With few exceptions, Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona are not exactly the hotbed of fine dining. It has been plagued with many mediocre restaurants and a few standouts.
Phoenix Magazine puts out a restaurant issue with the “Best Of”, for each year. They also mention promising Valley restaurants that didn’t make it in time for the 2016 window. One such restaurant was Match Cuisine and Cocktails, at 1100 North Central Avenue. Downtown Phoenix is in the middle of a renaissance. Almost everywhere you look there is a new bar, restaurant or attraction.
Match opened at the end of October 2016 in the new Found:Re Boutique Hotel in the Roosevelt Arts District. My visit was in May 2017, and less than 6 months in, this attractive restaurant had already lost its chef, ouch! Opened by Chef Ako Szabo who worked at the famed Mary Elaine at The Phonecian has been replaced by Chef Mathew Hobbs who worked at T. Cooks. The restaurant offers locally sourced “global street food”, with many items cooked in a wood-fired oven. The menu changes seasonally, supporting local farmers and family businesses.
This 200 seat, modern, beautifully lit restaurant, located off the lobby, is a cool space, surrounded with lots of glass, large windows that open and a smart lounge. Comfortable padded seating, polished concrete floors, an open kitchen with local artworks. The kitchen has its work cut out for them, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch to service its adjoining hotel.
We went on a Sunday night and the place was mostly empty. I hear when it first opened the place was busy and buzzy.
I am sorry to report we did not have a good meal. Despite our friendly server Jessica, the kitchen was SLOW, so I can’t imagine how they would handle a full restaurant. Mostly every dish we had was over-salted or had unimaginative seasoning.
The Asian duck salad, with Napa cabbage, watercress, and mango in a sesame dressing had a lot of potential, but the dressing didn’t showcase the dish and the duck was dry and salty. Many things on the menu were misrepresented in their descriptions. The cauliflower coconut fritters (which were the one stellar exception to the meal), were not fritters but rather deep fried cauliflower florets in a toasted sesame and green chili aioli. I also did not detect any coconut. The wood roasted double pork chop was not on a bone, with a strange tasting sweet and sour butternut squash. The crispy Scottish salmon was overcooked, and the accompanying Brussels sprouts were so over salted they were inedible. The restaurant was kind enough to take that off our bill. For dessert, the apple pie crumble with Welsh cheddar, was not a pie. There was actually no crust whatsoever, the apples were anemic looking and undercooked and the crumble was more of a small dusting of some cookies.
It saddens me to write such an unfavorable review. Arizona, I know you are capable of so much more. You can’t use the excuse that you have growing pains and issues to iron out, especially when your establishment is 7 months old. Why can other places open and immediately have no kinks and everything is fine tuned? So, unfortunately, I can’t recommend this restaurant.