While strolling south on 1st Street in the heart of downtown Phoenix, you can’t help but notice a mesmerizing staircase to the west. Accented with a tranquil water sculpture and lined by lush green trees and foliage, the scene is reminiscent of a mirage.
|Photo by Lauren Potter|
Wondering what’s at the top of the staircase, you ask yourself, “Will it be worth it to find out?” If, at this point, curiosity hasn’t got the better of you, I’m here to answer: “Yes.”
|Photo by: Lauren Potter|
I got to experience Blue Hound Kitchen + Cocktails as a kind of ‘social appetizer,’ just before the official start of the #FoodiesInPhoenix tour. As someone who usually dines alone, I can say that it was worth the wait. Not only did I get to try just about every item on the menu, I was in the company of four fabulous female food bloggers, all brought together by the one and only Food Hunter!
|Photo by: Lauren Potter|
As we arrived at our table, not before stopping to admire the warm yet industrial atmosphere – garnished with leather armchairs and a dazzling chandelier, we were greeted by a selection of freshly prepared, photo-worthy fare (and boy were there photos).
|Photo by: Lauren Potter|
First things first, we ordered cocktails! Stephanie Teslar, Blue Hound’s head bartender, spends a lot of time in the kitchen experimenting with produce and pairing her cocktails with Blue Hound’s menu. Needless to say the group did a great job at sampling the drink menu.
Among the shareable plates were Chef Sean Currid’s Fried Green Tomatoes. Served with a spicy remoulade and jumbo lump crab, the tomatoes were a perfect start to the evening. Light and flavorful, the tomatoes had a delicate crunch on the teeth and the remoulade added a creamy layer of depth to the acidity of the fruit. And, I’m sorry but you had me at jumbo lump crab.
The Hickman’s Deviled Eggs featured locally raised eggs from Buckeye, Arizona. Now, before you tell me that your grandma makes “the best deviled eggs,” hear me out. These eggs were special. Not only were they artfully presented with a thin, baton-like sprig of green onion balanced atop the perfectly piped yolk. The savory-sweet flavor of the bacon jam, tucked inside, was complemented by the subtle, creamy yolk and egg white – the green onion adding a peppery crunch at the end. Who said eggs and bacon are only for breakfast?
From one jam to another, we moved from bacon to tomato. Chef Currid’s Boudin Balls were warm, crisp on the outside, soft in the center and served in a stylish round, wide-rim bowl. Atop a hefty dollop of flavorful tomato jam, the Boudin Balls were finished off with stunning swirls of green onion.
One of my absolute favorite selections from the lighter fare were the Spare Rib Sliders. Admittedly, when I saw them on the table I was hesitant. Past experience at another establishment which served less than satisfactory sliders left me somewhat scarred. But from the moment I sank my teeth into the King’s Hawaiian roll and tasted spare rib which melted in my mouth, I was sold. Chef Currid had changed me from a slider cynic to slider evangelist… But not just any sliders, only Blue Hound’s sliders (complete with root beer onions and horseradish cream). Just try them, OK? (No, seriously.)
Just when I thought things couldn’t get better, I tried the Seared Ahi, served on a quinoa cake with pickled peppers, and avocado. One of the most stunning, vibrant and colorful plating I had seen in downtown Phoenix, the ahi did not disappoint. As an unofficial sushi connoisseur, I was incredibly impressed with the freshness and flavor. It was light, delicate and the pickled peppers and aji amarillo added an extra pop of flavor.
From the water to the fields – the main dishes covered all bases: shrimp, chicken, fish, pork and beef.
Chef Currid’s Shrimp and Grits brought the comfort of Creole to the dusty desert. Rich, creamy grits with smoked andouille sausage sat beneath large, grilled shrimp that seemed to pop in your mouth with each bite. Very rich in flavor, the dish paired well with the delicate flavor of Currid’s Chilled Golden Beet salad.
Mistakenly identified by myself as salmon, Blue Hound’s Arctic Char was an enjoyable dish that was rich in color and mild in flavor. Though, ‘mild’ should not be mistaken for ‘meh.’ With the pleasantly unexpected pop of olives, oranges and yogurt, the char – served on a bed of lemon cous-cous – also paired well with the Blue Hound’s Grilled Asparagus.
One of the most popular dishes at our table was Chef Currid’s Herb Roasted Chicken. Served with farro, the chicken was also home to a subtle brush of Harissa hot chili paste, as well as the wildly popular spiced carrots. One of the most tender and juicy chicken dishes I have had to date, Chef Currid is obviously doing something right. Admittedly, I wasn’t excited at the prospect of chicken. Sure, I like it, but I haven’t been “wowed” by chicken in a while. “Just how good can it be?” I thought. Well, I found out ....And now I’m ready to go back for more.
If there was ever a dish that surprised me the most, it was Blue Hound’s Double Cut Pork Chop. Its plating offered a stunning visual presentation – an artistic swirl of chimichurri sauce framed the sizable piece of grilled pork, grilled greens and crispy spring onions. Much to my surprise, the dish wasn’t all looks. After struggling to find a piece of pork left on the bone after my four female counterparts had their share, I managed to carve of a camouflaged chunk which could have easily been mistaken for fat. When I placed it in my mouth and began to chew – a literal burst of juicy garlic goodness filled my mouth and my senses.
Quite frankly, I don’t know how it was humanly possible for us to even entertain the thought of dessert, but in the interest of our food blog audiences, we decided to take one for the team…
With my silver spoon in hand, I first took a scoop of the Chocolate Pudding. Served in glass jar, the pudding is simple yet stellar. Sweet, light, and topped with marshmallow fluff, the dessert was also served with peanuts… and did we mentioned it was chocolate pudding? CHOCOLATE. Who doesn’t like chocolate? Honestly. You can’t go wrong.
Chocolate lover or not, by far the most memorable moment of the evening was when I ate a spoonful of Chef Currid’s decadently delicious Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. Serviced in a cast iron skilled with salty caramel sauce and house-made date ice cream, the cake was sinfully delicious.
After all the fun I had with my new food blogger friends sharing dishes and tasting new flavors, there is one very important lesson that I learned: Blue Hound is worth taking the stairs for.
Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails
2 East Jefferson St.
Phoenix Az 85004
This experience was provided complimentary. However, all opinions and comments are my own.