Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gertrude's | Phoenix, AZ

After spending the morning exploring Phoenix's Desert Botanical Garden, relax over lunch at Gertrude's, the on-site restaurant featuring fresh, seasonal ingredients from artisans and farmers around Arizona and the Southwest. 

Gertrude's at the Desert Botanical Garden - Phoenix, AZ | Taste As You Go
Gertrude's at the Desert Botanical Garden - Phoenix, AZ

I revealed in my last Phoenix restaurant review that shopping with my friend Pere has become a regular tradition for the two of us whenever Stephen and I are in town visiting. Although I'd love to say that I allow myself to shop freely without worrying about the numbers printed on the price tags, I do give myself a budget and am pretty good about sticking to it. Thankfully, Pere balances our shopping excursions with cultural outings so I can get a taste of what the city has to offer in addition to some killer retail deals.

On this last trip out, she took me to the Desert Botanical Garden, where we spent the morning walking around the grounds and taking in its natural beauty. Afterwards, we had lunch on the patio at Gertrude's, the on-site restaurant that features fresh, seasonal ingredients from artisans and farmers around Arizona and the Southwest.

Ginger Cucumber Collins - Gertrude's - Phoenix, AZ | Taste As You Go
Ginger Cucumber Collins - Gertrude's - Phoenix, AZ

Spending a couple of hours in the desert makes a person quite thirsty, so Pere and I decided to kick off our lunch with a couple of cocktails. I didn't want to drink anything that could potentially knock me out, so I ordered the Ginger Cucumber Collins ($8) made with a combination of Effen Cucumber Vodka, house-made ginger syrup, a squeeze of lemon, muddled cucumber, and a splash of soda all served on the rocks. The drink was refreshingly light and turned out to be the perfect cocktail for day-drinking.

Bison Carpaccio - Gertrude's - Phoenix, AZ | Taste As You Go
Bison Carpaccio - Gertrude's - Phoenix, AZ

Bison Carpaccio - Gertrude's - Phoenix, AZ | Taste As You Go
Bison Carpaccio - Gertrude's - Phoenix, AZ

Since we knew we were in for a epic dinner later in the day, Pere and I decided to order a handful of appetizers from Gertrude's All Day menu rather than individual lunch entrees. Doing so not only put us in a better position to indulge at dinner, but it also allowed us to try more dishes on the menu.

We started with the Bison Carpaccio ($11) simply because it was something neither of us had ever eaten before. Paper-thin slices of juniper-crusted bison meat are arranged on a platter and topped with marinated mushrooms, crumbled Chevre, pickled red onion, and arugula before being drizzled with a flavorful lemon oil. The earthiness of the bison was enhanced by the tangy flavor of the goat cheese and pickled onion and balanced by the peppery arugula. I'm glad we wound up ordering the carpaccio because I found the dish to be a truly special one.

Brussels + Breakfast - Gertrude's - Phoenix, AZ | Taste As You Go
Brussels + Breakfast - Gertrude's - Phoenix, AZ

Brussels + Breakfast - Gertrude's - Phoenix, AZ | Taste As You Go
Brussels + Breakfast - Gertrude's - Phoenix, AZ

As was the Brussels + Breakfast ($10). Honestly, I'm not sure why I haven't seen something like this in other restaurants before. A small hole is cut out of a slice of house-made brioche and filled with a farm egg. The brioche is toasted and the egg is cooked just long enough to produce the perfect "dippy egg". Add a thick slice of applewood bacon and some sauteed Brussels sprouts with thick and sweet onion jam, and you have a home run of a dish. Though... we wouldn't have minded a few more slices of bacon. ;-)

Mac + Cheese - Gertrude's - Phoenix, AZ | Taste As You Go
Mac + Cheese - Gertrude's - Phoenix, AZ

Mac + Cheese - Gertrude's - Phoenix, AZ | Taste As You Go
Mac + Cheese - Gertrude's - Phoenix, AZ

Even though we were sitting outside in the midday sun, my mouth started watering when I spotted the Mac + Cheese ($9) on the menu. The combination of cheeses from the Arizona Cheese Co. was just right, flavorful and complex without being too sharp, and I loved the addition of the browned bread crumbs on top for a little crunch.

I'm almost sad that Pere and I didn't have more time to try more of the food at Gertrude's. The dishes we did try were all expertly prepared, with all of the flavors working together rather than competing for attention, and the presentation was truly admirable. I'm confident that the rest of the menu would have been equally satisfying.

If I ever have the chance to return to Gertrude's, then I'm going to go straight to the other sections of the menu so I can taste the Beets Salad with local goat cheese and a maple-sherry vinaigrette and the Swine platter featuring grilled pork loin, smoked pork, house-made sausage, and cassoulet.

Have you been to Gertrude's before? What did you think?

Gertrude's
Desert Botanical Garden
1201 North Galvin Parkway
Phoenix, AZ 85008
(480) 719-8600 | Online Reservations | Map

Gertrude's on Urbanspoon

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