We almost never stay in and cook for special occasions. We do so much cooking at home most nights of the week that when a special occasion such as a birthday or anniversary does come around, the last thing we want to do is undertake a massive cooking project with all the associated prep and cleanup.

Since our 7th wedding anniversary was on a Monday this year (it was actually back in August, I just didn't realize I had written up this review and never posted it), and we didn't want to celebrate on a different night, it made finding a restaurant a bit challenging. Of all the available choices, T. Cooks at the Royal Palms Spa and Resort in Scottsdale sounded the most promising.

I'd heard a lot about T. Cooks in the past, so I was looking forward to trying them out. The dining room itself was very nicely designed. Rustic yet still upscale. My only complaint here is where we were seated. Given the place's reputation for romantic atmosphere, we were slightly dismayed to be seated in the center of the dining room. Given that we had called a few weeks in advance for a reservation, I would have expected a better table.

The menu was Mediterranean influenced. We started our meal with a half bottle of Chandon sparkling wine. I'm particularly fond of half bottles as they allow you to try several different wines in a single meal without having to slug down an entire bottle. Since Arizona still doesn't allow you to take home partially consumed bottles, half bottles are still the best option when you only have two people dining.

For an appetizer, we decided to split the foie gras terrine with confit and grilled scallion salad. Pere ordered the English pea soup with crème fraîche and caviar while I opted for the lobster carrot bisque with caraway bread stick and crème fraiche.

Pere chose the seared scallops with basil scented gratin and sweet corn emulsion . I can't say that anything on the menu really jumped out at me. In the end, I decided to go with the Sterling Silver pork tenderloin with brandy cream, which was fairly unremarkable. I actually chose the pork more for the side dish that came with it - an apple-garlic tart. The apple tart was good, and I was surprised just how well the apple and garlic paired.

When I had called T. Cooks to make the reservation, they asked if we were celebrating a special occasion. I told them we were celebrating our seventh anniversary. When we arrived at the restaurant, our waiter congratulated us on the milestone. It was a small touch, but it's extras like that that can elevate a dining experience.

Although we were both stuffed after our meals, we had to order desert. I had heard that T. Cooks was known for the presentation of their deserts. We went ahead and split a poached pear. When it arrived, it was truly architectural, sitting on a bed of marscapone with a cookie "wing" sticking out of the side and a spun sugar halo. The pastry chef had also written "Happy Seventh Anniversary" in chocolate around the rim of the plate. A nice finishing touch for the evening.

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IamJacksBrain's Gravatar FYI,

You can take home open bottles. I don't know if there was a change in the laws, but I think about a year ago I noticed people doing it, and we've been doing it ever since.

By the way, I probably would have ordered that pork entree to try the apple-garlic tart too. A combination like that really sounds too intriguing to not try. Did the garlic have a mellow roasted flavor or was it sharp?

# Posted By IamJacksBrain | 12/8/05 6:35 PM
Rob Brooks-Bilson's Gravatar Mario,

Thanks for the tip RE open bottles. I'll give that a try next time I don't feel like finishing the entire bottle!

As for the garlic tart, I should have been more descriptive. It was indeed mellowed by the baking process. The combination realy did work well.
# Posted By Rob Brooks-Bilson | 12/8/05 9:05 PM
Deidre's Gravatar Congratulations on your anniversary. Dinner sounded yummy! I probably would have chosen the scallops, and my husband the pork, too. :) RE open bottles--does it depend on the city? My husband and I had to chug-a-lug (well, he did, anyway) a few months ago here in Chandler, because we weren't allowed to take rest of the bottle home. We don't usually order more than we can drink. . .
Nevermind, found the law:
"May liquor be removed from an on-sale establishment by a customer?

Yes. A customer may take liquor in unbroken packages if the establishment has a No. 6 bar license or a No. 7 beer and wine bar license. Unfinished bottles of wine that have been recorked, flush with the top of the wine bottle (if the wine was served with a meal) may also be removed. [A.R.S. 4-244(31)]"

According to this blog-- http://www.bookofjoe.com/2004/09/22/ :
"Arizona's law says that the wine cork has to be reinserted so fully that the top of the cork is flush with the lip of the bottle.

A spokesman for the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control acknowledges that can be impossible and says this requirement isn't strictly enforced."

Hmmmm. Cork has to be flush, huh? Must depend on the establishment as to whether they want to risk it. The restaurant we went to was new, so maybe they were being extra cautious. I'm a librarian, BTW, so I can't let a question go unanswered. . . :)
# Posted By Deidre | 12/15/05 2:23 AM
Mark and Gina's Gravatar We too recently visited T Cooks for our first time, my wifes 40th birthday. Since she only gets to celebrate a 'real' birthday every four years we decided to make
this past February 29th a special one. Our meals consisted of the Lobester and fennel bisque to start which is very good. My wife ordered the Scottish Salmon and had
brussel sprouts with bacon and I had the Roasted duck breast and confit duck leg with eggplant and mascarpone cheese ravioli with asparagus with lemon and
pecorino cheese. Our dessert was the Caramel cheesecake and vanilla crème brûleé served with fresh berries & guava sauce.
Our overall experience was nice. When we arrived at the bar to order a drink before being seated the bartender was not really listening to us. Our drinks were not
what we had ordered. He got part of it, the Sprite part, he missed the rum part of it. Then with our dessert we had ordered Lemoncello and champagne cocktails
only to be told they were out of Lemoncello.
We loved the flavors and the serving sizes were enough to fill us up but not make us uncomfortable but we thought the food was a bit on the luke warm side.
Not nearly as hot as we would have liked it to be. I know they don't want anyone to get burned eating their food but i would like it hotter than room temperature unless
it is cheese and fruits.
# Posted By Mark and Gina | 3/8/08 10:22 AM
Rob Brooks-Bilson's Gravatar Hi Mark and Gina,

I just saw that the chef from T Cooks was on Iron Chef America a few weeks ago. His cuisine looked good there, but he ultimately lost.

I think T Cooks has the potential to be a great restaurant (the location and interior certainly are), they just need to work on the execution and service a bit.
# Posted By Rob Brooks-Bilson | 3/24/08 1:34 PM
enid seeger's Gravatar The best food in Scottsdale or Phoenix, bar none!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Service is perfect!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
# Posted By enid seeger | 4/6/08 1:55 PM
E's Gravatar Hi, We went to Rancho Pinot Grill last night, probably one of the most highly aclaimed complemented restarant in this Scottsdale area. Knowing food well and personally having taste-buds from heaven, I thought it was less than average :( The service was rushed and the noise level was extremely high. I wonder what people are thinking about when they give these great rave reviews. T. Cooks has grand food and top shelf classy service. That's my pick. Breakfast-------Wildflower Bread Company, blows all the rest away.
# Posted By E | 4/6/08 2:38 PM
Rob Brooks-Bilson's Gravatar Hi Enid,

We'll have to agree to disagree on this one. I'll take Kai or Vincents over T. Cooks anytime.
# Posted By Rob Brooks-Bilson | 4/14/08 12:04 PM

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