Citizen Public House

Don’t let the name fool you. Although Citizen Public House is an upscale version of a traditional public house serving contemporary cocktails, beer and wine, it is by no means limited to a drinking establishment. Located in Old Town Scottsdale, the European-fusion food that you will eat at Citizen Public House is probably the best Public House grub you have ever come across.

Representing it’s reputable name, I had to try the cocktail Citi-Zen. A unique blend of Absolut Pear vodka, Domaine de Canton, ginger liqueur, housemade sweet and sour, served with rock candy so you can stir and add more sweetness to your drink as your palate changes through the evening. I have to say perhaps the most innovative cocktail menus.

Opened just a few months ago, after the success of Cowboy Chow, another great hit in Old Town Scottsdale, Chef Bernie Kantak has created a menu that is a blend of Hungarian, American and Mediterranean inspirations.

The Original Chopped Salad is perhaps the only item I have seen on any menu that has its own facebook page! A flag like display of smoked salmon, Israeli couscous, chopped greens, pumpkin seeds, roasted corn and tomatoes, served with a buttermilk dressing is a wonderful blend of textures and flavors. See recipe.

From the bar snacks section, I tried the Gorgonzola-Emmental mac-n-cheese. I would describe it as the adult version of Mac and Cheese. It wasn’t very cheesy but had a rich strong flavor from the Gorgonzola enhanced further by slices grilled red bell peppers. The best part was they used actual macaroni pasta, which is usually not the case at many upscale restaurants.

All ingredients are sourced from artisanal and organic farms around the country. The menu offers gourmet burgers and sandwiches but I decided to try the seafood. Alaskan Halibut was perfectly pan seared and served with roasted cauliflower, charred tomato vinaigrette and tarragon butter. It melted in your mouth! Pan Seared Scallops were juicy and tended, delicately placed upon buttery roasted corn grits.

The menu is printed daily so we had to wait to see what pastry chef Tracy Dempsey had in sore for us. I decided upon the Chocolate Pecan Bars, which were described to me as home made rustic bars. They were much more than rustic I would say! Rich and crunchy pecan triangles served with chicory (a coffee replacement) ice cream and salted chocolate caramel sauce vanished from my plate into my mouth very quickly. I also tried the Pig in the Orchard Bread Pudding but wasn’t a big fan. The combination of Granny Smith apples, Applewood smoked bacon, bourbon brown sugar sauce sounded interesting but did not do much for me. I am still not use to the idea of having meat in my dessert, I guess.

Citizen Public House

7111 E. 5th Avenue Ste. E
Scottsdale, AZ 85251-3200

(480) 398-4208

Deseo Shrimp Chicharron

Perhaps one of the most dazzling dinners was one that I recently ate at the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona. Inside the resort is this cool, hip Nuevo-Latino restaurant named Daseo (meaning desire), as you are left with a strong desire to take home a doggy bag after dinner, even though you are staying at a hotel and your home is 2,000 miles away. Executive chef Todd Berry has created an innovative Latin inspired menu showcasing dishes that will blow your mind away. One of these is the Shrimp Chicharron. Unlike the name which usually stands for fried pork belly, this dish has no bacon in it. It has a fiery sauce complimented by fresh robust shrimp. If you like spicy food, this baby is for you.

The best part is that it is so easy to prepare. You will surely shine as a budding chef if you cooked this at your next party (Note: Holidays are coming up). Westin was kind enough to share the recipe with me which I am now passing on to you.

Shrimp Chicharron

6 oz cooked medium shrimp

1/2 oz chopped parsley

1 oz flour

2 oz shrimp chicharron sauce (see below)

pickled jalapenos

vegetable oil for frying

In a mixing bowl, dust shrimp with flour. Shake off excess flour and set aside. In a medium wok, heat oil and fry the shrimp for about a minute or two on high heat. Spoon out the shrimp and drain off excess oil. Lightly mix the chicharron sauce with the shrimp in a separate bowl. Garnish with chopped parsley and pickled jalapenos.

Chicharron Sauce

3 oz aji amarillo paste

6 oz condensed milk

4 oz mayonnaise

juice of 1 lime

splash of habanero sauce

In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients. Cover and chill until ready to use.

Recipe courtesy of Deseo at The Westin Kierland Resort and Spa, Phoenix-Scottsdale. The resort has a members-only program to celebrate passionate foodies, known as “Kierland Epicurean Club.”