Executive Chef Mel Mecinas and Executive Sous Chef Jesse Hansen are continuing to prove that their intended vision of culinary excellence at Talavera restaurant is high on their list of priorities. As participants in Arizona’s popular Restaurant Week, we were once again baffled by their intriguing offerings and distinctive artistry in the Talavera kitchen.
Arizona Restaurant Week presents the cuisine of some of the top culinary artists in the state each year and a chance to showcase several restaurants to the public with a list of tasting menus that offer substantial flavor, creative presentation, and proven quality provided at $20, $30 and $40 per person that entice even the most critical gastronomes. We thought we would join in the fun and both select dinner items from Talavera’s tasting menu. What we experienced was instant gratification at first bite, an eye-catching exhibition of colorful courses, and layer upon layer of flavor.
Upon arriving at the restaurant, we were courteously shown to our table outside overlooking the foothills of Pinnacle Peak. It was warm, but the slight breeze that whispered every now and again took care of that. Candles were lit in molded glass holders and their flames danced well into the evening hours as our servers, Susan and Josh, arrived to greet us, and proved to be extremely courteous and well-informed on every aspect of the restaurant.
Above, we reminisced about our last visit to the restaurant by indulging in Talavera’s melt-in-your-mouth soft rolls and creamy butter. It also never hurts to start a meal off with a couple of glasses of Champagne as you peruse the Talavera menu beneath twinkling stars overhead.
Albacore Tuna Carpaccio
My husband started with the Albacore Tuna Carpaccio with huge chunks of perfectly salted pork belly that Chef Mel and Chef Jesse call Pork Belly “Croutons”. Also included in this presentation are proud caper berries standing at attention, and delicate Dijon sprouts. The combination of the chilled mild fish with the cured pork belly accents was a meticulous contrast, while the smooth creamy taste of avocado rounded off the entire dish.
Black Mission Fig & Mesa Ranch Goat’s Cheese Salad
For my first course, I chose the salad selection encompassing stunning Spanish Black Mission figs, grated Mesa Ranch goat cheese, baby spinach and a sherry vinaigrette. The vibrant spinach leaves are stacked high, just like the rock formations of the Sonoran desert, while the grated cheese resembles newly fallen snow. The perfect imagery from Chef Mecinas and Chef Jesse on a warm evening that transferred exceptionally well.
‘Crab Louis’ and Iconoclast Chardonnay Tastings
We were extremely honored that Chef Mel and Erica Stoltenberg (Assistant Manager of Talavera) stopped by our table to personally thank us for returning. Additionally, we savored each bite of the ‘Crab Louis’ tastings that were sent out to us as a special treat before our main courses arrived, along with tastings of Iconoclast Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon throughout the course of our meal.
Iconoclast wines are exclusive to Four Seasons Resorts and cannot be purchased elsewhere. It is made exclusively for the hotel chain. The Iconoclast Chardonnay, made by Alderbrook Winery is a 2010 Russian River Valley vintage that is described by the vintner as being “aged for nine months in French oak revealing hints of apple pie spice with crisp acidity, citrus aromas and perfect balance, while epitomizing the highest quality of Russian River Chardonnay.” Additionally, the 2009 Stag’s Leap District Iconoclast Cabernet Sauvignon made by Chimney Rock Winery is perfectly explained again by the vintner as having “rich, bold, dark fruit flavors and hints of baking spice from twenty months of aging in French oak, adding a remarkably long smooth finish and lush texture.”
Iconoclast Cabernet Sauvignon Tastings
Our Second Course picks were artful accomplishments. Above and below, I chose the King Salmon entree with green lentils, bacon, sweet garlic and cauliflower. Expertly prepared, the delicate, yet rich flavor of the salmon accompanied by the vegetable conglomeration beneath it was an excellent choice.
My husband elected the Bison Short Ribs for his main course. Fall-off-the-bone tender beef joined with crab whipped potatoes (yes, we said crab whipped potatoes!) and a horseradish and mushroom demi-glace. Mere words cannot do justice to the astonishing flavor and texture of this dish. But at Talavera, we’ve learned not to expect anything less.
Bison Short Ribs
Dessert is always a fun and imaginative experience at Talavera. Below, I was dazzled by the Cherry Chocolate Baked Alaska with Port Cherries presentation…
Cherry Chocolate Baked Alaska with Port Cherries
Deep layers of flavor sensations were involved in this divine creation. Equally beautiful to behold as it was to devour slowly and happily, I found it to be intriguing and artfully executed. Definitely NOT your typical Baked Alaska, this stunning rendition layered decadent chocolate between sorbet and ice cream then was finished with a fluffy meringue crown and port-soaked cherries alongside.
Flamebrulee with Lemon Poppy Fritter
For an additional bite of tempting items on the menu, my husband selected the Flamebrulee for his final course. Madagascar Creme Brulee afire beside a vibrant tower of fresh seasonal fruit and a lemon poppy fritter. Just marvelous!
Talavera most definitely stands high on our list of favorite fine dining restaurants. Breathtaking views, striking culinary presentations, and impressive flavor beyond belief keeps us returning every time. But then we shouldn’t be surprised about that, should we? This is Talavera.
ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: The establishment and its unmatched views across a Sonoran backdrop will whisk you away from your current concerns to a place of vibrant hues, relaxed elegance and culinary delight.
FOOD / DRINK: If you haven’t yet tried the Iconoclast wines at Talavera, we highly recommend you do. Made specifically for Four Seasons Resorts, you will not be disappointed by the Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon we tried and enjoyed thoroughly.
LOCATION: Talavera is located inside the Four Seasons Resort at Troon North at 10600 East Crescent Moon Drive in Scottsdale, Arizona 85263.
HOURS: Dinner at Talavera is available from 5:30PM – 9:30PM.
SERVICE / STAFF: Susan and Josh served us this visit to the restaurant and couldn’t have been more courteous or well-informed about the menu and wines. We thank them for their hospitality and for their ongoing professionalism.
PRICE / VALUE: Unparalleled value, uncompromising quality and unmistakable excellence in cuisine, service and ambiance.
CORKAGE FEE: Outside alcohol is not permitted inside Talavera.
CONTACT INFO: Phone: (480) 513-5085, Website: www.talaverarestaurant.com
PARKING: Valet attendants are available to assist with the parking of your vehicle.
TOTAL BILL: We enjoyed two glasses of the Moët et Chandon, ‘Rose’ NV Epernay Champagne ($16/glass) before ordering, while each tasting menu was available for $40 each.
* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.
* * Special Thanks: We would like to thank the entire staff at Talavera for a memorable evening. Specifically Chef Mel Mecinas, Chef Jesse Hansen and Erica Stoltenberg for your incredible generosity and outstanding hospitality that was shown to us. We greatly appreciate each and every one of you, and feel honored to have been made to feel like part of the Talavera family!