When you eat out as often as I do, restaurants sometimes start to blend together. You can only visit so many steakhouses or so many sushi places before they all start looking a little alike.
Every once in awhile, though, I run across a restaurant that makes me stop and take notice. Someplace unlike all the cookie-cutter concepts that seemingly dot the East Valley dining landscape.
Newly opened Estate House is such a place.
The high-end destination is among the seven restaurants planned for Scottsdale’s SouthBridge complex on the south bank of the Arizona Canal, joining already-open FoodBar, Canal and Digestif. Estate House is touted as a mansion-inspired dinner house.
The ground floor features a large dining room with what I’d describe as a “refined lake house” decor plucked straight from Martha’s Vineyard. Rough wood floors, rustic beams and heavy curtains are offset by elegantly set tables and expensive artwork.
On one side of the dining room, there’s a champagne bar. On the other, a short hallway leads back to The Conservatory, a 14-person private dining room styled as a sitting room, complete with day bed and fireplace.
Outside stairs lead to The Upstairs, where a different design team has created a uptown lounge vibe. Here, a long zebrawood bar leads to a baby grand piano surrounded by plush leather club chairs and velvet sofas. There’s another private room, The Den, as well as luxurious rooftop patios in front and back.
It’s an impressive environment, to be sure. And my first meal there suggests the menu composed by executive chef Ron Dimas (Café ZuZu, The Boulders), which he calls “French-inspired wine country cuisine,” fits right in.
An appetizer of Nantucket Bay scallops ($14) seems appropriate given the nautical theme of the dining room. Lightly seared with celery, hearts of palm and shaved black truffle, the scallops attest to Dimas’ largely successful efforts to avoid the traditional heaviness of French-influenced cooking.
A grilled beef filet ($38), topped with crispy pancetta and a lone onion ring, is tender and flavorful, although an accompanying braised cheek (for the uninitiated, from the cow’s face, not the other end) is a little disappointing on both accounts.
No such exceptions for a delicious osso bucco ($29), in this case made with braised pork instead of veal. It’s admirably complemented by fig-and-onion polenta with roasted brussels sprouts and chestnuts.
Truffled linguine carbonara ($26), accented with bits of Italian bacon called guanciale, is rich-tasting, even before stirring in a duck egg.
The two desserts I try, a date-and-pecan pithivier ($9) and pear and mascarpone cheese cake ($9), are enjoyable, but not decadent.
Service throughout the meal is impeccable, as dishes are almost fanatically served from the right and cleared from the left, regardless of structural impediments.
It’s also ultra-attentive. Our glasses of water don’t even reach the half-empty point before someone swoops in to refill them. Impressive, but also a little annoying if you’re trying to hold a private conversation.
Or covertly making notes for a dining review.
Where: 7134 E. Stetson Drive, Scottsdale (southwest of Camelback and Scottsdale roads)
Open: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Prices: Appetizers $11-$21, salads $9-$13, entrees $26-$39, desserts $8-$10
Information: (480) 970-4099 or