe sauce and dough have made Grimaldi’s the most award winning pizzeria in the United States.

 Tasting is believing and every bite was magic! I tried a couple different pizza variations $9-$17 plus extra for toppings $2-$4. The crust was thin and crisp with just the right blend of cheese, peppers, basil, and Italian sausage.

 The caprese salad $7 was heavenly. It’s obvious Grimaldi’s uses only the freshest and finest oil and cheese. The fresh mozzarella slices and basil was fresh and brilliant without any bitterness. The tomatoes were even vine ripened to perfection, so hard to find these days.

 Antipasto $8-$12 had a nice Genoa Salami and fresh warm bread. The oven roasted sweet red peppers were tender and sweet. The fresh mozzarella slices were perfection. I didn’t care for the Kalamata olives, but my dining companion enjoyed them very much.

 I also sampled the Calzone $10 -$17 with a delicious crust and variety of fillings. The cheese melted evenly with mushrooms and sausage for a warm filling simply delicious.

 The menu also boasts several other salads. A wide selection of drinks (wine beer and cocktails all available) and desserts complete the menu.

 Another plus is Thursday night dinner theatre from Darknight Productions. Dinner and theatre for about $40.

 Lunch time 11am-6pm, you can get all personal pizza and calzone toppings at half price!

 For more information and a list of the many famous celebrities who have eaten at Grimaldi’s go to their website at www.patsygrimaldis.com


Carrabba’s Italian Grill

Dining Review
 by Cowgirl Connoisseur

 “We're not real chefs. We're real eaters.” So say Johnny Carrabba and his Uncle Damian Mandola who founded Carrabba’s in Houston, Texas, in 1986. “We're two big Sicilian boys from Texas who love to cook and eat. We love the Sicilian food our parents and grandparents cooked. We love the Creole and Southern food our family members picked up passing through Louisiana and stepping off the boat right on the dock in Galveston. And we love the Western food that's just part of being in Texas.”

 My daughter and I recently had dinner at Carrabba’s in Glendale. I’ve been to the Gateway and Scottsdale locations in the past as well. They have all been good dining experiences. 

House specialties include crispy calamari, chicken marsala, fresh steamed mussels, a variety of pasta with homemade sauces, and fresh fish, seafood and steaks cooked over a wood- fired grill. Traditional dishes such as margherita pizza, lasagna, spaghetti with meatballs, and chicken parmesan share the spotlight. They also have a moderately-priced wine list featuring Italian and California vintages compliment the menu. A full selection of liquor and beer are also available. Little ones ten and under will enjoy the “Bambini Menu” and pizza dough is offered to keep young customers entertained.

 Past visits I enjoyed the Insalata Carrabba Caesar with Chicken $10.99. It’s as good as any I have had anywhere. I especially love the warm bread and olive oil delivered to our table and kept coming. With a nice glass of wine I could make it a meal in itself!  

This last dining experience was the best! They had the “Johnny” and “Damian” Specials which were combination plates with three entrée samplers and a salad along with our coupon giving us the Calamari and wine for free! What a deal!

 The Calamari came with the marinara dipping sauce and was super crispy and hot just like we like it. The marinara was tasty and we cleaned the plate with bread dipping so as not to waste a drop of it! We were hungry too! 

 I had the Lobster Ravioli stuffed with tender Maine lobster in a white wine cream sauce with diced tomatoes, Shrimp and sea scallops coated with Italian breadcrumbs, and Salmon all for $16.99.

 The Lobster Ravioli was to die for! I could east a whole plate of those tasty little pillows of heaven! The shrimp and scallops were fine and the salmon just right… but oh those lobster ravioli… Did I say how much I loved them?

 My daughter had the Lombardo 8 oz. USDA Choice center-cut tenderloin, Chicken Bryan, grilled chicken breast topped with goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes and a basil lemon butter sauce and Mezzaluna the delicate half moon ravioli stuffed with chicken, ricotta and spinach all for $16.99.

 So we shared and sampled everything! Culinary overload! But it was all fabulous. Her steak was perfect and the Mezzaluna very good in a mild creamy tomato sauce. They were mild but with good flavor. She wasn’t excited about the Chicken Bryan, but I thought it was good too.

 Our server was attentive, informative and made the dining experience delightful.

 The restaurants are popular and can get crowded so get there early! As for locations check out their website at www.carrabbas.com . There are 8 locations in the greater Phoenix area.


Gordon Biersch Dining Review



Dining Review
Gordon Biersch

by Cowgirl Connoisseur

I generally give a restaurant three tries before writing a review to get a good feel for the average experience and taste more of the menu. In this case, I only have two personal experiences, but my dining companion has been there a total of five times.

Gordon Biersch is a brewery/restaurant located adjacent to the Jobing.com Arena in Glendale south of Glendale and East of the 101. Their website at http://www.gordonbiersch.com/ says it all started with the dream of two passionate guys named Dan Gordon and Dean Biersch. Their dream of exceptional beer and delicious food became a reality on July 6, 1988 when the first Gordon Biersch opened in Palo Alto, California. Acquired by Big River Brewing Company in 1999, Gordon Biersch now has 17 locations in 13 states and Washington D.C.

The Glendale location is brand new, a part of the exciting WestGate project tied into the Arena and Stadium and Hotel/Convention Center complex driving mass crowds of sports and entertainment seekers to the west valley. It has a distinct advantage of benefiting from the intense traffic pre and post events. And the local business trade has found it an enjoyable lunch spot as well. It’s close enough to park in the Arena west parking lot and walk to the restaurant before or after games.

Each Gordon Biersch restaurant features a unique décor and atmosphere that provides an inviting space for social gatherings, casually sophisticated dining occasions, and private dining events for groups from 15 to 500. This location has a warm modern southwest feel. It’s a large open dining room with views of the kitchen and curtained side rooms for private groups. The booths are comfortable and the noise level was low and comfortable for normal conversation. Our server was attentive and the food arrived in a reasonable time, even in the pre-event dinner rush.

I enjoyed the Cedar Plank Pecan Crusted Salmon Topped with a Honey Pecan Crust and seared on a Cedar Plank, with a Dill Cream Sauce, served with Jasmine Rice and Seasonal Vegetables $18.50. I was a little disappointed that the Honey Pecan Crust seemed to be more an afterthought spooned on topping rather than an actual crust, but it was still flavorful and cooked to perfection.

My companion ordered the Gorgonzola Pear Salad with Pecan Crusted Chicken in Marzen Vinaigrette $12.50. It was a bit on the bland side and required another dose of the dressing to give it a boost.

Okay so it was a so-so dining experience. Maybe a solid 3 stars. But I was willing to give it another try.

Let’s go for the Appetizers. Quick Fried Calamari with Spicy Marinara $9.25. We had Calamari the last visit and it was delicious! A good sized portion hot, fresh and crispy. The marinara sauce was just right and we could have used about half again as much for dipping! My companion loved the Lump Crab Cake with Asian Slaw and
Cajun Remoulade $10.95 We could have selected Gordon Biersch Garlic Fries $5.75, Shrimp and Chicken Potstickers with Asian Barbecue Sauce and Hot Mustard $8.95, Bruschetta with Garlic Parmesan Crostini $8.25, Crispy Artichoke Hearts Topped with Parmesan, served with Lemon Aioli $8.95, Blackened Ahi Tuna Served rare with Cajun Remoulade $10.75, Crab and Artichoke Dip in a Sourdough Bread Bowl $9.95.
Or Glazed Chicken Wings with Sweet Chili and Ginger $8.95 or a Chef’s Sampler $14.95, Brewer’s Feast Sampler $16.95, Tapas Roasted Garlic, Bruschetta, Olive, Relish and Hummus served with Herb Flatbread $8.25, or Southwest Egg Rolls Pulled Chicken, Black Beans, Corn, Roasted Red Peppers and Pepperjack Cheese served with a Roasted Jalapeno Ranch Dipping Sauce $8.50.

Their menu says “Traditional pastas with big flavors to complement our Lager Beers.” Looking at the pasta menu of Fire Roasted Chicken & Fettuccine with Sun-Dried Tomatoes in a Pesto Cream Sauce $15.25, or Pasta Jambalaya Chicken, Shrimp, Ham and Andouille Sausage tossed with Orzo Pasta $15.25, or Linguine Marinara Fresh Mozzarella, Marinara Sauce and Parmesan Cheese $11.50, or Goat Cheese Ravioli Sauteed Mushrooms, Spinach, Pine Nuts with Fresh Rosemary in a Brown Butter
Sauce $14.95. I tried the Ravioli and really enjoyed the combination with a good beer.

Entrees offered include Barbecued Salmon with Asian Barbecue Sauce, Balsamic Grilled Red Onion, Spinach and Sweet Ginger Rice $18.95, Gorgonzola Bone-In Ribeye 18 oz., topped with a Signature Gorgonzola Butter. All steaks are served with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Seasonal Vegetables $25.50, Flame Grilled New York Strip A hearty 14 oz.char-grilled Strip Steak $22.95. The Bistro Steak Medallions Char-grilled Aged Beef Medallions marinated in Ginger Soy Sauce $19.75 were a good light steak choice. They also offer Bistro Steak Medallions & Crab Stuffed Shrimp $22.50, Teriyaki Flat Iron Steak Grilled to perfection and topped with a rich Teriyaki Sauce, served alongside Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Fresh Asparagus $17.95, Meatloaf Made with Ground Beef and Italian Sausage served with Brown Gravy and Garlic Mashed Potatoes $14.95, Chicken Marsala Sauteed with Shallots and Mushrooms in a Marsala Wine Sauce over Linguine $14.95,(my companion ordered the Chicken Marsala and I tried a bite or two as it’s one of my favorite meals and I must say their chef pleased me with his version of this classic dish.) Pecan Crusted Chicken with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Seasonal Vegetables $14.95, Chicken Piccata Lightly dusted in Seasoned Flour and sauteed with a White Wine Butter, Lemon Juice and Caper Sauce, served with Jasmine Rice and Fresh Vegetables $14.95, Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna served rare with Red Peppers, Baby Bok Choy and Sweet Ginger Rice $20.95, Cajun Pasta Andouille Sausage, Grilled Chicken and Shrimp and Louisiana Spices with Fettuccine in a Tomato Cream Sauce $15.95.
Sweet and Spicy Cashew Chicken Stir Fry with Asian Vegetables and Jasmine Rice $14.75. (Another dining companion tried the Chicken Stir Fry and was very pleased. It wasn’t too sweet or spicy for her tastes and the vegetables were crisp and not overcooked like some she had experienced.) Spicy Shrimp Stir Fry with Asian Vegetables and Jasmine Rice $16.75, Chicken Parmesan Breaded Chicken Breast topped with Marinara and melted Mozzarella Cheese served with Pesto Cream Linguine $14.50
They offer a selection of Pizzas including, Classic Pepperoni $11.75, Pepperoni & Mushroom Pizza with Mozzarella Cheese $11.95, Chicken & Artichoke with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Basil $11.95, Roasted Garlic & Chicken Pizza with a White Sauce, Roasted Garlic and Pulled Chicken $11.95, Hawaiian Pizza with Mozzarella Cheese, Diced Ham and Pineapple $11.95, Pepperoni & Sausage with Mozzarella Cheese $11.95,
Veggie Pizza Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto with Artichoke, Mushrooms, Spinach and Roma Tomatoes $11.50, Fresh Mozzarella with Roma Tomatoes and Basil $10.95, Barbecue Chicken Pulled Chicken, Onion, Cilantro and Mozzarella over our Märzen Barbecue Sauce $11.95, or a Create Your Own Start with Tomato Basil Sauce and Mozzarella Cheese $10.75 Each topping: $1.00, Meats: Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Chicken, Andouille Sausage, Ham, Vegetables: Mushrooms, Roasted Red Peppers, Artichoke Hearts, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Roma Tomatoes, Red Onions, Spinach, Roasted Garlic, Pineapple.

I must comment on the beer. After all Gordon Biersch is a brewery. Their website educated me saying, “The first thing to know about brewing is that basically, it's cooking. The brewer is a chef, the brewery is his kitchen and the brew kettle no more than a pot. Granted, at 1,500 liters, it is a very, very large pot. The recipe for Gordon Biersch beer contains only four ingredients as dictated by the 500-year-old German purity law called Reinheitsgebot. (Rine-HEIGHT-ski-bot') The German Purity Law that dates back to 1516 which says beer can only be made with 3 ingredients, Barley. Hops and water. Interestingly, at the time no one knew that yeast was involved in the process. (It was in the air.) So yeast has since been added as the fourth ingredient. Many people use color to classify beer, but an even more basic distinction is between lagers and ales. Most microbrews are ales. They are made from top fermenting yeasts and are typically stored for about two weeks. Most ales are fruity and complex in flavor. Gordon Biersch brews mostly lagers. Lagers use bottom fermenting yeasts and are stored for about five weeks after brewing, which results in a crisper, smoother flavor. Gordon Biersch brews beers that range in color from gold to auburn to brown and to black, but most of our flagship beers are lager style resulting in what we think are wonderfully drinkable brews. The bottom line? Judge a beer based on taste not color.”

We tried GOLDEN EXPORT a smooth, refreshing lager, lightly hopped with a dry finish. The demand was so high when it was first brewed in the 1870s, that it was “exported ” to other regions in Germany. I don’t claim to be an aficionado of beer, but I know what I like and this is a fine beer. And we tried MÄRZEN (Maert-zen) a dry, auburn-colored, Bavarian lager with a mildly sweet finish. It was originally brewed in March (“Marz ” in German) an store in caves to be drunk during warmer weather. I can see why the Germans like their beer. This one is especially nice with a steak.

So after a couple of visits I have moved it up to a 4 star dining experience. Gordon Biersch, 6915 North 95th Avenue, Glendale, AZ 85305, phone: 623-877-4300 fax: 623-877-4305, Hours Sunday – Monday: 11am – 11pm, Tuesday - Thursday: 11am - 12am, Friday – Saturday: 11am – 1am. They offer specials on appetizers $4.95 from 4-6:30pm and 10pm to close if you arrive after the games. Tell them the Cowgirl Connoisseur sent you!



Wildflower Bread Company Review
by Cowgirl Connoisseur

 Wildflower Bread Company is a Scottsdale based chain with nine locations. The Valley locations are at Tempe Square (SW Corner of McClintock & Guadalupe), Sonora Village (SW Corner of Loop 101 and Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd.), Deer Valley Towne Center (SW Intersection of Loop 101 and I-17), Chandler Fashion Center (SW Intersection of Loop 101 and Chandler Blvd.), Wildflower Village (SW Corner of Baseline and Val Vista), Palm Valley Pavilions West (SW Corner of Litchfield and McDowell), Arcadia Commons (Indian School and 44th Street). The locations outside the Valley are Prescott Gateway Mall (Intersection of Highway 69 & Gateway Blvd.), and The Shops at Piñon Pointe (Intersection of Highways 179 and 89A).

 It’s a simple order at the counter and the server brings you your food. You get your own drinks and refills. Sandwiches, pasta, soups and salads, muffins and breads make up most of their menu. Bread is their passion and all of it is baked fresh daily. What a huge difference fresh bread makes in a delicious sandwich!

 They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner; breakfast is served with a wide variety of selections beyond your usual breakfast sandwich. Breakfast is served until 10:30am on weekdays and until 2pm on weekends. How about the Honey-Cured Ham and Brie Frittata with eggs, ham, brie, sautéed apples, sage and leeks, served with Wildflower Home Fries and buttered toast for only $5.99. Or the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes that are Wildflower’s signature pancakes, with ricotta cheese and lemon, served with blueberry compote, sweet creamy butter and hot maple syrup at $5.69. The lemon contrasted with blueberry is a wonderful combination. The Roasted Tomato Feta & Egg Sandwich with scrambled eggs, roma tomato, feta and basil on a buttered Ciabatta Roll at $4.19 is a huge improvement over a McMuffin! This is a much nicer way to start your morning.

 Lunch is priced from $6.49 to $6.99 for sandwiches like the Roast Beef & Gorgonzola with rare roast beef (94% fat-free), gorgonzola, roasted red pepper, red onion, romaine, tomato and herb mayo on Sourdough for $6.79. I really enjoyed their Wildflower Chicken Salad with chicken breast, red and green peppers, green onion, lemon, garlic and mayo with tomato, cucumber, romaine and clover sprouts on Nine-Grain at $6.79. My cowboy friend enjoyed the hot Spicy Meatball sandwich with Swiss, giardinera hot peppers and Wildflower marinara on a grilled Ciabatta Roll for $6.99. The Harvest Apple Pork is slow-roasted pork with apple, leek, sage, arugula and Swiss on grilled Pasilla Chili Rye at $6.79 looked tempting and I will try it when the weather is cooler.

 The salads are wonderful! Oriental Chicken with field greens, grilled chicken breast, red and white cabbage, cucumber, carrot, celery, green onion, jicama, cilantro, sesame seeds, crispy noodles and almonds with Oriental dressing at $6.99. They use a lot of jicama, which you don't find often, but adds a nice crunch!

 They serve up to six varieties of fresh homemade wholesome soup daily that are a wonderful meal in themselves. Made with natural ingredients and they always offer at least one vegetarian selection. You can try soup in their award winning Sourdough bread boule or with your favorite sandwich or salad. By the cup $3.29, bowl $4.29, or soup in a Bread Boule is $5.29. You can even buy Soup by the Quart at $8.99 and feed the whole family. Their website gives the ingredients and complete nutritional breakdown of each soup for those counting calories or carbs.

 Pasta is served from 3pm on and includes a Butternut Squash Ravioli topped with roasted walnut cream sauce and nutmeg sublime for $7.29. My favorite is Smoked Salmon Alfredo with sundried tomato, capers and linguini, topped with parsley and grated parmesan for only $7.29! Or how about the Three Cheese Ravioli topped with Wildflower marinara, parsley and grated Parmesan for only $6.99. Pesto Chicken with Linguini grilled chicken breast, feta, roasted red pepper, spinach and pesto, topped with parsley and grated parmesan $7.29, Linguini with White Clam Sauce tender clams in an herb broth, topped with parsley and grated parmesan $6.99, and many more.

 I go to Wildflower Bakery for meetings often because the atmosphere is usually subdued and quiet enough for comfortable conversation. They also have free wifi and it is relatively fast compared to many places in the valley.   Wildflower Bakery always seems to have a steady crowd. But the service is pretty quick and I’ve never had a problem finding a good table. When the weather is good I like sitting out on the front patio.

 I also like to snag a cranberry muffin ($1.89) from the bakery case with a display so tempting you may have to close your eyes! They also have freshly made breads, cheesecakes, cupcakes and brownies, and cakes. Recently they had a baguette for a dollar you could drop into a box and grab your bread as you left.  

Wildflower Bakery hours are: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays; 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays, Prices: $5-$7 sandwiches; $4-$7 salads; $7 pastas (after 3 p.m.) For information on the closest location call (480) 838-9773 or www.wildflowerbread.com   


The Black Bear Diner

By Cowgirl Connoisseur
 There once was a time when you went to a diner for a meal and found good solid nutritious food in hearty portions and as delicious as Mom’s cooking. Not many of those places survive in the modern fast paced world.  But check out The Black Bear Diner.

If you yearn for a diner of yesteryear, mosey into The Black Bear Diner. They have two locations in north Glendale at 6039 W. Bell Rd., Glendale, AZ 85306, (602) 843-1921 and in Phoenix, at 2410 W. Bell Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85023, (602) 298-2671. The franchise, out of Mt. Shasta, California, says they have 35 Diners and are still growing! Other Arizona locations include Bullhead City, Goodyear, and Lake Havasu City.

 Their menu is an old-time newspaper with stories about local events in the past.  On my last visit I enjoyed the California Scramble $7.69 for breakfast. It’s scrambled eggs with avocado, spinach, tomato, onion, and jack cheese. It came with potatoes (your choice of hash browns or diced) and bread (your choice of toast or biscuit). The waitress asked about how you liked everything cooked – regular or crispy. The biscuit was the biggest fluffiest most delicious I’ve ever eaten. And the eggs were fabulous!

 Others in my party had the Ham and Eggs $7.69 with pancakes, Hungry Man Steak and Eggs $9.99 and another had the Pancakes Mama Bear stack $4.69. Everyone had too much to eat and couldn’t finish their plates. Servings are extra generous and delicious.

The menus for lunch and dinner are both so extensive and economically priced, you are sure to find what you like. Lunch menu sandwiches are generally about $7.99 and dinner averages about $11.99. A large Senior Menu is mostly about $7.99 for dinners.

 Their menu notes they have been trans fat free at all locations fo the last 3 years. Their menu says good old fashioned comfort food. And everything on the menu looks very comforting to me!

 The décor includes extra large deep booths and tables where you won’t feel cramped even if your hubby is a double X. And there are stuffed bears everywhere to compliment the pine and rough  wood trim. Two giant sleeping bears in the reception area are said to wake up and hug patrons on occasion. It’s a family friendly very comfortable place. Jason and his staff did a good job to make us all feel welcome and happy to return. They have a website at www.blackbeardiner.com    with a gift shop.  

Duck and Decanter


Dining Review
By Cowgirl Connoisseur
Duck and Decanter

On the way to a movie screening my companion and I stopped by the Duck for a light dinner. My publisher had asked me visit as he had run the notice of their 30th Anniversary Celebration in the last issue of Panorama Hills Monthly. I was curious because I remember years ago my Dad taking clients to “Duck and Decanter” for frequent business lunches. They also catered several office parties and prepared box lunches for business road trips. Yet, I had never been into their establishment.

Duck and Decanter, as it is known today, began in November of 1972 under the new ownership of Dort and Earl Mettler. A specialty food, beverage and retail pioneer, has become a monument in the lives of many valley residents. Providing fresh sandwiches, salads and soups in a unique environment surrounded by specialty foods, cheeses, wine, beer coffee, gift baskets, tea, and giftware.

Was I ever pleasantly surprised to find a shop packed with epicurean delights. Everything from sauces and spreads, dressings and noodles, dinnerware and kitchen tools are packed into shelves and rows of displays too numerous to peruse in one visit. Upstairs there’s more. It goes on and on. Food and shopping combine two of my favorite activities!

Duck and Decanter, affectionately known as "the Duck", was the first to provide central Phoenix with unique epicurean services such as wine tastings, a wine bar, and an espresso bar. Over the years, the Duck has earned over fifty prestigious awards from local and national periodicals and associations such as Mobil Travel Guide and Zagats. The awards certificates are lined up on the walls side to side and run on forever!

No doubt I was in for a treat for the taste buds. You order at the counter and they call your name when your sandwich is freshly made. A case of salads was intriguing with so many from which to choose.

I tried the southwest pasta salad with THE CLASSIC REUBEN $6.25 Choice of Corned beef or Pastrami, I took the Pastrami. Swiss cheese, sauerkraut relish, and thousand island dressing. I had it on an onion roll. Delicious!

My friend had the CHICKEN SALADS $7.25 Your choice between Creamy garlic with herbs, Curry with raisins, or Sonoran with spicy oil & vinegar. She had the Creamy garlic and it had a nice mild pleasant garlic and herb taste. It was nothing that overwhelmed, but gave good flavor. She also had the potato salad and it was nice. Nothing spectacular but very pleasant.

Their website at www.duckanddecanter.com lists a huge selection of cheese and catering options. I can see why the Duck has remained a favorite for so long. The Duck has remained jubilant for over three decades in a unique market because of its strong customer base. Customers who realize it is not only the quality of the goods they purchase, but it is the experience as well. I will be back often!

Author: LeeAnn Sharpe is freelance writer/photographer in Glendale Arizona and can be reached at lasharpe@cox.net.

Buffalo Chip Saloon And Steakhouse

by Cowgirl Connoisseur

 The Buffalo Chip is a cowboy's standard hang out in downtown Cave Creek. It has a real western, kinda rough and tumble feel and it comes by it naturally. All those cowboy boots kicking up their heels dancing and hootin' and hollarin' can leave a mark! "Live in the now, but play in the 1800's" is their motto. Aside from the televisions, you could be walking into an 1880's style bar.

 The restaurant is open 10am to 10pm with standard cowboy fare. Big Buckin' Burger and Fries at $6.95, 3/4 lb 100% beef chuck, hand ground and pattied, on a toasted bun with cheddar cheese. You can add Bacon, Green Chiles or Red Chili for $1.00 each. On Fridays, it's "All-You-Can-Eat" Cod, Walleye, Lake Perch and Catfish with fries and slaw $9.95 from 5 to 10pm. The fish is hot and delicious and they keep it coming. What a deal! Be sure to get your fill by 10pm, because the tables get pushed back and the dance floor appears and lookout, it gets crazy. They hand cut their own choice steaks and cook the steaks and burgers are on a Mesquite grilled to your likes. Of the hundreds of steaks I've had at the Chip, every single one has been good, tender, juicy and tasty. They are served with cowboy beans, salad, and a honey butter biscuit. It's nothing fancy, just simple straight forward cowboy dinner and uumm ummm good. 

 Not in the burger mood? How about a Mesquite Grilled Chicken Sandwich, for $7.95, it is a large grilled chicken breast, hot melted cheese, green chilies, tomatoes, and lettuce on a toasted bun, served with fries. Or a Pit Smoked Pork Sandwich and Fries, $7.95, 3/4 pound of smoked sliced pork topped with melted cheese, coleslaw and served on a toasted bun with a side of BBQ sauce. Or the Smoked Brisket Sandwich and Fries, $7.95, 3/4 pound beef brisket with melted cheese on a toasted bun with a side of BBQ sauce. For the salad lover try the Grilled Chicken Salad, $7.95, Platter of iceberg lettuce, slivered purple cabbage, carrots, and tomatoes with a grilled chicken breast, toasted croutons and side of ranch dressing.


The Chet "ATKINS" Platter, is $11.95, it has smoked pork, beef brisket, and grilled chicken breast with dry BBQ rub and a side of low-carb home-style coleslaw. Pit-Smoked Beef Brisket, for $10.95, is one pound of pit-smoked beef brisket with cowboy beans, coleslaw and  honey butter biscuit. Or try the Chicken Saloon, for $10.95, chicken breast, tossed green salad, and a honey butter biscuit.

 But the most popular item is the 12 oz. choice handcut Ribeye Steak, for $16.95, served with cowboy beans, tossed green salad, and a honey butter biscuit. Cooked to your order with these guidelines, Rare = Cool Red Center, Medium Rare = Warm Pink Center, Medium = Thin Pink Line in Center, Medium Well = No Pink, Well = May Still Be on Fire! 

As a center attraction for cowboys in a western town for so many years, the Chip is nothing fancy. But that patina of so many wild nights has a certain attraction. This is where life really happens. It can get wild. Pretty young cowgirls come in their best western ware and dancing boots to two-step with cowboys in Wranglers and fresh Panhandle Slim snap button shirt and of course Stetson hat. They meet on the dance floor and share a few long necks and the next thing you know there are two kids and dog in the back of his Ford F250. Yep, many a romance has begun under that roof.   

 The atmosphere is just what city folk and tourists want to absorb. The Buffalo Chip even caters to tour groups and parties with a little western town out back. You can listen to the live music, shoot pool, or throw horseshoes, sit next to a fire pit and enjoy beautiful Black Mountain with a cold one!

 There's plenty of music and dancing going on with Wednesday Karaoke 8pm to Midnight using one of the best sound system around. Thursday and Sunday you can enjoy free dance lessons (that's cowboy dancing ya'll) from 7 to 8pm, and Live music and dancing with The Pat James Band 8pm till Midnight, every Thursday through Sunday. And check out Mel's Auction out back where you can bring anything in from 7to 9pm to get sold, and of course you're welcome to buy!

 The first Sunday of every month during the Fall and Winter from 7 to 9pm the Chip goes theatre with "Murder at the High Noon Saloon", a Comedy/Interactive Theater and Dinner Show. They serve a Prime Rib, Cowboy Beans, Tossed Salad, Sourdough Biscuit and Dessert for $35.00.

 So the next time your gang of cowboys and cowgirls gets real hungry and has some energy to burn, do what we do. Say,"Meet ya'll at the Chip!" Buffalo Chip Saloon and Steakhouse, is located at 6811 East Cave Creek Road, in Cave Creek.

Panoramic Horizons Monthly Restaurant Guide Online! *Reviewed above!
*Alberto Italian Restaurant      4-10pmTu-Su 7171 E Cave Creek Rd Carefree (480) 488-5800 casual - avg $20 - winebar
Barro's Pizza Cave Creek 6450 E Cave Creek Rd Cave Creek (480) 488-9250  
Barro's Pizza Cave Creek 28260 N Tatum Blvd Cave Creek (480) 419-9161  
Binkley's Restaurant 6920 E Cave Creek Rd Cave Creek (480) 437-1072  
*Black Bear Diner 6039 W. Bell Rd Glendale (602) 843-1921 www.blackbeardiner.com
*Buffalo Chip Saloon And Steakhouse 6811 E Cave Creek Road Cave Creek (480) 488-9118 www.buffalochipsaloon.com
Cartwrights 6710 E Cave Creek Rd Cave Creek (480) 488-8031  
*Cafe Boa - Su-W 11-10pm Th-Sa11pm (bar open later) 398 S. Mill Avenue in Old Town Tempe Tempe (480) 968-9112 www.cafeboa.com
*Carvers GONE NOW!!! 8172 W. Bell Road Glendale  623-412-0787 www.paragonsteak.com
Copper Pot Cafe 3655 W Anthem Way Anthem (623) 551-3331  
Cracked Crab 6006 E Cave Creek Rd Cave Creek (480) 488-0800  
Satisfied Frog Restaurant 6245 E Cave Creek Rd Cave Creek (480) 488-3317  
Creeker's Bar & Grill 37645 N Cave Creek Rd Cave Creek (480) 575-6653  
Desert Swirl Frozen Yogurt 11-9 daily 711 E Carefree Hwy Ste 109 Phoenix (623) 580-7380  
*Dillon's Lunch hours Mon - Friday 11:00am – 4:00pm Dinner served Mon - Fri 4:00pm – Close Sat- Sun: 11:00am – Close 8706 W. Thunderbird Road  Just west of I-101 on the north side of Thunderbird. 
Peoria, Arizona 85381 (623)979-5353 http://www.dillonsrestaurant.com
*El Encanto Mexican Cafe PO Box 1507 -Cave Creek Rd Cave Creek (480) 488-1752 www.elencanto.com/
Famous Ray's Pizza 515 E Carefree Hwy Cave Creek (623) 492-0492  
Famous Ray's Pizza 542211 N 41st Dr Anthem (623) 551-3901  
Fandango 6032 E Cave Creek Road Cave Creek 480-595-5633 www.restaurant.com/fandango
Franco's Ristorante 3655 W Anthem Way C-137 Anthem (623) 465-0900  
Garden Angel Tea Room T-S10-5 42211 N 41st Dr Ste161 Anthem (623) 551-9583  
*Gordon Biersch 6915 North 95th Avenue Glendale 623-877-4300  
Harold's Cave Creek Corral 6895 E Cave Creek Road Cave Creek 480-488-1906 www.haroldscorral.com
Hideaway 6746 E Cave Creek Rd Cave Creek (480) 595-0358  
*Horny Toad 6738 E Cave Creek Rd Cave Creek (602) 997-9622  
J Chen Restaurant 29850 N Tatum Blvd Phoenix (480) 502-8887  
Legends Bar & Grill 3655 W Anthem Wy Anthem (623) 551-9525  
Le Sans Souci Restaurant 7030 E Bella Vista Dr Cave Creek (480) 488-2856  
Oak's Diner & Flapjacks 6219 E Cave Creek Road Cave Creek (480) 488-5704  
Pinata Nueva 11-9 daily 3655 W Anthem Way #D105 Anthem (623) 551-8580  
Pinata Nueva 11-9 daily 14850 N Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd #109 Scottsdale (480) 314-0242  
*ROKA AKOR 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  lunch and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily for dinner. 7299 N. Scottsdale Road Scottsdale (480) 306.8800.  
Samurai Sams m-s 10-8:30 sun11-7 4815 E Cave Creek Hwy #112 Cave Creek (480) 595-9982  
Sara's Essentials Coffee Bar & Gifts
m-f 6-6 sat 8-6 sun closed
711 E Carefree Hwy #107 Phoenix (623) 587-6466 www.sarasessentials.com
*Silver Spur Saloon 9-12 daily 6245 E Cave Creek Rd,    Cave Creek 480-488-3317 info@silverspursaloon.com
Shanghai Club 11-9:30 daily 3434 W. Anthem Way Anthem (623) 465-3225  
*Skeptical Chymist 15688 N Pima Rd Suite #C6 Scottsdale (480) 609 8677 www.skepticalchymist.com
Subway 9-9 daily 4815 E Carefree Hwy #110 Cave Creek    
Subway 9-9 daily 3655 W Anthem Way Anthem (623) 516-1900  
*Tonto Bar & Grill 5734 E Rancho Manana Blvd Cave Creek (480) 488-0698 http://www.tontobarandgrill.com
Wagon Wheel 36457 N Cave Creek Rd Cave Creek (480) 488-2291  
 *Wildflower Bread Company various AZ   www.wildflowerbread.com  

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