Every year, during Spring and Fall, food lovers have a busy week. It is the perfect time to eat out, celebrate, try new restaurants or visit your favorite spot, it's Arizona Restaurant Week and it's the time that, we food lovers, most anxiously await for every year.
The options are endless, with more than 180 participating restaurants, ARW is the culinary event of the year. With a prix-fixe menu concept, restaurants from all over the valley, offer a special menu for an entire week. In most cases, the dinning experience includes an appetizer, entree and dessert for a price that is either $33 per person or $44 per person, excluding tax and tip. Some restaurants include an alcoholic beverage or drink of choice, talk about a killer deal!
I had the opportunity to preview several menus of this Restaurant Week version and I'm very excited to share with you some of my favorites. With a busy week ahead, you need to plan smart and hit as many spots as you can, the wealth of options is incredible.
Located at the Royal Palms Hotel, TCook's offers a Mediterranean inspired cuisine. You can expect fresh, flavorful and well crafted dishes in a beautiful space that will remind of an European wine cellar, with a breathtaking view of the colonial style patios that surround the hotel. It was the perfect spot to celebrate my birthday with friends.
What I ate during my visit at TCook's is part of the restaurant week menu, except for dessert, which was a special birthday creation from the chef. Started with the Gambas Ajillo as an appetizer which are these jumbo shrimp, seasoned in garlic atop a cannellini bean puree, that reminded me of polenta, it was delicious!
For an entree our pick was the Pan Roasted Branzino, which I have been raving about ever since I tried. The skin of the branzino is the most perfect, crispy treat you can imagine, the white fish is delicate and mild in flavor and it's accompanied with roasted fingerling potatoes drizzled in olive ailioli. It was a succulent dinner, yet it makes you feel like you ate a healthy meal without sacrificing any flavor.
Pan Roasted Branzino with fingerling potatoes
Japanese inspired, Roka Akor is a premium steak house and sushi restaurant. With a simple yet sleek decor, dim lights and open kitchen, the ambience at Roka Akor is one of my favorites.
Their restaurant week menu includes the "Waitlist", a signature grapefruit and vodka cocktail that was the perfect balance between sweet and fresh flavors. For an appetizer, you can't go wrong with any choice of the menu which includes Salt Spring Mussels with noble bread, Albacore Ceviche and Crispy Fried Squid Salad. All of them were delicious but the mussels were my favorite.
The Wailist signature cocktail The three appetizer options for Restaurant Week
As an entree, again you have great choices, I really like how they thought of everyone when they designed the menu because they have chicken, fish and beef. Everything was juicy and tender, specially the chicken with plum teriyaki sauce but I was really impressed with the Branzino and the truffled avocado.
The Branzino with truffled avocado purée
Their ARW menu also includes sides, you can pick between Kimchi and brussels sprouts with Japanese mustard, I really like the latter.
Dessert is always my favorite part and Roka Akor definitely hit the sweet sport with their desserts. The Milk Chocolate Panna Cotta with raspberries and Passion Fruit curd was out of this world, I'm definitely coming back just to have this again. The Sweet Corn Tarte with Banana Miso Ice cream is the perfect fall dessert, it was conforting and delicious.
Sweet Corn Tarte Milk Chocolate Panna Cotta
Clever Koi was an interesting experience from beginning to end. It definitely took my taste buds out of my comfort zone and I'm glad I got to experiment with new flavors, textures and ingredient combinations.
The crystal walls and open kitchen concept make of Clever Koi a great place for a date night. The restaurant is modern and cozy, with beautiful Asian inspired touches.
For ARW, you can pick a wide array of dishes that include a good deal of Vegan and Gluten Free options, like the Toast with tofu ricotta, tomatoes and Japanese eggplant.
We also tried the Red Miso Seared Kobe, which I was hesitant about ordering because it is cooked "blue" which means it's just barely cooked. I'm so glad i didn't skip it because it was amazing. It was flavorful, tender and juicy. I might like my steak blue now.
Red Miso Seared Kobe
For my entree I chose the Crispy Pineapple Duck, which I have never tried before. It had a lot more flavor than expected, I thought it might be like chicken, but it had a sweeter taste to it. I loved the crispy skin and the Harissa mushroom cake that comes with it.
Crispy Pineapple Duck
Dessert was an explosion of flavors and textures. We had the Banana Fritters with Red Miso Caramel, they reminded me of mini donuts, dusted in a five spice blend, they were moist and fluffy. We also tried their Noble Ice cream which was a cheesecake and citrus flavored ice cream, abolutely delciious.
Banana Fritters with red miso caramel Cheesecake and citrus noble icecream
I hope I gave you some ideas for Restaurant Week. Take advantage of all the great deals that restaurants have an enjoy, like I did, some new dishes, don't be afraid to be adventurous, I'm sure you will find new food you will love.