PHOENIX: A Food-Lover's Staycation at the Arizona Biltmore
The Arizona Biltmore debuted in February of 1929 to much fanfare with a three-day grand opening celebration attended by celebrities and socialites. This unique luxury property was designed by architect Albert Chase McArthur, who had studied as an apprentice draftsman under Frank Lloyd Wright (Wright also briefly served as a consultant). Situated on 39 sprawling acres, this spectacular Arizona landmark is still welcoming guests, now as a Waldorf Astoria Resort. I was recently invited as a first-time visitor and fell in love with this gorgeous resort and its Hollywood glamour and history.
Our staycation began as we checked into our spacious room with a Paradise Pool view and a large corner patio that also ran the length of the building.
One of six pools, the Paradise Pool has a 92-foot water slide, swim-up bar and luxurious pool-side cabanas with flat screen TVs, private bathrooms and your own Pool Concierge.
Guests can take advantage of two PGA 18-hole golf courses, tennis courts, the award-winning Spa Biltmore, and lawn games such as chess, a putting green, croquet, or simply relax on the Squaw Peak Terrace and admire the views.
I also had a chance to take the fascinating History Tour, offered to both guests and the public every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 10 am. This hour-long tour was led by Ruben Hill, who regaled us with tales of past and current celebrity guests and historical anecdotes as he pointed out interesting features such as the Mystery Room, a former Prohibition-era speakeasy, "Saguaro Forms and Cactus Flowers," a stained glass mural comissioned from an original sketch by Frank Lloyd Wright and gifted to the hotel by his widow, Wright lithographs from the Wasmuth Portfolio displayed in the restaurant, a recreated study, exclusive 400-square-foot private cottages, the Catalina Pool, a favorite of Marilyn Monroe and where Irving Berlin penned "White Christmas," and architectural details such as gold leaf ceilings and the iconic molded-concrete Biltmore Blocks that were cast on site.
This stunning property is also home to a gifted chef and what has quickly become one of my favorite Arizona restaurants - Wright's at the Biltmore. Chef Brian Peterson and his team have created a menu of delicious dishes befitting this beautiful setting. One afternoon I took advantage of the Fifth Hour at the Wright Bar, a Waldorf Astoria tradition offering guests a sophisticated cocktail-and-bar-bites combination. At the Arizona Biltmore, this is available Monday through Friday, 5 to 7 pm. I enjoyed sunset views as I sipped on a well-crafted Desert Moon (red wine, gin, spiced simple syrup, apricot, and chile-coffee bitters) paired with foie gras croquettes with a mushroom demi-glace, and a refreshing Beer Collins (beer, gin, elderflower cordial, fresh lemon juice, and tiki bitters) partnered with addictive crispy chicken skins draped in a creamy smoked cheddar sauce.
You'll want to make a reservation for dinner at Wright's at the Biltmore to fully experience Chef Peterson's dishes, which can be ordered a la carte, or as a special tasting menu.
On our first visit, we were blown away and exceptionally impressed with Chef Peterson's artful and creative combination of flavors. Here were some of our delicious highlights:
An amuse of lobster stuffed-cilantro crepe topped with ancho chile, orange powder, and caviar.
A superb lobster and potato salad with blistered tomatoes, epazote, and tangy salsa lizano sauce.
Creamy foie gras torchon with honey blueberry cake, fig and melon salad, and spiced candied pepitas.
Roasted scallop with masa-dusted fried octopus, black bean puree, sweet corn relish and salsa negra.
Jon expertly paired our wines (tip: ask for him when you make a reservation!), and we ended our magical night with a perfect finale of a classic souffle with crème anglaise.
Check back next week as I recap a special wine dinner featuring Antinori Wine Company to kick off the 27th season of their Winemaker Dinners.
The Arizona Biltmore Hotel is located at 2400 E Missouri Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85016. For both dinner and room reservations, call (602) 955-6600. Reservations at Wright's at the Biltmore can also be made through OpenTable.
I received a media invitation and my stay was complimentary.