The Hotel Palomar Phoenix opened to much fanfare last year. As the centerpiece of CityScape in downtown Phoenix, the newest of Kimpton’s hotels promised to deliver a special experience to their guests, while never taking their eye off of the locals. Their “Art in Motion” theme seemed apropos for both visitors and residents who take pride in their local culture.
A year later, it’s difficult to imagine downtown without it. From the energy of Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails to the lounge-y “living room” lobby and cosmopolitan rooftop LUSTRE Bar, Hotel Palomar has established a comfortable corner of our core.
But, ask anyone and they’ll tell you it’s the people who make it shine. Meet a few who work behind the scenes, through the lens of photographer Chris Loomis and art director Duc Liao.
Want to join in on the celebration with a summer staycation? Check out the fun stay and play promotions that coincide with the Hotel Palomar’s first anniversary.
The most popular locally produced TV show on Eight, Arizona PBS is taking its show on the road, and bringing dozens of restaurants and James Beard Award winners along for the ride.
The event will feature cooking demonstrations, panel discussions, wine & craft beer sessions, and the chance to audition for a spot on Check, Please! Arizona. Producers are seeking “congenial fans who are passionate about their favorite local restaurant, articulate about food and honest about their dining-out experiences.” Cameras will be present to tape the auditions.
A highlight of the schedule is a panel discussion led by Check, Please! Arizona host and James Beard Award winner, Robert McGrath. McGrath will be joined by fellow James Beard Award winners Christopher Gross, Nobuo Fukuda and Chris Bianco. The discussion will be about Phoenix emerging as a culinary destination, each chef’s unique culinary journey and the experience of receiving the James Beard honor.
Tickets please! DPJ readers: get a $10 discount off your tickets by entering the promo code “Check.”
THE FEST FACTS
Eight’s Check, Please! Arizona Festival takes over CityScape for a live food event exploring its show-inspired lineup of independently owned, Arizona restaurants. From five-star dining establishments to tucked away cafes, the event showcases Eight’s Check, Please! Arizona favorites.
CityScape, 1 E. Washington St.
Get light rail/parking info
Sunday, April 28, 2013, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
America’s Taco Shop
Amuse Bouche Gourmet Bistro & Catering
Cornish Pasty Co.
Coup Des Tartes
Four Peaks Brewery
Frasher’s Steakhouse & Lounge
Haus Murphy’s German Restaurant
Hob Nobs Café & Spirits
LON’s at the Hermosa
MacAlpine’s Soda Fountain
Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Café
Phoenix City Grille
Pittsburgh Willy’s Gourmet Hot Dogs
Shugrue’s Hillside Grill
Thee Pitts Again
SAMPLING OF RESTAURANT MENUS
America’s Taco Shop. Grilled meat tacos
Durant’s. Brioche crostini & horseradish cream; roast sirloin and basil pesto; chocolate indulgence cake
Amuse Bouche Bistro. Meatloaf sliders w/tomato glaze; smoked bacon & onion aioli; chocolate éclair cake
Betty’s Nosh. Mushroom soup; stuffed mushrooms
Eddie’s House. Israeli Fattoush couscous
Frasher’s. BBQ pulled pork; gooey butter cake
Haus Murphy’s. Beefy Bratwurst w/sauerkraut
Hob Nobs Cafe & Spirits. Gourmet pizza
MacAlpine’s Soda Fountain. Velvet Elvis Ice Cream soda; pulled pork sandwiches & potato salad
Pittsburgh Willy’s. 2 of their gourmet hot dogs: Freddie G. and Wing Ding Willy
Shugrue’s. Seafood gumbo
Thee Pitts “Again.” Pulled pork
Chow Bella Stage
Noon. John Cavanagh of Tuck Shop – The Art of the Perfect Mixer
1pm. Andy Ingram of Four Peaks Brewery – Craft Beer Seminar
2pm. JAMES BEARD AWARD WINNERS DISCUSSION PANEL
Four of Arizona’s James Beard Award Winning chefs will participate in a panel discussion about Phoenix as a culinary destination, each chef’s unique culinary journey and what the James Beard honor has meant to them.
- Chef Robert McGrath. Check, Please! Arizona show host will lead this panel. Executive Chef of Market Street Kitchen, McGrath was awarded Best Chef Southwest in 2001.
- Chef Christopher Gross. Gross, of Christopher’s & Crush Lounge, was awarded Best Chef Southwest in 1995. Gross will host an exclusive wine seminar for VIP guests.
- Chef Nobuo Fukuda. Recently acclaimed for Nobuo at Teeter House, Fukuda won Best Chef Southwest in 2007. Chef Fukuda will serve exclusive VIP samples.
- Chef Chris Bianco. Best known for his world-famous pizza at Pizzeria Bianco, earned Best Chef Southwest in 2003.
3pm. Exclusive Wine Seminar with Mark Tarbell, Tarbell’s
SubZero/Wolf Chef Demonstration Stage
Noon. James Porter – Petite Maison
1:30pm. Eddie Matney – Eddie’s House
3pm. Jeremy Pacheco – LON’S at the Hermosa
1pm. Private Wine Seminar with Christopher Gross
Select tastes by Chef Nobuo Fukuda
Safeway Grill Master Stage
11:45am: Brett Hoffman, Haus Murphy’s German Restaurant
12:30pm: Robert McGrath, Host of Check, Please! Arizona and Executive Chef, Market Street Kitchen
2:45pm: George Frasher, Frasher’s Steakhouse & Lounge
‘Check Please! Arizona’ Audition Stage
12pm- 4pm Opportunity for guests to try out as a ‘people’s critic’ for the popular Channel 8 TV sho
Purchase tickets at www.azpbs.org/checkplease
- General admission is $60. Tickets include food, wine and beer sampling.
- VIP tickets are $100. VIP ticketholders will enjoy exclusive wine tastings; 30-minute early entry (10:30am) to the festival (before general admission); and VIP Valet Parking.
- DPJ readers: get a $10 discount! Enter the promo code “Check” when buying tickets.
Blue Hound Kitchen and Cocktails is trying to do something right.
Padded gloves in their approach, the powers behind the new Downtown restaurant and cocktail marker inside the equally fresh Hotel Palomar have made a transparent effort to court and coddle the new neighborhood in which they are rooted. Hopefully, this transcends over time.
Unlike other recent Downtown hotel (or big-monied) projects, who landed Downtown like an alien spacecraft, there seems to be an edge of awareness for the Downtown community here that separates.
A large, deep-pocketed development this may be, splashy and superficial it is not. With equal attention paid to both its physical, and spiritual, design, Blue Hound Kitchen and Cocktails appears to be a nice layover between that quirky, idealistic (and independent) hot-spot we Downtown die-hards crave, and the more manufactured corporate digs our transitioning Downtown still needs, despite those entrenched cravings to the contrary.
Weathered wood, untreated metal and communal energy pervade Blue Hound. Its deceptively raw interior is trimmed by art both playful and pointed, and, with its floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city just above street level, Downtown’s biggest inherent asset is always dining with you: a genuine urban environment.
Honest in its hotel restaurant genes, but clear in its stance to veer off course, Blue Hound’s food menu straddles the accessible and foreign. Arizona-grown food items are injected throughout, and responsibly raised and sourced produce, proteins and seafood have a clear agenda here. The balance between food-cost and food ethics hits a good middle ground here.
Executive Chef Steven Jones is a local player who knows Arizona well, too. From respectable stints at Tarbell’s and most recently Latilla at the Boulders Resort in Carefree, Jones understands local palates and what’s possible market-wise.
Otherwise common short-ribs lean uncommon at Blue Hound, with their Flintstone-sized entry (full order $26; half $15). One of the menu’s biggest jewels, it’s a primal cauldron of tender red-meat that has been lacquered in a sarsaparilla-heavy barbeque sauce. The blue cheese grits that sit beneath show restraint, and the pickled peaches that bedazzle this aggressive rib are great, providing that perfect smack of summer.
The Kentucky-fried quail ($15) is another example of Blue Hound and Jones’ intention to tease without obscuring. Seasoned quail, fried flaky, screams of the famed Colonel’s secret recipe – Jones claims to harbor its secret mix – climbs a cube of foie gras cornbread (you read correctly) and swims in a sinful, spiced red bean gravy. These are trophy southern flavors twisted with reinvention.
Blue Hound’s beverage program is probably one of the outpost’s flashiest canons. Initially guided by San Francisco-based mixologist Jacques Bezuidenhout, but built-out and fully refined by two of the Phoenix area’s most talented and enthusiastic bar personalities Shel Bourdon and Tyson Buhler, the booze menu is extensive but smart, and reasonable: most cocktails float at price point of $10 or less.
Never overwhelming, the bar showcases a brainy catalog of top-shelf spirits. From gin to scotch, rye to mezcal, Blue Hound is clearly braiding the sentiments of timeless, prohibition-era cocktailing with the exploding ambitions of current craft cocktail trends. Much like the food menu at Blue Hound, these are hand-crafted drinks that will please ardent spirit geeks and surprise unknowing hotel guests alike.
For something more serious, be sure investigate the appropriately named “The Darkness” ($10), a smoky cocktail with Bols Genever (think a malty Dutch gin), homemade lavender syrup, fresh lemon, mezcal, amaro (bitter herbal liqueur) and egg white. It’s floral, deep and smooth – the perfect introduction to an evening of menu hopping.
For something a little airier, swing for the Heathen Child ($10), a bright muddle of strawberries, Jamaican rum, strawberry-coconut creme, ginger liqueur, fresh lime and orange bitters. A cold pitcher of this on a sweltering Phoenix afternoon? Instant relief.
Blue Hound’s wine list covers ample ground as well, with almost 70 varieties – some on tap – represented efficiently. For sud lovers, a great craft beer checklist exists presenting options bottled and on tap, local and beyond. Blue Hound also flexes its muscle with its house-made ginger beer, served on tap – one of the first bars in Arizona to exploit this trend. Spicy and fragrant, their version is worth a sip. Added to a cold, fizzy cocktail or guzzled virgin, straight from the tap, it’s ginger beer on another level.
Exploring the rest of the Palomar’s multi-level lobby and common areas, you’ll also discover what is soon to be one of Downtown’s most buzzing perches, the expansive pool terrace and outdoor bar area Lustre. A colorful plank overlooking Downtown’s growing skyline, the entire space is ripe for early afternoons and late evenings lounging outdoors with icy cocktails and great gossip. Totally urban, totally un-characteristic of Phoenix (or Scottsdale), this space alone marks a new era in Downtown socializing.
Outside of Blue Hound Kitchen, and Lustre, the Palomar Hotel in its entirety lacks most of the pretension local cynics will be hunting for. Alien in its arrival it is not, the newest player on the block respectfully cues our neighborhood – and its possible future – without completely succumbing to its (sometimes) provincial pitfalls. It’s confident, proud and perfectly happy to be in Phoenix.
We couldn’t agree more.
Jos. A. Bank is opening its sixth Valley location on the lower level of CityScape next door Charming Charlie’s (the former home of Republic of Couture). The store is set to open in early September and will be stocked with business apparel, sportswear and vacation apparel. They will also be providing tuxedo rentals.
“We are a pretty traditional men’s store; one your father shops at and your grandfather shops too,” said Tom Kilwein, Jos. A. Bank regional sales director. The company caters to a range of business customers and is working towards more fashion-forward collections to draw in the younger customers.
Kilwein said they chose to open a downtown location because that is where their customers are. Phoenix will be added to a list of major cities across the country that have stores in their downtown areas.
One thing that sets the store apart from other similar stores is that every product, except the shoes, in store is a Jos. A. Bank label, Kilwein said.
“The people we have talked to are excited and we really think it is going to be phenomenal,” Kilwein said.
Let the women come out and play!
To celebrate National Women’s Health Week, an event at CityScape on Friday will encourage women to try new exercises, learn how to create nutritious meals and just hang out with their girlfriends.
Sports in the City, the first ever fitness event presented by Girlfriends Talk Sports and Gold’s Gym, will feature everything from Zumba to weightlifting. According to Karen Frye, an NBA mom who produces and hosts Girlfriends Talk Sports, Sports in the City will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to teach women about getting fit and allow them to “find the athletes within themselves.”
“Being fit and sports go hand in hand,” Frye said. “We wanted to provide people with this opportunity to try new things and mix up their exercise routines.”
Frye added that women who attend will get the chance to try out “chick boxing,” yoga classes, and dance classes taught by the Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders and the Phoenix Mercury Hip Hop Squad. They will also get a lesson on baseball by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“This is the first time Phoenix has had an event like this,” Frye said. “It’s about education, instruction, and showing people how to get into the game.”
“Really, the main goal is to have fun,” Frye said. “It’s a Friday, so we don’t want this to be like a job. Come down, hang out, and we’ll reintroduce you to the culture and community in downtown Phoenix.”
Dillan Boyd, the group dining manager for The Arrogant Butcher, said that a major goal of this event involves creating unity among the downtown Phoenix community.
“We know that it’s important to meet the downtown community and continue to integrate ourselves into it,” Boyd said. “We really believe that what makes success is meeting people and getting involved in the community.”
Boyd added that she wants to use this event to show people the healthy options available at the Arrogant Butcher.
“We wanted people to know that they don’t have to choose steak when they come into a restaurant,” Boyd said. “Through this event, we want to educate them and show that we do have vegetarian options, gluten-free options, and several ways to make healthy meal choices.”
Learn more about these nutritious meals and join in the fitness fun by participating in this free event, which is “just one of many to come,” according to Frye.
“This city is building its community, but we need people to come down more often,” Frye added. “It’s events like this that will get the people out here.”
If you go
Event: Sports in the City
Date: Friday, May 18
Time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sponsors: Gold’s Gym The Arrogant Butcher, Par Exsalonce Salon & Spa, CityScape, Downtown Phoenix Partnership