Dust Cutter, a Modern Urban Saloon, Explores bold, fun flavors of the Sonoran Desert
Author: Lynette Carrington
Dust Cutter, a Modern Urban Saloon, Explores bold, fun flavors of the Sonoran Desert
Landmark Hotel's New Signature Restaurant Reflects Phoenix's Western Roots in Design & Flavor
Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel has undergone a wondrous lobby makeover and introduces the new restaurant and lounge, Dust Cutter. The lobby is an experience all by itself! Vignettes throughout the lobby and corresponding gallery downstairs will give anyone something to appreciate for the day, even if you are only passing through. Scottsdale.com recently had the chance to attend a media event that unveiled the new and engaging lobby that introduced us all to the new restaurant and social space, Dust Cutter. Think of it as a modern day saloon. Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday would have loved Dust Cutter!
Upon entering the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel lobby, we immediately noticed the furniture, especially the “snakeskin” green, free-form ottomans that dot the lobby. Particularly, all the décor and furniture in the lobby speaks to Arizona in beautiful, fun and whimsical ways. Now, where can I find one of those snakeskin green ottomans?
Next, we marveled at the story of the massive lighting sculpture comprised of two beautiful pieces entitled, “Rooted Rising” and “Growing Vases.” Again, this breathtaking piece is comprised of many lights and accompanying pieces that together, mimic an artist’s brilliant interpretation of The Grand Canyon in an unexpected way. The entire space is flanked in a beautifully orchestrated space that is made up of walls that reveal what the inside of a cactus would look like if turned into room décor. The result is stunningly effective. As we reveled in this gorgeous light sculpture we enjoyed the signature cocktail of Dust Cutter, “The Cutter,” with Four Roses yellow label bourbon, Ramazzotti amaro, Aperol and lemon juice. Back in the heyday of the West, cowboys used to mosey on up to the bar for a “dust cutter,” something to cut the dust from their mouth; an apropos name for the property’s signature Western style saloon!
We headed over to the Discovery Table which also speaks to our desert. The long table with subtle elevation changes is meant to again pay homage to our desert. The sleek and fast roadrunner was the inspiration for this whimsical table. While at the table, we noshed on an Urban Market Salad from Dust Cutter with seasonal organic greens, Arizona citrus, watermelon radish, cucumber, baby heirloom tomatoes and pistachios, with a light and refreshing white balsamic vinaigrette.
Next, we headed over to an area that included a wise old owl done in a modern interpretation. You’ll know why it’s called “Wink.” Adjacent to “Wink” is “Here Comes the Sun,” an area beautifully staged with a modern Arizona themed interpretation. While there, we were treated to Dust Cutter’s Avocado Fries, generous slices of flash fried avocadoes dusted with chiltepin pepper aioli. Watch out, these babies are addicting! We also sipped on an El Pepino cocktail with Hendricks gin, Clooster bitters, green chile syrup, cucumber juice, basil leaf and lime. The green cocktail was refreshing and imparted just an ever-so-slight slight kick of heat.
Each night, Renaissance Phoenix creates a “community punch” for its guests as a way to “cut the dust” from the long day’s trail during its “Discover Hour.” This day’s punch was the “Beet Around the Bush” with Vida mescal, maple beet shrub, maple syrup, lime juice, Angostura bitter and Figgy Pudding bitters. This punch was a bit sweet and smoky, due to the mescal. It was literally the perfect Arizona cocktail. Accompanying the cocktail were the tempting Tender Belly Bacon-wrapped Stuffed Dates. These marvelous morsels were served with local Crow’s Dairy goat cheese and a prickly pear balsamic reduction. Hanging above the community punch station is the Fungo Chandelier. The wood and paddle light sculpture was inspired by the artist who saw a piece of old wood that had mushrooms growing out of it.
Finally, it was time to head in to Dust Cutter. The restaurant/saloon is literally a work of modern Western art everywhere you look! From the industrial spring motif seats and the prolific use of wood texture, to vintage style lighting pendants and barn tools, there is no shortage of things to see inside! Likewise, the menu is equally engaging as the restaurant. Bar snack include heirloom tomato and avocado lettuce wraps, organic turkey and chorizo meatballs and hatch chile Hayden Mills corn bread, among other tasty noshes.
Sandwich related entrees at Dust Cutter include the mesquite smoked pork BBQ sandwich, fish tacos, the Sonoran Burger and much more. Entrees include the burrito bowl, Mary’s chicken and mesquite pod waffles, grilled wild isle salmon and more. Executive Chef, Joshua Murray says, “When you allow yourself to embrace food as Mother Nature intended it, then it makes being a chef that much easier. I strive for ‘elegance in simplicity’ with my food.” He continues, “I feel when you take the best ingredients, look for inspiration in the seasons and execute it with passion; the food will speak for itself.”
Of course, there is a large assortment of clever craft cocktails, wine and beer. Master Mixologist, Tony Escalante really knows his libations and is ready to dazzle guests with his knowledge and drink prep flair. Also, head downstairs into the art gallery and be prepared to be blown away by some of the most fun and creative spaces for art in the Downtown Phoenix area.
About Dust Cutter
An Instagram worthy restaurant situated between the hotel’s lobby and the newly-opened pedestrian friendly Adams Street, Dust Cutter’s open floor plan and massive garage doors roll back to welcome both locals and hotel guests, creating an interactive intersection of community, culinary and contemporary cowboy.A 25-foot-long streamlined bed of local river rock and large custom iron logs create a sculpture mimicking a modern interpretation of a roaring blaze and creates real flames and warmth for the winter months. Open to both the inside and out, low stools line the bar area, creating a perfect venue for people watching or catching a game on any of the eight 55-inch screen TVs.
Ruggedly handsome, Dust Cutter has design elements that range from spirited to whimsical, including stools resembling lug nuts and light fixtures made of salvaged parts from old bridges. Over-scaled railroad beams suspended with frayed rope support an eye-popping six-foot pair of spurs, along with a variety of rustic pendant lights. The feature wall, fittingly named The Cabinet of Cocktail Curiosities, pays homage to the mixologists of yore with an eclectic display of vintage barware and collectibles. A 15-foot live-edge ‘Post and Perch’ table, cleverly crafted with loads of inconspicuous power data outlets, boasts barstools and an iron footrail to allow guests to ‘perch’ and ‘post’ while recharging their phones and their stamina.The Loewen Design Group of Phoenix was the interior design firm on the project and the Phoenix office of Gensler was the architect of record and designer of all exterior improvements.
With a room this bold and imaginative, Executive Chef Josh Murray was driven to create a menu that was equally memorable and representative of the Valley of Sun, purposely avoiding being labeled Southwest or Tex-Mex.Inspired by the very specific Sonoran Desert climate, he gathered indigenous food products and took a fresh modern American approach to utilize them ‘in a way we can appreciate.’ Not only appreciate, but crave.Mesquite tree pods are ground to create Waffles topped with Organic Chicken that has been brined for 24 hours, then lightly fried to perfection, served with Spicy Pickled Yellow Watermelon and Copper City Bourbon Syrup.
Murray’s commitment to ‘pay respect to the Sonoran Desert’ is evident throughout the All-Day menu of sandwiches, salads and signature entrees, featuring shareable portions at affordable prices, including: Tender Belly Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Dates, with Crow’s Dairy Goat Cheese and Prickly Pear Balsamic Reduction; Hatch Chile Hayden Mills Corn Bread Skillet with Cilantro Agave Butter; Avocado Fries with Chiltepin Pepper Aioli organic Turkey and Chorizo Meatballs with Roasted Cornand Poblano Puree, Hayden Mills Grits and Cotija Cheese.
With products that are ‘too good not to use,’ Murray commits to sustainable sourcing, such as the Berkshire pork he uses for Blue Corn Nachos with Berkshire Pork Carnitas, Cotija Cheese, Oaxaca Fundito, Lime Cream, Cilantro and Grand Canyon Onions; as well as the Roasted Pepper & Garlic Pork Wings with Red Kitchen Candied Jalepenos and Point Reyes Blue Cheese. The House Smoked Pork Belly from Colorado is a ‘labor of love’ that requires 36 hours, including a serious dusting of signature dry rub, several hours in the smoker, weighted and pressed for 24 hours before being flash fried, then slathered with a Copper City Bourbon Date Glaze and finished with Candied Pistachios, Nasturtium and Pickled Watermelon Rind.
Rather than pizza or flatbreads, Arizona cheese crisps steal the spotlight, ranging from a Fig, Prosciutto, Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese, Balsamic Tomato Jam and Arugula crisp, to the zippy Pamplona Chorizo, Cotija Cheese, Blistered Tomatoes and Avocado option.
Lead Mixologist Tony Escalante, is equally committed to creating a Sonoran infused menu and incorporates house made shrubs and syrups into the signature Dust Cutter batched cocktails, including: Beet Around The Bush: Vida Mezcal, Maple Beet Shrub, Maple Syrup, Lime Juice, Angostura Bitters, Figgy Pudding Bitters and the El Pipino: Hendricks Gin, Clooster Bitters, Green Chile Syrup, cucumber Juice, Basil Leaf, Lime. Arizona craft beers and artisanal regional wines are featured on tap, alongside a reduced-price food menu during Happy Hour, Monday through Friday, from 3-6 pm.
At 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday, locals and hotel guests alike can partake in the complimentary Discovery Hour in Dust Cutter. With their own cocktail recipe or inspiration of the day, a bartender will fill an old-fashioned punch bowl with the libation and welcome all to clink glasses to the discovery of new flavors and perhaps, new friends.
About the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel
Located in the heart of downtown Phoenix and within walking distance of some of the city's most popular sites and attractions, the iconic Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel features 518 guest rooms including 73 suites, 50,000 square feet of meeting and event space, two restaurants including its new signature restaurant Dust Cutter, an on-site Starbucks, fitness center, rooftop pool and expansive, newly renovated lobby and hotel entrance.The landmark property, situated on the corner of 1st Street and Adams, is just two blocks from the Phoenix Convention Center, easy access to the Phoenix transit light rail system and four miles from Sky Harbor International Airport.Visit us online, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.The Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel is located at 100 N. 1st Street in Phoenix. Click here for additional information, or call (602) 333-0000.