Amuse-Bouches - November 2015

Written by Niki D’Andrea & Craig Outhier Category: Amuse Bouches Issue: November 2015
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PHM1115EBAB01aFall for Beer
Fall in Phoenix brings a couple things: monsoons, and superb seasonal beers. And while our storms can be as unpredictable as chaos theory, the crafting of seasonal beers is a terrific trend as unchanging as the colors of the leaves on our trees. Here is a trio of tasty fall seasonals to try.

Joy Rye’d
Historic Brewing Company
Despite its year-round availability, this rye pale ale tastes greatest in the fall. A sturdy base of spiced malts kisses citrus and clove under a “mistletoe” of piney Chinook hops (but it’s a dry-hop!), creating holiday flavor with head-warming flair. 5.5 percent ABV.

Pumpkin Porter
Four Peaks Brewing Co.
‘Tis the season for persistent pumpkin-flavored everything. Four Peaks’ Pumpkin Porter rises above the patch with a clovey aroma and a flavorful blend of lightly roasted malts, cinnamon and nutmeg, with hints of chocolate. 5 percent ABV.

SanTan Brewing Company
This golden-brown beer looks like autumn leaves and tastes like the edge of nirvana in a lager. Brewed with Munich, Vienna, and caramel malts in a nod to traditional German (Märzen) style, SanTan’s Oktoberfest is clean and crisp, with a medium-dry, moderately nutty finish. 5.5 percent ABV.


PHM1115EBAB02First Bite: Sushiholic
With a name that unmistakably spells out compulsive sushi consumption, this Camelback Corridor restaurant – which opened in the old Chick Rotisserie Bar space next to The Grind two months ago – appears geared toward hardcore fish fans. But does it deliver?

The Environs: You’ll find a classy, streamlined sushi bar and spaciously slick dining room – definitely more of a swank, Roka-style palace than an intimate mom-and-pop. It’s very Westernized. (Telltale sign: Very little of the menu appears in Japanese; salmon is always “salmon,” never “sake.”) The hostess is friendly, the itamaes chatty and personable.

The Food: Not a whole lot of what one might call “surprises” on either the à la carte sushi list or kitchen menu – like, say, ankimo monkfish liver or Nobuo-style small-plate presentations. But the squid salad is tasty, with the right three-way rhythm of chew, smokiness and tang; and the cut-roll presentations are fetching, particularly the Cherry Blossom (pictured), a breeze-fresh medley of salmon, avocado and tuna arrayed on the plate like flower petals.

The Verdict: We wouldn’t mind meeting friends at Sushiholic for a night of maguro and sake flights* in the slightest. Does it elevate sushi to “cuisine” the way the Valley’s best practitioners – Hana, Hiro, Yasu – tend to? No, but it definitely has a place in the Sushi Brokers/Stingray niche of solid neighborhood sushi joints. Not addictive, but binge-worthy.

* They didn’t have their liquor license when we visited in late September, but assured us it would be sorted out “within a week.”

3957 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 602-956-2354,


Comings and Goings:
Some Valley dining-scene scuttlebutt for November.
>> Veg-Head News. The Seventh Street dining corridor’s embarrassment of culinary riches adds yet another potential jewel in The Coronado, a vegetarian cafe from Liam Murtagh of the now-closed Bragg’s Factory Diner. Look for potato tacos and jackfruit barbacoa sliders. It replaces celebrity chef Michael O’Dowd’s short-lived Urban Vine, which went on hiatus for the summer and never reopened. 2201 N. Seventh St., Phoenix,

<< Bragg’s No MÁs. Not a week after scoring Best Animal-Free Breakfast and Best Vegan Pie awards in the October issue of PHOENIX magazine, Bragg’s Factory Diner announced it would cease operations in early October. The owners cited focus on their new culinary venture, The Coronado, as one of the reasons.

>> From Food-And-Bev Idea Man Julian Wright (La Bocca Urban Pizzeria, Modern Margarita) comes Pedal Haus Brewery, a Teutonic-themed beer garden in the heart of Mill Avenue. It is a sprawling affair, with oodles of outdoor lounging space where customers can sip their hefes and nosh on regional specialties like Kaiserschmarrn pancakes. 730 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, 480-314-2337,

>> Distillery Alert! The Valley’s long-promised craft-spirits renaissance may finally be nigh. Check out CaskWerks, which will be rolling out a “wheat whiskey” offering sometime over the next few months (; and sometime next year, Lucidi Distillery Company will open a facility and tasting room in a historical firehouse in Peoria.


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