Sunday, April 25, 2010

Chuck had Lunch with The Bride. . .

of Frankenstein. No, it wasn’t me!

The Marketplace Café in Sedona, AZ, established in 1997, brings the owners’ Hollywood background to Sedona. Jeff and Michele Moore were working in Cleveland on a film, Michele as a make-up artist and Jeff as a prop master. Within a year, the East Coast native Michele and LA native Jeff were married. It was not long after this that the couple moved to Sedona, AZ.

Although Michele no longer works in film and television, she has dedicated herself to operating the restaurant she and Jeff own. Jeff still works in film and television and has worked with such notables as Kyle MacLachlan, Faye Dunaway, Matt Damon and Jennifer Love Hewitt. His projects include the CBS hit Ghost Whisperer, the ABC series Pushing Daisies, and the ABC series and cult classic Twin Peaks. (The restaurant even serves the famous cherry pie served at Twede's in North Bend, WA and known as Twin Peaks Cherry Pie.)

The first thing you notice when walking into the main dining room is how sleekly stylish it is. The large and comfortable booths along two of the walls are upholstered with a goldish-tan fabric. The walls are painted black--better to display the Moore’s collection of black and white movie stills which includes scenes from the Bride of Frankenstein (first photo above) and The Wizard of Oz (left).

Music by Van Morrison was playing on the sound system. (His two-album set, “Hymns to the Silence,” was one of my favorites back in the early 1990’s.) The TV above the bar was playing a closed-captioned musical (???), Deep in My Heart, starring Rosemary Clooney.

The other side of the restaurant is used as a performance venue and is dominated by a large three-panel mural, which serves as the backdrop for regularly scheduled musicians.

The menu was full of possibilities. Salad choices included: the Crab and Shrimp Salad Plate with lump crab and shrimp salad with a tarragon dressing, plus avocado, cherry tomato, and lettuce salad; the Tropical Chicken Salad with baked chicken over mixed greens, tossed with fresh tropical fruit salsa, avocado, almond slivers, and sesame vinaigrette and topped with thin tortilla strips; and the Grilled Antipasta Salad with mixed greens, grilled onions, bells, squash, zucchini, portabellas, artichokes, Italian salami, ham, mortadella, pepperoni, and feta. The crab and shrimp salad sounded good but tarragon is not one of my favorite herbs.

For sandwiches (served with choice of mixed greens, slaw, fries, or homemade chips), we could choose from: the Pesto Chicken Club with charbroiled chicken, bacon, avocado, lettuce, and tomato with a goat cheese pesto smear; the Sedona Club with ham and turkey, swiss and cheddar, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo on sourdough bread; the Walnut Apple Tuna Salad Sandwich with albacore tuna, walnuts and apples served on 12-grain wheat; and the Veggie Vortex with sprouts, cream cheese, avocado, red onions, black olives, tomatoes, cucumbers and Italian dressing.

I was intrigued by the two Avocado Bowls. The first, the Rawcado came with whole avocado, broccoli, cucumbers, jicama, cherry tomatoes, lemon wedges, and pumpkin seeds. The second, and my ultimate choice was the Mexicado with a whole avocado, black beans, jalapenos, red onions, cherry tomatoes, lemon wedges, and mozzarella cheese.

To start, I added a cup of the Chicken Tortilla soup which contained large chunks of chicken, green peppers, and corn in a cilantro and cumin flavored stock. Thin tortilla strips, stringy cheese, and a garlic bread stick finished the dish. The soup was tasty, but not extraordinary, and was in need of additional seasoning.

My avocado bowl suffered from the same lack of seasoning. The cheese and assorted veggies were served on a bed of warm black beans. You would think that with the generous quantity of pickled jalapeño peppers and sliced red onion, it would have plenty of “pizzazz,” but it was surprisingly bland. I think that the problem lay in the lack of seasoning in the black beans, and I would have liked some smoky cumin to jazz them up a bit.

Chuck was drawn to the four ten-inch pizza options: the Mafias Hitman with Italian sausage, pepperoni, salami, cotto, mortadella, and fresh basil; the Four Cheese with mozzarella, provolone, parmi (sic), and feta; the BBQ Chicken with Mo’s BBQ sauce, chicken, salsa, and fresh cilantro; and the Rustic Pizza with roasted peppers, oven roasted tomato, and portabellas. As he reviewed the list of components, he noticed that ingredients available in the four pizzas included mozzarella, fresh basil, and oven roasted tomatoes. Would they make him a Margherita, substituting olive oil for the red tomato sauce? Yes, they would. While the crust was thicker and the cheese was heavier than he prefers, he was in pizza heaven. The kitchen even remembered to put the basil on after the pie came out of the oven.

Even though the Marketplace Café’s menu shows creativity, the execution left something to be desired and warrants no more than a 3.5 Addie rating.

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