Cooks Out of the Kitchen—Local Restaurant Reviews

Judi Friedman and Jerry Lankin

We’re two SaddleBrooke foodies forever seeking great places to eat! We’ll review two restaurants each month for taste and presentation, service, price, value, and ambiance. If you have a favorite eatery and would like to spread the word, please send us an email at [email protected].

Grain River Asian Bistro

12985 N. Oracle (in the Walgreens Shopping Center), 520-818-1555

They don’t take reservations.

This casual dining spot is nearby and has plenty of parking and a huge menu featuring Asian dishes from Thailand, Vietnam, and China. We started with two appetizers. The first was the soft rice paper rolls with huge shrimp, pork, lettuce, and peanut sauce. The plate featured two large rolls, which were incredibly fresh, with the perfect sauce as an accompaniment. It was delightful and refreshing. Second, we ordered fried vegetarian egg rolls. They arrived at the table hot, perfectly sized, with vegetables cooked just right, encased in a crispy fried wrap. Our main dishes were also very well prepared, and the flavors were spot-on. The Pad Thai noodles with shrimp was cooked perfectly. The shrimp were prepared to just the right doneness, and the dish was finished off with a peanut sauce. Our other dish was the Vietnamese chicken wings. The wings were well seasoned, not too spicy, and just the right second choice for our main course. Our server told us that these wings capture the flavor of Vietnam and are traditional for many. The portions were very generous, and we had enough leftovers for both of us to have lunch the next day. We were there early, so we had no problem getting a table. But shortly after that, the restaurant was crowded. We felt that the service was very spotty. Others we know had been there before and agreed that the food was excellent, and they had terrific service. We think that we caught them on an off night, which is so common in the current restaurant environment.

Taste & Presentation *****

Service **

Price Range $$

Value ***

Ambiance **

Grain River Asian Bistro is recommended.

Wild Garlic Grill

2870 E. Skyline Drive, 520-206-0017

Reservations are recommended.

We traveled with our intrepid and adventurous gastronomic friends Jack and Dan for another great eating event at this always-popular restaurant off of Skyline Drive and Campbell. As usual, your Cooks, as is their custom, shared their courses. They started with an appetizer of Wild Garlic’s famous mussels in a garlicy cream sauce. They were exceptionally fresh, and the sauce was just right for soaking up with the warm bread. There was enough sauce left to take home for Jerry to create a shrimp and pasta dish the next evening—we didn’t want to waste a drop! Our salad course was a cool and crisp Caesar. The chopped romaine, vine-ripened tomatoes with parmesan, and New York Caesar dressing were spot on. Our main course was spectacular. It was a tomahawk veal chop, done to a turn, medium rare, tender, and incredibly flavorful. There are very few restaurants that serve veal today, so it was a special treat to see it on the menu. It was served with a wonderful cheesy mushroom risotto and accompanied by sauteed zucchini. The plate was magnificently presented, tasty, and mouthwatering. Dan had the meatloaf, which he said was done just right, juicy and full of flavor, served with garlic mashed potatoes and a cabernet wine sauce (gravy). Not an intrepid and adventurous choice, but it was perfectly prepared comfort food. Jack had the linguini Bolognese that he said was just exquisite. The sauce contained braised beef, pork, veal, plum tomato, garlic, mushroom, red wine, and herbs. We finished off the meal with a piece of limoncello cake, which was moist and filled with a delicious lemony custard that we all shared. The service was excellent, attentive, and in a very enjoyable setting.

Wild Garlic is highly recommended.

Taste & Presentation *****

Service *****

Price Range $$$$$

Value *****

Ambiance ****