Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Gelato Spot

The Gelato Spot is located on 4166 North Scottsdale Road. This as a good spot to go for that luscious desert and fortunately there are several locations.
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The presentation makes if very difficult to select one scoop. I had peanut butter, and Kalen ordered peanut butter and chocolate. Several people sitting in the area had laptops, so it looks like this may be a good spot to stop for a snack and finish a little work. The website states that there are 36 choices, with 150 rotating Italian gelatos.

Other locations:
32nd Street and Camelback in Phoenix.
Scottsdale Road and Shea Blvd.
40th Street and Greenway

Orange Table - Scottsdale

I met Kalen for lunch on Sunday. He suggested a restaurant recommended by a friend of his, Kevin. We went to Old Town Scottsdale to the Orange Table. It's in the Scottsdale Mall (7373 E Scottsdale Mall). This is a coffee shop with both indoor and outdoor seating. It's a cozy place, with inside seating at a small bar or tables. We started our meal with root beer and a unique ginger ale. The ginger ale had a little bite to it, a little much for me.

Kalen had a burger/steak sandwich that had grilled onions dripping from the side. I had a tuna sandwich on thick slices of grilled bread, with fresh tomatoes and red onions. Good sandwichs, plenty of food.

Topped the meal with an espresso, which is what this coffee shop is known for!

Dinner at Coronado Cafe

The Coronado Cafe is on 7th Street north of McDowell on the east side of the street. Donnalee and I had spent the afternoon at the Home Show dreaming about fancy glass art sinks, huge wood and iron doors, and upgraded tile and wood floors. We were finished looking at ALL booths about 4:30 and decided to stop somewhere for dinner. I suggested the Coronado Cafe, since I had enjoyed a wonderful lunch here a few weeks ago.

Well, this is an awesome find for dinner. Fine white table cloths, and twinkling candles highlighted the glassware. We were the first in line and were seated right away. I would advise reservations, as the seats filled quickly and people looked as if they were there for a leisurely dinner. Donnalee and I stayed for two hours.

We started the dinner with an appetizer. Unable to choose between three brushetta choices for $6.00, we selected the combo brushetta for $7. Clever marketing...present three excellant choices for one price, and a combo for a higher price. All were wonderful and it was worth it for us to split the plate at $3.50 each.

Tomato Bruschetta, tomato, basil, garlic, parmesan with pesto infused olive oil $6.
Goat Cheese Bruschetta, roasted red pepper, caramelized onion with pesto infused olive oil $6. Gorgonzola Bruschetta, sundried and fresh tomatoes, kalamata olives, pine nuts $6.
Indecisive Bruschetta, can’t decide? Try two of each of the Bruschettas above $7.

We then decided to try the soup. Two choices were available to we had one of each. The Cafe Chicken Soup was good, but the Vegetarian was incredible. It was a thick onion soup with dark broth, infused with small vegetable pieces. So good and the better choice (for me) of the two.

Vegetarian Soup of the Day $7.
Cafe Chicken Soup, red potatoes, corn, dumplings, chicken in broth $5.

For our meal, I couldn't stop my mouth from watering when I read the description of the meatloaf. How good could meatloaf be? This was incredible. The presentation is a tall stack of meatloaf and the fork mashed potatoes. The photo is what it looks like after I had attacked it and remembered to take a photo.

Cafe Meatloaf, portobello mushrooms, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, and cheddar with grilled squashes, fork mashed potatoes, hatch green chili sauce and balsamic reduction $16.

Donnalee had a salad, with grilled chicken added. She said that it was wonderful.

Gorgonzola Salad, baby greens, gorgonzola cheese, sweet red onion, granny smith apples and candied walnuts, herb balsamic vinaigrette $5.50 for the salad, then some additional money for the chicken.

We finished the meal with French Press coffee, brewed to perfection.

5th Avenue Cafe

This little cafe is easy to miss if you are driving on Thomas Road around 5th Avenue. It's on the south west side of the street, with parking in the rear. The place is often full at lunch and if popular with local workers. The food is cafe food. Breakfast is served through lunch time and the sandwiches are good. The interior has settings at the counter, small and large tables, and booths.

Nick F. and I have voted Kelsey as our favorite staff person. She recently visited New York City, but we have not been able to time lunch to cross with her shift. She's back in school at ASU. I'll try to get a photo and post it here also.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Mel's Diner

Yes, believe it or not, this is THE Mel's Diner from the TV Show "Alice". It's on Grande Avenue just south of McDowell in Phoenix. The food is regular diner food, reasonably priced, with large portions. The daily specials are usually worth ordering, although I seem to go there when I am hungry for breakfast during lunch. The staff is very friendly and pay attention to me when I need attention, and leave me alone (filling my water glass or coffee as needed) when I'm reading. It's a great little hide-away and you may not pull in here if you were just driving past. But it's worth stopping in just to see the old memorabilia and photos. A lot of locals who seem to stop in on a regular basis, if that is a recommendation. It was one of those places that stayed "smoking" until the very last minute allowed by the Phoenix voters. I don't know what the smokers are doing now as it doesn't look as if Mel's has added a patio for smoking. Well, it is a bit hot in August, so maybe this is a change that will take place during the winter. I'll ask about the plans the next time that I stop in.

Coronado Cafe

This is a marvelous little cafe on Seventh Street in Phoenix. It's on the east side of the street between McDowell and Thomas Road. I was very surprised with it. I've driven past but never stopped in. Mike S. and I were discussing small restaurants and I told him about my blog, discovering these types of places in the Phoenix Metro area. This has been a secret of his for some time. I had a Caeser Salad, no chicken, with a slight taste of hot pepper in the dressing. It was very tasty, but I'm afraid that it was just a bit pricey at $9. Sandwiches were the same amount, and they looked to be a better value for the money. The service was very good and even though the restaurant was packed at lunch time during the day, the crowd seemed to move through there quickly and we didn't have to wait long for a seat. Robert, the owner, was bustling around making sure that everyone was happy. He said that the restaurant has been there for about nine years (where have I been??). A card was available that lists not only this place, but another one further south on 7th Street. Hmmmm.

Photo later.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

La Grande Orange again

Okay, so I can't spend the weekend without stopping into this little place. I knew that it would be perfect because I could get there a little early, have my breakfast and latte, read a little and then be ready for full out girl talk. I had poached eggs over toasted ciabatta with a side of crispy bacon. A little jam and fruit on the side and you have a good Sunday breakfast. I read some of Sarcozy's (France's president) book while I waited for the rest of the ladies to arrive. I like to wear my studious glasses and look academic.

Karla had already eaten, so we were able to discuss our many topics until Susan and Marnia arrived. Susan had a bran muffin and Marnia ordered the French pancakes for herself and her son. After about three hours, and a few coffee refills, we broke up our morning fete. Marnia is getting married in October at a resort west of Phoenix, so I'm trying to convince the others that we need to book some rooms at the hotel so that we can all be on vacation. I think that it is a great idea, so the others appear to be a little apprehensive.

Paradise Bakery and Cafe

This little coffee shop and bakery is a chain, and it's cute. We went to the one at the Desert Ridge Marketplace. It's located in the center food court, just north of the water fountains with all of the little kids in bathing suits. We were having a meeting and ended up staying for about four hours. No one bothered us and because it is walk up service we didn't feel as if we were occupying a table for too long. The line for service was long and then short in intervals, but was never so long that it looked impossible. I had a latte, which was average and not hot enough. I tried the quiche muffins, which is the egg et al stuffing without that yummy crust. It's baked in a muffin tin, so it's fairly solid and quick to eat.

If you look this chain up on line, you can find them in several of the malls around the Phoenix area.

Oh, someone at the table did have the best looking mocha drink with a dark chocolate syrup.

This is a convenient place for a group to meet as no one monitors how long you occupy a table and people can eat and drink as little or as much as needed.


This place is all about the desert. Sure, order the salad, and order a pizza. But don't eat too much. Have them box it up to go. It's not the best when eaten cold, but save room for the desert!
It is a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie, freshly baked in the tin, and topped with three scoops of vanilla ice cream sprinkled with cinnamon. Be ready to dig in to get your fair share. I think that it is good manners to actually cut a line in the middle to make sure that no one fights.

Had lunch at Oregano's on University in Tempe. We sat outside and it wasn't too hot because we sat in front of the cooler. I just can't get past my favorite items: salad, pizza, and the hot cookie a la mode for desert. Timing is everything at this restaurant, as it is often crowded.

Just for the is Kalen's new car.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Sophie's Bistro

(Note: this photo is from the website. I'll update it with my photo when I can.)

4:30 rolled around on Friday, and it was time to sit down for a little Happy Hour. I wanted to introduce Gwen to one of my favorite places, Sophie's Bistro. Tucked away on 2320 E Osborn Rd just west of 24th Street, this wonderful little place is a French bistro. Since the doors don't open until 5, we decided to sit on the patio and chat. The owner walked out to the patio and invited us to come in and get out of the heat. Delighted, we entered and took a seat at the bar. The restaurant is a converted house and is so cute and casual, yet formal with linens and sparkling glasses. I ordered a glass of Baron Phillipe de Rothschild - Merlot - 04 and Gwen ordered Courvasier on the rocks. At once the owner (French) said Courvasier with a French accent and she changed the way that she ordered it. The bartender brought a second round, and this time he put hot and steamy water in a glass, and balanced the Courvasier on its side to be warmed. The aroma was very sweet and fragrant and she admitted that this was the only way to serve. I think that she is hooked.

We wanted to order something to eat, so we had the International Cheese Selection and Fresh Fruit Plate and Les Escargots Traditionnels. I'll have to return to the restaurant to write down exactly the name of the cheeses that we ordered because the selection was awesome. The escargot were cooked in butter and garlic and were actually better eaten by themselves than on bread. We took our time and chatted, enjoying the total attention of the bartender as he fussed with napkins and refills of our water glasses.

Conclusion: Gwen needs to bring her Mom here, and she and I need to come for a lunch or dinner.

Start of my Giverny

Totally motivated by my trip to Giverny, I have decided that my bland and boring yard needs a little work. The grass is green in spots and struggling in the others. I did a deep soak to try to get it to be revived. I stopped at Baker's Nursery on 40th Street north of Thomas to check out the plants. I think that my first big area is the breezeway on the north side of the house. This area has constant shade. It is about 30 or 40 feet long. The dirt is in horrible condition as the dog Governor used to live in that area. The consultant told me that I will need to dig up about a foot deep and replace half of it with mulch. The first plants that go in will likely be climbing jasmine. It should make the area smell so wonderful, and I will be able to open the Arcadia doors and let the smell into the house.

So, here is the first step into Ladee's Giverny. I purchased four Vinca plants and one Basil and planted them in a container garden. This sits at the end of the wall dividing my property from my Good Neighbor Kelley's.

Yea! Kalen has returned

Yea, Kalen has returned from his travels in Europe. He looks great and it is sooooo good to have him home again. His flight arrived on Tuesday right on time around 8:30PM. And his luggage made it without a problem. So, what does a young man who has spent two and half months in Europe want for his arrival meal? He wanted to get a burro at Chipotle. We drove directly north on 44th Street to the corner of Thomas Road and shared stories and a meal. It's so good to have him home. I had his other huge suitcase with me in the car, so I took him directly to his apartment after we finished. So much to talk about. You can keep checking his blog to hear about his adventures:

The Old Station

I met Barb E. for lunch on Thursday. After picking her up at her office on 8th Avenue and Washington at 11:30, we drove west on Washington for a few blocks, then looped around and drove east to1301 West Jefferson Street. She then introduced me to "The Old Station". It looks like it once was a gas station and shop.

The parking lot in the front holds about four cars, and I snaked through but decided to go around the other side of the building. There is side parking, which we took, but it looks like it's better to go to the back where there is more room. I could see that there was a large outdoor seating area, which would really be nice when the weather wasn't so hot. Inside there is a small seating area with benches organized in groups of two and four.

There were about seven people busily working behind the small counter and production area. It looks like office delivery is a huge business. The small order counter had enough room for two people to take orders and a cash register. We bought yummy subs with potato salad and ice tea. I had a roast turkey and cheese and Barb had a Salami, which seemed to be a specialty. No sooner had we picked up our food, then the place became outrageously packed. Obviously, this place is no secret to those working in the area.

Per New Times

There's a lot of local history in this gas station turned sandwich shop. The deli sits right next to the Pioneer Memorial Park and Cemetery, where some of Arizona's first settlers and political figures are buried, and the building has been a presence on Jefferson Street since its birth as a Mobil gas station in 1926. The inside walls are decorated with vintage metal signs and old photos, but the most striking decoration is the collection of Arizona license plates that covers all four walls. There are dozens upon dozens of rusted old plates, in various colors and stages of decay, dating back to 1912, the year before Henry Ford started mass production of automobiles. So while you're waiting for your sandwich, you can look up and wonder how it must have been to drive in Phoenix before there were freeways.

La Grande Orange

This is one of my favorite places in Phoenix. It was once just a small common store on the southwest corner of 40th Street and Campbell in Phoenix. Now it is a line of (independently owned?) little stores which are interconnected. The Orange is a grocery, wine, sandwich, breakfast and coffee shop. Extra seating in the morning and at lunch is in a business next door, which turns into a wonderful Pizza restaurant at night. Next is a Gelatto shop. Yum! Then there is a bakery by the name of Tammy Coe's which bakes wonderful breads and absolutely elegant cakes. The last store is a Paper store. The bakery products can be purchased in the store, as can unique paper products. One of the BEST products that I have found in this store are jarred semi-dried tomatoes, Pomodoraccio. These are so wonderful on crackers or bread, with a mild cheese.

I can't say enough wonderful things about the staff. A fun and hard working group, they know the meaning of personalization and customer service.

Cafes in the Phoenix area - a new mission!

My mind often wanders to Paris and the small businesses which are so little cafes. I've decided to take a new look at Phoenix and find those little shops with owners brave enough to go against the Starbucks and other chains moving into neighborhoods. Instead of going to my same five places for lunch, I'm venturing out (and dragging willing and unwilling friends) to try small places which I have not tried. I've got my trusty camera with me, so I'll try to also have photos of these places, and a little look at the menu. I'll need to note the location so that I can return to those new "favorite" places.