Chef Vincent Guerithault is a classically trained French chef who first gained notoriety in the 80's when a food editor for The New York Times declared his dishes to be "exceptional." In those days, his menus rarely strayed from his French roots, but as his notoriety grew, so did his creativity. It wasn't long after opening his own restaurant, Vincent's on Camelback, before the area's popular Southwestern ingredients––masa, cilantro, chili peppers––began weaving their way into his classical haute cuisine. Now, 20 years later, Vincent continues to unveil eclectic entrees that seamlessly blend these two seemingly dissimilar cooking styles, such as a wild boar loin with habanero sauce or a duck tamale with Anaheim chili. As for the dining room, velvet-tufted booths and white tablecloths make it feel as though it was plucked straight from Paris, complete with French-inspired touches such as gilded mirrors, classical paintings, and a staff that sings "Frère Jacques" at the top of every hour.
Nestled within a charming 1930s farmhouse on a former artichoke plantation, Coup Des Tartes entrances guests with meals of American-tinged French and Mediterranean fare culled from organic meats and locally raised vegetables and fruits. Like Charles de Gaulle's album of sensitive acoustic singer-songwriter ballads, the restaurant combines stately Gallic character with disarming intimacy, framing meals of herbed chicken and grass-fed filet mignon with warm, flickering candlelight. Amid the 14-table space's cozy coved ceilings and hardwood floors, guests happily sup upon Moroccan lamb sandwiches or rich, creamy cheese, pairing dinners with beer or wine brought from home. Across the courtyard from Coup Des Tartes, the private Rendez-Vous dining room welcomes guests into a luxurious, yet rustic cocoon of slate tile floor and glowing chandeliers, provisioning feasts and fetes with freshly baked breakfast pastries, catered luncheons, and multicourse dinners.
Phoenix chef Christopher Gross is something of a local legend, having pulled in a James Beard award for his upscale French cooking. At his eponymous Christophers Restaurant, the star chef plates up dishes like a lobster pot pie or wood oven pizza, topped unexpectedly with duck confit, goat cheese and figs. But even amid the sleek, upscale bistro setting with a glass-encased kitchen, he keeps things fun, peppering the menu with playful bites like an excellent burger that’s topped as you wish. At Crush Lounge, next door, the mood is sexier, with loud music, a busy bar and small plates like roasted rabbit salad or a house smoked salmon “BLT” sandwich, each to be paired with the restaurant’s list of over 50 by-the-glass wine choices. Stick around long enough and chef Gross might emerge from the kitchen himself to check in on your table with a handshake and a smile.
Chef Erasmo "Razz" Kamnitzer, namesake of Razz's Restaurant and Bar and seventh-generation chef, infuses flavors from his native Venezuela to his eatery's upscale fusion menu. Like all dinner-theater performers, Razz dazzles diners with stovetop pyrotechnics in his open show kitchen, simmering up spicy bouillabaisse full of shellfish and finfish, or ladling chops and fillets with lime sauce, tropical-fruit relish, lingonberry sauce, and other zesty flavors. Guests can pair savory bites with sips from the wine list, with selections available by the glass, bottle, or fluted barrel. Razz's also caters special events such as weddings and holiday parties.
Born and raised in France, chef Cedric S. Fichepain carried his family recipes and passion for traditional French fare across the pond in 1997. Four years later, Cedric cut the ribbon at Le Voltaire Restaurant, which serves up classics such as croque madame sandwiches and coq au vin stewed in white wine. The cellar's 1,000-bottle inventory of French wines has earned the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence eight years in a row, and the eatery was also recognized as one of the city's best French dining experiences in _Omaha Magazine'_s Best of Omaha 2012. The restaurant's lemon-yellow walls and rough-hewn wooden door create a rustic feel, and beneath a unique glass bar top is a display of carefully arranged dried flowers.
It might seem as if the owners of Zinc Bistro didn’t bother to consult a map when devising the concept for their new restaurant: a Parisian bistro by way of New York. But though Phoenix isn’t the likeliest home for such a place, you won’t hear any locals complaining. They’re too enamored with the round marble tables and wicker chairs that line the bistro’s sidewalk. Such overtly French accents seem right at home beside the burbling fountain on the garden patio, where guests share romantic dinners and afternoon cocktails. Though it certainly stands out in the parched Sonoran Desert, the patio isn’t the most notable aspect of Zinc Bistro. That honor belongs to chef Matt Carter’s contemporary bistro cuisine. The Phoenix native shows an uncommon understanding of classic French cooking techniques, whether he’s crafting crepes with Dungeness crab and lobster cream or finding the perfect balance of flavors in his foie gras risotto. As if that weren’t enough, there’s also an oyster bar where staff serve fresh seafood and hold shells to guests’ ears so they can hear the ocean while they eat.