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.