Scottsdale, Arizona has long been a hotbed for innovative culinary cuisine and trendy nightclubs, especially clustered within the downtown/old town area. I recently received a suggestion from one of my readers encouraging me to try one of the latest gastronomic experiences, Citizen Public House (CPH). My readers rarely steer me wrong, my dining and cocktail experience at CPH was no exception.
Nestled in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale, Citizen Public House does not have a flashy exterior or entrance, but what it lacks in glam and glimmer, it makes up for with vivacity. CPH is not fancy or pretentious, like some Scottsdale establishments…it just feels good. It’s a journey that begins with that first step over the threshold…the warmth of the staff in the open and airy space envelopes you. The tables and cozy seating niches flank the central focal point of the restaurant…the bar—also known as, mixology central. Here, the artisan cocktail makers create concoction you’ve likely never experienced before. There are no everyday drinks from which to imbibe. Each cocktail creation has its own distinct personality and killer looks, the libations traverse the landscape from rich and warm, to light and tart. The bar resides underneath the building’s original large slanted wooden beams overhead. The interior is slightly modern with a mild industrial feel. While the floor plan is wide open, there is an intimate patio and semi-private dining alcove for larger parties.
Because creative cocktails are part of the CPH DNA, my guests and I decided we’d order a variety of drinks throughout the night and share each of them. One thing you’ll notice as you enter the restaurant is a cluster of barrels across from the bar…smaller than wine or whiskey, but similar nonetheless. The mixology professors have created a series of cocktails, which are age for up to six months in the barrels. In other words, they are blending various spirits together to make truly unique cocktails.
We tried two barrel-cocktails and really enjoyed the Boulvadier, we however would not order the Negroni again.
- Boulvadier – Maker’s 46 Bourbon, Campari with sweet vermouth.
- Negroni – Beefeater 24-gin, Campari and Sweet Vermouth.
We then tried several of their “house” cocktails:
- The Persian – Absolute Wild Tea vodka, elderflower liqueur, sweet and sour, Persian cucumber juice, lemon peel served on the rocks.
- Citi-zen – Absolut Pear vodka, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, sweet & sour, rock candy, lemon twist, served straight up in a martini glass.
- The IM-Port – Jameson Irish Whiskey, Tawny Port, tobacco bitters, Guinness stout foam, smoked sugar rim on the rocks.
- Real Irish Crème coffee for dessert…coffee, Irish whiskey with thick, rich, sweet cream on top.
The Persian was really good, full of flavor and uniqueness. The namesake “Citi-zen,” was good, but a bit on the bland side and we’d probably not order that one again. The IM-Port was the biggest surprise…none of us would have ordered it if it were not highly suggested by AJ (our server). As soon as the drink hit my taste buds, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to like it. But then, just a second or two later, as my palate began to process the wild mix of flavors, I was pleasantly surprised…enthralled even. My guests all had pretty much the same reaction and assessment. For dessert, many folks will order a Baileys with coffee, but at Citizen Public House, they make a real Irish Coffee with Irish Whiskey and a sweet extra rich cream on top…it was delicious!
The dishes to follow continue the adventure, each plate its own family of uniquely unexpected textures and tastes that command engagement of all the senses. Sophisticated, yet accessible, the menu invites guests to open their minds and palates.
The food menu is split into the following categories: Bar Snacks, Starters, Sandwiches, Entrees and Dessert. We decided we’d try at least one items from each of the four categories.
- Bacon fat heirloom popcorn – chunks of bacon with popcorn tossed in bacon fat. Addictive…need I say more?
- Pork Belly Pastrami, which was a tender pork belly, rye spaetzle, Brussels sprout sauerkraut and mustard jus. A little on the fatty side, but tender and full of flavor.
- Deep sea crab cakes with smoked red pepper aioli and celery root slaw…absolutely delicious!
- The Orginal Chopped Salad so famous it has its own Facebook page. Let me tell you, this salad is a MUST! It has cold smoked salmon; freeze dried roasted corn, chopped arugula, Israeli couscous, Roma tomatoes, black currants, pepitas and asiago cheese. The salad is tossed/blended with the perfect dressing right at your table.
- Truffle Grilled Cheese – White truffle scented mashed potato, Emmental melted onion, French bread with a simple field of greens. I thumbed my nose at this item, but the ladies I was with really wanted to try it, so I acquiesced and was so glad I did.
- Pan seared scallops with Tender Belly Hampshire bacon, roasted corn grits, wilted snow pea greens and cola gastrique. Outstanding dish…highly recommend it.
- Fair-Trade Short Ribs with a local coffee rub, roasted parsnip puree, dried cherry BBQ sauce and sautéed greens. Similar to the Pork Belly Pastrami in that it was a bit on the fatty side for my tastes, but this dish goes well with the CPH gourmet pub motif. No question full of flavor and I loved the roasted parsnip puree.
- Featured special was a Sauteed Branzino (European Seabass) with beet puree, sautéed spinach, charred yellow tomato vinaigrette, fried leeks with micro celery. This dish was so artfully plated and an item I’d never had before. Branzino is thinner than other Seabass (i.e. Chilean) I’ve had and they prepare it with the skin on, and, in a way in which it is eatable. It was both unique and delicious.
Capping off the evening were desserts created by renowned pastry chef, Tracy Dempsey, celebrating several childhood classics in a grownup wardrobe.
- Apple Turnover with apple crumble ice cream topped with a vanilla glaze…this was good, but the PB&B was better.
- PB&B Pudding Jar – banana, caramel & vanilla pudding, vanilla wafers and peanut butter shortbread fingers. Decadent…enough said.
- Real Irish Crème coffee for dessert…coffee, Irish whiskey with thick, rich, sweet cream on top. Stronger than Baileys, but equally intoxicating.
I usually don’t go out of my way to talk too much about the service at a restaurant, but in this case, I’d be remise. My guests and I collectively agreed that AJ was one of the best servers we all had ever experienced. From his knowledge of the menu and its collection of complex ingredients, anticipating our needs before speaking a request, to his personality, passion, and downright enthusiasm for his job. AJ made sure our experience would not be one we’d soon forget…this gentlemen could write a manual on the craft of service.
An evening at Citizen Public House cannot be contained within the word “dinner” or even in the phrase “dining out.” It’s a place where comfort meets class. The food and cocktail ingredients are as imaginative, as they are delicious.
If you’ve ever been to the Citizen Public House in Old Town Scottsdale, please leave a comment below and share your experience and/or favorite dish or cocktail.
Citizen Public House Restaurant Contact Information:
Address: 7111 E. 5th Avenue Suite E –Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Hours: Open 7 days a week 3 pm to 11 pm
Late Night: Thursday – Saturday ’til 1:30 AM