Café Allegro: Culinary Notes Enhance Musical Experience

by RaeAnne Marsh

Café Allegro offers a sensory experience that starts at the entrance to Phoenix treasure, the Musical Instrument Museum. Diners can bypass the museum registration but still enjoy the lobby displays on the short stroll to the restaurant doorway.

Managed by Bon Appetit, Café Allegro syncs its menu to its distinctive location, celebrating a global menu with Bon Appetit’s signature seasonal variance and a tie-in to the MIM’s program focus. Selections are offered from a three-part menu of Grill, Global and Arizona Local. There are standard items at the grill — including hamburgers made of Arizona grass-fed beef, hot dogs from Schreiner’s — but also daily specials such as a Marinated Double Chicken Breast sandwich made with local herbs, garlic and Queen Creek Olive Mill extra virgin olive oil on an Mj brioche bun. An example of a Local Arizona dish is the Roasted Chicken and Heritage Grain Bowl, made with mushrooms, spinach and bleu cheese crumbles. This and other offerings along the cafeteria-style line offer culinary adventure as Chef Chris Lenza daily creates dishes with the changing farm-fresh ingredients the restaurant sources locally.

Green on Purpose, which works with what general manager Stephanie Liegeois describes as small-scale farmers who “don’t have time to distribute, themselves” augments Bon Appetit’s larger-scale Farm to Fork program that, for nearly 20 years, has furthered Bon Appetit’s aim for the kitchen to work with small farms, ranches and foodcrafters within 150 miles to supply 20 percent of its ingredients.

Chef Chris “cultivates what’s coming out of the ground,” Liegeois says, “so everything is always as fresh as possible.” This means, of course, that menu items can change daily, although Liegeois says the average is two to three times per week. Soups — a very popular choice year-round — can even change mid-shift if one batch sells out. “We make them 100 percent from scratch, down to the stock,” says Liegeois. Everything is made from scratch, fresh daily, in small batches — ensuring freshness. This also includes all the cookies, croissants, scones and other pastries – all made onsite with flour from Hayden Flour Mills. (Liegeois was pleased to share that Café Allegro’s patronage has helped this local business to grow.)

The menu, built along Bon Appetit’s exacting, industry-leading standards of sustainability, healthfulness and humane animal husbandry, can accommodate vegan and other special dietary needs. While the changing nature of the menu can add a sense of adventure to lunch, those who prefer surer knowledge can access the day’s menu on the café’s website (or even sign up for its daily email notification).

The ambience is equally fresh — an airy dining room, whose décor is dominated by a mural of a musical performance, looks out through a floor-to-ceiling expanse of glass to a spacious desert-landscaped patio also dominated by a music-inspired artwork. Those who don’t have time to sit and relax can be assured that the grab-and-go selection of sandwiches and salads at the Café Allegro Coffee Bar is made with the same care — and variance — as the dine-in offerings.

Café Allegro at the MIM
4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix

Local Chicken Salad

Salad ingredients change daily, but are always fresh-from-the-farm combinations of local and seasonal ingredients with various textures, flavors and spices: Hayden Flour Mill grains, Crow’s Dairy Goat Cheese, local beans, Two Wash Ranch Chicken, organic vegetables when possible, and a made-from-scratch vinaigrette inspired from the seasons


House-made Veggie Burger

Vegan, gluten-free burger patty made with tepary beans from Ramona Farms and organic garbanzo beans from Arizona, with roasted sweet potatoes for the binding ingredients with seasonal vegetables.



Curry Soup

One of an extensive variety of soups that range from West African Fish Stew to Roasted Garlic and Tomato Bisque

$4.99/cup; $6.99/bowl

Photos courtesy of The Café at MIM


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