No doubt, T. Cook’s at The Royal Palms resort is one of the most beautiful dining settings in all of Phoenix.
It has a full rack of awards from AAA (Four Diamond, 2004 – 2009) and Wine Spectator and more than once has captured “most romantic” and “best splurge” from local media reader polls.
Like most high-end resorts, the dining is a little pricey, but last October, Chef Lee Hillson introduced his “value combo” lunch menu in order to boost lunch sales.
Granted, $14 (+ tip) isn’t ever going to be confused with “cheap lunch” but it’s an affordable way to experience a couple different items on the always topnotch T. Cook’s menu.
While chewing on warm, rustic Simply Bread dipped in fresh pesto sauce, I counted 72 options between the various soups, salads, sandwiches and house made pizzas. That’s a dizzying array of choices.
Even though the portions are half sizes (or 2 fat pizza slices if you order pizza), there’s plenty of grub to fill even a hungry, underfed food writer.
I couldn’t resist the “BLT” braised Kurabuta pork with vine ripened tomatoes and peppery arugula on a toasted ciabatta roll, dressed up with a mustard aïoli.
The iceberg wedge I paired with the BLT got an extra boost of flavor from grilling. Topped with slightly charred red onions and candied walnuts, it’s drizzled with a blue cheese dressing that still managed to have tang despite the creaminess.
My companion chose a soup/pizza combination. The “house” pizza is topped with house made pepperoni, tangy tomato sauce, house pulled mozzarella and juicy, slow roasted tomatoes.
Wilted arugula sits on top. The crust is somewhere between thick and thin, and blistered just enough to add a slight char flavor.
The cup of thick, creamy corn chowder is studded with roasted corn kernels and chucks of potatoes, and has a lovely throat-warming kick from a shot of Tabasco sauce.
A small green salad tossed with a creamy Italian dressing was a bonus palate cleanser.
We could have stopped there, but then we took a look at the dessert menu. Choose three mini desserts from a choice of six for $8 — plenty for two to share.
Milk chocolate mousse with a caramel glaze is silky smooth, but has a crunchy cookie base and is topped with a thin slab of dark chocolate and a roasted hazelnut.
The orange Grand Marnier panna cotta sits atop a poached orange slice and orange cookie with a biscuit-like texture, garnished with a dramatic, brittle tuile triangle.
The chocolate praline, equally dramatic, is a vertical “sandwich” with a milk chocolate caramel ganache and rich chewy brownie sandwiching a tangerine infused white chocolate ganche.
If you’re so inclined, there are six wines by the glass priced at $6, too, including a dry rosé (my favorite wine style).
The gracious service and the gorgeous ambiance, coupled with the “value” lunch combo forms a perfect triangle for a memorable lunch.
T. Cook’s at The Royal Palms
5200 East Camelback Road, Phoenix