My recent meal at Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails is one that I wished could have lasted forever — and with the abundance of dishes my companion and I were lucky enough to try (thanks, J. Lauren PR), it was a delightful time that still has my mouth watering.
And the food isn’t the only draw here, though Chef Stephen Jones‘ ever-changing seasonal menu is worth the trip. My companion noted the spot seemed like one movie character Ron Burgundy would love, with a “stay classy” feel crafted with lots of wooden accents, sports on at the cozy bar, dim lighting, and comfy leather booths that make diners feel like they’re in their own private little worlds.
The bar and restaurant, nestled into the Hotel Palomar at CityScape in downtown Phoenix, has big city views of the adjoining bustling CityScape atmosphere. The atmosphere is about as New York City as you can find downtown, and on a Monday night, there were lots of suits, way more men than women, filing up the bar area. If you’re on the prowl for a new guy, head for a cocktail here — the selection is vast, with stand-out’s including the oh-so-refreshing Floradora ($10), with gin, lime, raspberry syrup, soda and ginger; and the French Riviera ($10), with Dolin Blanc, Velvet Falernum, strawberries and club soda.
As for the menu, Chef Stephen recently revamped more than half of it, with locally sourced menu items that give all the dishes a refreshing taste. The latest menu is seafood-focused, and my pal tried the Jerk Cured Scottish Salmon with shaved celery, apple and fennel salad and a potato puree ($9 for a small portion). He said the fish was perfectly cooked, and the sweet elements balanced out the dish.
I had to try some of my favorite soup, gazpacho, a cup of which came with the perfect fresh veggies garnish to stir into the cold blended soup ($5). I’ve had my fair share of gazpacho soups in Spain, and this was hands-down one of my favorites. It was thick and rich, which I loved, and perfectly flavored.
We also started with the Crows Dairy Goats Milk Yellow Corn Cake ($5-$10, based on portion), which was topped with a red onion jam and marinated spring squash. Everything about this was delightful, from the consistency and buttery flavor of the corn cake, to the perfect jam topping that was a pleasant surprise that worked. The marinated veggies added some savoriness, and I wanted more.
I loved that all the dishes are designed for trying, since there are sampler portions of just about everything on the menu. My companion got a small portion of the Lamb Meatballs, with dandelion greens, potatoes, chickpeas, and red onion yogurt ($9). It’s got to be one of the most innovative, fanciest dishes you could try at that price.
I ordered a plum tomato flatbread, made with house-pulled mozzarella ($12). All the ingredients were stand-out and high-quality, but I’ve had a flatbread like this at St. Francis. Opt for the more outside-the-box offerings if you go to Blue Hound.
Chef Stephen was also kind enough to send out a lemon and fennel sorbet, which was light and refreshing and a perfect meal-ender — even though I had insisted I was too full for dessert, I couldn’t help eating every bit of my portion. The fennel offering was unlike anything I’d ever tasted before — it was a really interesting flavor that definitely gave the dessert a farm-to-table taste. I’d give the dessert points on uniqueness alone.
Not only was it a pleasure to meet Chef Stephen and gobble up his amazing food in a relaxed but classy atmosphere, the service was also impeccable. Like the hotel it’s housed in, Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails strives to make its customers feel at home, too.