Write On Rubee

An Arizona-based food, beverage and travel writer since 2008,  I launched this website in 2015 to document my culinary adventures, beverage escapades, gardening endeavors, and travel in the Phoenix area and beyond.  Also find a comprehensive calendar of Phoenix-area food and drink-related events on my Events page.

Ocotillo

Our friend Dave Johnson, General Manager, sommelier, and partner of Ocotillo, had shared his vision of Ocotillo with us last year so it was with eager anticipation that I awaited its debut in late September.  It is an impressive and ambitious project with well-thought-out details and archictecture, and a recent Saturday night's full house attests that this collaboration with Chefs Walter Sterling and Sacha Levine is well on its way to success.  In fact, I was told the Friday night before, they had 400 covers.  Nicely done Ocotillo! 

Ocotillo opened with a brunch menu initially, and four of us met to enjoy the dinner menu after it had launched in mid-November.  

I asked bartender Brian Loesche to surprise me with a couple of his libation creations and he kindly agreed. Thank you Brian for the great cocktails! Both were well-balanced, fresh, and bright. Left: Pimm's, yellow chartreuse, ginger syrup, lemon, lime, simple syrup, and Peychaud's bitters.  Right: Viejo rum, dry curaçao, lemon, honey syrup, AZ Bitters Lab Figgy Pudding bitters, Aztec chocolate bitters, and freshly-grated cinnamon. 

Many have told me the fresh locally-sourced vegetable dishes here shine, and the beet salad didn't disappoint. Pecan wood-smoked beets were tumbled onto creamy ricotta and strewn with arugula, truffle honey, and roasted pistachios with a simple dressing that allowed each element to make its own statement.  

The grilled lemongrass pork steak was listed under Small Plates, but made a perfect entree for me. Recommended by our helpful server, this was fantastically juicy and captured all the bright flavors of Asian cuisine I love with its tangy house pickles and chopped peanuts and fried shallots for texture. 

Our friend Andrew Gooi shared a bite of his dish and it was another winner - crispy-skinned roasted Pekin duck on a bed of polenta drizzled with a rich duck jus and garnished with the tart pop of pomegranate seeds.  

I was also happy Elise passed a share plate of her Ocotillo Chicken which is fast becoming a signature dish.  It's a stellar taste of Arizona on plate, with the tender roast chicken, honey and citrus sourced locally, as well as the dates and pecans that elevate the humble potato salad.  A brilliant combination. 

A perfect sweet treat to end our evening? Buttery Meyer lemon pound cake with ice cream and fresh berries.

After dinner, GM Dave graciously offered a tour of the grounds of this expansive property.   After being shown the tubs of fresh bucatini, campanelle and creste di gallo, I know I'll be ordering pasta on my next visit.  In addition to the main dining room where we were seated, there is an adjacent open-air beer garden with communal tables and its own bar and cozy fire pit, a large landscaped courtyard area with outdoor seating, and a separate O to Go coffee bar with daytime hours. Dave also pointed out a built-in screen that flips out for movie viewing on the lawn, and told of us plans in the spring for a jasmine-covered ramada to shade the al fresco picnic tables.   With what Ocotillo has already accomplished, I can't wait to see more.  

 
Ocotillo  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato