Sam Fox, the restaurateur-wunderkind worked the room, shaking hands, pointing out features to invited guests during a preview of his newest restaurant, which opens to the public Wednesday, January 27.
A band jammed from a tiny stage at one end of the restaurant, just below black and white pictures of iconic rockers, obviously taken during their heyday. A young Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, among others.
Culinary Dropout is the 13th concept from Fox Restaurant Concepts, located at the Scottsdale Waterfront in what was an unfortunate restaurant called Pink Taco.
The preview dinner was free, but when the hostess seated me, she left a card on the table. It read:
“Enjoy the food, don’t be a pig, tip your server and tell a friend.”
So I did … I wasn’t … I happily did … and I am.
The room is dark and hip. A shockingly purple textured wall frames the exhibition kitchen. Round tables, square tables. A long community table is positioned between the bar and the kitchen. And emerald green glass chandeliers run the length of the room.
The back side of the oversized paper menu sports 46 beers, divided into sections like a wine list: light, medium, fruit/cider, rich. They stock a rising trend in craft brews: ales in aluminum cans.
There are wines, too, but the beers outnumber the wines. Specialty cocktails share space on the front side with the food.
Culinary Dropout is just as much about the drinking as it is the eating.
A separate menu is provided to order an antipasti plate (The Parlor further west on Camelback Road has a similar menu system.) A few vegetables are included on the menu, like house pickled peppers (3) and grilled asparagus ($4).
A bright, cherry-red slicer sits on the counter of the open kitchen, where antipasti meats and cheeses are sliced to order: Iberico ham from Spain ($12), Prosciutto di San Daniele from Italy ($6) and several domestic charcuterie. Cheeses ($4-$5) hail from all over Europe along with a couple domestic ones.
Silverware is wrapped in a trendy kitchen towel.
The main menu is simple, really, although everything is written with mouth-watering descriptions. Appetizers, sandwiches & salads and entrees totaled together only add up to 31 items.
The pork belly Cubano ($9) is a delicious mouthful, piled high with shaved ham, braised pork belly, sweet, house made pickles, tangy slaw and melted Swiss. The chewy roll is grilled to a crunchy brown. It’s a gut-filler and I couldn’t finish the sandwich or the crispy, skinny fries.
Ergo, I didn’t order dessert. An apple monkey bread ($8) was described as cinnamon roll meets apple pie. (It takes about 15 minutes because it’s baked to order.) The chocolate and vanilla pudding parfait topped with caramel corn ($7) sounds tempting, too.
Who am I kidding? How could I ever have room for dessert after fried chicken with a buttermilk biscuit and honey ($15) or chicken hash with a fried egg and black truffles ($12)? Or short rib orecchiette with butter beans, tomato and Parmesan ($15).
Guess I’ll just have to order dessert first next time.
7135 East Camelback Road