Story and photos by Rachel Verbits, November 2017 Issue.
Even if we don’t truly experience all four seasons here is Arizona, history has proven that when we finally feel the relief cooler weather we go absolutely crazy for all things fall.
For some, that means returning to patios for cocktailing for others that means a cornucopia of outdoor activities. And, in celebration of the official end of summer hibernation, we visited a restaurant that combines both (and should please just about anyone else you invite along as well).
In addition to shopping for sexy Halloween costumes and sipping PSLs this month, we paid a visit to the cabin. Not just any cabin, though. Cabin Whiskey & Grill (aka Cabin West), located at 99th and Northern Avenues in Peoria, is the perfect dining experience to complement to the rest of your favorite fall flavors and festivities. But don’t take out word for it …
As soon as we set foot in the cabin’s front door, we were met with the great outdoors – indoors. The restaurant’s tree-lined walls, river rock decor and wooden wall accents create such a palpable ambiance that I could almost smell the pine trees. And the large stone fireplace along the back wall, which provides natural warmth and coziness to the space, commands the attention of the cabin’s guests. Piles of freshly cut wood are strewn throughout the area, and the best part is, we didn’t have to chop it ourselves!
Of course, this is still Phoenix, so the establishment wouldn’t be complete without a sprawling outdoor patio with a separate bar. Its high-top tables and lounge-style couches make for a perfect gathering place for friends on football Sunday, weekday happy hours or just about any other occasion imaginable this time of year. (This is why we live here, isn’t it?)
As we took in the woodsy atmosphere, we turned our attention the whiskey menu, which serves as evidence that Cabin Whiskey is far more than just the name of this place. Everything from single-barrel to small-batch varieties of whiskey grace the carefully crafted cocktail list. Looking for straight bourbon? They have it. Barrel strength proof whiskey? They have it. Rather drink by region? No problem. The Cabin knows there are great whiskey makers all over the world, so they feature choices from as close as Tennessee and Canada and as far as Scotland and Ireland. So, no matter how cold it is (or isn’t), there are options that are guaranteed to warm anyone – from beginners to aficionados – up from the inside out.
But since it really was still summer at the time of my visit, I ordered The Cabin “Punch” which combines 3 Olives Mango, 3 Olives Pineapple, lemon, lime and pineapple juice. This tropical treat evoked more beach-y vibes than woodsy ones, but that, in my estimation, pretty much sums up the juxtaposition of living in Arizona.
As much more of a purist, my dining partner treated himself to Cabin 44, which we agreed is a perfectly seasonal selection. Old Camp Peach Pecan Whiskey, white peach puree, sour mix and a squeeze of lemon are mixed and served over ice. We could definitely imagine sipping this flavor combination by a crackling fire in the middle of nowhere.
If whiskey makes you frisky, then The Cabin’s menu is the antidote (not that there’s anything wrong with frisky). But brace yourself because this menu has it all. If you’re indecisive, you could spend a bit of time making your selections.
To ease the decision-making process, we took advantage of Happy Hour, which boasts half off appetizers Monday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. From an entire list of starters – that included everything from southwest crab cakes and southern style potato skins – we decide on the macadamia coconut shrimp skewers and Cabin Torpedoes, which are bacon-wrapped roasted jalapeños stuffed with brisket and pepper jack cheese. The shrimp was incredibly crispy, sweet and juicy while the torpedoes balanced them out with creamy, cheesy heat.
Cabin Whiskey solves the classic where-do-you-want-to-eat debate, because there really is something for every palate. You’ll find the expected burgers and sandwiches as well as a pleasantly diverse selection of salads and pasta, but there are more than a few surprises on the menu as well. And while such dishes as chicken and shrimp carbonara and lemon chicken with roasted veggies are Cabin favorites, the spicy Moroccan chicken and couscous and the wood fired salmon are unexpectedly popular as well – I’m told.
The meat of the menu, though (no pun intended), is the variety of carefully selected entrees, from BBQ ribs and New York strip steak to chicken (several ways) and the holy grail: bone-in ribeye.
Our server doubled as the perfect compass as we navigated this wild wilderness adventure (er, the menu) and was refreshingly honest about what their favorite dishes were. We happily decided on the pepper-crusted bone-in pork chop, seasoned with pastrami pepper seasoning, grilled and topped with brown gravy and then served alongside Cajun fried onion strings and creamy mashed potatoes. A perfectly executed contrast to the pork and beans that you ate on your childhood camping trips.
And we all know no camping trip is complete until you get your hands a little dirty. So, we also ordered the highly recommended Carolina pulled pork sandwich, which features slow-cooked shredded pork that’s been tossed in the house-made BBQ sauce, coleslaw and Cajun onion straws piled high atop a toasted, buttery brioche bun. The Cabin’s signature “C” gets gently toasted into the bun, giving each savory bite a little taste of char.
If you’re drooling – which you should be – by now, but you don’t want to make the hike to the West Valley, there’s good news. A second Cabin Whiskey & Grill location is slated to open in Tempe (between Mill and Ash avenues and Third and Fifth streets) by mid-October. From what we’ve heard, Cabin Tempe will offer a slightly smaller menu, but will still be chock full of Cabin Whiskey’s signature goodness.
Cabin Whiskey & Grill
9868 W. Northern Ave., Peoria
Hours: Mon-Sun, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.