/ The Phoenix Traveler
Phoenix — By Heather Wright Schlichting on June 7, 2010 at 6:24 am
Filed under: food and wine

Be a Regular at Tarbell’s

restaurant, wine and food, Tarbell’s, a little neighborhood place where they claim “it’s the best place to be a regular” has been a culinary treasure in Phoenix since 1994.  You might recognize the chef and owner Mark Tarbell who has amassed many accolades in his career; most recently he won the Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” title.

Classicly trained in Paris, at age 23 Mark moved to Arizona and worked at The Boulders Resort in Carefree where he was the youngest Food & Beverage Director of any Five Diamond property in the world.  A two-time inductee to The Arizona Hall of Culinary Fame, he was also nominated for “Best Chef – Southwest” by the James Beard Foundation. Photos of political, sports, and entertainment celebrities including the Dalai Lama, Muhammad Ali and Clint Eastwood line his wall as guests of his restaurant.

As a fan of his weekly wine column for the Arizona Republic, I’ve always wanted to experience firsthand what all the fuss was about.  I chose to celebrate my wedding anniversary at Tarbell’s and it lived up to all the hype.

From beginning to end, we felt like we were taken on a culinary adventure.  First of all, the restaurant is located in a small strip mall where parking is scarce.  I suggest parking at the LA Fitness behind the restaurant.

As you enter, the bar is right in front of you and overlooking an open kitchen.  It’s warm, yet a high energy atmosphere.  Tables are traditionally set with proper white table cloths and the art collection throughout the space is amazing.  A large variety of modern pieces, someone really knows their art.

pasta, food and wine, restaurant

House-Made Ribbon Pasta

Mark is famous for his take on comfort food classics like Mark’s Mom’s Mac n’ Cheese with Vermont cheese and Spaghetti and Meatballs with Organic Marinara sauce and Parmigiano. Because of the occasion, we were feeling a bit more adventurous and started off with the Scotch Beef Sliders with horseradish cream ($9), a tasty type of slider.  If you are a fan of steamed mussels, I’ve heard rave reviews about Tarbell’s appetizer.

Tar’s Caesar with organic baby romaine and Parmigiano-Reggiano ($11) featured a light dressing, not the typical heavy Caesar style.  Because their fish is flown in fresh and from sustainably harvested sources, I was looking forward to the Grilled Scottish Salmon with crispy potato cake with a molasses-lime glaze ($26).  My husband loves pasta and since I don’t make it at home he was thrilled to try the House-Made Ribbon Pasta with pork sausage, crushed Compari tomatoes, piquillo peppers, herbed bread crumbs & virgin olive oil ($23).  Both of these entrees did not disappoint.  The salmon melted in my mouth and the pasta was amazing with a bit of a bite that I enjoyed too.

More than 30 varieties of wine are available by the glass as well as an endless choice of half bottles, full bottles, champagne, sparkling wines and dessert wines.  As a wine expert, Mark has been a judge since 2004 at the Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits competition (the largest and oldest in the country) for 17 years.

dessert, ice cream

Profiteroles with Vanilla Bean Gelato and Chocolate Sauce

For dessert, my husband devoured the largest Crème Brulee dish ($8) I have ever seen.  I chose the Profiteroles with Vanilla Bean Gelato and Chocolate Sauce ($8).  It was pure heaven in which I had a bit of a “When Harry Met Sally” moment.

All in all, the service was excellent; our server was very attentive answering our many questions. Each entrée was served in a timely manner, never serving before we were done with the current course.  We never felt rushed and spent a wonderful evening talking and savoring every bite.  It’s a special place that you should enjoy at least once, but I’m looking forward to becoming a regular.

Tarbells
3213 East Camelback Road, Phoenix (map)
(602) 955-8100

Check out their Facebook site.

Reservations recommended

Open 7 nights a week
5:00 – 10:00 p.m.

Photos courtesy of Tarbell’s and personal collection.

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