14 May 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Tarbell’s Restaurant in Phoenix, AZ

Last month, while at a conference in Phoenix, a group of about 16 of us made reservations and went to Tarbell’s. I had heard great things about this place and being a bit of a foodie, I was excited about it. I began to worry because… well, you know when you build something up in your head and it doesn’t live up to what you are expecting? Two months is a lot of anticipation!

I was lucky enough to be seated with four other people that were big foodies too, which was perfect. We all loved food and, even better, we liked to share. Score! Still… would it live up to the hubbub? I’ve only watched Iron Chef a few times, but had no idea the chef had won it, quite honestly. Had I, I probably would have skipped the restaurant, honestly. I’m glad I didn’t because this was one of those meals that I will remember for a good long time. One of the ladies at my table was also from Austin (where I’m from) and we are still working out how we can get Mr. Tarbell to move here (hey, if you’re reading this, Mark, Austin is a super cool city… just sayin’).

We tried many of the things on the menu, I’ll share my favorites…

For the table we ordered the Brussels Sprouts as well as the Shisitho Peppers. I’m not a pepper fan, but those that liked them said they were well done. The sprouts were perfectly cooked and we managed to convert one person in our group that claimed they did NOT like them. Heh, apparently she loves them now. For salads, I tried a few, but my favorite was the beet salad. Absolutely must get this. It was amazing, the goat cheese was mild and the flavors blended beautifully. The house pulled mozzarella was also very good.

For the main course, I had the Pan-Seared Ahi Tuna (rare). OMG. I have had quite a bit of ahi in my life, but this was, easily, the best. It simply melted in your mouth. The nicoise on the side was a perfect compliment to bring out the flavor for the fish as well as the potatoes that were served on the side. I also got to enjoy some of the salmon (divine) and house-made ribbon pasta (absolutely wonderful). The stand out for me was definitely the ahi, but really adore tuna, if done correctly.

We also skipped dessert. Until we saw the menu. None of the four of us could decide on any one thing, so we each ordered something and then passed them around in circles. We got a few laughs, but hey, you only live once, right? I must say that the desserts were all simply amazing (and huge!). The stand out was the mascarpone cheesecake with rosemary caramel sauce (Oh my, I wonder if my spouse would think it odd if I booked a trip back there JUST to get a slice of this cake – Psssst, the recipe is on their website though!). We also had the bread pudding, which I was leery of, but it was, again, absolutely amazingly well done. We had the apples (which I didn’t get to try, I’m allergic, but everyone said they were so very good) and the profiteroles (which one of my table mates had a bit of a When Harry Met Sally moment over). *laugh*

The staff were attentive, answering our many questions. We never felt rushed and spent a good time talking and enjoying the company. The restaurant itself seems very unassuming in a small strip mall type of area. Parking looks like it could be a bit of a problem (we took a hotel shuttle). The place is a bit on the loud side, but nothing we needed to scream over. I would not hesitate to bring my husband or business folks here again. Though, definitely not a place for kids.

Thank you, Tarbell’s, for a memorable evening of good food, good atmosphere and good fun.

Tarbell’s is a friendly neighborhood atmosphere that features light woods and white tablecloths, a sweeping bird’s-eye maple bar, and an exhibition kitchen. We also offer an award-winning wine list and an extensive wine-by-the-glass menu.

Rating: ★★★★★

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