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Zeb A

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  1. Well, I bit the bullet and decided to make the trek to Cave Creek.

    What a treat!

    While Binkley's has received some incredibly favorable reviews on this site, I don't think they do it justice. Simply put, if you enjoy fine dining, it would be a terrible mistake to come to Phoenix and miss Binkley's.

    I sat at the bar this evening and had one of the best meals I have ever had the opportunity to enjoy. I tried the 6 course tasting menu, selecting: mackeral tartare, goose egg (filled with marscapone scrambled goose egg and a braised short rib ragout), Moi (a wonderful fish from Hawaiii that I had not tried before), duck two ways, cheese, and tres leches. Of course, the labels do not do the food justice and, sadly, neither can I describe them nor did I photograph them. I will simply say that every course was thoughtfully prepared, with surprising and interesting elements, and, best of all, everything was delicious -- and I mean everything.

    Perhaps my favorite aspect of the restaurant was the barrage of amuse. I am a sucker for small bites of food (and, yes, there was a small lollipop amuse). I believe that I had well over five amuse before the first course, and I would guess that there were over 20 courses in total. I can't begin to remember them all (notwithstanding the fact that I drank little), but they ranged from fried okra, to foie gras, to peach soup, to a chocolate souffle, to a mini charcuterie, to peanut butter and chocolate shake, to a pretzel/cheese/ham? skewer thrust in a mustard froth, to a lava lamp beverage, to a rice krispie treat, to a proscuitto powder, etc etc. The range of techniques and ingredients was amazing, but even more amazing was Chef Binkley's ability to keep it all together and create super tasting food. Flavor was never sacrificed in favor of creating novel and interesting food.

    I had a chance to talk with Chef Binkley a bit. Seems like a great guy.

    In all seriousness, if you really enjoy food, then you have to visit Binkley's when you are in Phoenix.

    PS: The drive from Cave Creek to downtown Phoenix at 9 pm was not bad at all. Maybe 30 minutes. The drive to Cave Creek was traffic-ridden, but I went at the worst time -- 5 pm.

    PPS: I forgot to mention the incredible value. The 6 course tasting runs $89 (keep in mind the total number of courses is over twenty). My final bill, with alcohol and tip was $140. In Chicago, for example, the same meal would cost twice that amount. A terrific deal, and a terrific meal.

  2. Zeb -we're passing in the night!  I'll be at NOCA tomorrow.  Tonight was Los Dos Molinos (spelling corrected from the earlier post).  Being a New Mexican I can say that this was better than any NM food in my town.  Certainly not high dining, but a great meal with the heat I love.

    You will enjoy NOCA, I am sure. You probably saw me last night while you were munching on your pizza. I was #456 in line. The waitress at the bar next door told me that if you come at like 9:30 or 10, the wait drops to an hour!

  3. Downtown-Roosevelt Tavern-great selections of beers and good comfort bar food

    Sens-soup gyuza dumplings very good

    Breadfruit-Jamaican, I have not been there but heard good things

    Lo-Lo's Fried Chicken and Waffles- Lunch

    Matt's Big Breakfast-Breakfast and Lunch

    Eliot: Thanks for the tips! Tonight, though, I made a good decision. We hopped in the car and dined at your restaurant, and I love NOCA. I had the heirloom tomatoes and the halibut. While I loved the tomatoes, the halibut was truly outstanding. Just great. The post-meal cotton candy was a treat. I wish I could have found room for dessert, because they looked great as well. Service was outstanding, from the waitstaff to the gentleman who greeted us at the door (you?). On top of that, the atmosphere was a great mix of casual elegance, and the value was terrific. Just a great restaurant. Congratulations!

  4. Or, better yet, where should I go, assuming I have a ride. Seems like my #1 choice would be Binkley's in Cave Creek. Everything about that restaurant sounds great. Except, it is about 40 minutes from downtown Phoenix. Assuming I will want to drink wine with dinner, I am not sure that a power drive through the desert is a great idea. So, where is Plan B if Binkley's is not an option? Assume I like to eat out, regardless of price, but may not be back to Phoenix before death. Thx

  5. So, I have been in Phoenix for 3 nights and will be here for four more. Last night, I had a car, and I dined at Tarbells. It was good. Tonight, no car. Walked around downtown. Pizza Bianco seemed like a reasonable idea, but there was a 3 hour wait on a freaking Tuesday night! Either that is great pizza, or downtown Phoenix blows. Ate at Kincaid's steakhouse. Great if you like hot Oysters. Seriously, though, the steak was good, but everything else was ho hum, and I spent $100+.

    Is there any cool place to eat downtown? Casual or fancy? I don't care about venue, other than good quality at what they do. Where can I walk to from 3rd?

  6. Thanks. I tried being nice on the phone, but was nicely informed, No room. They suggested I try 48 hours in advance because that's when cancellations kick in.

    Bummer. I wish I could plan things more in advance.

    I don't want to clutter this thread with anything off-topic, but if you have any strong feelings about other places in Chicago I should try, please shoot me a PM. I've dined at Trotters and Topolobompo and want to try something new this time. Maybe Tru? Moto? Anyway, thanks. (Oh, and I should say that I am there Sunday night to Wednesday night, so two of the nights (Sunday and Monday)probably have few options. Thx)

  7. I hope there isn't a more recent thread. If there is, my search skills bite.

    Anyway, one night in Bethany -- best fine dining option is . . . ?

    Two names I have heard are Sedona and The Parkway. Any thoughts on these or others? Thanks

  8. Porters -- and please give me some of the Tavern Chips as well.

    For a chain burger, I have to confess that I dig 5 Guys. It had a better vibe back in its hole in the wall DC days, but its still a good burger with solid fries.

    I think Char Grill burgers are gritty and foul

  9. Really, if you had an unhappy experience at Jibarra, you owe it to yourself to give it another chance. I now have dined at this restaurant well over 15 times, and it is simply one of the most unique and consistently excellent dining experiences in Raleigh. Service typically is excellent as well.

  10. We are looking to buy an undercounter beverage center (ie, fridge not just for wine, but also beer, soda, etc). Research reveals attractive models from Viking, U-Line, Marvel, GE Monogram, Kitchen Aid, etc. We have found a U-Line that is configured in a way that suits our needs. Has anyone had any positive or negative experiences with these sorts of undercounter mini-fridges--esp a U-Line?


  11. Coincidentally, with no advance knowledge of the change, we dined at Vin Saturday and had a chance to sample the new menu. Seems to me that the prices have decreased, as have the portions, but with no loss in quality, all of which is excellent news to me.

    In addition to several wines by the glass (and, if I am not mistaken, there seemed to be an increase in lower price options there as well), we had:

    Lentils with garlic sausage and beets

    Warm hazelnut crusted chèvre with Belgian endive and pomegrante-banyuls vinaigrette

    Crispy confit of duck with roasted butternut squash

    Scallop and shrimp filled napa cabbage roll with coconut red curry broth

    Everything was great, especially the lentils, and our meal price was significantly reduced. We were very pleased. Restaurant was packed.

  12. We enjoyed Red Fish.

    We also dined at Sea Grass Grile which was ok, but nothing special, and CQs, which was again, ok, but significantly overpriced for the quality of the meal.

    I would definitely return to Red Fish, though.

  13. We had a chance to go for an early dinner (with kids) on Saturday. We had a great meal. This is another strong new addition to the Raleigh dining scene. The chilled avocado soup was excellent. Shrimp with chorizo appetizer was also very good. I really enjoyed the pasta with lamb ragout, and the pan roasted duck with pancetta etc was also very good. See link to menu for descriptions. Desserts were ok. Atmosphere was great, even though we were dining very early. Definitely worth putting on your short list of restaurants to try.

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