Father/Son duo, Peter and Pal Micakaj, have taken over the space in Hilton Village vacated by Bink’s Kitchen +Bar. Peter, Albanian by birth, immigrated to the US in the 60’s and has worked in the restaurant industry across the country, from New York City to Detroit and now Arizona. His son, Pal, joins him in the kitchen, while sister, Pauline Martinez, who co-owns Perk in North Scottsdale, plays a supporting role.
On a picture-perfect night that reminded us all why we live in AZ, Pauline explained the concept of Char as a neighborhood restaurant that serves locally sourced, seasonal produce and meats. The menu is an homage to Albania and the flavors of the neighboring Mediterranean countries, such as Italy, Turkey, and Greece. The name Char is in reference to the style of cooking over an open flame, which is common in that part of the world and imparts a certain rustic flavor and texture to the cuisine (I am reminded of what Francis Mallmann has done on this front).
Bartender/Mixologist Justin Czarnecki (Central Bistro and North) created the drink menu and started the evening with serving a taste of one of his signature cocktails, the Three of a Kind. Containing three liquors, Three Star Plantation Rum, St. George Raspberry Liqueur, Orgeat Syrup and a splash of fresh lemon juice, it set the stage for a colorful and eventful meal. I settled into the menu tasting with a light, crisp glass of Sileni Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. The family-style serving conjured up memories of meals we experienced in Istanbul, with an endless parade of platters, and everyone dipping, sampling and savoring. While I certainly had my favorites, like the Sriracha Chicken Skewers and the Grilled Pork Chop, I have to mention the humble Lamb Gyro, a necessity of many a Mediterranean restaurant. But it is the most simple, the most innocuous, that can also stand out. And I have to say, that this gyro is heavenly. I took the kids back the next day for lunch, and my son (mind you, age 12) was so enrapt with his gyro that he felt compelled to order a second one (“The lamb meat, Mom, I would just order the meat!!”). And not only the meat, but also the charred broccoli served alongside is special. Even as I reached across to steal a bite, he snapped, “Don’t eat it all!”. Goodness, what have I created??
CHAR Kitchen + Bar
6107 N. Scottsdale Rd., #110, Scottsdale, 85250
I was treated to a complementary dinner, but all opinions are mine…I like what I like. xoM
All photos by Marci Symington for texAZtaste.com