Dine Out Diva

Join Pam Swartz, founder of Dine Out, LLC and author of Dine Out Phoenix, Arizona's leading dining guide, on her culinary adventures.

Your insider's guide to solving your dining dilemma in-and-around Phoenix and Scottsdale with restaurant reviews, mouth-watering photos, plus culinary events, trends, and musings you can chew on!

Contributer Barbara Toombs:

Barbara Toombs has always secretly yearned to be a chef, even working as a chef's assistant at a cooking school for a period of time! But she followed her initial instinct (and education) to be a writer and editor, and after living and working on three continents, she eventually discovered how to blend her passion for food with her passion for writing, and is now content to write about great food, great chefs, and great restaurants...while dabbling in gourmet cooking in her own kitchen.


Do-It-Yourself Doughnut Concept Comes to Arizona

Fractured Prune doughnuts: "Favorites" include Cookies & Cream (vanilla glaze/cookie crumbs), French Toast (maple glaze/cinnamon sugar),  Lemonade (lemon glaze/sugar), and Salted Caramel (caramel glaze/sea salt)...and two of our own creation, with maple glaze and BACON (of course!).

Fractured Prune doughnuts: “Favorites” include Cookies & Cream (vanilla glaze/cookie crumbs), French Toast (maple glaze/cinnamon sugar), Lemonade (lemon glaze/sugar), and Salted Caramel (caramel glaze/sea salt)…and two of our own creation, with maple glaze and BACON (of course!).

On National Doughnut Day, we felt it was only appropriate to report on a new arrival to the Arizona scene, Fractured Prune Doughnuts in Chandler.  What became a franchise in 2013 began life in Ocean City, MD, in 1976, and now can be found in several Maryland and New Jersey-based locations as well as a store in Michigan, another in Utah, and, marking their arrival to the Southwest, this one in Arizona. Continue reading “Do-It-Yourself Doughnut Concept Comes to Arizona” »

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The Split Personality of POSH Restaurant: from high-end eats to the Japanese streets

Sample of a "menu" at POSH.

Sample of a “menu” at POSH.

Scottsdale’s POSH Restaurant, opened by chef owner Josh Hebert in 2008, has received high (and well-deserved) accolades since Day One.  Its unique “improvisational cuisine” allows you to literally choose your own dining adventure, which begins when you sit down, either at a table or at the Chef’s Dining Counter—literally a “bar” that wraps around the open kitchen, affording a truly interactive experience (definitely my preference!).  You’ll be given a simple paper “menu,” which contains a list of the evening’s main ingredients.  You simply check off your likes/dislikes, allergies, dietary restrictions, and the like, and then it’s whisked away to Josh and his team, who create a unique tasting menu created exclusively for you.

The first time I dined there, the meal was nothing short of exquisite (and fascinating), and it was then I had probably the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten to this day: Uni Panne Cotta.  Words simply cannot describe how velvety rich and delectable this was; you’ll have to trust me on this one!  But each dish, one after the other, was a culinary work of mouth-watering art.  It was a dining experience like nothing I’d ever had before.

Uni Panne Cotta with uni foam, mensuyuu soy, and broccoli flowers--oh MY!

Uni Panne Cotta with uni foam, mensuyuu soy, and broccoli flowers–oh MY!

But then there’s POSH’s other side.  Usually once a month on a Wednesday, late at night (from 10 pm to midnight), Josh turns his unique restaurant into a haven for lovers of Japanese “street food”—ramen and okonomiyaki.  Now, before you cringe like I initially did, naively thinking ramen equated to the disgusting, sodium-laden packet of dried noodles sitting in my pantry, left over from my now adult daughter’s school days—this is TRUE ramen: wheat noodles served in a deeply flavorful meat- or (occasionally) fish-based broth, often flavored with soy or miso, served with a variety of toppings like sliced pork, dried seaweed (nori), green onions, hard-boiled egg, and so on.


Okonomiyaki, complete with "dancing" bonito flakes.

Okonomiyaki, complete with “dancing” bonito flakes.

Okonomiyaki is a sort of Japanese “pancake,” essentially made with an egg-based batter and cabbage, topped with bacon (yes, BACON!), okonomiyaki sauce (Worchestershire-based), a mayo sauce, and dried bonito flakes, which do a delightful “dance” as the dish reaches you, reacting to the heat of the pancake.


Shoyu ramen at POSH.

Shoyu ramen at POSH.

POSH’s “Ramen Night” (the next of which is TONIGHT, folks!) has developed a large and loyal cult following, often frequented by food industry types or just those who love this stuff.  Josh, whose impressive resume includes a stint as chef at a five-star American fusion restaurant in Japan, found he was craving these dishes when he came back to America.  “I had to learn how to make it to satisfy my craving,” he says.  “It’s the one thing about Japanese food that I can’t believe hasn’t caught on faster than sushi.”

Josh Herbert shows his Japanese street cred during POSH's monthly "Ramen Nights."

Josh Herbert shows his Japanese street cred during POSH’s monthly “Ramen Nights.”

For late-night eats, this can’t be beaten, both for atmosphere and deliciousness.  Expect it to be busy, fun, and hectic in the kitchen (Josh insists each bowl of ramen and each okonomiyaki is made to order, and everyone tends to arrive at the same time–be patient; it’s worth it!).  The menu is simple and extremely reasonable.  A bowl of ramen will only set you back $10; there are at least five types to choose from: shoyu (soy sauce), goma (sesame), miso, vegetarian, and shrimp.  So far I’ve tried the shrimp and shoyu varieties (both fantastic); the shoyu is made of garlic, shallots, ginger, soy, mirin sake, pork stock, dashi stock, sprouts, leeks, scallions, pickled bamboo, pickled ginger, a hard-boiled egg, nori, and char sui pork (belly the time I had it), and, of course, noodles.  The equally tasty okonomiyaki is $12; Japanese beer will also be available.

For those of you who just can’t fathom going out to eat after 10 at night (trust me, I had to take a nap first, but it is WELL worth it!), take heart:  Josh says he’s working on opening a Japanese street food/ramen shop, but it’s “hard to say” when that might happen (“People who just throw money at you are hard to find!” he quips).

In the meantime, follow POSH on Facebook to be alerted to their popular Ramen Nights … or by all means venture in to experience their awesome tasting menu one evening!

POSH Scottsdale
7167 E. Rancho Vista Dr., Suite 111 (street level, parking underground)
Scottsdale AZ 85251
Tel: 480-663-7674
Open Tuesday to Saturday from 5 p.m.

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Personal chef to the rescue


I love my kitchen, but it's not exactly what I like to face after a stressful day at work.

I love my kitchen, but it’s not exactly what I like to face after a stressful day at work.

Those who know me know that I absolutely love to cook and bake (and eat good food, of course).  I would have never thought myself a candidate for the services of a personal chef, not for one doggone minute.  Nope, not even when I was faced with a week full of stresses of end-of-the-month deadlines at work (yes, I have a “real” job), caring for a sick granddaughter, catching a bug myself, and having to feed three people at home that same week.

Well, wait a minute. Continue reading “Personal chef to the rescue” »

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The Food Nerd Army is marching strong

Dominic Armato, the "general" behind the Food Nerd Army.

Dominic Armato, the “general” behind the Food Nerd Army.

It was a pretty convincing recruitment pitch, conducted at the very first (and hopefully not the last) Ignite Food (part of the popular Ignite Phoenix events) in March 2012. Dominic Armato, whom I had met just prior to the event (while he was cooking up a killer gumbo for a Mardi Gras party at a friend’s house), stood before the audience and launched into his impassioned plea to join his “Food Nerd Army.” (You can view the video here.) Continue reading “The Food Nerd Army is marching strong” »

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Did someone say beer and brats?


Baked in a stone hearth, the Brat Haüs pretzel is a fantastic break from ho-hum “bar snacks.” Order the fonduta for dipping, and mix in some of that house-made whole grain mustard!


Anyone who knows Chef Payton Curry (perhaps from previous gigs at Digestif, Caffe Boa, Welcome Diner, or sightings at FnB) knows that when he gets passionate about a project, he throws his heart and soul into making everything no less than perfect.  But I gotta admit I had my doubts when he initially told me about his next big venture, a Scottsdale-based German biergarten featuring a variety of brats, burgers, and craft beers.  I had to wonder if that genre was going to be a big enough canvas for his creative chef-foolery.   Continue reading “Did someone say beer and brats?” »

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