Food Critic Dominic Armato reviews Fox Restaurant Concept’s new grill Doughbird.
Dinner during a Sam Fox grill is a bargain, and Doughbird Pizza Rotisserie is no exception.
I’m not articulate about a prices, yet that’s infrequently a case. But let me explain.
Fox, a titanic, award-winning figure behind a self-titled Fox Restaurant Concepts, is a challenging businessman. “Empire” is not too confidant a word to report a grill organisation with more than 60 outlets travelling 16 brands and 10 states, and no restaurateur has had a bigger impact on a Valley’s dining stage over a past decade.
The hit on Fox is that in regulating Phoenix as a proof belligerent for inhabitant concepts — a business incubator for that food is a widget — he sucks adult all a oxygen in a room, gloomy a kind of creative, midrange independents that are critical to an elaborating food culture.
The counterpoint is that he runs a razor-sharp association that takes good caring of a employees and infrequently does pierce a culinary needle (if reduction aggressively). Plus, any internal success story is a success story, full stop.
Either way, a diners have spoken. Fox Restaurant Concepts is by no means defence to the pressures common by a whole industry, yet many grill owners would gladly carve off a integrate of digits (speaking fingers, not figures) if it meant pulling down Fox-like numbers.
Give a people what they want
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It’s a elementary formula. And in Phoenix, justification would advise a people wish well-prepared, receptive food for a good cost in an appealing room.
At a Fox grill — like North Italia, Olive Ivy or The Arrogant Butcher — a discount is struck when we transport by a door. You obey a odds that your cooking will be special or memorable. In return, we get a smooth, veteran knowledge from a kitchen and a waitstaff and a non-threatening plate that positively anybody can enjoy. It’s a understanding that concurrently lowers a roof and raises a floor.
But what if somebody doesn’t utterly reason adult their finish of a bargain?
While a larger context is both engaging and important, Doughbird — Fox’s 16th brand — deserves to be deliberate on a possess merits.
Open in Arcadia since March, a grill is built around twin cornerstones of pizza and rotisserie chicken, a multiple that’s usually a few burgers and maybe a integrate of tacos bashful of cornering a marketplace in zodiacally appreciated foods.
The boxy, whitewashed hangar of a building contains a standard Fox gloss with adequate room left over to park a tiny airplane, or about 200 guests.
Neat and tidy, splendid by day and bathed in yellow light by night, Doughbird is clean and contemporary with a tiny bit of reversion charm. Between a bustling, wide-open kitchen during one finish of a room, wooden trestles backing a roof and patterned tiles covering a floor, volume levels will expostulate off a noise-averse. But families seeking a tiny cover for their talkative kids will fit right in.
In fact, families seem to be Doughbird’s bread-and-butter crowd, either they’re seeking something a tiny ones will puncture or bringing a whole clan, including fussy Aunt Rose. But no matter how finicky, both Aunt Rose and a kids can find something to eat. Anybody can.
Variable starters, variable service
Hummus ($10) and charred shishito peppers ($9) are informed to many during this point, yet they might usually be attack Aunt Rose’s radar. The hummus is a workmanlike rendition, predictably light on tahini with a lemony punch, surfaced with uninformed tomatoes and herbs, and a powdering of za’atar, an herbaceous Middle Eastern piquancy blend. The shishitos are simply preserved and blistered, served alongside a creamy, delicious “umami sauce” for dipping. There wasn’t a sharp one among them.
The same can’t be pronounced of a buffalo wings ($12), maybe a menu’s biggest surprise. Fiery prohibited with a appreciative sweetness, lickety-sour vinegar cocktail and a sniff of uninformed dill, these wings needed usually a tiny some-more compactness to span with their punchy flavor.
Simpler salads are strongest. The garden “chop” ($11) — a puzzler: not chopped — was a splendid and frail brew of greens strewn with slivers of summer vegetables. An apple and goat cheese salad ($10) was built on a raise of sprouting arugula and ideally dressed. However, quinoa felt shoehorned into an heirloom tomato salad ($12), while one with duck and avocado ($14) was slathered with plantation and featured rugged bacon and a blue cheese so amiable that a astringency hardly blipped.
Sandwiches like a primary rib drop ($17) and plantation duck salad ($14) seem flattering geared to a lunchtime crowd, and they’re solid, if rather reduction than enticing. Our server never mentioned that by grouping a duck avocado salad and a plantation duck salad sandwich, you’re effectively grouping a same plate twice.
A tiny quibble, yet not a usually lapse. If Fox restaurants are famous for frail and fit (if delicately scripted) service, Doughbird still needs tuning 6 months in. Incomplete orders, dishes privileged before they’re finished and prolonged stretches spent perplexing to dwindle somebody down were distressingly common, and a ubiquitous miss of gloss was evident. Frustrating and surprisingly out of impression for Fox.
One of Fox’s other hallmarks, kitchen consistency, was likewise an issue.
Doughbird’s pizzas are maybe reduction ardent than their pre-opening promise. In Phoenix, good bread is a expectancy rather than a exception, and Ed LaDou — Wolfgang Puck’s initial pizza prepare during Spago in a early ‘80s — would have something to contend about a idea that creative, themed toppings are treading uninformed territory.
That said, a pizzas are mostly good when a bread is on point, that was for one of my 4 visits. On a others, a membrane ranged from chewy and tough to many blonde with roughly no color, with a few alighting gamely in a middle.
The leader — due to throwing a membrane that was usually right — was a grill duck pizza ($15), with charred corn and onions, a smattering of white Cheddar and a salsa that was refreshingly unsweet. A breakfast-esque mixture of bacon and tender, feathery scrambled eggs ($15) also played utterly well. And a matrimony of crispy pastrami, Gruyere and preserved mustard seeds ($15) had all going for it solely that a crispy kale on tip was some-more dry than crispy.
The basics — a elementary margherita ($14), a pepperoni and burrata ($15), the meat-laden Aviator ($16) —are all respectable, if a tiny behind a bend where Arizona pizza is concerned. A Brussels sprouts mixture slathered with melted honeyed potato ($14) and a turn ham pizza ($15) — a spin on a classical Hawaiian that adds shishitos and basil into a brew — work when well-balanced, yet infrequently come across as overly busy.
Overly bustling is not a problem where a duck is concerned. And that can be a good thing. A elementary bird, skilfully seasoned and spit-roasted to a mouthwatering crisp, is one of a world’s good exercises in minimalism.
At Doughbird, however, a duck ($17 for half, $24 for whole) is a grill homogeneous of a grocery-store rotisserie bird. It’s of a aloft peculiarity and has a advantage of not sitting underneath a feverishness flare for hours. But it’s a neutral protein with sleazy skin and an overcooked breast, and it tastes like a missed opportunity.
Whether conscious or not, a duck acts as a vacant line-up for a litany of salsas that run a progression from luscious to tame. The buffalo salsa is first-rate; a jalapeño pesto has good change with a tiny zip; and a umami salsa is extremely satisfying, a tawny poser brew that I’ll try includes miso, mustard and anchovy in some form.
But a jerk jelly is a bluff fool toward a confidant tradition; the pineapple teriyaki is tiny some-more than honeyed on sweet. A horseradish creme fraiche needs a whole lot some-more horseradish to assistance out a rotisserie primary rib ($27 for 10 ounces, $33 for 14 ounces), luscious and pinkish on one revisit yet routine and gray on another.
Sides ($5) are as candid as they come, and accurately what we expect. Potato wedges are good and crisp; buttered corn is simple; and “perfect potato puree” is dainty and not too heavy, though grossly oversold. The usually side that astounded was a straight-up mac and cheese, if usually given we suspicion mac and cheese that hasn’t been tarted adult in some conform was prolonged given extinct.
As for candy ($7), “The Elvis” — a peanut butter and chocolate parfait with bananas and bacon sandies — hits a mark with a good lurch of salt. Beautifully singed butterscotch adorns an differently plain and dry cake, yet some-more cryptic was a pink streusel pie. I’m flattering certain peaches weren’t meant to be chewy, and if they miss healthy sweetness, adding a boatload of sugarine isn’t a fix.
To be clear, there is positively zero wrong with duck or pizza or a multiple of a two. Despite Fox’s bent to take aim during a soft center of a mass market, this would be a ideally pleasing mark if all exhibited Fox’s common turn of polish.
But a disproportion between simple and tasteless is a turn of pointing that isn’t always in justification during Doughbird.
Then again, to an observer, it doesn’t seem to be blunting a crowd.
Diners are doing a flattering good pursuit of holding adult their finish of a bargain. But while Doughbird infrequently works, Fox could do a improved pursuit of holding adult his.
Doughbird Pizza Rotisserie
Where: 4385 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix.
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Details: 602-345-9161, eatdoughbird.com.
Price: $25-$50 per person, incompatible beverage, taxation and tip.
Stars: 2.5 (out of 5)
Restaurant examination rating scale (stars formed on food, service, ambience):
5 — Excellent
4 — Very good
3 — Good
2 — Fair
1 — Poor
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