When reviewing restaurants—I’m not a traditional foodie—I focus on how dining destinations makes us feel…where they transport us. Here are two special atmospheres in Scottsdale.
Ample time for food foreplay
Dining upon a bar often conjures up images of fried food meant to mate with beer. Here, the wide marble bar surrounds a master chef at work who bustles in a fishbowl kitchen. It’s an open window into a fast and furious chef zone, minus the chaos. Most similar set-ups in which the customers are just feet away from the chef serve Asian food. This menu, however, offers an inventive American fusion of healthy ingredients. A particular fave is the spiced eggplant, yoghurt, and pomegranate dish.
Festive but intimate, FnB serves only Arizona’s premium homegrown wines and brews. Pavle Milic, the hands-on owner reigns from Queens. His extended culinary stopovers in Napa, New York City, and a trattoria in Scottsdale bring an unexpected cosmopolitan flair to chef Charleen Badman’s menu. Many of the chef’s specialties are imparted with “smoky love.” Try the French breakfast radish, the braised leeks, and whatever else Pavle recommends.
Wide-open and fun with picture windows, the restaurant is hopping even on Sunday nights. There are 36 seats in all. Chef Badman, an Arizona native, previously owned Inside, a renowned Manhattan, NY restaurant for seven years. 7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale. 480 425 9463. www.fnbrestaurant.com.
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5th & Wine
In your face, then in your stomach
What do you get when you mix a sprawling, upscale coffee hangout and one of Arizona’s best wine lists? Wait, add hearty Southwestern comfort food with new age presentations—and you’ve got an inviting and dandy place to dine and drink. Its 150 bottle wine list has a $100 ceiling, and a daily 11am-6pm happy hour features all wines for $5 per glass (including $10 pours).
Executive chef Mike Bouwne’s bold menu of divine homemade American food, served inside or out, includes swordfish, meatloaf, and the 5th & Wine Burger topped with cambozola or white cheddar, carmelized onions, and arugula on a toasted brioche bun. Ask about the annual Mac-N-Cheese throwdown. Mild-mannered Bouwne claims that his food is blissfully “in your face.” He, however, is anything but overbearing.
Other highlights include live music three nights a week and nice touches like milk bottles on each table full of room-temperature drinking water. According to the bartender, “cold water shocks the palate.” The walls are adorned with colorful dog artwork by www.ronburns.com, allowing this likable establishment to double as an art gallery. 7051 E. 5th Ave., Scottsdale, 480 699 8001, www.5thandwine.com.