- [Announcer] And now, an Arizona PBS Original Production.
- I'm Chef Mark Tarbell.
Welcome to Check, Please!
Arizona, the show where Arizona residents recommend their favorite restaurants.
Coming up, we have guests who are passionate about their picks.
They've dined at all three and are ready to share their reviews with each other and with you, right here on Check, Please!
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(jazzy music) - I'm Chef Mark Tarbell.
Welcome to Check, Please!
In this episode, we're enjoying breakfast, tapas, and modern Southwestern cuisine.
Let's meet our diners.
Nancy Griffiths works in the legal field.
She loves to travel the world and when she's not logging those miles, she's spending time with her two grandsons.
Kasey Denny was born and raised in Arizona, an avid Suns fan who loves to play basketball.
When he's not shootin' hoops, he's mixing it up in his kitchen, cooking and baking.
But first, Todd Gibbons works in sales.
He and his family love to road trip in their RV and have visited over 40 states.
When the RV's parked, Todd enjoys dining with his wife at a wood-fired eatery with an ever-changing menu.
This is Pa'la.
(upbeat dance music) - My name is Jason Alford, and I'm the chef at Pa'la.
The name Pa'la comes from the original chef and owners, and it means "for the people."
We don't have a traditional oven and kitchen.
It's all wood-fired.
There's no gas, there's no, it's just pure wood.
Really focused on the wood-fire-burning oven.
And then we have a wood fire grill.
We use Arizona wood.
The wood fire oven, the wood fire grill kind of force us to be a little more creative.
But with something that's alive, it's living, it's breathing.
You gotta keep it alive and cook on it.
I think it has a unique flavor to it, that flavor you can't replicate.
So at Pa'la, our menu changes seasonally.
Primarily, it's Mediterranean with a Japanese twist.
So we do a lot of seafood-focused.
We have a small amount of steak, and vegetables are, are kind of the highlights of what we do.
And it's really simple approach to quality food.
It's a historical cottage that was renovated.
The patio is beautiful and really focused on not just the aesthetics, we incorporate the functionality of what we do of the small space, and we really like to have a home-like environment where you're connected to the kitchen and you see what we're doing as well.
- So, Todd, this is such a cool place, all wood-fired.
Tell us how you found it and what you love about it.
- My wife and I came across Pa'la, probably about two-and-a-half years ago, and one of the things we really enjoyed about it is it's such a relaxing atmosphere.
And they have a wood fire oven and a big wood deck patio that you can go and sit outside.
And they've got citrus trees, and it's just really kind of serene and very relaxing.
- [Mark] It's like a little house, right?
- [Todd] It is, yeah.
- [Mark] It's like a little house with a kitchen, and they're just cooking for you.
- [Todd] Absolutely.
(Mark laughs) It's a great place, and one of the things we really enjoy is just the very friendly staff as well.
Not only great food, but friendly staff.
- [Mark] Yeah, the staff is super friendly.
Now they have sort of a, what do you like to eat there?
'Cause they have sort of an interesting way of how you build your food.
- Yeah, so I typically go for their sandwiches.
And you know, they're different from other sandwiches that you can get at other restaurants, certainly.
But, I had the salami and pecorino with the schiaccia bread, and so I think they warm it up in their wood oven.
And the cold meat with the warm bread and the delicious pecorino cheese.
- [Mark] Mm.
- [Todd] And most of their meats are kind of sourced locally.
- [Mark] Yeah.
- [Todd] And so it's just a really nice tasty.
But it's always great.
So what did you have, Nancy?
- I wanted to try several things.
So, we started with the schiatta, which is just a little round, almost like a tortilla, but more of a Spanish bread drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with fresh herbs.
It was delicious.
- [Mark] Mm.
- [Nancy] Kind of crispy on the edges.
- [Mark] So what did you have next?
- Then we tried the polenta.
Roasted polenta covered with a tomato, almost like a tomato jam.
And that was delicious.
It was a little on the small side, it was only about a one inch square.
I could've eaten way more of that, (Mark laughs) but it's tapas so, you know, I knew it was gonna be a smaller bite.
I had the mussels and shrimp.
It was really delicious.
Three big shrimp and a big soup bowl full of mussels and a tomato broth with some diced onions, fresh herbs.
And then four big slices of the ski-cotta bread?
(Mark laughing) - Schiaccia?
- Schiaccia bread.
- Schiaccia, yeah.
(everyone laughs) That's what we're calling it.
- For dipping in that tomato broth.
The mussels, you could tell they were fresh.
The shrimp was delicious.
I loved every bite of it.
- So Kasey, what did you think of this place?
- Well, I had never heard of it before, and we were pretty impressed by it and surprised by it.
Just the type of food that they offered, and a lot of different options under the tapas list.
So we started with a polenta and the cavatelli pasta with tomato sauce, and both of those were just great.
- Yeah, the tomato sauce, you said it was, Nancy, like a jam, you had that same experience?
- [Kasey] Yeah, just really thick on top and- - [Mark] Sweet tomatoes.
- Sweet tomatoes, Bianco tomatoes.
And the polenta was crispy on the outside and really good on the inside.
My wife said she wanted it to be like a cake just stacked up.
(everyone laughing) That's how much she wanted to eat of it.
So it was, it was really- - [Nancy] Yeah, we wanted more.
- [Kasey] Yes.
(all laugh) - [Todd] "Let's do the three layer polenta cake."
- [Kasey] Yes.
- [Todd] That's what we're gonna start to order when we go back.
- [Kasey] Very innovative.
And what'd you have for an entree, Kasey?
- For entree, I had the Island Troller's Tuna Sandwich and it was on that flatbread, the schiaccia bread with fennel and poblano peppers.
And the flavors of the fennel with the tuna is something I've never had before and it was really good.
It added good texture to the sandwich and that bread was just very good.
- [Mark] So was it the fennel crunchy?
So it was fennel seed?
- [Kasey] It was, there was quite a bit of the actual fennel and it added a really good- crunch to the sandwich.
- [Mark] Oh, cool.
it's really a fresh bite.
I like that.
- [Kasey] Yeah, really fresh bite between the really fresh tuna, the fennel, the poblanos.
It was very delicious.
Probably the best tuna sandwich I've ever had.
- You might not think that's a combination, but that sort of anise, licoricey quality of fennel with tuna just really creates this sharp contrast which just pumps up the flavor.
And tuna's so neutral anyway, it sort of meaty.
- What'd you for dessert, Todd?
- [Todd] I had the panna cotta and it was absolutely delicious.
- [Mark] Ah.
- I had two desserts actually, so- - Oh!
- All right.
- So we had the chocolate cookies as well.
And although their bakery's probably, you know, not that extensive as far as number of desserts that they have, but what they do have, it's all very good and the panna cotta was delicious.
- Nancy, what'd you have for dessert?
- We had the squash pie.
- Ah, that's right.
- And I'm not a big pumpkin pie fan.
But it sounded really interesting.
It was a chocolate miso crust.
So you had just like this really unusual flavor in the crust and then a whipped delicata squash for the filling and then it was topped with another miso, a caramel miso sauce.
- [Mark] Wow.
- And then sprinkled with spicy pepitas.
It was out of this world.
- I absolutely loved that pie.
- So Kasey, what'd you have for dessert?
- We had the apple spice cake and that also had the miso caramel on it and we split it and we shouldn't have, 'cause it was (Nancy laughs) really good.
I would go back just to get that.
- [Nancy] Yeah.
- So what does Pa'la do with their apple spice cake?
I mean, you know, since they do like a little non-traditional, so what would you describe it as?
- [Kasey] It was just like a mini Bundt cake.
It was really moist on the inside and it was just covered in that miso caramel, just had really good flavor.
- So now time for pro tips, Todd, this is your place.
What would be the one simple thing you'd say about Pa'la that people need to know?
- My pro tip is, first, use your nose, because before you get in, you can smell the wood fire burning and then you walk on their wooden patio and find yourself a seat.
And again, you're surrounded by citrus trees and it's just kind of a unique Phoenix location set on 24th Street.
- [Mark] I love it.
- [Todd] Yeah, and it's just, it's a very comfortable place.
- I would say, yeah, try a little bit of everything.
And sit out on the patio if you can.
It's a beautiful patio.
- [Mark] Kasey, what's your- - Yeah, I'm with Nancy on that try, try as much as you can, and sit outside if it's a nice day, 'cause we really enjoyed it.
We enjoyed our experience here.
- Sounds like all of you would say order more desserts and two for yourself.
(all laugh) - If you want to try Pa'la, they are located at 24th Street in Thomas in Phoenix.
The average meal costs $40 and they do take reservations.
(jazzy music) Our next restaurant recommendation comes from Kasey.
Breakfast reigns supreme at this South Mountain treasure.
This is Morning Glory Café.
(upbeat bluegrass music) (ducks quacking) - Morning Glory is a breakfast restaurant that myself and my mom, Pat Christofolo, operate together.
We're located in South Phoenix, pretty much right at the bottom of South Mountain.
We like to utilize stuff that's coming from the property, talking about fruits, talking about produce from the garden.
Also eggs coming from the property, as well.
It's a countertop service, so it's a little bit casual.
People get to walk up, they order their food, and then it takes about 10 or 15 minutes for it to come out.
So they get to walk around the property, enjoy the ambience, or go find a table.
Or sometimes they'll walk down to the pecan grove and dine under there.
So Morning Glory menu definitely has a couple of different categories.
At the top, we have a breakfast taco setup, so we do brisket, pork, and then a veg taco.
We also have omelettes, definitely a little Southwestern influence to that.
We do have a sweet side as well.
So we focus on French toast.
We do a Belgian waffle.
I love all the dishes, but I'm kind of stuck on the brisket tacos right now.
Making the tortillas from scratch.
We smoke the brisket for about 10 hours.
The history that I know about the property starts in like the 1920s by Dwight Heard, who is the benefactor of the Heard Museum.
So basically, he separated the property into two-acre parcels, and in the twenties you could buy it for about $1,100 and he would actually supply you with chickens and cows.
My mom, Pat Christofolo, got connected with Wayne Smith, he was the owner before Pat.
And at a certain point, Wayne Smith was ready to move on, to basically retire.
So he made it very approachable for Pat to purchase the property.
It's definitely flattering that people travel to The Farm at South Mountain and see it as a destination.
We're just really confident in the property that we have, the food that we're putting out, and the employees and the staff that we have on board.
- So Kasey, tell me about Morning Glory.
- So my wife and I found it a couple years ago, we're breakfast people.
We always try to find a great breakfast place.
And we just, headed to South Mountain one day, after finding it on Google and we didn't know what to expect.
But this place was set kind of into The Farm at South Mountain.
So really good outdoor area for eating and farm surrounding it.
And it's just kind of place that you're so far off the beaten path that you don't even feel like you're in Phoenix.
It's just a great experience.
- Yeah, it's called Morning Glory Café.
But I mean, obviously a large part of this experience is you have to drive all the way through the farm, these beautiful fields and you know, plantings and things like that to the very end.
And at the end, there's this little café.
- [Kasey] Yeah, a little hidden gem.
What did you eat when you went there?
- So I had the house-smoked salmon spread.
- [Mark] Mhm.
- [Kasey] I'm a sucker for salmon, smoked salmon and bagels on any menu, any place I go.
So this is just an excellent version of it.
You can tell the salmon is smoked fresh there and just, everything, everything in the spread is delicious.
It's capers, tomatoes, cream cheese, smoked salmon.
And- - [Mark] So it's all the fixin's.
You get- - [Kasey] All the fixin's and it's- - [Mark] Build it yourself.
- Build it yourself and it's great.
- What else did you have?
- I just had an orange juice, that was my other option.
My wife had the brioche french toast.
- [Mark] Ah.
- [Kasey] 'Cause she's the sweet breakfast person.
I'm the savory.
So she had that and she was loving it.
It was very sweet.
She couldn't finish it all.
It was kind of drowned in just a inch of syrup.
But she was loving it.
- That's what I had with my mom.
She did not share, by the way.
(all laugh) And she did finish it.
So she beat you on that one.
- She won.
- Kasey, she beat you on that one.
So Nancy, what did you have?
- We started with the Bloody Marys that were delicious.
My fiance and I went on a Sunday morning and yeah, I loved the farm.
I had been there for lunch before, but I'd never been back to Morning Glory, so I was so excited to go there.
I had the brisket and egg sandwich on Noble bread with caramelized onions.
- [Mark] Oh, stop!
- [Nancy] Roasted tomatoes.
- [Mark] What are you doing to me?
- [Nancy] A New Mexico chili sauce, home fries with peppers.
It was one of the best sandwiches I have ever had in my life.
I would go back just for the brisket.
(Mark laughs) And my fiance had the smoked salmon omelet and their smoked salmon is so good.
We thought there'd be a little bit of salmon scattered here and there.
- [Mark] Yeah.
- [Nancy] Every single bite had salmon in it.
It was really good.
And then the home fries and more Noble bread, which we love.
- So Todd, what did you have?
- I think I had dessert for breakfast actually.
- Well there you go, boom!
- It was the brioche French toast which was absolutely delicious.
- [Mark] Yeah.
- It was creamy.
It was kind of light and there was just an ample amount of butter on it and it was so tasty.
It had a great, what I would assume to be, like, real maple syrup versus, like, corn syrup.
And it had some candied pecans on it?
- [Mark] Yeah, it has a little whipped goat cheese on it.
- [Todd] A little whipped goat cheese in it.
- [Mark] It's really unusual.
- [Todd] But it made it very creamy.
- [Mark] Yeah.
- [Todd] And so again, very light, just easy to eat.
And I'm typically not a breakfast person, so I was a little bit, you know, hesitant about going there because I'm like, "What can I find that I'll like?"
And this was absolutely delicious and decadent.
- Well for not being a breakfast person, you climbed to the tall board and jumped off.
Right into their brioche.
- Absolutely, I did.
(Mark laughs) My wife had the Soil and Seed Omelette.
- [Mark] Okay.
- [Todd] And that was just well seasoned, really fluffy and very flavorful.
And then, I had drip coffee.
Typically I do espresso in the morning, but the drip coffee was delicious.
- So Kasey, this is your place.
What's your pro tip?
- So, when you pull up to the farm, you're gonna see the signs for the farm on one side of the street and parking on the other side.
You can actually park in the farm and park right next to the restaurant pretty much.
So you may park across the street and have to bit of a walk, and if you wanna walk on a nice day, it's good.
But if you wanna park right next to it, then pull into the farm, go down the little gravel parkway, and you'll be right next to the restaurant.
- Go right instead of left.
- Kasey, thank you.
- We parked across the street, so we had a good walk, and that really helped coming out after all that delicious that we had.
(laughs) - Yeah, it's a nice walk.
It's a good scenic view.
- [Nancy] And just to walk around the farm too, it's just beautiful.
There are ducks and geese and flowers growing and vegetables and (goose honking) just a really pretty place to walk around.
- Yeah, nice little stroll in the farm.
Thank you, Nancy.
Your pro tip.
- We really enjoyed the drive back, serene, rural setting.
And we also enjoyed the fact that we could be outside and kind of like a picnic setting on a farm, which is really kind of rare to find in Phoenix.
- [Mark] Yes.
- [Todd] And so it's very unique in that way, but just very comfortable, quiet, and just a wonderful surrounding.
- Very cool.
If you want to try the Morning Glory Café, it's located at 32nd Street and Southern in South Phoenix.
An average meal will cost $20 and they don't take reservations.
(jazzy music) Our last restaurant comes to us from Nancy.
She may have traveled all over the world, but when she wants a taste of home, you'll find her at this Arcadia neighborhood spot.
This is Chelsea's Kitchen.
(chill electronic music) - Chelsea's Kitchen is an Arizona Roadhouse.
We wanna celebrate Arizona.
We use local produce, we use local wood, we used local materials to build the building.
We have local plants and vegetation in our parking lot and around the building.
The food that we serve here at Chelsea's is Southwestern.
We serve a few different varieties of taco, the most popular being the short rib.
Another one of our more popular items is the vegetable enchilada, piled high with spaghetti squash and chayote squash.
That comes with our house-made tortillas, our house-made salsa verde.
We can serve that with any of our proteins in-house and we serve that extra cheesy, delicious.
So the smokeyard is, it's right out front.
It features our rotisserie and our smoker.
(gears squeak) And that is, I mean, it really is the heart and soul of this restaurant.
Our beef comes to us from Gold Canyon.
That's here in Arizona.
It's certified Angus beef and it is specially selected exclusively for us at the LGO family.
Chelsea's, at first glance, it almost looks like a ranch house.
Then when you walk in it's just, it's got this welcoming feel to it.
It's accompanied by this fantastic patio behind me.
It's got a real homey feel to it that you're in somebody's backyard.
And then you know, we're right here by the water, which is beautiful.
And it just gives this really, really nice ambience.
We try to go out of our way as much as we can to provide that personal touch and make people feel like they're welcome here.
You know, like they're part of the neighborhood and they can always come into Chelsea's.
- So Nancy, what do you love about Chelsea's?
- I love the atmosphere.
I love the food.
I really love the back patio.
Pretty much everything about the place.
- What did you eat?
- We started with the deviled eggs, one of their house specialties.
And you can get three or six.
We just started with three because they're really rich and delicious.
A little bit of tang to 'em.
The whipped yolk, which is really creamy and delicious, and then they put a little bit of pickle in there.
- [Mark] I love that 'cause it gives a little crunch.
It also gives a little vinegary pop and you can get bacon on it.
I think you had the bacon, right?
- Yeah, I added bacon and with the sweetness and the vinegar of the deviled eggs, the bacon was like ultra-crispy.
So it just added a really great texture to 'em and really complimented the flavors of them really well.
- I had it too, and my wife, we really enjoyed it.
- And that kind of, that relish taste to it.
- [Mark] Yeah.
- Really was just a little bit different than what we've had before.
And then, top it off with bacon.
- [Mark] What'd you have next?
Oh yeah yeah.
- [Todd] Awesome, yeah.
- [Mark] Nothing wrong with that.
- Then I did the filet meal.
- [Mark] Okay.
- [Todd] And I was actually kind of sold by the person who waited on us.
He talked about, you know, the high quality of meat and how they, you know, they accept like 10 or 20% of what they're offered.
And it was just well done.
Medium-rare, the way I like it.
Came to the table sizzling and was so flavorful.
- What'd you have for your entree, Nancy?
- I had the pan-fried chicken, which is a boneless chicken fillet, breaded, perfectly fried, crispy golden, but still juicy on the inside.
Comes with colcannon potatoes.
- [Mark] Mm, tell me about those.
- That's a mashed potato with kale and leeks and butter and just gives it a really interesting flavor.
And a piece of cornbread also comes with it.
So it's fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and cornbread.
And the cornbread is- - Is- - Is sweet- - Let's just stop there.
It's in the pause.
- I would agree.
Oh, it's like- - What is it?
- Again, it's like dessert.
- I mean, but very flavorful.
You can really taste the corn as a part of it and we really ate that up pretty quickly.
- [Nancy] Super moist.
- Super moist.
- Right, yeah.
- So Kasey, you had the fried chicken too.
Tell us, what's it like?
- Thin, thin chicken breast fillets and they're breaded and super crispy, almost like a schnitzel kind of is what it was- - [Mark] Oh.
- [Kasey] Reminding me of.
- [Nancy] Yeah!
- [Kasey] So it was just really good crispiness on the outside.
Moist chicken on the inside.
Just two big pieces of it.
Big, you know, crispy pieces of it.
So it was great.
And then those potatoes, butter, (Mark laughs) really buttery, really good.
- [Mark] I love that.
And cornbread as well.
That was crispy on the outside, almost like yellow cake on the inside and really light, really just great flavor.
- I think they griddle sear it, which is really a cool way to- 'cause you do get that little crispiness on the outside.
- [Kasey] Yeah.
- [Mark] Warms it up a little bit.
Kind of makes it, softens it, too, as it's heating.
- [Kasey] Yeah, it was great.
- [Mark] Really nice.
- [Todd] I appreciated the way that you could see them cooking on the grill when you walked in.
- [Mark] Oh right.
- [Todd] Which is really kind of a nice thing to see, yes.
Versus in the back.
- [Mark] Very exposed kitchen, yeah.
- [Todd] Yeah.
- [Mark] Kasey, did you have dessert?
- Yes, we had dessert.
I'm not typically a dessert person, but for the purposes of the show, I had to do my due diligence.
(all laugh) And we got the chocolate cake.
It was a chocolate icebox cake with pistachio gelato on the side.
And it was so good.
I don't even like pistachio ice cream, but I couldn't stop eating it.
And I'm not a huge chocolate cake guy, but I also couldn't stop eating that.
And it was gluten-free, but you would never know.
And it was just one of the best chocolate cakes.
- Well actually, that's amazing.
Gluten-free, and it was still really moist and- - Yeah.
You would never know if they didn't, if they didn't tell you.
- Nancy, you're nodding.
- Yeah - You had it, too?
- We did.
- [Mark] Yeah.
- And that was a big enough piece of cake.
We had plenty to share.
We managed to finish it, but.
And the combination of the chocolate cake with that pistachio ice cream was really- - [Kasey] Yeah, it went really well together.
- Really delicious.
- Did you have dessert?
- Chocolate cake.
(Mark stutters) (Nancy and Kasey laugh) It was recommended, so I did it and ditto to everything they said, but we quickly finished that.
It was just very chocolatey, very flavorful.
- All right, so, what's your pro tip?
- My pro tip is we went there on a Wednesday night and it was extremely busy, which is a really good sign, especially for a Wednesday night.
You kind of think maybe it'll be a little slower.
But they were, they were hopping.
One of the things we appreciated is the fact they got us in quickly.
Got a seat, sat on the patio.
The service was very efficient, very friendly, and very informative.
They really described each of their dishes, which was something we really appreciated since it was the first time we'd been there, so.
- [Mark] That's cool.
- But it was, it was a wonderful place.
- So go early and often.
Doesn't matter what day.
- That's right.
(Nancy laughs) - Nancy, this is your place.
What's your pro tip?
- They have valet parking, which I love.
So you don't have to worry about finding a place to park.
So don't hesitate to go anytime.
They'll find a spot for your car.
And the cookie is also something I highly recommend, whether or not you order dessert.
There's a tray by the front door, so, if you get dessert, they don't bring you cookies.
They do if you don't order dessert.
Snag a cookie on your way out the door.
- All right.
Parking and cookies.
I love it.
Kasey, what's your pro tip?
- Yeah, I mean, we've been hearing about this restaurant for years and have never gone, and I regret not going sooner.
It was, it was great.
My pro tip would be sit on the patio if it's a nice night.
Pretty much everywhere we ate for this show, we sat outside, so that was just three for three on that.
But it was a really nice patio, beautiful, well-lit, fire going, and it was just a great atmosphere.
- It is.
All right, patio at Chelsea's.
If you want to try Chelsea's Kitchen, It's near 40th Street in Camelback.
An average meal with appetizer, entree, and dessert will cost $60.
They take reservations for parties of 10 or more.
Thank you for joining us (jazzy music) on Check, Please!
And I want to thank Nancy, Todd, and Kasey for joining me at the table.
If you'd like to share your favorite restaurant, head to our website, azpbs.org/checkplease and nominate your must-eat-at spot.
Who knows, you could be joining me at the table.
Be a part of the foodie conversation in Arizona on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the hashtag #CheckPleaseAZ.
Join us next time when three new guests make their recommendations, right here on Check, Please!
I'm Chef Mark Tarbell.
Have a delicious life.
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