Ever since Pere started working in North Scottsdale, we decided that it would help break up the week and her long commute if I came up once a week after work to meet for dinner. Although that was the plan, it's now been almost a year since she took the job, and I've only driven up after work to meet her a hand full of times. Realizing this last week, I set about trying to change that. Since Pere works right next to Kierland Commons, I figured somewhere around there would be a good place to start. After looking over the options, we agreed to meet at North. North is a corporate run restaurant that's part of
After work, I shot up the 101 and made it there without much hassle. Parking wasn't a problem, which it can often be at Kierland Commons. We didn't have any problem getting in without a reservation, which is always a hit or miss thing on a busy Thursday night. The place itself has a bustling urban feel to it. The layout is open, with tall ceilings and lots of hard surfaces, facing a partially open kitchen to the side. My only complaint here is the noise level. With all of the hard surfaces, and wide open design, noise gets amplified. The place wasn't full, but if it had been, I could see how conversation could become a problem.
Once seated, our waitress stopped by and introduced herself. Moments after she left, a small plate of olives was dropped off at the table along with a loaf of bread and an orange colored butter. The green olives were nice, with a hint of fresh lemon flavor. The bread was also nice - freshly baked with a crispy crust. We started off with an order of the crisp calamari with baby arugula and grilled lemons. The calamari was fried with a tempura batter that gave it a nice and light taste. Coupled with the grilled lemon, it was very good. For our entrees, Pere opted for strozzapreti (screw shaped) pasta with mushrooms, wilted spinach, toasted pine nuts and parmesan cheese. The dish was well executed with the pasta perfectly al dente, not at all mushy. I was in the mood for something light, so I got the Alaskan Halibut with eggplant and white leeks. It was also very good. The fish was a thick, decent sized portion that was cooked just right. It had a good, mild flavor that was accented with a little grilled cherry tomato and balsamic vinegar underneath. The eggplant and white leeks were also good, but a bit overcooked in my opinion. We also split an order of creamy polenta. This polenta was made with white cornmeal as opposed to the yellow variety that's more common. It was combined with quite a bit of cream and a hint or parmesan cheese. It was fantastic!
Since we're heading to Sonoma for a long weekend next month, I've been on a kick to try wines from Healdsburg, the main area we're planning to visit. It just so happens that North had a 2003 Old Vine Zinfandel from Seghesio, a vineyard located there. It turns out that this Zin was really good. It had a high alcohol content at 15.3%, but you really wouldn't know if from the taste. It had a concentrated berry flavor, with a nice balance of acid and tannin. I loved it. We're definitely going to visit the vineyard while were on our trip.
We were both stuffed by the time we finished our meals, so neither of us had room for desert. All in all, our experience with North was good, and I'd definitely visit again as there were several other dishes I wouldn't mind trying.