We recently had a wonderful meal at J&G, when we were lucky to hit it during the Arizona Restaurant Week promotion. I had heard a lot of great things about this place, so it was on my short list of places to try. We arrived on time, and our table was ready. The space is beautiful. It was hip, and steakhouse-like (dark woods, and big plush booths). Our hostess seated us at a 4 top (there were 2 of us) in the far corner of the restaurant. I wasn't thrilled with the table, but the wife was happy to be out of the hustle and bustle (we were both tired from a long day of kid chasing), so we didn't request to be moved. The restaurant is focused on their view over the hotel grounds, and the valley. It is a spectacular view, and most tables in the restaurant take advantage of it (our table did in fact have a view, it was just in a bit of an awkward location). In the future, I would probably request a table "on the window", as this would probably improve the experience.
First thing I should mention is the service. The afternoon of our reservation day, I received a confirmation call from the restaurant. I always appreciate this, as it is nice to know they will be prepared for us. I requested a patio table, and was told that they don't serve food there. The hostess was professional, and very pleasant. The rest of the service was excellent throughout our meal. Our waiter was attentive, and kept a perfect level of formality (not stiff, but not our friend either). Our meal was perfectly paced, and our drink glasses never went empty. Our waiter spent a lot of time with us, explaining the menu, and guiding us to make the best choices. They also presented us with the RW menu right away, and didn't seem to treat us any differently for "dining with a discount".
I started with a cocktail, as I knew that this was one of the specialties of the house. I got the "Hemingway Daiquiri", which was excellently mixed (including small bits of crushed ice). It was strong, and really tasty. I stopped at one, but likely could have drank quite a few. I guess Hemingway knew how to drink, so I shouldn't have been surprised that his namesake drink was tasty and strong.
As with our other RW meals, we got one of each selection on the menu, to ensure we could try everything. This is a good time in my review to comment on the quality of the options. J&G selected their "greatest hits" to best represent their restaurant. I think some other restaurants pick cheaper options, but I appreciate that J&G took this opportunity to showcase themselves in their best light.
The Caesar salad was great. It was light, lemony, and fresh. It was covered in shaved Parmesan, and was very large. The Steamed shrimp salad was really special (our waiter informed us that dish has been on Jean-Georges Vongerichten's menu since his very first opening). It consisted of 4 very large shrimp, cooked perfectly, with accompaniments of micro greens, funny long mushrooms, avocado, and a great vinaigrette. I understand why this dish has stood the test of time, as all the ingredients worked so well together, and showcased their individual qualities. It was a really great appetizer.
The entrees arrived. The Steak frites was pretty good. The quality of the steak was good (and it was prepared just as we requested), and the fries perfectly prepared (they were somewhat pedestrian - but cooked perfectly - crispy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside). The highlight of our meal was the Salmon dish. It was the most perfectly cooked piece of fish I have ever had. It was simply prepared (there was very little seasoning, which allowed the quality of the fish to shine through). The side dish of creamed corn was spectacular. Good corn is in season right now, and easy to come by, so, Kudos to J&G for highlighting a great ingredient. Both of the entrees showcased great cooking, using high quality ingredients.
Of the 2 deserts we had, the standout was the Apple Tart. It consisted of a baked apple ring, on top of a delicate pastry. The apple was a perfect consistency, with a strong caramel cinnamon flavor. This dish is another of their specialties, and I understand why. The molten lava cake was good, and rich, but nothing spectacular. We make this a lot at home, so the novelty of this desert has worn off for us. Both deserts came with ice cream, which was fine, if not spectacular.
Overall, our meal was a wonderful experience. It is hard to beat the ambiance of the Phonecian, and the restaurant itself feels upscale. The experience from start to finish was top notch. All the food highlighted simple preparations of high quality ingredients.
One last comment, looking at the regular menu, the prices aren't exorbitant (for instance the Steak Frites entree is $18). While a meal could add up quickly, it would be possible to eat here on a budget (if you are careful with your selections). We absolutely loved J&G, and will likely be back for another meal.
What we ate:
J&G Steakhouse - Steakhouse
- First Course (choice of):
- Heart of Romaine Caesar Salad
- Steamed Shrimp Salad, Avocado, Mushrooms, Champagne Vinaigrette
- Second Course (choice of):
- Slowly Cooked Salmon : Creamed Corn with Jalapeno, Lime and Cilantro
- Grilled Black Angus Flat Iron Steak Frites
- Third Course (choice of):
- Apple Tart Tatin, Cinnamon Ice Cream
- Warm Chocolate Cake, Caramel Ice Cream