The beautiful Hilton Sedona at Bell Rock has undergone a multi-millon dollar update (you can read my last feature here), including new executive chef Jason Flores and a renovated restaurant at ShadowRock Tap + Table. Last month, I received an invitation to visit the Hilton Sedona at Bell Rock as a media guest and experience the exciting new changes. On a Friday afternoon, we checked into our spacious suite complete with a private patio showcasing this Sedona vista.
Likewise, the view from the bedroom looked like a window-framed red rock painting.
The lovely patio was the perfect spot to enjoy a media amenity that wasn't your typical cheese plate, but instead brimming with an assortment including creamy sriracha and Irish cheddar wth porter, along with chocolate truffles and exotic fruits such as rambutan, gooseberries, and starfruit.
As the sun set, our group of journalists were invited to the lobby for a welcome reception where we sipped on sparkling wine and snacked on Italian tuna toasts, crispy chicken thighs with hummus and chickpeas, and mini-mason jars of tomato and burrata salad.
We also met general manager Jay Kriske, who gathered us together to learn more about the resort restaurant as he introduced his team. Although the restaurant's completion was delayed (another excuse to return!), he shared the finishing details in store. "Our vision was to create a wonderful space that allowed us to have a restaurant that would bring the outside in and take advantage of as much of the real estate as we could. That is really the focus of the restaurant - by doing something great, great people will show up. We really just want to be a place where the locals will come and share what they love about Sedona with the hotel guests, and let the two in a very authentic way come together."
He led the way to the restaurant as we began our hard-hat tour, pointing out what has been accomplished thus far. One of the major updates is transforming the previous eight-seat bar into a convivial focal point. "It's now a 27-seat rectangular bar in the center of the restaurant; I wanted the bar to be the hub of socialization," he explained. "We've gone from a two-handled Keggermeister to 12 taps to really feature the craft beers of Arizona." The restaurant will encompass 11,500 square feet, with 50 seats inside and 50 outside, in addition to an expanded patio with firepits, lounge areas, a water feature, and games. "We're calling it 'The Porch' and it will have foosball, ping pong, shuffleboard, cornhole...you name it."
We then met talented executive chef Jason Flores, who has designed a menu to match the restaurant's reimagined rustic-casual setting.
We started with a sampler from the bar menu as Chef Flores described his delicious dishes designed for grazing: Cheese and charcuterie with homemade compotes and bread baked in-house; green chile mac and cheese with cornbread crumble and Arizona Gunslinger hot sauce; crispy deviled eggs with fried prosciutto; lollipop chicken wings; gigante and white bean hummus with tempura artichokes and griddled flatbread; pretzel knots and housemade mustard made with local amber ale; drunken tater tots with chorizo, short rib, cheddar sauce and a fried egg; fiery devil's wings; a cast iron chili pot topped with avocado and cotija cheese; and a vegan veggie and hummus board.
With this perfect introduction to Chef Flores' food, we were then seated on the patio and serenaded by the musical talents of Anthony Mazzella of Dolce Belle Music.
We enjoyed trying new drinks on the menu, including a Front Porch Punch with AZ Distilling Copper City moonshine, elderflower liquor, and muddled berries and a Shady Lady with mezcal, grapefruit juice, and melon liqueur, before starting with salads such as a South of the Border Wedge with cotija cheese, charred corn, and pickled onions; Chopped Cobb with smoked chicken, candied bacon, tomatoes, and cucumbers tossed with ancho vinaigrette and topped with a 6-minute egg; and grilled Baby Gem Caesar salad with kale, toasted pepitas, and roasted garlic and cotija dressing. My tablemates raved about entrees such as local Oak Creek ale beer-battered fish and chips and a stuffed pasilla chile with salsa roja, but I couldn't be torn away from my fantastic bison meatloaf wrapped in bacon and served with blistered blue lake green beans, wild mushrooms, and brown gravy.
Our special evening ended with hot coffee drinks, a decadent array of desserts, and popcorn as we wrapped ourselves in warm blankets and settled in on chaise lounges to watch the culinary film For Grace under starry skies.
I was hosted by Hilton Sedona at Bell Rock and my weekend was complimentary.