Bitches Food Club no. 30 {Artizen}

ARTIZENDid you guys notice the Ritz on Camelback is gone?! It is. And in its place is an adorable boutique hotel named The Camby, a nod to Camelback mountain, which is just a stone’s throw away. We wanted to check it out and figured the new restaurant housed in the hotel, Artizen, was the perfect excuse!KD9A9384The newest member of Marriott’s Autograph Collection Hotels (and the first in Arizona), The Camby is modern and elegant. And, by that we mean that you will get the best Instagrams here, so bring your best filter. The decor was designed with Arizona’s five Cs in mind (cotton, cattle, citrus, climate, and copper) and the ambiance is classy without being pretentious. You can meet your girlfriends here for a few drinks before dinner without feeling like you need to change after work or you can have an upscale date night without feeling like you’re too dressed up.

Or, just go out with your favorite bitches and wear cute dresses, like we did.KD9A9382KD9A9385KD9A9399Anna’s drink: Thai Me Down, made with bombay sapphire east, lime, ginger syrup, egg white, celery bitters, and cucumber.KD9A9407Left to right: French Rose {not on the menu}, Phx Smash, and Pom Advocate. Gretchen explains her off-menu custom drink: “I always ask for the sweetest cocktail available. This time the bartender created the French Rose with pamplemousse rose, lemon, and ginger syrup. It was sugary perfection! Served in a simple champagne flute.”

The Pom Advocate (clean Patron Silver + mezcal) was a little sweet from the Pama and prickly pear chutney, a little citrusy from the lime, and – surprise! – a lot smoky from the mezcal. It read almost like a single-malt scotch drink because of mezcal’s traditional caramelization process. Agave piñas (their delicious hearts, which makes it sound terrifying) are cooked in pits dug into the ground over wood for days, giving the alcohol its traditional herbal, earthy peat flavor. (Think liquid smoke or char-grilled anything.) Now pour that into a drink. If this sounds good to you then you will love The Pom Advocate. If looking for a lighter beverage, try the Phx Smash, a rye-whiskey drink edged with the slightly floral taste of montenegro, sage syrup, raspberry simple syrup, lime, and cucumbers. KD9A9409Delmara tries her first sip of rye whiskey and likes it! {henna by Jenn Schutsky}KD9A9420KD9A9422KD9A9425Now, let’s chat food. Executive chef Chef Dushyant Singh, formerly of Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa on the Gila River Reservation (PS, also starred on an episode of Chopped), has put together a menu that’s a fresh take on American classics. KD9A9438The west coast charcuterie & cheese tasting board was explained best by Macey: “The charcuterie board came with an assortment of meats and cheeses and two spread options (one sweet blackberry jam, one savory mustard). The presentation was great and the assortment was delicious, especially with the grilled bread our server brought out!”

Here’s one thing restaurants should know, even despite the gluten-free obsession some people have:  bitches. love. bread. Even Oprah loves bread. And the bread at Artizen goes really well with cheese and that blackberry spread. Put it on everything. Then jar it up and take it to go.KD9A9428Anna brought her foodie friend Carly because Carly is one of those boss bitches who knows everything about food and drink. “I knew Carly would be a great partner in crime for this meal, and she didn’t disappoint. We each ordered a starter – the smoked goat cheese fondue for me – which is absolutely exquisite. Let’s just say I could drink this stuff if it weren’t in a super-hot cast-iron dish. It was a hearty portion and came with the most amazing sherry potato chips, black pepper lavosh, and toast which was oiled just the right amount with Queen Creek Olive Mill Oil and had the perfect crunch without cutting the roof of your mouth. Honestly, I am such a huge cheese fan – especially goat cheese – that I didn’t expect anything could come close to satisfying me this much.”KD9A9412Carly ordered the foie torchon, a beautiful fatty duck liver that takes some time and love (and a tea towel… or torchon, if you’re French) to prepare. It’s fussy, but in the end worth it. Kind of like having great bangs.

Carly says, “The foie torchon portion is by no means huge, but it is mind-blowing and comes with the most delectable little sides:  Pickled blackberries, purple mustard, and sweet onion marmalade.”

Carly and Anna gave Artizen the award for “most perfect toast ever” because, like we said, bitches love bread. Anna, who comes from one of those darling yet exotic European backgrounds we all want but only a few of us can have, says the foie torchon was “one of those dishes that both took me back to my European childhood and blew me away with its inventiveness. (Pickled blackberries? Yes, they are amazing.)” KD9A9414(foie torchon front {foreground} and goat cheeese fondue left {midground}).

Emily describes the goat cheese fondue as “phenomenal”.

It was “smooth and creamy with just a hint of smoky flavor. The chips were light and crispy and basically melted in your mouth.”  The dish was complex and evenly seasoned without being smoked out.KD9A9434Emily also had the Thai cauliflower. “It had a nice spice to it, but I would have appreciated more of a kick. The tzatziki dip was a tangy, perfect counterpart. A garnish of white grapes, peanuts, and pickled beets added a nice array of flavors.” Sara adds that the plate was, “a delicious and filling… portion size” and wishes only that the cauliflower had been dressed heavier, as “the Thai curried flavor was very light,” she explains.KD9A9452Anna’s main course, the Roasted Branzino, a European sea bass (because it’s Anna we’re talking about here) was, according to Anna, “probably the best-looking dish.” She also thought it tasted great, but notes that it wasn’t revolutionary. Carly said she would have preferred the fish cooked just a tad less. KD9A9454Halfway through our meal, Chef Singh introduced himself and brought out smoked Arizona sweet potatoes with a white bbq sauce, which he had noticed we had all failed to order. Carbs are never turned away, especially when gratis.

As much as potatoes are loved, and these were cooked in duck fat so they were loved very much, the star of this dish turns out to be the creamy bbq sauce, which gets its heat from some hefty horseradish. “Do not skip these,” Anna warns.KD9A9447KD9A9443Artizen’s Brussels sprouts had the perfect proportion of cheese to sprout ratio, which is a serious thing. Macey adds, “The charred Brussels sprouts were spot-on with their combination of lemon and Parmesan.”  The saltiness from the parmesan brought out the brightness of the lemon while balancing any bitter notes the vegetables might have. KD9A9442

But enough about vegetables, let’s talk pasta.

The duck with homemade tagliatelle was ordered by Stephanie who said the pasta was al dente and the duck confit was tender and flavorful without being overly salty. The mushroom reduction gave the dish a robust, earthy note that kept the meal light in what could have otherwise been a rather hefty situation. As things cooked in its own rendered fat sometimes can be.KD9A9446Gretchen’s Cedar Wrapped Red Bird Chicken was a colorful, cheesy dish served with a slathering of pancetta, gruyere, and mustard sauce.

KD9A9444The Artizen salad had true garden spinach, frisee, red quinoa, persimmon, Crow’s Dairy goat feta, caramel corn, and lemon vinaigrette. Small plates as meals are the best and Macey agrees, “I’d much rather spend $30 on 3 $8-12 plates than spend $30 on a single steak.” As we mentioned Chopped, Stephanie noted when she tried the salad that it was almost like she was a judge on the show.

“The popcorn is innovative and unexpected,” she said, “It’s a fun addition, like a Chopped challenge, only I don’t have to vote anyone out or hear a sad reason they need 10k.”

Macey adds that she would “for sure” order this salad again, claiming that “the unique addition of caramel popcorn gave a wonderful crunch and texture.” KD9A9462Dark Sticky Dates.KD9A9458Carly and Anna decided to finish strong by ordering desserts. “Coffee and donuts” was on the dessert menu that night and while only Carly and Anna ordered it, we all dug in. 

Sweet donuts (pillows of doughy goodness) sat atop coffee-flavored whipped cream “perfection,” as Anna put it and it was all pulled together and toned down with a semi-sweet anchor of chocolate making it decadent, but not too rich. Sticky date pudding also made an appearance and is on the ‘would-order-again’ list because dates, as everyone should know, tend to make the most decadent desserts. Putting it into a warm, sticky dish and serving with a scoop of ice cream is disarmingly old -ashioned, but very welcome to join our table. KD9A9460We also loved all the different creamers the table was given for the dessert portion and we definitely spent the rest of the evening googling where to find a black cow creamer.KD9A9464Toasty Skillet S’mores with homemade graham crackers, marshmallows, and hot chocolate sauce was tasty and sticky, but in a good way. A way you enjoy.

The Full Review {their menu here}:

Favorite Appetizer: West coast charcuterie & cheese tasting board: With a sampling of 5 different cheeses and meats plus jam, it was, well, the jam!  Although ,the smoked AZ sweet potatoes were another great option and less smoky than I expected.  Might be too heavy to eat a whole plate yourself {not that’s we’d ever judge you} ,so might be a good appetizer or side to split with the table.

Favorite Entree:  The duck tagliatelle won out. It stands alone without needing any sides, it’s the perfect sized portion, and it’s pasta. YOU GUYS, IT IS PASTA. Do you need more than that description? One warning however, if you aren’t a fan of mushrooms, skip this and order the chicken. 

Least Favorite Entree: Unfortunately, we weren’t fans of the shrimp chile relleno. While yellow jalapeño, rock shrimp, cilantro, garlic, lime crema does sound like a winning combo, the deep-fried batter ended up soggy. Sara explained, “The fried outside quickly became soggy in the drips of mole in which they sat, the dish was original in thought, but lacked any authenticity whatsoever. The flavor was very fried, but I covered them in the lime crema which was delicious and managed to eat all four.” 

Favorite Dessert: Apple Fritter Donut over Chocolate and Crème. Sorry we didn’t actually get the name of this item but we promise it was there!  They also had a s’mores dessert with homemade graham crackers and fluffy marshmallows, served in a adorable cast iron mini skillet with hot chocolate sauce on the side.

Favorite Drink: They have an extensive Wine and Beer list, but we love handcrafted cocktails.  The pom advocate had patron silver, vida mezcal, pama, simple syrup, lime, and prickly pear chutney. The PHX Smash was a combination of Templeton rye, montenegro, sage syrup, raspberry simple syrup, lime, and cucumbers. With the raspberry simple syrup leading the flavor parade in that drink, we highly suggest PHX Smash when you go to Artizen. If you stop by The Bees Knees, however, get their signature cocktail. The honey is taken from the comb that sits right on the counter. It’s a must.

1-10 Service {0 worst, 10 best}: 9.  We had a reservation and were seated right away. We got our waters pretty quickly and drink orders were taken, but it did take a bit of time to get all the drinks out {we don’t mind waiting for handmade items}. Our food orders weren’t taken for what felt like a long time, but as soon as we told the server we were ready to order she took care of us and our food came out in a reasonable time for a larger party.

Cost {$  $$  $$$  $$$$!}: $$-$$$ With small plates ranging from $8-$12 and entrees ranging from $18-$52, there is a wide range of pricing options. For those on a budget or meeting a friend for a quick bite, you could stick to a smaller plate, but add a drink in and you’re at least at $20 plus tip and tax.

Mistakes {corrections?}: No mistakes!

Reservations? They were accommodating for our large party even though we declined the private room, as we like to experience the restaurant ambiance of the main dining rooms and they worked with us! While it looked like there was a decent amount of seating, I would suggest reservations on a busy night, especially if you have 8 or more.

Parking: Complimentary valet only, so make sure to bring some small cash for tipping.

Would we eat there again? YES! I’m excited to go back for a fancy date night sometime in the future I want to sit at one of the booths with copper dome lights!

Have you been to Artizen yet? How was your experience there?

Cheers,KD9A9457the bitches.

 

 

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