A posh and contemporary exterior is what greets me when first heading into the Salty Sow in Phoenix, Arizona, for some grubbing. The chance to try new gourmet eats is always something I find intriguing, and Phoenix has a long list of great places, but this one is newer. So here’s what I found.
The exterior is coyly lit, brandishing the signature logo and featuring calming music that is fed into outdoor speakers. Modern, vogue and contemporary amply describes the exterior setting. Upon entering the dimly lit interior, I am greeted by a friendly hostess duo that offers me indoor seating, outdoor seating or seating at a handmade, wood bar. I choose the bar.
Permanent wood stools greet my derriere and somehow are comfortable without padding. The bar staff is prompt and courteous, inviting me to review the menu, which is handed over and placed upon a designer place setting. After reviewing my drink options, I inquire as to what signature mix drinks they have. I am told that the “salty sour” – their version of the whiskey sour – would suite my tastes; with me being a whiskey fan and all.
From over in the outdoor patio area – which allows small dogs, by the way – I can hear the wafting serenade of sweet musical ambiance, being played by a gentleman who is none other than Ryan Sims, a previous contender on the X Factor.
I think to myself, “What restaurant is able to feature a regionally famous musical act playing unplugged on their patio to entice guests?”
Back to the menu, I inquire about their fare, and ask what separates this gastropub from any other. I am informed that it was created by master chef Harold Marmulstein, who is none other than the founder and owner of Dick and Harry’s, amongst a long list of other career accolades.
Towards the back, a large, open kitchen is featured, bustling with activity as chefs, line cooks and food expeditors play their role. They’re tasked with preparing farm-fresh food in an ever-changing menu that literally is updated by the week.
Damn hungry, I scan the menu, overlooking the duck fat fries, the pork belly and even the rainbow trout almondine. I decide to go for the slow-cooked beef shoulder. It consists of fall-apart beef from a local ranch – free-range cattle that are fed with organic feed and kept on an all-natural diet before being slaughtered.
My dish arrives a short time later in a large, stainless steel bowl. The beef shoulder lays atop a bed of Yukon potatoes with a signature glaze. Garnishing the beef shoulder is a fried egg. “Protein central,” I think, and dig in.
Now I am unsure if there’s some kind of additive they add to this dish to make you hooked on it from the start, because unintentionally (or perhaps by intention), its perfect tastes evoke a medley of senses that leave me addicted forever from the very first bite. (Over the months that would follow my first visit, I’d return time and time again, only to order the same exact dish.)
One of just two locations (the other is in Austin, Texas), Salty Sow aims to bring back farm-fresh food in a contemporary atmosphere with a distinct focus on customer service, the transparency of an open kitchen, a hand-selected menu that features locally grown foods, topped with a handpicked staff that delivers impeccable service.
Toss in their aged whiskey selection, fine beers, vintage wines and the live music, and you have a gourmet restaurant that is nearly unlike any other. Gastropub, sure. All-natural restaurant, indeed. Five-star dining at a price that’s far less than you’d expect, absolutely.
But, moreover, Salty Sow is really about one thing: A fine dining experience. And on that, it fully delivers; and then some.