true food community dinner

I recently had the opportunity to try True Food’s new Community Dinner, offering a five course prixe fixe menu with drink pairings at True Food’s Biltmore location.
The True Food Community Dinner is different from your traditional True Food meal in many ways. First off, you will be seated “community style” – as in you’re sharing a table with other diners who you may or may not know. In this instance the tables sat 6 to 8 people each. Generally this stresses me out, but I ended up having a lot of fun listening to the conversations around me. I suppose a more outgoing person may have joined in, but I was having enough fun just eavesdropping (sorry guys!).
Another thing that sets this meal apart from your usual True Food meal is the elegance. Every dish is masterfully crafted, exquisitely plated, and paired with a cocktail or wine. These are dishes you would expect to see at a five-star fancy restaurant, not at the same place you go for your healthy Teriyaki Chicken lunch bowl. I also really liked that they left salt and pepper on the tables. Although I didn’t need it, I hate when a restaurant purposely leaves it off the table just so they can judge me if I choose to ask for it.
 
The first course, a miso-cured egg yolk dumpling with wasabi leaf and kale topped with a dashi foam was paired with a cocktail, with the remaining courses being paired with wine, giving a great sample of what the restaurant has to offer drink-wise. Don’t let the unassuming picture fool you, there is a flavor bomb hiding under there. This may have been my favorite item from the night.
 
The second course was grilled white asparagus with a tahini miso sauce, toasted hazelnut, and preserved meyer lemon. I could have eaten three more plates of this alone.
Third, purple potato gnocchi with white (almond) pesto, mushrooms, heirloom tomato “raisins” and crispy basil, paried perfectly soft and pillowy gnocchi with deliciously sweet roasted tomatoes and a perfect pop of texture from the crispy basil.
 The fourth course was a steelhead sashimi atop black quinoa onigiri and a black tea consomme which packed way more flavor than its picture portrays. You break up the quinoa patty and let it soak in the consomme a bit and all of the flavors complement each other beautifully.
For dessert, a sweet potato creme brulee topped with what I assume was some sort of ginger-y/allspice sorbet. The creme brulee itself was amazing but I could have done without the sorbet, I think a scoop of vanilla ice cream would’ve been better (or just the creme brulee on its own).
Overall the experience was great and I would definitely recommend it to just about anyone who would listen. The cost (though it’s possible they will vary by dinner) was $70 which seems like a bit of a steal for everything that was included in the meal, especially considering drink pairings were included as well! Word on the street is that they will be rolling these out as themed events in the future, so keep your eyes peeled.
Where: True Food Kitchen (Biltmore Location with possibility for expansion)
What: Community Dinner Event

Shake Shack – Scottsdale Fashion Square

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Shake Shack’s first Arizona location opened this weekend at Scottsfsle Fashion Square. We stopped by early Saturday morning to check it out.

After starting as a food cart in NYC the Shack empire has now expanded to 13 states and over 30 international locations, the company is continuing its rapid expansion with plans to open two more Phoenix-area restaurant later this year and a location in St. Louis next year. Where I once had to board a plane across the country to have a bite of their infamous burger, now I can just drive down the street and from the looks of it, soon you may have that option too.

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After all this, does it live up to the hype? In short, yes.

The most common comparison a West Coaster will make is to In N Out, where one or the other will likely be “garbage” compared to the other. This is a result of using In N Out as our consolation prize for all the years that we didn’t have Shake Shack, and it is a misstep. In N Out is delicious and for about $5 I can get a whole meal and the ingredients are fresh and top-quality. It is by far the best fast food burger you can get, and that is where the issue is. While both signature burgers include an all beef patty, cheese, veggies and a “special sauce”, that’s about where the similarities end.

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Although you order at a register and you will receive your food fairly quickly, Shake Shack is not fast food.  You won’t find any drive thrus at Shake Shack or a countdown clock to remind the staff that they’re in a rush. Instead, after ordering, you’re handed a buzzer and you find your table and wait patiently for it to go off so you can enjoy your mealimage

In addition to delicious hormone- and antibiotic-free Angus burgers, they also serve fries, shakes concretes, and the newest addition to the Shake Shack family, the Chicken Shack. Hand-breaded and perfectly-fried chicken breast with herby buttermilk mayo, pickles and lettuce served in a toasty bun. It’s quite possibly the best chicken sandwich I’ve ever had.
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Arizona has two signature concretes, which are rich custards swirled with mixing – like the custard version of a DQ Blizzard. There’s the Dust Devil with vanilla custard swirled with peanut butter sauce, marshmallow sauce and shortbread cookie, then dusted with malt power and the CamelShack with vanilla custard, salted caramel sauce and a slice of The Bakery PHX’s banana cream pie. My only complaint is with our small concrete, which although the flavor was spot-on, I couldn’t help feeling jipped when it was served with a huge hole left from the mixer.

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This place is definitely worth stopping by, you’ll find it in the very location where Fox’s Modern Burger lived and died, but I don’t see this place dying anytime soon.

Their next location should open at Uprown Plaza within a couple months, and later in the year their third Arizona location will open at Kierland Commons in North Scottsdale.