HOUSED IN THE FORMER FATE SPOT, MATT CARTER'S NEWEST ASIAN CONCEPT KICKS IT INTO HIGH GEAR WITH AN ARRAY OF KNOCK-YOUR-SOCKS-OFF PLATES.
"YOU JUST WALKED IN AND ordered the best thing on the menu," chef Jay Bogsinske crows from behind the counter of Nine 05's tiny exposition kitchen. "You rock!"
After one bite, you’ll be thankful Kierstin and Snir Mor ditched their day jobs to dish up some of the best meals in the Valley.
Don’t go to Amuse Bouche looking for an amuse-bouche.
That hallmark of chef-driven fine dining isn’t here, and neither is the fancy ambiance. We’re talking paper napkins here. It’s located in a nondescript strip mall in Surprise anchored by an ACE Hardware. And the French-trained chefs there are best known for their meatloaf.
SENS, A SAKE LOUNGE serving pan-Asian tapas, would look more at home in Greenwich Village or West L .A. than on a mostly deserted stretch of Downtown Phoenix. It’s the kind of modest, self-assured gathering spot that seems to know exactly who its audience is. More imagination than money went into the fresh, eclectic décor that combines a watch-the-fun bar/food prep area, striking light fixtures, a cluster of moon-shaped mirrors and a red, black and white palette flashed with neon. Early evenings, when I visited, the customers included people stopping by after work, families from the neighborhood and later, as the rather distressing techno music amped up, young adults in groups and pairs.
Situated on the quasi-scenic Avenue of the Fountains, Boulevard Café’s narrow outdoor seating meets a cozy spot for sipping café au lait and devouring house-made croissants. The interior is comfortably darkened by dramatic burnt-orange walls, and the tightly spaced wooden tables are gussied up with white linen and butcher paper in the evenings.
Sometimes low expectations make things better. For instance, when the new Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel – a beige box that was slammed as being painfully corporate – broke ground three years ago, the thought of it, and its accompanying restaurant, was met with a yawn.
Talk to chef Matt Carter about his Latin menu at the Mission in Scottsdale, and it’s clear he’s passionate about it.
He goes into loving detail about charring, braising, roasting or making confit. He can rattle off the exotic peppers he uses on each plate. He has a firm grasp of indigenous ingredients, but is confident enough to give dishes his own stamp.
His recipes are so succulent, so saturated with flavors, it’s no wonder they’re so complicated and time-consuming. Carter, known for his prowess with French food at Zinc Bistro, not only proves his versatility here, he outright flaunts it. He and co-owners Terry Ellisor and Brian Raab deserve a round of applause for adding something this innovative, classy and downright delicious to the Valley’s dining scene.
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