A drive through the entry gates to the exclusive Royal Palms resort leaves Arizona a departing memory as the lush Mediterranean landscaping envelopes the visitor’s senses. Chef Todd Allison’s menu at T. Cook’s perfectly complements the setting. Popular as a romantic getaway for dinner and drinks, the restaurant is a delightful hideaway for lunch, offering award-winning seasonal creations made with skill and a dedication to authentic ingredients. Says Chef Allison, “For me, it’s about authentic, not trendy. Everything on the fall menu is brand-new, and right now I’m exploring Portugal.”
An order of the garlic-and-white-wine-braised Saltspring Black Mussels is a good choice to start with. A slight tang from the resno chiles (but care should be taken not to bite into one directly) is in perfect proportion to the garlic. There’s plenty for two people to share. A salad to follow will complete a lighter lunch, with choices that include Pickled Beets and Baby Lolla Rosa made with toasted pine nuts, Crow’s Dairy goat cheese and Banyuls vinaigrette, and the Tossed Cobb made with chopped romaine, watercress, grilled chicken, olives, tomato, blue cheese, bacon, egg and buttermilk herb dressing. Seasonally special entrées include Pan Roasted Branzino served with shishito peppers, stewed tomatoes, fingerling potatoes and Kalamata olive aioli, and Wild Arugula and Truffle Tremor Ravioli served with black Tuscan kale, celery root, eggplant and Romesco sauce.
Lunch is a perfect time of day to enjoy one’s repast on the vine-shrouded patio. Locals who may harbor a concern that the beloved Spanish Revival architecture and countryside villa atmosphere might have suffered some corporate interference since the boutique inn was taken over earlier this year by Hyatt can relax. Staff relates that corporate management is well aware of the gem they now are responsible for and have been clear about their intent to make no changes to the property.
5200 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix
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