Somehow I seem to miss all of the big East coast storms; Thundersnow and two blizzards in 2010 and Hurricane Sandy to be exact. Am I glad I missed Sandy? Sure, why not. I seem to have perfect timing when it comes to fleeing severe weather, mostly due to the fact that my family made the decision to move out to Arizona a few years ago. Yes folks, a RED state, not even a swing state, sheesh. Anyway, back to my point—I flew out to Arizona to surprise my mom for her birthday which I did and succeeded at scaring the crap out of her. For her birthday we went to Binkley’s in Cave Creek.

From Zagat: “Every meal is a revelation” at “genius” chef-owner Kevin Binkley’s “world-class” restaurant in an “aging strip mall” in “the boondocks” of Cave Creek, where the French-inspired New American fare is available in “elaborate”, “cutting-edge” tasting menus whose “locally sourced” courses are “interspersed with tastings and palate-clearers that are equally imaginative” and “beautifully presented” by “polite” staffers; it may require “three hours” and “a second mortgage”, but for a “wonderful treat for the soul and stomach”, “it’s worth every penny.”

Yes folks, you really are essentially in the middle of nowhere. Zagat rates it a 28 out of 30 and I would agree. You can pick from 4, 5, or 6 courses. I couldn’t decide between the fish and meat course so I had to go with the 5 course. I should’ve gone with the 4 course because by course #4 I was dunzo. Let’s proceed to the visuals because that’s what you all really want to see.

We started off with an amouse bouche of bacon parmesan donuts with bacon butter. Now, before you get sick on me, the donut was the size of a quarter. I was too engrossed in the words bacon and donut to snap a pic so just imagine for the time being. The next amouse bouche was a trio of sandwiches the size of a nickel. All three were bursting with flavor despite the size. The sloppy joe was my favorite; made me feel 5 again. From left to right- sloppy joe, bahn mi, muffaletta.

Onto our first course which was a cold appetizer. I went with the King Salmon Carpaccio with daikon, mango, kiwi, cucumber, chile, pickled onion, miso gelee and yuzu vinaigrette.

Another round of amouse bouches came out and I was afraid…it looked like an egg yolk folks but in fact, it was a mango bomb. A ball of liquid mango surrounded by mango juice with a bit of anaheim chili oil. It was delicious!

Another amouse bouche made its way to the table: a hand-pulled mini mozerella ball with tomato jam, olive oil and saffron thread.

The hot appetizer came out and I was game, set, ready for this one! I chose the Burgundy Truffle Risotto with matsutake mushrooms, cipollini onion and parmesan cream. I was so engrossed in the pile of deliciousness I forgot to snap a pic when it first came out but here it is:

Another amouse bouche came out but I forgot to take a picture of it. It was a shot glass of papaya lime fizz; a perfect palate cleanser.

Next up, the fish course. I went with the Halibut en Papillote with artichoke, olives, peppers, fennel, Israeli couscous in a white wine broth. They brought it to the table in what looked like a plastic bag but was in fact cellulose which can withstand high heat.

The waiter cut open the bag and unveiled the still-boiling concoction. It was light, and delicious and the halibut was cooked perfectly, tender and meaty.

After the fish course came the meat course which I was super excited for because I rarely eat red meat. I chose the Filet with bone marrow gratin, chanterelle mushrooms, confit shallot, cheddar broccoli, fingerling potatoes with a bordelaise sauce. Now folks, this was delicious but mid-way through this course I felt ill, it was just all so rich. But like any young adult you drink some water, take a few deep breaths and continue because you’re not paying and you have no clue when you’ll eat like this again.

Another amouse bouche came out and it was a mint consomme with 4 different types of chocolate balls. Refreshing? Sure. But really, I think the chef tries to put you into a diabetic coma.

You’d think one dessert amouse bouche would be enough but no. They had to bring out a mini chinese five-spice souffle with red wine and pear coulis. Now, this little thumb-sized souffle was AMAZING and I need to learn how to make it asap.

Finally, the last course came out; dessert. I chose the Butterscotch pudding parfait with caramel corn. To be honest, it was kind of a letdown. It didn’t pack much flavor and I was glad to pass it off to my dad who is like Mikey; he’d eat just about anything.
By this point I was a bit green and needed to drink about a gallon of water and mainline zantac. The waiter came over with what I thought was the check but no, it was ANOTHER amouse bouche. They were dime-sized chocolate/coffee macarons. I took a nibble and had to pass it along. While tasty, I had had enough. On our way out they gave us even more food…homemade candied nuts. The people at Binkley’s clearly get their jollies off by making their patrons sick I think…

All in all it was delicious. Definitely 5 star service and 5 star food. Thanks mom and dad for the memorable meal even if I did have to ride home like a dog with my head out the window.

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  • bakingthings

    Jealous! The first little bacon ball sounds amazing…