It was a very busy First Fridays for Phoenix. And every restaurant in the gallery goers’ path knows it’s all about preparation and timing to satisfy patrons. I was eager to have a stellar evening with my posse of food critics.
We arrived at My Florist around 7p.m. Contemporary style open space restaurant all the elements I love in dining atmosphere. Greeted by a line of people waiting for a table, usually a good sign! We were told the wait would about a half-hour and proceed to find sits at the bar. Four of us were served drinks I waited, and waited and made small talk with Jake, one of the dining hosts, about wine. He suggested I try the Glen Carlou Chardonnay. He seemed to sense my tastes for South Africa wine. Funny enough his very suggestion was entered into my Palm Pilot under wines. The busy and crazed bartender came over for my drink order. I decided to break tradition and get the Les Sauces Viognier. Nice and dry crisp fruity to taste. I believe the fruit is pear with a peppery after taste. It would make a nice spring wine. My Florist wine menu reaches many regions and is not too overwhelming.
My Florist hints of the favor of my old haunt Restaurant Florent, 69 Gansevoort Street, in NYC. Restaurant Florent is known for arty, wild and wacky patrons, great menu a place where great conversations are made.
My Florist is known for soups and sandwiches with flair but not what I expected for the price. The shrimp bisque was wonderful, though it could use some sherry to pump it up a little. Joanne noted her Pastrami sandwich with salad was great but weak on the pickle. I love crispy dill pickles not a limp excuse. Scott had turkey and brie on sour dough which he enjoyed. All sandwiches are served on Willo Bakery breads. The rest of the posse tried the crab cake salad special. Nice job on crab cakes but not able to stand completely alone could use a little dab of chunty.
We ordered more cocktails with dessert. Our dining host, Cody, told us that the bartender was really backed up so it will take awhile. As we waited for our beverages the pianist played a brilliant rendition of Dave Brubeck “Take Five”. Brought me back to my college days in New Haven Connecticut when I would attend the Jazz festival. When beverages, arrived Joanne commented her Cosmo is great. I concur with her. Break from tradition we shared the fruit tart that was marvelous. Willo Bakery makes a wonderful desserts and breads.
My Florist is not sure if it wants to be an upscale diner or an elegant dining experience. This is not negative criticism; I am simply raising the bar and pushing the envelope. I give My Florist a B for effort and B+ for taste, I’ll have to go back and try them again when they are not so busy. Phoenix has heightened its status in the culinary world and there is vast improvement from the first time I live in Phoenix over ten years ago.
Phoenix First Fridays – an Art Scene that is Trying
Where do I get off reviewing art? Well, I was an associate of the best gallery in the hay day of the East Village in NYC in 1980’s, that being Sragow Gallery. Ellen Sragow made real artist famous representing Alphonse von Woerkom, Michelle Sharpe, Ida Applebroog and Yolanda Shashaty to name a few. We attended parties with people like Andy Warhol, Larry Rivers, Rudy Burckhardt, and Greg Masters. I am a classically trained artist studying contemporary and primitive art at Paier College of Art CT and Pratt NY. I had over 14 shows in the tri-state area of NY, MA and CT. I believe I know a little something about art industry and the making of great art. Long since traded in my brushes and paint for the power of bits and bytes and the privilege of blazing an entire industry and influencing the world.
So I had some expectations with the Phoenix Art Scene that weren’t fulfilled. I saw some pieces I was thrilled with but not blown away by, some gallery spaces that were amazing worthy of recognition, and an art scene that was trying but wasn’t there yet. To describe the execution is naïve, the sense of wonderment and exploration throttled back by lack experience and adventure. The Phoenix artist needs to get out of their element see the world. The art world explored every aspect of human orifice and sexuality, to be frank I’m bored by it all. No one can compete with Mapplethorpe, Kloster, Schiele, Kaplan or Lautrec. Sexual art is over with let’s move-on, grow up and mature.
I found a couple of artists I liked. Peri Miller handles watercolor with precision. Her dreamy landscapes can be seen at Red Door. The portrait work of John Avedisian at Icon Studio is worth noting for craftsmanship and daringness. Through his strong gusty works you can hear rich sound of the blues.
To understand a civilization is to see it through the eyes of its artists. The arts have long influenced culture, business and science. Art movements are born to open our eyes to new worlds through the power of the written and visuals props. Phoenix artists have to realize their power in their craft and the influence they have to help grow this wonderful city. My hope for these young artists is they will take a chance go to extreme, and leave their comfort zone. These are the ingredients of great art and memorable artists.