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Sweet Willie

Cowboy Ciao - Scottsdale (Phoenix) AZ

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Well thanks to jan_az for coming out and joining me for a dinner in the Phoenix area a couple weeks ago. WE PIGGED OUT! It was great fun.

We had:

The Stetson chopped salad: Rows of arugula, smoked salmon, Israeli cous cous, super sweet corn, marinated tomatoes, Ciao 'trail mix' (asiago, pepitas, black currants), with pesto ranch dressing on the side. This is a must do item.

Exotic Mushroom Pan Fry Cremini, button and oyster mushrooms in ancho cream over double-cooked polenta with grilled portabellini, avocado, tomato and cotija cheese, their signature dish. If love mushrooms, again a must do dish, I could have done w/o the polenta though

Hoppy Ahi Tuna

seared rare with ground hops & chammomile, served with curried chow-chow, mango soy. Good

Land and Sea seared filet and Ahi-tuna with yuzu grapefruit. Interesting/good.

Miso fried squid with fresh pineapple salsa. Terrific, a must get.

Bruschetta Tradizionale ok.

Sweet Chile Prawns with pan-Asian slaw & spicy orange nage. OK.

Had some wine by the glass, one of the finest I've had in a long, long time: '01 Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards - Cabernet Franc/Merlot (right bank Napa)

I think I’m missing something, so if you can remember Jan_AZ, please chime in.

7133 E Stetson Dr.

SCOTTSDALE, AZ 85251

6th Avenue and Stetson Drive

In Downtown Scottsdale, Arizona

(480) WINE - 111

(480) 946-3111

http://www.cowboyciao.com


"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"

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How much did all this cost?

<wiping drool off chin>

total bill was $101, with my one $24 glass of wine. My wine was worth it for sure, but pissed me off on their alcohol margin when I just purchased it at my local wine store for $35 per bottle. Friend also had a glass of wine (not as pricey as mine). Back out the wine, we thought it was very reasonable.


"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"

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I had dinner here this past week. It was on my short list of places to visit, but I need to confess that may have been a result of seeing the name mentioned in articles and internet posts that were about wine more than about food (the wine list at Cowboy Ciao is enormous). I was there in a group of eight, and I was only one of two that even cared about wine -- and the other wine lover wasn't drinking that night.

Onto the food. We ordered several appetizers for the table, all of which were only average in my opinion. We had the rock shrimp bruschetta that had a sauce that was not very remarkable. We also ordered regular bruschetta, which didn't do much for me. The Sweet Chile Prawns were another choice -- the "crust" was too thick; these weren't prawns as much as they were 21-30 count shrimp, and they were overcooked. Ciabatta with two types of tapenade was a final order that was only average. I did not have a hand whatsoever in the appetizer ordering, leaving it to the people who had been there before.

We also ordered the famous chopped salad for the table, and this was quite good. It is an odd combination of ingredients, but works very well together. Refreshing and flavorful.

For an entree, I had the elk loin, which was served with a mint gremolata, a veal demi-glace, and a wild mushroom risotto with bell peppers. The risotto was waaaaay too cheesy, and the rice was overcooked. The elk was cooked nicely to medium rare, and had a good flavor. But being served on top of the risotto, the meat didn't benefit from much of the demi glace, which pooled around the risotto. I'd rather have the meat on top of the sauce, and the risotto off to the side. The dish as a whole was average.

Dessert was impressive. I ordered the Cuppa Red Hot Chocolate, which is an incredibly dense pots de creme made from chocolate and cinnamon topped with a chipotle cream, and served with a chili-spiced ginger cookie. I couldn't finish all of the dessert, but that's not because it didn't taste great. I would definitely order that again -- and I'm not one who typically orders chocolate desserts. A couple of others ordered the bread pudding, and commented that it was only okay.

The wine list is impressive, and is organized by price -- the reason given is that most diners have a price in mind when it comes to what they want to order for wine. I've only been to one other restaurant that organized its list this way (Opera House in Madison, Wisconsin, which is not longer in business) and I always thought it was a great approach. There is something for everyone on the bottle list, which begins at $10 for some bottles. The glass list has a range from $6 to $50+ per glass, depending on what you order.

Service was good.

I'm not sure I'd eat there again, but would probably give it another shot in the event the kitchen had an off night. I would, however, go to Kazimierz Wine Bar, affiliated with the restaurant.


We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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I had dinner here this past week.  It was on my short list of places to visit, but I need to confess that may have been a result of seeing the name mentioned in articles and internet posts that were about wine more than about food (the wine list at Cowboy Ciao is enormous).  I was there in a group of eight, and I was only one of two that even cared about wine -- and the other wine lover wasn't drinking that night.

Onto the food.  We ordered several appetizers for the table, all of which were only average in my opinion.  We had the rock shrimp bruschetta that had a sauce that was not very remarkable.  We also ordered regular bruschetta, which didn't do much for me.  The Sweet Chile Prawns were another choice -- the "crust" was too thick; these weren't prawns as much as they were 21-30 count shrimp, and they were overcooked.  Ciabatta with two types of tapenade was a final order that was only average.  I did not have a hand whatsoever in the appetizer ordering, leaving it to the people who had been there before.

We also ordered the famous chopped salad for the table, and this was quite good.  It is an odd combination of ingredients, but works very well together.  Refreshing and flavorful.

For an entree, I had the elk loin, which was served with a mint gremolata, a veal demi-glace, and a wild mushroom risotto with bell peppers.  The risotto was waaaaay too cheesy, and the rice was overcooked.  The elk was cooked nicely to medium rare, and had a good flavor.  But being served on top of the risotto, the meat didn't benefit from much of the demi glace, which pooled around the risotto.  I'd rather have the meat on top of the sauce, and the risotto off to the side.  The dish as a whole was average.

Dessert was impressive.  I ordered the Cuppa Red Hot Chocolate, which is an incredibly dense pots de creme made from chocolate and cinnamon topped with a chipotle cream, and served with a chili-spiced ginger cookie.  I couldn't finish all of the dessert, but that's not because it didn't taste great.  I would definitely order that again -- and I'm not one who typically orders chocolate desserts.  A couple of others ordered the bread pudding, and commented that it was only okay.

The wine list is impressive, and is organized by price -- the reason given is that most diners have a price in mind when it comes to what they want to order for wine.  I've only been to one other restaurant that organized its list this way (Opera House in Madison, Wisconsin, which is not longer in business) and I always thought it was a great approach.  There is something for everyone on the bottle list, which begins at $10 for some bottles.  The glass list has a range from $6 to $50+ per glass, depending on what you order.

Service was good.

I'm not sure I'd eat there again, but would probably give it another shot in the event the kitchen had an off night.  I would, however, go to Kazimierz Wine Bar, affiliated with the restaurant.

Brad,

I think your choice of the word average was nice based on my meal there. I have only been there once and I really try not to condemn before I try somewhere twice, but I really had a bad experience. We did not find anything appealing and just wanted to leave fast. I like Sea Saw next door and the wine bar that are owned by the same people, but this place did not do it for me. I don't like this type of southwest fusion.

Good Eating,

Molto E


Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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Thanks Brad and Molto E for your review and comments. I've been considering getting out there for dinner and now I'm sure there are other places I'll try first!

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