My mission at the Devoured food and wine festival was to learn more about Phoenix’s restaurant scene. It turned out to be surprisingly easy to discover great dishes on DAY ONE and DAY TWO. A number of restaurants are now must-tries beyond the booths that filled the courtyard of the Phoenix Art Museum. Devoured was also an opportunity to connect with local food writers like Pamela Swartz (Dine Out Phoenix) and Susie Timm (Foodies Like Us). They both said that if I had one meal to eat, it should be at FnB, a seasonal restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale. I’d normally avoid Scottsdale on weekends, since downtown basically becomes L.A.’s Sunset Strip x10, but I wasn’t about to ignore the consensus, and it led to one of the best meals of the trip.
Pavle Milic and his partners opened FnB at the end of 2009, naming their restaurant after the acronym for Food & Beverage. The space previously housed a highly regarded Japanese restaurant called Sea Saw. We sat at the U-shaped bar and watched the trio of chefs work meticulously and near silent as steamy air emanated from the open kitchen. Tables surrounded the bar. Mustard colored walls displayed abstract paintings, and the colorful tile floors were nearly as visually interesting.
Chef Charleen Badman developed a lean menu with a number of tempting options, including the justifiably well-regarded baised leeks ($13). The tender stalks were topped with molten mozzarella, crispy mustard breadcrumbs and a fried egg that washed over the plate, enriching the starter and providing depth of flavor.
New Zealand blue nose bass ($21) was expertly grilled over mesquite, with juicy, opaque flesh. The sauce was very light citrus, punctuated with grapefruit segments. The plate also held florets of cone-shaped romanesco cauliflower that looked like they could drill holes in the side of a mountain.
Dessert was rich and rewarding: butterscotch pudding ($7). The pudding wasn’t overly sweet, hosted a double dollop of whipped cream and came showered with fresh grated nutmeg, which added an earthy element.
FnB gave me hope that downtown Scottsdale offers more than just the opportunity to get smashed at the Martini Ranch. The restaurant isn’t redefining how we eat, but it’s nice to know there’s a solid home for seasonal comfort food in an otherwise intolerable part of Phoenix.