By: George Balling
About 3 or 4 weeks ago when it was snowing every day and the temperatures were hovering near freezing, we decided to head out for some warm sunny weather. Our plan was to forego a spring trip this year but our resolve wavered and we opted for a quick 3 days in Scottsdale. We know many of you travel to the area and we had not been in some time so we decided to go for it. Whenever we travel it is an opportunity to try new restaurants and peruse their wine lists for new favorites, and a chance to try some wines we have in the shop but haven’t tasted for a bit.
We were not disappointed, the restaurant scene in Scottsdale is vibrant and innovative. For some smaller restaurants they are just now reopening after a year of Covid related closures and some city-imposed curfews from riots they experienced over last summer. Every meal we ate out we were supremely impressed with the diversity on the wine lists. Both whites and reds, by the glass and full bottle selections were innovative and stayed away from the predictable. While Chardonnay and Cabernet were well represented as they always are there were always a couple of choices that were less conventional.
For us two meals really stood out. One night after doing some shopping we happened on to a place that looked interesting, it was early to eat dinner so we decided to go into Zinc Bistro and sit at the bar for a glass of wine. That was that, our server at the bar Jessy was a delight and we ended up staying for dinner. Turns out Zinc has been there for 20 years a remarkable run for any restaurant. Being a true French Bistro the by the glass list was loaded with French choices including white Burgundy, Sancerre and Rosé from the South of France. Everyone we tried was delicious, but the wine was just the start. We started with an appetizer of mussels and fries that was delicious, we easily could have been sitting in a bistro in Paris. After a shared salad course, we moved on to the entrees, mine was a flat iron steak that was one of the best steaks I’ve had in a long time. I paired it with the Legende Bordeaux which we recently featured in our wine club and the pairing was perfect. Mary enjoyed Jidori chicken paired with a vintage Beaujolais from a producer we don’t have access to here at home and again it was ideal.
The entire evening was just about perfect and our new friend Jessy made the recommendation for our dinner the following night. He talked about Hush Public House, located a few blocks away also in the Kierland Commons area of North Scottsdale. Hush is tucked back in the corner of a shopping center with a small sign you might miss if you weren’t specifically looking for it. The restaurant is relatively small and is run by Chef/Owner Dom Ruggierio, an arrangement that always works well. You have a chef that is fully invested in everything that comes out of the kitchen, or crosses the bar and you end up with a stellar product and experience. In addition to being small, Hush is also loud. Led Zeppelin and other classic rock bands are the music of choice. The crowd too is lively, and the staff is friendly and fun.
Like Zinc and our other choices while in Arizona the wine list was full of innovative names. We were thrilled to find half bottles of Champagne Palmer on the list for a festive start to our last night of vacation. We carry Palmer here at the shop but it had been a while. The wine is still delicious, classic Champagne all the way. With our dinner we decided to venture out, and ordered a bottle of Sagrantino from the Montefalco region in the South of Italy. Made by Lorenzo Mattoni the wine sees 18 months in very large oak barrels but you would never know it, there was not a touch of oak on the palate or in the aromas. There was much dark fruit on the palate and ample tannins on the finish, definitely a full-bodied wine and one we will be attempting to track down for the shop.
We also had a few moments to chat with Chef/Owner Dom. The inspiration for this new venture was his time traveling including while in the military. He oversees the tiny open kitchen allowing his team to do the creation but with a thoughtful eye to food presentation and always willing to jump in when things got hopping which they for sure did. Hush is a must go for those who visit the Scottsdale area.
One final note on the wine scene in that area. Prices are fair. Restaurant mark ups were not low but they were appropriate, a certain comfort when traveling. We encourage you to check out these two great establishments if your travels take you to the Phoenix/Scottsdale area.