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Ambitious dining projects headed for downtown Phoenix

[Source: Howard Seftel, Arizona Republic] — Call them the ’09ers: The downtown Phoenix restaurant gold rush is not only picking up steam, it’s turning into a stampede.   Despite the dismal economy, pioneering restaurant owners believe there’s a mother lode waiting to be tapped in this mostly unexploited territory.   Two ambitious, multirestaurant projects are scheduled to debut later this year.

Cowboy Ciao chef Bernie Kantak heads one team, partnering with three of his managers and another high-profile Valley chef, who does not want his name made public because he has not yet given notice.  It’s a five-concept complex, all in one building, just a few minutes’ walk from downtown event venues.  (Because lease negotiations haven’t been finalized, the partners do not want the exact address released.)  One restaurant will showcase “creative American comfort food with a global twist,” Kantak said.  The restaurant’s bar menu, however, will focus exclusively on Southern favorites, like barbecue and fried chicken.

Two rooftop restaurants (with patios overlooking downtown) are also part of the mix.  One will be an Italian-themed steakhouse, spotlighting beef, chops, seafood, homemade pastas and wood-fired pizzas.  The other focuses on Latin America, featuring big and small plates from Mexico to Chile, a ceviche bar and Latin cocktails and wines.  Also planned is a cocktail lounge/wine bar, tucked away in the basement.  There you’ll be able to nosh on charcuterie, cheeses, desserts and chocolate.  Kantak hopes to open all five doors sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Also joining the downtown gold rush is Matt Carter, who heads the French kitchen at Zinc Bistro and the Latin American kitchen at the Mission, and two partners.  Now he’s taking another step toward global culinary domination with Nine05, a “modern Asian” restaurant that’s moving into the space that once housed Fate, on Fourth Street south of Roosevelt Street. And next door will be a gastropub called Canteen. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Carter says Nine05 will focus on “greatest hits” Asian dishes, stamped with his own accent.  That means curries, Korean barbecue and a steamed pork belly brioche bun that he says is so good the Chinese will be kicking themselves for not having thought of it 2,000 years ago. He’s aiming to open Nine05 in July.  Canteen, meanwhile, will start off in July as a watering hole, with high-end classic cocktails, wines and beers, along with charcuterie and cheese to tamp down hunger pangs. By October, however, Carter expects Canteen to morph into a gastropub, with uncomplicated fare emphasizing simple preparations and fresh ingredients.  Heading the two kitchens is Jay Bogsinske, who worked with Carter before joining the La Grande Orange group.  Carter expects to be around a couple of mornings and late evenings to see how everything is working out.