The second stop in my series of vegan friendly restaurant review is the unique and upscale Posh Improvisational Cuisine.
7167 E Rancho Vista Dr, Suite 111
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Posh is located in the Optima Camelview building facing Scottsdale Road. Be warned, the signage for parking is a bit tricky to find. You can enter the covered parking structure from Rancho Vista Drive by turning to the left into the structure. There you will see a small sign directing you to reserved Posh parking. The grounds are lush and inviting.
Because of the improvisionational nature of the restaurant, I called ahead to see if the chefs would be able to accomodate vegan requests. The very friendly hostess informed me this would not be a problem and also mentioned that she thought the owner's sister was vegan. Score another point for vegan friendliness.
We arrived for our 7pm reservation and were immediately seated. We were offered the option of sitting at a table or at seat by the open kitchen (bar). We opted for the kitchen gallery seating so we could see all of the action first hand. I highly recommend this option as you get to see the magic happen up close and personal. You will also get some personal attention from Joshua the owner and Zac the Chef de Cuisine. For a foodie such as myself this is an invaluable perk. The ambiance is definitely urban chic without being pretentious.
As soon as we were seated our server brought us the drink list, wine list, and the non-menu. He was friendly, efficient and offered great suggestions on wines to suit our tastes. We opted to try two of their specialty cocktails. The names of the cocktails which after an evening of wining and dining, have now slipped my mind. One was a delightful vodka lemonaide concoction, the other was a specialty cosmo style drink. Both were excellent. The latter's flavor was remeniscent of sweet tarts. With our dinner we selected a new style french chardonnay amusingly called Mischeif and Mayhem. My sister suggested these would be great names for my next pound puppies.
The non-menu is the heart of the Posh experience. Each guest can choose a tasting menu of 4-8 courses. There is also an optional wine pairing for an additional cost. This trip we chose our own wines rather than the pairings. The next visit (and there will certainly be more visits) I will try the pairings. The non-menu has a listing of proteins. Patrons indicate any items they would not be willing to try. These selections are decidedly not vegan friendly. However, at the bottom there is an area to indicate any special requests. Here is where I put down VEGAN. Very shortly after the server put in our requests, Zac (the Chef de Cuisine) came over to chat with us. He wanted to let us know that he was very happy to create vegan dishes for me, but that it may take him a little bit longer to create them than usual. I thought this was outstanding service. I let him know that I appreciated him letting us know. But rest assured in this atmosphere I appreciate a leisurely dining experience and was in no hurry to expedite this culinary experience.
I have to note here that the service was outstanding. I was a fine dining server for over 5 years and can be a bit persnickety when it comes to service. Posh's staff didn't miss a beat. We never wanted for refills on wine or water our entire visit.
On to the food! Don't get attached to any of the dishes you see below. Posh is improvisational so there is a good chance you won't see the same dish again. Joshua and Zac, please forgive me if I miss an ingredient or two. While I love the non-menu concept, my memory isn't always as sharp as I'd like. There was such a fantastic symphony of ingredients I may not remember them all, but my happy tounge does.
Amus Bouche - Haas Avocado Sorbet with Griddled Radicchio and fresh chives
The creaminess of the sorbet was a delightful complement to the slightly bitter and crunchy texture of the Radicchio.
Soup - Stonefruit Gazpacho - A refreshing sweet and cold twist on the Spanish classic made with cherries, plum, apricot, peach, and rhubarb garnished with chiffonade of fresh mint. Perfect for a hot summer night.
Grilled Endive and Radiccio with preserved lemons and slivered Gaeta olives. The lettuces were slightly grilled to perfection, bringing out the subtle flavors. The olives added the perfect amount of color and saltiness.
Saute of Bluefoot and Honshimeji Mushrooms with Okenowan Purple Yams. While I would like to say it was hard to pick a favorite, I am a mushroom fanatic, so this was hands down my favorite dish of the night. The mushrooms were perfectly sauteed and the sprinkling of capers gave the perfect piquant accent to the dish. When the dish came out I thought the yams were purple potatoes. When I asked chef Zac where the sweetness came from he told me about these very special yams and how he aquired them. Amazing dish!
Green and White Asparagus with Chili and Fennel - This was a visually striking dish; the white and green of the asparagus accented with the bright orange of the chili oil. The flavors were subtle and perfectly balanced.
Arthichoke Hearts with Corn Pudding and Balsamic Glaze - I love fresh artichoke hearts, so this was an easy win for me. The balsamic glaze was outstanding. I was luke warm on the corn pudding. It made for a lovely presentation, but the flavor just didn't pop with this dish. I'm not complaining mind you, I ate the entire dish without hesitation.
Chinese Long Beans with Gremolata and Lemon Verbina Broth - This was a delightfully light and fun dish. Plated to resemble a bird cage, it was a very visually appealing dish. The gremolata added a nice burst of flavor to the light and fresh tasting broth.
Dessert - Local Figs with Brulee and Muscat Espresso Smear (I'm not sure about the ingredients on this one). This was a gorgeous presentation. The figs were moist, fresh and wonderful. The brulee, however, was the only disappointment of the evening. As an aspiring vegan, I understand intimately the challenges of trying to produce a good sweet sauce resembling brulee. One must have the proper vegan ingredients to pull it off. To this end Zac mentioned that for those who are interested in a vegan tasting it is best to call 24 hours in advance so that the kitchen can have a better variety of vegan ingredients to work with. Even without advance notice, they did an excellent job at creating outstanding vegan dishes.
During and after dinner I had the pleasure of speaking to Joshua, Zac, and two other of the kitchen maestros. It is obvious that the entire staff is stoked about this venture. Zac's passion for finding unique, fresh, high quality ingredients is an important piece to this delicious puzzle. I had such a great time discussing my favorite pastime (cooking) with some of the most creative culinary minds I have had the pleasure to meet in a long time. I certainly hope that the Scottsdale/Phoenix area diners are open minded and sophisticated enough in palate to fully appreciate this incredible experience. I hope Posh has great success with their venture. I can't wait to go back! Watch out Mr. Binkley, these guys are bringing their A+++ game.
4 Course Tasting Menu $45.00 with wine pairing $77.00
5 Course Tasting Menu $55.00 with wine pairing $94.00
6 Course Tasting Menu $65.00 with wine pairing $112.00
7 Course Tasting Menu $75.00 with wine pairing $125.00
Full Tasting Menu $110.00 with wine pairing $165.00
NEXT UP: WOODLANDS IN CHANDLER