The food is clearly on display at Scottsdale’s FnB restaurant, which has attracted national media attention as one of the best new restaurants when it opened more than two years ago. In the center of the restaurant is a large counter bar allowing diners to watch the chefs working in the open kitchen.
I got a front-and-center seat when I visited for dinner during my trip to Arizona. Scottsdale, a resort town with golfing and high-end shopping, has a number of restaurants producing amazing food.
FnB made me feel at home because its approach to dining mirrors many of the restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area, including a changing seasonal menu, an emphasis on local ingredients, and a flair for flavors by Chef Charleen Badman.
One of the best examples of that was the lamb riblets starter ($14) I ordered. Lamb ribs are marinated with fennel seed, sherry vinegar, honey and Aleppo, which provides a nice mix of spicy, tart and sweet. The riblets were roasted nicely creating crusty edges but a tender meat inside. The flavors reminded me of Vietnamese grilled meats, and the thin cucumber slices again reflected an Asian influence. But when I chatted with Chef Badman as she cooked in the open kitchen, she said the cucumber was just a cooling device to complement the ribs.
Other dishes were pleasing flavors that weren’t bold but still provided me with a light dinner, which is appreciated while traveling. The fennel salad ($11) was a beautiful burst of color with the grapefruit slices mixed with watermelon radishes, avocado, olive and mache. My main course of rock shrimp pasta ($26) was a bountiful meal of perfectly cooked shrimp in a light sauce of garlic, Meyer lemon and herb crumbs.
Sitting in front of the open kitchen has its hazards, such as when the chefs made a crème brulee and would caramelize the sugar top by using a cow branding rod, which created a whole lot of smoke, filling up the entire kitchen. But the real dangers were all the sweets the kitchen prepared for a nearby bakery – and for some reasons these sweets were always placed right in front of me, teasing me.
Speaking of sweets, I ended dinner with dessert and tried the popular butterscotch pudding ($8). I’m a big fan of butterscotch pudding, and FnB’s version was a pleasant cup of pudding topped with whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg. I’ve had more silky butterscotch pudding in my life, but FnB’s version is a sweet ending for a delightful dinner that was focused on the ingredients.
Rating: 3.5 out of 4 camera snaps
FnB, 7133 E. Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, Ariz. PH: 480.425.9463. Open Wed.–Sun., from 5–10 p.m., reservations and major credit cards accepted. www.fnbrestaurant.com