Story and photos by Rachel Verbits, February 2018 Issue.
Since the beginning of a new year is the most popular, and appropriate, time to commit to making healthy choices, Phoenix foodies may find that dining out it the most precarious landscape when it comes to sticking to them – especially when it comes to brunch, which is everyone’s favorite, isn’t it?
If you’re one of the many who has vowed to eat healthier, but can’t imagine sacrificing your favorite weekend activity, fear not. Going out to eat doesn’t have to equal a death sentence for your diet, if you know where to feast.
The truth is, The Phoenician beat us all to the “new year, new you” claims when it opened the doors to Mowry & Cotton, a posh Modern American Restaurant in the space formerly inhabited by Il Terrazzo, last fall.
With a menu described as fresh, innovative and healthy, and a local history-inspired, modern-meets-Old-West aesthetic, Mowry & Cotton was at the top of our list of must-trys in the new year. (Editor’s Note: If you’re as geeky about history as you are about cuisine, google George Mowry and James Cotton.)
So, on a near-perfect winter Saturday, my dining partner and I saddled up for a social dining experience within the confines of my new year’s resolution. Spoiler alert: It was a huge success.
Situated next to the resort’s famous pool (read: killer view), Mowry & Cotton combines the elegance of the Phoenician with an easygoing vibe that’s welcoming to locals and visitors alike. Rustic wood, leather accents and fluffy chic flannel seating provide comfort and familiarity in the otherwise luxurious resort. Although we weren’t on vacation ourselves, we certainly felt like resort guests, as we were treated with a stunning view of the property from our table.
Because we all know that one of the most common things to stay away from when watching your figure is alcohol, Mowry & Cotton has shaken up some “guilt free” cocktail selections that weigh in under 120 calories, such as their Cucumber Gimlet and Raspberry Cosmo. Their Blueberry Buzz is another choice you can feel good about: Made with acai-blueberry vodka, fresh blueberries and maple brown sugar syrup, this cocktail is light, refreshing and packed with antioxidants for good health. Topped with a mini waffle and slice of crisp bacon (everything in moderation, right?), the bartenders’ attention to detail is second to none.
And, depending on what your new year’s resolutions are, there are virgin options that are just as tasty for sipping on. I tried the Arizona Sun, made with fresh orange, grapefruit and carrot juice. As someone who isn’t a “juicer,” I was delighted by the sweet combination and I didn’t miss the alcohol one bit.
After tickling our taste buds with drinks, we turned to the brunch menu in hopes of finding delicious offerings that were on the lighter side, and we were not disappointed. All of the restaurant’s menus feature delicious, locally sourced ingredients that are specially crafted by Chef de Cuisine Tandy Peterson, who is known for using bold flavors and seasonal produce in her dishes. Many of the options are gluten and meat free, making it an inclusive spot for anyone with dietary goals or restrictions. Not only will it make your vegetarian friends happy, but swapping out meat-centric foods for fresh veggies is a great way to keep you feeling satiated, not stuffed.
Luckily, Mowry & Cotton’s protein-packed salads and bowls, like our choice of the Citrus, Salmon and Chickpea Bowl, are designed to do just that. Served over a bed of chickpeas, the protein-packed bowl featured fresh beets, crunchy cucumber, creamy avocado and perfectly cooked medium-rare salmon all pulled together with a dill, green goddess dressing. It was filling, fueling and, as a bonus, was just as much a feast for our eyes as it was our stomachs (pretty enough for my Instagram story).
In addition to Chef Tandy’s coal grill and Basque-inspired cooking techniques, Mowry & Cotton boasts a hearth oven where many of the signature dishes are created, including the unique fladbread choices. Since elevating American classics is the basis of the menus here, seeing such offerings as green Chile pork shank and a croque madam-inspired flatbread with prosciutto and a sunny side up egg came as no surprise.
We wanted a taste of the familiar without going overboard, so we ordered the Apple Camembert Flatbread, topped with roasted acorn squash, sage and watercress. The creamy Camembert, crunchy apples and tender squash made up a trio of delightful textures, and was the first thing we cleared from our plates!
Pro tip: Pair the flatbread with a veggie side, like we did with the Caramelized Cauliflower, you’ll feel even less guilt about the carbs involved.
Roasted until tender, covered in toasty pine nuts and Calabrian chilies and then topped with a creamy pine nut puree, this beautiful head of cauliflower could serve as a meal all on its own – but as a side dish, it’s the perfect complement to any meal. Packed with rich flavors, this take on the versatile vegetable proves why it’s become so trendy (don’t worry, it comes out ready to share among your dining party).
If your new year’s resolutions have absolutely nothing to do with counting calories or curtailing your favorite flavors, you won’t be disappointed either. Trust me, we were eyeing the Mowry Monkey Bread and the House-Made Hog Breakfast board. Nevertheless, Mowry & Cotton’s dedication to fresh, fuel-based food and Chef Peterson’s ongoing experimenting with new flavors and seasonal ingredients, it’s a little easier to still enjoy brunch without having to chalk it up to a “cheat day.”
Mowry & Cotton (at The Phoenician)
6000 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale
6:30-10:30 a.m. Breakfast
11 a.m.-2 p.m. Lunch
5-9 p.m. Dinner
7-10:30 a.m. Breakfast
10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Brunch