the farm at South Mountain

An evening at Quiessence restaurant | Phoenix Arizona

The entrance to Quiessence


The garden at the entrance

I recently had reason to celebrate and was looking for somewhere really special to take my business partners.  In the year and a half I have been wine blogging I have been introduced to many of the valley’s top dining establishments and so I found it to be a rather difficult choice.  Well the decision came down to several factors.  First, could the restaurant accommodate a table of 7 at 6:30 P.M. on a Saturday night.  Secondly, and more importantly, could they accommodate guests with gluten allergies.  And last but not least, would this place have the special kind of ambience fitting of kind of feel I was going for.  I decided to pose the question to my Twitter followers and quite quickly the consensus was Quiessence.

The front dining room over looks the garden

I was first introduced to Quiessence restaurant on The Farm at South Mountain last November when the Arizona Wine Grower’s Association Awards Dinner was held there.  The setting is truly remarkable, nestled in the back of the Farm at South Mountain, just a few minutes south of downtown Phoenix.

We arrived and were seated and I quickly perused the wine list.  Actually I had been online earlier in the day looking at the wine list but for some reason the reds were not showing up and I emailed the restaurant about it.  Amazingly I received an email from the chef’s wife with a pdf attachment which included the complete wine list.

wine bottle with candle

2008 Callghan Cabernet

For wine I chose one of Arizona’s best producers: Kent Callaghan’s 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoita a.v.a.  Quiessence actually has one of the most if not the most comprehensive Arizona wine lists.  On it you will find many of the top producers that Arizona has to offer.

For starter I had a salad: Shaved asparagus, Pancetta, and Poulet egg with Maya’s greens, shaved red onions, parmesan croutons and creamy rosemary buttermilk dressing.  Maya’s farm is a 2 acre farm located right on the property.  The pancetta really added a wonderful zest to the creation.

For my main meal I had beef shank pizzaiola.  The beef was so tender and was seasoned with a spicy olive oil.  The beef was sourced locally from Power Ranch.  The 07 Callaghan Cab was really a great compliment to the meat.  The wine is a bold and powerful spicy cab with a hint of Arizona terroir.  Callaghan’s 25 acre vineyard is located in South Eastern Arizona at an elevation of 4,800 feet Restaurant price was $54 a bottle and well worth it.

One thing to note about dinning at Quiessence is that you should expect to make an evening out of it.  Creating dishes that focus as much on presentation as taste is not something you whip together on a production line.  Our dinner lasted a little over 3 hours.  Just as we began to wonder if the next course was coming, it magically appeared.  There is a lot to be said for riding that fine line of anticipation!  and doing it well.

I took a little walk about to take some video footage and I ran into Todd Bostock sitting at the wine bar.  Todd is owner and wine maker at Dos Cabezas Wineworks right next door to Callaghan’s.  Todd is also the former president of the Arizona Wine Grower’s Association.  He was relaxing, enjoying a glass of wine after attending the Scottsdale Culinary Festival.  When you dine at these kinds of places you never know who you will run into!

For dessert we enjoyed a confectionary tray which included among other delights chocolate truffles, chocolate and caramel covered pecans. I also enjoyed Justin Vineyard’s “Obtuse” which is an American style Port.  It paired very well with the decadent chocolate ice cream I was gobbling down.

Quiessence Website

Arizona Wine Grower’s Award Banquet reception review

Video of the scenery at Quiessence: