“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” – Virginia Woolf
This is one of my favorite quotes about food, and every once and a while, a meal triggers that remote corner of my mind where that quote lingers. My recent meal at T. Cooks was such a meal.
Why T. Cooks?
I’ve been working on a “Best Arizona Staycation Resorts” blog series, and I had the true pleasure of visiting T. Cooks during my visit to the Royal Palms Resort and Spa (click here to read about my experience at the resort). My experience at T. Cooks was so superlative, that it deserved it’s own article in another series of blog articles: The Best Restaurants in Phoenix.
Arrival and Feel
T. Cooks has one of the best “Feels” of any restaurant I’ve visited. The space is warm, inviting, and elegant – with a vaulted wood-beamed ceiling, wrought-iron chandeliers, iron floor lamps, floor to ceiling windows, and a lovely patio for al fresco dining. Here are some images:
T. Cook’s and its Executive Chef Paul McCabe define its philosophy as centering around the Mediterranean principles of fresh, seasonal, local and ingredient-driven cooking. So, I was most eager to sample some of the varied and savory menu. Here is a link to the T. Cooks Dinner Menu.
My wife and I tried two very highly recommended starters: the Grilled Spanish Octopus and the Organic Corn Agnolotti. Grilled Octopus is one of my favorite dishes, as is Lobster, and I was fascinated by Agnolotti, which is a unique type of pasta I had never tried. Our wonderful server said that the Organic Corn Agnolotti was one of his favorite dishes. So, we took the plunge! Here are a couple of pictures:
First, my sincere apologies for not capturing a better picture of the Organic Corn Agnolotti. I don’t do it any justice. It was delectable – full of rich texture and flavors, a perfect confluence of Lobster, Roasted Corn, Chanterelles, and Brown Butter. OMG, was it tasty!
But let’s get to the picture of the evening, and maybe my entire life of photographing food. Have you ever seen a more beautiful plate of food? Look at those colors, and the piece of slate upon which it’s served works perfectly to accentuate the colors of the Octopus, the Charred Green Beans, the Roasted Tomatoes, the Artichoke, and the Lemon-Caper Aioli. Now, while I’m partial to Octopus, this dish was a work of art. Just poetic the way the texture and the flavors dance on your tongue. This dish is something quite special.
For entrees, my wife enjoyed the Alaskan Halibut and I enjoyed – I mean really enjoyed – the Spice Rubbed Beef Tenderloin, and we ordered sides of Grilled Asparagus and Forest Mushrooms. Here are pictures:
My wife thoroughly enjoyed her Halibut, which I sampled and was perfectly prepared along with Baby Artichoke, Fennel, Cannellini Bean Puree (fabulous), and Yellow Baby Tomato. But let’s cut to brass tax and talk about the Spice Rubbed Beef Tenderloin – prepared with Cipollini, Confit Garlic, Savoy Spinach, and Smoked Blue.
Now, I’m on record that comparing steaks is a fool’s errand (Click here for my long-winded discussion on steaks). I get it, and I’m acutely aware that I’m guilty of making vast proclamations right after eating a piece of steak. But it’s been precisely a week since I dined at T. Cook’s and I can still clearly recall the rarefied texture and temperature of that Tenderloin. Simply exultant, and I’ll happily move it to the my personal pantheon of expertly prepared beef – and I won’t look back.
We ordered the Sorbet and the Bread Pudding. The Sorbet was lovely – soft, fresh, and flavorful. The Bread Pudding was otherworldly – incredible textures and flavors, just rich enough.
After-Dinner Drinks – The Mix Up
On the other side of T. Cooks, there is a most cool complementary bar that uses similarly fresh and seasonal ingredients for its cocktails. Click here to view The Mix Up Cocktail and Bar Menu. I ordered and really enjoyed the Lion’s Tail, a mixture of 4 Roses Mix Up Bourbon, Allspice Dram, Lemon, Angostura Bitters, and Nutmeg. It was light, aromatic, and the perfect way to end the evening.
As you can see, this experience clearly deserved its own article. This was one of the best meals I’ve enjoyed in a long time, certainly on par with my best meals of the year. So, even if you don’t find yourself planning a stay at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa, I urge you to visit T. Cooks and The Mix Up Bar to enjoy some of the best dining in Arizona. You will be most pleased that you did.
T. Cooks at the Royal Palms Resort and Hotel (Website): 5200 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ 85018
The Mix Up Bar (Part of the T. Cooks space)
As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you very much for reading, and Happy Travels!