PHOENIX--The moon is full but the belly is empty, so it's down the 51 we go, heading for a joint called St. Francis. Sundays there's a combo playing on the patio, but it's not Sunday; in fact, it's getting close to closing time and we're being pressured, just a bit, to make up our minds and order drinks and dinner.
The chef is named Aaron Chamberlin, and his brother David is his partner in this "urban rustic" restaurant. (As it happens, I'm here with my brother, whose name is also David.) Their place, in a part of town that's on the border between no-man's land and Bank of America-ville, has a bit of an industrial vibe (metal-topped tables, high ceiling, exposed beams) without losing the "rustic" feel (wood-fired oven, a bar that's open to the outside). The menu looks and feels familiar, in content as much as layout and typography: neighborhood Parisian bistro, Bastille in Seattle's Ballard, even Zinc across town in Scottsdale: hanger steak, pot roast, roast chicken, pork chop.
A lovely starter of roasted vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, beets, turnips); a very respectable, if pricey, cioppino; an unfortunate plate of three meatballs, one of which was inexplicably chilly; a pork chop whose saving grace was actually being undercooked (no doubt in the haste of getting it to the table before the witching hour).
Which makes you wonder what's going on in this desert enclave: it's a beautiful cool evening, what's with the need to close up and go home at 10 PM?