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The Gallery on Oak Creek
The art of the meal, as seen from the wine cellar
“It’s really a unique experience to dine in a wine cellar,” says Elizabeth McIntire, food and beverage director at the Gallery on Oak Creek, explaining the decision to open the Amara Creekside Resort restaurant’s wine room for private dining. Up to 24 guests (reservations required) can enjoy their meal in view of custom wine racks filled with selections from more than 200 labels.
“We recently revamped our wine list to broaden the range,” Elizabeth says. “We now have wines from France, Italy, Chile and Australia. And we aren’t marking up the [prices] five times – you can get an awesome bottle of wine without being taken to the cleaners.”
Wine prices at the Gallery range from $50 to $500. Since opening in August 2004, the restaurant has hosted special dinners (approximately $100 per person) featuring some prestigious names in winemaking. The dinners have become so popular, and reservations so limited, the Gallery has developed an e-mail list to give diners a heads-up on future events. Winemakers from Iron Horse Vineyards in Sebastopol, Calif., took part recently, and in March the Gallery will host Justin Baldwin, co-proprietor of Justin Vineyard and Winery in Paso Robles, Calif.
This summer, the restaurant began offering sunset dinners – taking advantage of its gorgeous red rock view – from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; Elizabeth says the dinners have been a hit, especially with locals, and have been extended indefinitely. For $25, diners receive a prix fixe, four-course meal created by Executive Chef Alan McClean; add $16 for wine pairings.
Elizabeth calls the Gallery’s menu a “fluid, living thing” that changes seasonally. Favorites include the grilled salmon tian, crabcake, and vegetarian dishes such as the roasted vegetable strudel. Breakfast and lunch are also served. The Gallery takes its name from the paintings on the walls and the sculptures dangling from the ceiling, spinning in the wind on the patio, and perching on tables, all from eight local galleries. An “art menu” is available with prices and information on each piece that’s on display in the Gallery – diners can purchase the art from the restaurant, certainly a more lasting, substantial takeaway than a doggie bag.
The Gallery on Oak Creek 310 N. Hwy 89A at Amara Creekside Resort (928-282-4828; www.galleryonoakcreek.com)
The Grille at ShadowRock
Pull up a chair for an intimate meal at the chef’s table
Last spring, The Grille at ShadowRock at Hilton Sedona Resort & Spa hired Executive Chef Daryl Richards and unveiled a new menu with a distinct Southwestern flair. Signature dishes such as stuffed Anaheim chili, broiled elk chops, sautéed shrimp and scallops, and a chocolate chimichanga quickly caught on. But foodies really got excited about a new program called the Chef’s Table, placed in the center of the main dining room and reserved at least two weeks in advance for a five-course meal ($80 to $100 per person with wine). Daryl explains each item and discusses wine pairings. “With six or eight people, it’s intimate but the table makes them the center of attention,” he says. “A big part of the night is education; they leave [knowing] more than they came in with.”