PHOENIX--A low fence of white stucco, with built-in gas firepits, surrounds the spacious courtyard, where tables of diners murmur discreetly. You can imagine Clark Gable or Ray Milland sitting at the patio's indoor-outdoor bar, sipping brandy & soda. Mummy Mountain Park to the north, Camelback to the south.
This is El Chorro Resort, half a mile from Paradise Valley's Barry Goldwater Memorial Park, clearly a relic of the days when celebrities "wintered" in the desert. Unlike a lot of institutions that outlived their founders, El Chorro is up to date. The current owner is a philanthropist, Jacquie Dorrance, connected to the Campbell Soup fortune.
The old bones are in good hands, the kitchen and bar less so. A trio of pork tenderloin sliders were marred by an overly sweet, slightly congealed "bernaise." My first wine by the glass was oxidized, the second barely drinkable.
And yet the scene was something right out of Hollywood. No mariachis, just an over-eager valet.