Gluttony, thy name is Restaurant Week.
In 1992, a New Yorker had a brilliant promotional idea – for one week, have the hottest restaurants offer inexpensive lunch menus to encourage people to try out different restaurants throughout the city. The concept was such a hit, it soon evolved to include fixed price dinner menus and inspired cities across the country and the world to incorporate their own restaurant week.
Four years ago, Arizona jumped on the restaurant week bandwagon, offering three course meals at a large variety of restaurants for as low as $20 a person and no higher than $40 a person (excluding beverages and gratuity). Known as a tourist and resort destination, Arizona has a surprisingly high number of fine dining options. Although it currently only has one five diamond restaurant in the state (the excellent Kai at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort), Arizona boasts countless four diamond restaurants across the state as well as many innovative, independently-owned casual dining restaurants that are more than fit for foodies. Fortunate for the residents and visitors of Arizona, many of these excellent restaurants participate in Arizona Restaurant Week, an event that took place this past week.
In the past, we have discovered many fine restaurants in town thanks to Restaurant Week: Bourbon Steak, Different Pointe of View, NoRTH, and Zinc Bistro are among our favorite Restaurant Week “discoveries.” This year, after reviewing the menu options on the Arizona Restaurant Week site, we settled on three restaurants: Bloom (located at Scottsdale and Doubletree), Ko’Sin (located at Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort), and Talavera (located at Four Seasons at Pinnacle Peak). As always, the week was filled with many surprises and fantastic dishes.
We kicked off Restaurant Week on Wednesday evening by heading up to Bloom. The warm, cozy atmosphere of Bloom coupled with an inexpensive happy hour cocktail set us up for what would be the best experience we had for Restaurant Week. With a name like Bloom, you’d expect light and leafy dishes presented artfully on oddly-shaped plates. What you really get are big-portion, comfort food dishes – crispy chicken with sage stuffing, perfectly-cooked skirt steak with carmelized onions and melted blue cheese, and cheesy, baked shrimp tagliatelle. Wow. To top it off, we had a creamy butterscotch pot de crème with salted caramel and a brownie on the side topped with ice cream. A bit much, but it all exceeded our expectations. Bloom? We will be returning to split a plate or two once our stomachs settle.
Friday night, we went to the Sheraton Wild Horse’s other restaurant, Ko’Sin. Although Kai does not participate in Restaurant Week, diners can get a taste of the beautiful grounds at the Sheraton and experience a few moments of Kai-like culinary inspiration. While Ko’Sin’s service was less than attentive, the food more than made up for it. To start, we had a delicious buckwheat tart with mozzarella, basil foam and white balsamic over heirloom tomatoes with a gazpacho “shot.” Following the tart, we had my favorite meal of restaurant week – lobster mac n cheese: lobster, pasta, pancetta, peas and corn, all covered in a rich gruyere sauce. This was an amazing dish, loaded with big chunks of fresh lobster. Every single bite was delicious, and those of us at the table who chose the dish didn’t leave a bite behind. It this isn’t a regular dish at Ko’Sin, it needs to be. As part of a $40 three-course meal, it was a steal.
Finally, Saturday night, we went to Talavera at the Four Seasons. You can always count on Talavera to provide top-notch service and beautiful views of the valley. Normally, you can also count on great dishes at Talavera; however, we found the food on this trip to be largely forgettable. We had a lobster corn bisque, bacon wrapped steak and salmon, but none of these dishes really stood out in either presentation or flavor. The one exception was an unusual dessert we ordered – a raspberry cheesecake “slider” with funnel cake fries. It was a whimsical dish sure to satisfy anyone with a massive sweet tooth. We have faith in Talavera, but they seemed to be off their game on Saturday.
If you missed Arizona Restaurant Week this time around, have no fear – they are likely to have another Restaurant Week in the late winter or early spring. Besides, many of the delicious dishes mentioned in this article are regular menu items. If you are from outside of Arizona, below I have posted a few links to Restaurant Weeks across the country, and updates to regional Restaurant Weeks will be posted on our Facebook Fan Page. Check them out and support your local eateries! If you would like The Menacing Kitten to provide information on a Restaurant Week near you not listed below, please comment below or on Facebook, and I’ll do my best to oblige.
Did you go anywhere for Restaurant Week? Are you attending a Restaurant Week in your town? Share your experience with us below!
Other Restaurant Weeks across the country:
Connecticut: http://www.connecticutrestaurantweek.com/ Their restaurant week is coming up in October.
Los Angeles: http://discoverlosangeles.com/restaurantweekv2/index.html This restaurant week is also coming up in October.
Washington D.C.: https://www.restaurantweekmetrodc.org/
New York City: http://www.nycgo.com/restaurantweek/