If you would have told me at the top of the year that the best meal I was going to have in 2017 would be in Scottsdale, Arizona, I would have shook my damn head. Good PR in both Los Angeles and New York will have you think that all the top tier meals are found in these two cities, but from my experience traveling across our country, the real gems are found in small cities, particularly ones closest to farms. I didn’t know a single thing about FnB when I walked through the doors. Its appearance was relaxed from the outside and located in a small outdoor mall in Downtown Scottsdale. I was on a press trip exploring the city and was hitting every destination on our itinerary with an open mind and no expectations.
A long table awaited our arrival inside the warm and cozy space, with lots of natural light falling through the front windows. There were a few tables outside, a few more inside, and a separate bar area for guests looking to partake in some wine and snacks. No neon signs adored the wall, no wall of plants, no subway tiles nor colorful squares laid across the floor–this space was devoid of any of the West Coast / East Coast restaurant trends that have taken over like the plague. In difference, the restaurant was quaint with dark woods, tall ceilings, and white linen table cloths. It was the kind of restaurant you could sense would serve good wines but without one drop of pretension. It was a breathe of fresh air, which I realized was so desperately needed in my culinary adventures.
Because we had dinner reservations, my photography was limited to the plates that landed on the table before darkness fell. Dinners have become particularly special to me as it’s one of the few moments that I can enjoy my food while it’s piping hot. Typically my time is consumed with shooting my meal, but at FnB, I got to sit down and really enjoy myself. This was also the first time on a press trip where every single person vibed, and not only that, genuinely liked each other. It was truly special to sit down with a group of intelligent grown ass women who loved their wine, food, and weren’t bashful about real talk like money, sex, and maneuvering in this country post-election.
While at FnB, I had the opportunity to indulge in a variety of 11dishes. Incredible, right? Here’s what I ate:
crispy local chickpeas, pigment d’espelette
beets, oranges, strawberries, olives, glacier lettuce, hazelnuts, goat cheese
peruvian chicken spring rolls, pecans, ahi amarillo quark, cilantro
local escarole, puntarelle, treviso radicchio, lulu’s garlic vinaigrette, parmesan
pickled shrimp, fennel, celery, lemon, buttered saltines
spicy grilled summer squash, fish sauce, basil, cashews, crispy onions,
roasted carrots, harissa mayo, avocado, dukka
pink grouper, green olive relish, potatoes, aleppo, fennel, grapefruit
creekstone farms ribeye, tepary bean-tomato relish, bloomsdale spinach
olive oil cake with cardamom ice cream
& some kind of chocolate dessert (I was too turnt by plate 11)
Although most days I abstain from alcohol because it makes me sleepy and is actual poison to the body, I was not going to pass up the wine pairing at FnB. Beverage Director Pavle Milic curated the first Arizona-only wine program, which compliments Chef Charleen Badman menu to the fullest. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or not, you’ll be in good hands with your server. I should have written down exactly what we drank because it brought out our meal nicely and took no time in loosening the gang up. I bet if I asked Erica from Honestly WTF she’d know, that woman was dropping some major wine knowledge. I would highly recommend the wine pairing, you can look at their wines here and here.
The chef and owner of FnB is Charleen Badman, a 2014 and 2015 James Beard nominee for Best Chef of the Southwest. Her menu is seasonal and is based on what’s currently available at the local farmers market. Although the menu serves meat and fish, the vegetables shine the brightest at FnB. Having switched to more of a plant-based diet in 2017 for my overall health & wellness, I couldn’t have been happier with the vegetables I consumed while at dinner. In fact, I ate the BEST CARROTS OF MY LIFE and haven’t stopped thinking about them since returning home from Scottsdale. It's as if these carrots where picked out of the ground that day (quite possibly) and put on my plate, grilled to perfection. I nearly flipped when I saw they were paired with dukka–a personal favorite, but not something you see on a menu every day. Bless you Chef Badman for putting this dish in my life.
As I mentioned, every single dish was something worth talking about, but there was one in particular that had everyone flipping out at the table. Have you ever tried glacier lettuce? I hadn't heard of it prior to my Scottsdale trip. It's not actually lettuce, but rather a succulent, ready for consumption. Glacier lettuce looks like icy velvet and is sensitive to touch; the leaves take the appearance of crystals on your plate, which made me feel glamourous. I appreciate a good crunch and the glacier lettuce was perfection paired with beets and goat cheese. Any time a restaurant can drop a first on me, I'm impressed. This dish is an absolute must.
FnB | 7125 E 5th Ave #31, Scottsdale, AZ 85251