The Royal Palms is a magical resort rich in beauty and history. I've been a longtime fan, visiting the property for cocktails at the Mix-Up Bar, brunch, lunch, or dinner at T. Cook's, and staycations. With the advent of fall, Executive Chef Todd Allison has introduced a new menu inspired by Mediterranean cusine and its focus on traditional techniques and seasonal ingredients.
Fresh seafood is a hallmark of Mediterranean dishes and Chef Allison's menu is abundant with fish, scallops, octopus, mussles, and shrimp, including Gambas al Ajillo. Sweet and briny garlic prawns were roasted with garlic, nestled on a bed of creamy cannelini beans, and strewn with a tangy-nutty Picholine olive tapenade.
Pumpkin is synonymous with fall, and was especially luxurious pureed into a velvety soup embellished with pumpkin seed caramel and honey cream.
"Make sure you get the lamb osso buco," a friend had urged me, and I do what I'm told. I can see why it's one of her new favorite dishes. One of the "Tapas from the Fireplace" options, chunks of fall-apart-tender braised lamb shank was served off the bone, garnished with crumbles of goat cheese, and paired with toasted ricotta gnocchi in a rich San Marzano tomato sauce spiked with spicy-fruit Calabrian chiles.
A brand-new dish added to the menu the evening we dined was a fabulous risotto and one of my favorites of the night. With the perfect combination of creamy and plump grains of rice, the risotto was enriched with Manchego cheese and an addictive medley of root vegetables, mushroom, and Tuscan kale.
Steak lovers will be happy here too, with options such as a New York strip, ribeye, flat iron, or the juicy 8-oz filet mignon with classic Béarnaise my husband ordered with a side of decadent whipped potatoes with braised bacon, cotija cheese, and crema.
Sometimes I'm drawn to the accoutrements of a dish as much as the main ingredient. I couldn't say no to the rack of lamb when I saw it was complemented by some of my favorite flavors: cucumber, feta, mint relish, tzatziki and crispy falafel.
Throughout our evening, our wonderful waiter Tanino had guided us in our menu choices and excellent wine pairings (be sure to request him when you make a reservation!). He also convinced us that we had to save room for dessert, and this Italian-influenced cheesecake made with mascarpone and ricotta cheese, amaretti cookie crust, and red wine and berry sauce was the perfect finale.
It's deliciously evident why Chef Allison is proud of this new menu. "It’s about seeing what age-old methods I can unearth and experiment with, and how I can keep our guests excited every time they join us,” says Chef Allison. “For me, it’s about being authentic, not trendy."
T. Cook’s is located in The Royal Palms Resort and Spa at 5200 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018. Reservations can be made by calling (602) 808-0766,
I was hosted by the Royal Palms and our dinner was complimentary.