Caterer Jennifer Russo is the deliciously talented chef and restaurateur who has crafted an adorable and rustically-themed space at 36th Street and Indian School in Phoenix. Christina Wagner of Scottsdale.com and I recently attended a media dinner and the menu creativity, and superb recipes coupled with fresh, local, quality ingredients had us cheering with delight with each new dish that was brought to the table.
We had a taste of things to come when we were greeted with a seasonal bellini that included blood orange, vodka, cava and Terre Botanicals Sweet Orange rimming the glass. Terre Botanicals are just a few of the many local culinary items that you can purchase “grab-n-go” from the retail shelves at The Market. Other local retail items available include spices, sauces and organic eggs.
We were dazzled with a selection of boards that included one with roasted vegetables, one with asparagus and prosciutto and another with cheese and charcuterie. Fantastic in freshness and taste and simple in presentation, it made me want to come eat at The Market by Jennifer’s every day!
Starters that graced our table included shrimp and grits, grilled pancetta-wrapped shrimp, beef satay, capaccio, and two different types of squid. I will single out the shrimp and grits which included butter-poached shrimp, Hayden Flour Mills grits, grilled corn, gremolata, candied lemon and Go Lb. Salt sel gris. Holy smokes, what a fantastic twist on a Southern-styled dish!
The fried squid with Fresno chilis, cilantro garlic, lemon, parsley, and cilantro garlic aioli was so delicious, the Vice President of Business Development for Scottsdale.com, Christina Wagner went back for seconds… and she is not necessarily a fan of seafood. In fact, I believe she may have gone back for thirds – the dish was that stellar!
To kick off the hearty noshes, we were offered a ale and quinoa salad with shredded kale, toasted quinoa, butternut squash, almonds, cranberry, Crow’s Dairy Chevre and brown butter kissed with citrus vinaigrette.
We also sampled the heirloom tomato salad with beefsteak tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella fresco, arugula, Go Lb. Salt Mediterranean Flake, topped with sherry vinaigrette. Both salads were exceptional and a wonderful peek into what was coming our way. As with many of these media dinners, we all have to “pace ourselves” and just take a few bites of what is offered. Certainly, every dish we tried on this evening was fit to enjoy in its entirety, but the eyes are always bigger than the stomach!
Next up was a house ricotta gnocci with roasted pork, wild mushroom, spinach, basil and tomato vodka coulis. The gnocci was exceptionally tender and flavorful. The tomato vodka coulis gave an awesome little punch to the overall flavor, too.
Our media group also sampled individual salmon, pork chop, grilled tenderloin and chicken entrees – each was exceptional.
Out of this group, I will have to single out the seared salmon. It was served with bunashimeji mushrooms, parsnip puree, pinot noir reduction and gremolata. Honestly, there are not words for this salmon. Russo must have channeled God himself in making this dish. I would have to wonder if this isn’t salmon, but perhaps some new fish sent down directly from heaven! It was light, tender and flaky, with a crisped skin that simply popped when I bit into it. The mushrooms were a nice touch and the ever-so-slight tang of the gremolata made this salmon the perfect dish.
For dessert, we tried the fun, deconstructed strawberry short cake – sweet cream biscuits and strawberries with crème Chantilly and strawberry dust. It was divine. Next we sampled the flourless chocolate cake with espresso mascarpone and almond brittle. Finally, I fell head-over-heels in love with the Callebaut white chocolate mousse that included orange supreme, caramel corn and salted caramel. I am all about caramel and this is one of the finest desserts with an exceptional texture and flavor balance – dessert perfection!
The Market by Jennifer’s Restaurant and Bar is located at 3603 E. Indian School Rd., Suite A in Phoenix. For additional information and a listing of events and wine dinners, visit www.themarketphx.com or call (602) 626-5050.
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