House Brasserie: A Confetti of Culinary Indulgence
Through my travels I’ve had an opportunity to stroll through the Paris quarters, where streets are lined with bakeries, bistros and brasseries. The alluring scent of gastronomy wafts through the air on a quest to captivate the esurient passerby. The French dining experience has a romantic legacy and a rich history. The House Brasserie has taken a sliver of Paris and placed it in the heart of downtown Scottsdale, transporting guests (if only for a moment in time), on an enchanting escape that takes the palate on a whirlwind trip of utter gratification.
I had arrived well before my scheduled reservation in order to take a few photos of the exterior of the restaurant. While sauntering into the patio area with camera in tow, I saw but a forehead of a man peering over an obstacle. [I should mention that I am oddly good at recognizing voices] The male voice welcomed me and the familiarity forced my mind to place it. I said, “Your voice, or perhaps your forehead is familiar to me.” The gentleman walked from behind the impediment and said, “You look familiar too!” At that moment it dawned on me who this person was. He was stellar Sterling the server from The Mission, a fantastic sister restaurant of House Brasserie I had visited the month prior. I asked Sterling what he was doing there and he informed me that he worked at both restaurants. I quickly asked if he’d be our server for the evening, and he agreed.
I was so impressed with Sterling’s breadth of menu knowledge at The Mission, that I couldn’t wait for him to guide the culinary journey on this evening. He began by informing us that House Brasserie derived its name in part from the fact that it is Scottsdale’s second oldest home, which, of interest is a Sears kit home. If you’re not familiar, the mail order and department store, Sears and Roebuck, used to sell homes that would be delivered to your lot and then you’d grab a few neighbors and erect. The exterior is bungalow with a large candlelit courtyard. French influences like the Fleur-de-Lis flocked wallpaper to the Buddha Bar Euro style music sets the stage for an intimate dining experience. The initial owners of the House Brasserie home planted a Ponderosa Pine tree in honor of their first born daughter, 76 years later this tree is the largest in Scottsdale and provides shade and intimacy for the restaurant’s patrons.
Sterling started us off with a couple of cocktails. I opted for one of the signature drinks, the Whiskey River, which went up in flames…in a good way. The Whiskey River (Bulleit Rye which has been sun-infused with Rooibos Tea for about 3 hours, muddled cloves, fresh orange marmalade is shaken with a bit of egg whites for some froth on top with torched orange peel) is brought to the table and is served in dramatic fashion. Unbeknownst to me, the oil in orange rind is flammable. When Sterling set the drink down he squeezed the orange peel, bursting the capillaries and simultaneously set a torch to it, which in turn caused a mini-burst of flames. It was pretty cool and something I had not experienced before.
To start our meal, we had the Maine Lobster Gnocchi, which is not something I would typically order, but Sterling’s description and my guest’s desire to try it were good enough for me. The consistency of the gnocchi was airy and much lighter than I was accustomed to, that along with generous chunks of lobster and sunchokes, black truffle and pecorino made this an outstanding starter.
Knowing he had a foodie travel writer in the house, Chef Carter insisted on sending out a couple additional dishes for us to try.
The house smoked burrata with heirloom tomatoes, pearl onions, pasilla-lime and apple butter spread over toasted bread was divine. The mozzarella-like cheese had a warm and creamy center. There was hint of heat from the pasilla chile that was perfectly complemented by the sweet and cooling affects of the apple butter toast.
Next we had the Hudson Valley Foie Gras, not something I would typically order as I find the dish a bit rich for my taste buds, but it was masterfully prepared and presented.
We had long since finished our cocktails, so we placed the rest of our order and let Sterling select a couple of red wines for us. I did not pay attention to what he brought us, but I did notice that the House Brasserie wine menu is quite good…eclectic might be a good way to describe it.