Sunday, March 28, 2010

It’s a Long Story

Well, not THAT long. I don’t want you to stop reading now.

We decided that our post-Phoenix and pre-Albuquerque plans (Yes, we’re headed back to Albuquerque. We’ve spent so much time there the past nine months that we should register to vote.) would include a week near the New Age capital of America, Sedona, AZ. But the on-line reviews of the nearby campgrounds were so inconclusive that a field trip was in order to check them out. . . . So we found ourselves in Camp Verde, AZ (near Sedona) looking for a spot for lunch.

We picked up a business card for a BBQ place in Cottonwood, so headed off for a lunch of pulled pork. As we pulled up to the parking lot, something was amiss. The place was closed. So we took a drive further down the road and spotted Bing’s Burger Station located in an old gas station with a classic red car parked in front. What? Closed on Sunday? On our way to the BBQ place we had passed a Mexican restaurant (Chuck wasn’t in the mood for Mexican) and a place called Murphy’s Cottonwood Grill. I guess Murphy’s it would be.

Murphy’s is one of six restaurants owned by the Fork in the Road Corporation. Other restaurants are located in Prescott (Gurley Street Grill, Murphy’s, and The Office Restaurant & Bar), Kingman (Dambar Steakhouse), and Phoenix (another The Office Restaurant & Bar). Minimally decorated in a knotty pine pseudo-Western décor, the large space was broken into discrete dining areas by knotty pine dividers. The clientele, at least during our meal, seems to be weighted heavily toward senior citizens and families with young children.

The menu broke no new ground. Nor did we expect it to. Appetizers included Fire Roasted Corn on the Cob, a Quesadilla (chipotle tortilla filled with green chilis, tomatoes, and melted cheese), Nachos, Chicken Wings (bones or not), Sliders, Potato Skins, and Beer Battered Onion Rings. Soup choices were a Sonoran Corn Chowder or Chicken Enchilada. For salads there were a Caesar Salad, the Pacific Rim Salmon Salad (grilled marinated salmon with grape tomatoes, cucumbers, toasted pumpkin seeds, and Feta cheese), Cobb Salad, and the Pistachio Chicken Sweet Potato Salad (romaine topped with fried pistachio chicken, sweet potato fries, julienne carrots, roma tomatoes, roasted pistachios, and red onion served with raspberry vinaigrette). For entrees, the menu listed steaks, sandwiches, pasta, and seafood.

To get over my disappointment at Bing’s Burger Station being closed, I decided to order the half pound burger on an onion roll with pepper jack cheese and green chilis. And from the list of sides (coleslaw, fries, cottage cheese, rice, baked potato or green chili mac & cheese), I chose the mac and cheese.

As is so often the case, Chuck’s attention was drawn to the Comfort Food section of the menu and there he saw the Murphy’s Grill Signature Pot Pie (chicken and garden veggies in a rich sauce and topped with a flaky crust). But before ordering the pot pie, he wanted to make sure that he could get mashed potatoes as a side. Sorry. No mashed but he could get a baked potato. Then our waitress spoke the dreaded words: “I’m not sure we have the pot pie today. Let me go check.”

Sorry, no pot pie for you today, Chuck. So he, too, decided to order the half-pound burger with Swiss and green chilis and, of course, fries.

Both of the sides were quite good. The fries were hand-cut, skin-on, and hot, crisp, and grease-free. The green chili mac and cheese was cheesy rich and contained an abundance of chopped medium hot green chilis and was topped with buttered bread crumbs. Delicious as it was, it was almost too much of a good thing when accompanied by a giant half-pound hamburger.

The burgers were a pleasant surprise. As always, I was faced with the quandary of medium rare or medium. Medium rare normally results in a moister and juicier burger, but when you’re lucky, medium results in an almost crisp and crunchier exterior surface. We both chose medium, and we did get lucky. Both burgers had a light pink center, but best of all, the edges had those little crunchy, charred bits that, to us, make for a really good burger.

Murphy’s Cottonwood Grill was a roll of the dice, and we feel fortunate that we found a 4.0 Addie restaurant.

As we drove around Camp Verde and Cottonwood at an altitude nearly 2000 feet higher than the desert surrounding Phoenix, we noticed the absence of wildflowers.

Since the colors of these flowers have changed our concept of "desert," we decided to add a few photos of these colorful desert inhabitants.