Friday, March 2, 2012
Culinary Cruising Phoenix, Day 3!
Well, Day three of our culinary quest in Phoenix turned out to be something of a bust. Part of the problem was that I failed to fully do my research.
We set off in the late afternoon to Scottsdale yesterday. We had planned to have dinner in the Arts District just off Scottsdale Road, then take the two hour Arts Walk Tour that happens each Thursday night. We were excited to join in a 30-year Scottsdale tradition.
So we started out from the west side, took the loop 101 and arrived in Scottsdale in plenty of time to have dinner, then join the arts walk. Upon arriving in Scottsdale we were happy to find a parking space right in the arts district. (Free three hour parking!).
After having researched the Check Please Arizona on line site we had decided to have dinner at the Rusty Spur on Main Street. After locating the restaurant, and pursuing the prices on the outside window, we entered the Rusty Spur and found a vacant table. The first impression one gets upon seeing the Rusty Spur for the first time is how terribly small the place is. There were less than ten tables in a room that was no more than 15 by 20 feet, with some seating available at the bar. The second thing we noted was the lack of any interest from the staff to serve us. While waiting we noticed no one was having dinner either. After a few minutes we decided to leave and look elsewhere or somewhere to eat. (Alas, after returning home I found that the Rusty Spur is a "lunch only; 11am to 4pm" restaurant, so we missed that time frame big time!)
Out on the streets again, we wandered around the area and studied our tourist guide. My daughter noticed that Big Earl's Barbecue was nearby and had been featured on the Man Versus Food program so, out of curiosity, we decided to go there. Huge Mistake! Big Earl's was lightly populated as we entered the place and were quickly seated. A peep at the menu prices for Big Earl's fare may explain the light patronage. Most of the entrees fell into the $20 dollar range and, as other diners were served, we noted the paucity of the portions for a full course dinner.
Never the less, we were tired and hungry so we ordered cocktails and reviewed affordable menu choices. We had plenty of time to do so because it took over ten minutes to get our drinks despite the fact that the few customers present were not over-taxing the wait staff.
When our drinks arrived we were ready to order. My daughter ordered a pull pork sandwich and fries, my wife order the hot wings and I ordered a burger and fries. The waiter then apologized and said that the deep fryer was out of order so fries and hot wings were not available. The head waiter, perhaps noticing our frustration at not being told upfront that the fare was limited, intervened and said they could do the fries and hot wings after all.
After a time our orders arrived. On taking the first bite of my burger I tasted a beef patty that seemed to have been soaked in salt brine before grilling. I like salty food but this was well past salty. However, sensing that we had found the wrong place to eat I plowed through the burger, alternating bites or brine with generous sips or beer to wash it down. However, my wife's hot wings were so salty that they were completely inedible. My daughter brought this to the head waiter's attention and he was gracious enough to remove the charges for the hot wings from our bill. We quickly paid the bill and left.
Our evening was saved by the Art Walk! We were able to tour a dozen galleries and admire the works of so many talented local artists! Those works which most captured our interest and admiration were priced at a range that would get you a good use car to the price of my wife's new Honda but they were beautiful and we were grateful just to see them. And, really, it was all about the experience; it was lovely to walk down the central arts district, listening to street musicians and people watching. The weather was perfect and the real treat last night was all of the native American art and music that took center stage. We listened to a lovely Navajo man demonstrate the craft and practice of bow and arrow as well as native flutes which filled the air with beautifully mournful music.
We could not possibly see all of the art at all of the galleries on a single night but plan to return and see more on future Thursdays. If you have not visited Scottsdale's Thursday evening Art Walks, you are missing a huge treat!