I always love supporting students who offer business services, since usually the services offered are just as top-notch as professionals and are often way less expensive. (For example, I love getting massages at Cortiva Institute and have had many happy hair experiences at Toni and Guy Academy, both in Scottsdale.) My recent lunch at the Arizona Culinary Institute’s du Jour restaurant in north Scottsdale, the only student-run restaurant in the Valley, blew me away in terms of presentation, professionalism and taste. And considering my three-course meal—which also included an amuse bouche, plenty of bread, a chocolate and a soft drink—only ran $15, the classy experience was a steal. Head there now for the best lunch value I’ve found in a long time.
Du Jour is open weekdays from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., and students run every aspect of the meal, from greeting visitors at the front of the house, to serving every course. I started with a trio of three chilled vegetarian soups: vichyssoise, gazpacho and sweet pea. I’ve never had vichyssoise or sweet pea before, and even though I’m not a pea fan, I loved ever bite of the soup. The vichyssoise with pureed potato and leek was so creamy and rich, and I absolutely adored the gazpacho. I’m a bit of a snob because it’s a favorite of mine whenever I visit Spain, and this was just as good as the kind my family makes in Europe.
My entrée was a vegetarian rigatoni, with kalamata olives, capers, carrots, cherry tomatoes, shaved parmesan cheese and a tomato sauce. It was bursting with beautiful colors and tasty flavors and was such a generous portion, I took half of it home.
Dessert was such a fun experience at du Jour. A tray of four delectable items was wheeled out to my table, including carrot cake, chocolate cake and tiramisu.
Other appetizers included an apple gorgonzola salad and a poached scallop,
and entrees included roasted pork loin, grilled chicken and baked cod.
Besides lunch on weekdays, the Arizona Culinary Institute also features special events such as dinners and wine flight schools. August dinners at du Jour are Tuesday, August 25, through Thursday, August 27, and reservations are taken from 6:30-7:45 p.m. – find information here.