Article and photos by Lynette Carrington
CHAR Kitchen + Bar is simply one of my favorite Mediterranean and Eastern European inspired restaurants in the entire Valley. The family owned business is located at Scottsdale and McDonald in Scottsdale and is owned by father and son Peter and Pal Micakaj who each have several decades of restaurant experience. They have infused CHAR with some of the favorite flavors and dishes from their Albanian heritage and you will enjoy the quality and attention to detail that goes into every dish.
Appetizers New at CHAR
What would a fun media meal be without showcasing everything that is new on the menu? First up, were the four new appetizers. The loaded Greek hummus was a treat, but you’ll have to ask for this one by name – consider this appetizer the “secret” menu item. The generous dish is enough for your table to share and includes slightly charred ground gyro meat, feta cheese, tomato chutney and fried parsley with signature creamy CHAR hummus. This devilishly delicious entrée is simply not to be missed. Go ahead, order another! It’s that good.
Next, was the Mediterranean chef’s board. This noshing board features a cornucopia of Greek and Mediterranean favorites. You’ll enjoy soppressata salami, falafel, mini stuffed grape leaves, feta cheese, Mediterranean olives, nuts, roasted red peppers, trio salad, hummus, tzatziki and a generous serving of pita wedges. With the exception of the soppressata, this dish is vegetarian. A helpful tip! Save any leftover tzatziki from this dish to use on your main entrée.
We were then delighted with the slider trio that featured delicious grilled onions, cheddar and an insanely delicious frisco sauce piled onto the patty. One of the things that make these sliders a bit different is that the onions are grilled right under the meat, creating a more juicy and robust flavor. The frisco sauce gives an ever-so-slight kick of spice that was delightful. . The slider trio is also on the CHAR happy hour menu.
The final appetizer was the chicken lemon rice soup, drizzled with paprika oil that gave it an extra boost of flavor. This soup is made fresh daily by Peter Micakaj and is a particular point of pride on the menu and it is a light and flavorful soup that pairs perfectly with any entrée.
When choosing an entrée at CHAR, you simply can’t go wrong; it’s only a matter of choosing what you are in the mood to eat. The first entrée offering brought during our media event was the chicken gyro with tomato, onion and tzatziki. If you are new to Mediterranean food, this entrée is a great first choice!
Next, were the tenderloin medallions. Straightforward and easy in presentation, this entrée doesn’t leave you guessing with any other ingredients. This is a wonderful meat and potatoes dish featuring succulent tenderloins bursting with flavor, and slightly crisped whole baby potatoes and veggies.
The Grecian lamb chops, as expected, were also outstanding and prove that the Micakaj family certainly knows how to source exceptional quality meats. These tender and flavorful chops were served with a light chimi sauce, feta crumbles and red wine pickled shallots accompanied by a flavorful side of rice and vegetables. To CHAR’s credit; they know how to prepare lamb to perfection.
Next was a lighter style dish called chicken parma. This entrée had a bit of an island flare with slightly charred grilled chicken, onions, peppers, pineapple, palma sauce and a fragrant side of saffron rice.
The final entrée of the night was the shrimp Florentine alfredo. This dish really brought a “wow” factor for its perfect balance of flavors. Although this dish might possibly be thought of as comfort food, the CHAR version was a bit less heavy, very flavorful and remarkably less salty than other versions I’ve tried around town. The entrée includes a generous inclusion of large whole shrimp, sautéed spinach and a parmesan cream sauce.
Our dessert was a cute assortment of an outstanding baklava slice, a delicious rice pudding and little shot of coffee. It was as clever as it was delicious. In fact, the rice pudding is made fresh in house each day and as much as you might beg the owners for the recipe, they simply won’t give it to you. I’m a huge fan of rice pudding and the CHAR version is fabulous.
Stop by CHAR for happy hour, each night at 3 p.m. There is also a wonderful patio that you won’t want to miss. CHAR Kitchen + Bar is located at 6107 N. Scottsdale Rd., Suite C-110, Scottsdale, AZ. For additional information, visit www.charkitchen.com or call (480) 664-9238.