When the invitation to an 8+ course chef’s tasting at Atria Restaurant Flagstaff arrived, I was over-the-top excited. Chef Rochelle Daniel—recently nominated for the James Beard Emerging Chef award—would lead me through the tasting in one of the newest Flagstaff restaurants. So naturally, I wondered what it would be like to meet the Food Network’s Chopped competitor. Her food creations had blown me away when she was Executive Chef at L’Auberge de Sedona, but we’d not met in person, although I was intrigued by her penchant for creating ‘food as art.’ Here’s what I discovered coming out of Chef Ro’s modern American kitchen:
Table of Contents
The vibe at Atria Restaurant Flagstaff is stylish but approachable, with a bleached limestone fireplace and wall spruced with green plants, white leather bar chairs and fun wallpaper that mimics Flag’s aspen trees. I dibs one of the eight seats at the chef’s table near the exposition kitchen next time, although I loved the comfy pastel sage leather seating and butcher block tabletops set for our group dining experience.
Pre-dinner drinks at Atria Restaurant Flagstaff
The full-service bar offers specialty cocktails mixed with housemade syrups and tinctures and an extensive wine and beer list with high-end wines available by the glass. I ordered the Atria Old Fashioned. The delicious concoction included Templeton Rye, Angostura Bitters, Demerara Simple Syrup and an orange peel.
Served at the chef’s discretion to prepare you for the meal, the amuse-bouse offers a glimpse of the chef’s style. Chef Rochelle Daniel’s fondness for using natural elements like seaweed, polished black stones and straw augment the plating of her culinary creations. Hence, the amuse-bouche showed off her use of artistic technique big time.
Be assured that the food tastes as good as it looks. With the amuse-bouche, Chef Ro balanced the creamy texture of Panna cotta with the delightful pop of bitting into the caviar topping. Presented in a ceramic ramekin nested in a bed of smoked hay, the savory oyster panna cotta puts a creative spin on an ingredient typically used in sweet desserts.
First Course: Charred shrimp tartare
The charred shrimp tartare—sounds like an oxymoron, right?—rendered a mouthful of layered flavors, including crispy shallot, spicy chile and pickled apple. Chef Rochelle Daniel chose to serve it on a blue corn tostada that was crispy and wonderful.
Added Tasting: Oyster on the Half Shell
Chef Ro was gracious to add a tasting after the first course. She presented her oyster on the half shell on a bed of ice, surrounded by a garland of green knotted kelp. The apple, ginger and hibiscus granita added unexpected zinginess to the oyster.
Second Course: Coal-Roasted Beets
Chef Rochelle Daniel’s coal-roasted beets surprised my taste buds with a smoked flavor I don’t usually associate with beets. She finished the fresh and straightforward cold appetizer with whipped ricotta, herb oil, tahini dressing and candied pepitas.
Third Course: Roasted Bone Marrow
Expert servers presented the still-steaming roasted bone marrow on raclette grills. Frites Street crinkle-cut fries accompanied the sumptuous marrow flavored with mushroom, brandy and garlic.
Of course, after finishing the roasted bone marrow at Atria Restaurant Flagstaff, we had to do a “Whiskey Luge,” using the bone as the shooter. A new Flagstaff ritual!
Fourth Course: Roasted Mussels
Our fourth course at Atria Restaurant in Flagstaff was roasted mussels and tomato with herbs and Mole butter on Báhn Mì toast.
Chef Rochelle Daniel’s spin on Bánh Mì Vietnamese sandwiches, typically filled with pickled veggies, roasted chicken and Hoisin sauce, was enchanting.
Fifth Course: Pasta Stuffed with King Crab and Parsnip Dupio
Fresh pink flower blossoms softened the stuffed pasta’s stimulating color, while the parsnip added a touch of sweetness to the vibrant dish.
During our eight-course tasting meal at Atria Restaurant Flagstaff, bartenders poured drinks to pair perfectly with the modern American, farm-fresh menu curated by Chef Rochelle Daniel.
Sixth Course: Sonoma Duck Breast with XO Glaze
“XO” is actually Hong Kong shorthand for high-quality, prestige and luxury. Chef Ro laid the cured duck breast in the XO sauce, made from dried shrimp and scallops, ham, shallots, garlic, chili and oil. The presentation with flower pedals and sliced beet florets was as lovely as each taste of the exquisite dish.
Seventh Course: Smoked Creekstone short rib
The smoked Creekstone short rib made a grand entrance on a rustic ceramic plate with an arch of bone thrust skyward. Celeriac, roasted onion and Bordelaise sauce accompanied the savory dish.
Dessert: Chocolate and Banana Tart
I’m typically not a fan of sweet desserts, but Chef Rochelle Daniel’s use of dark chocolate with the natural banana fructose was not overly sugared. The tapas-sized dessert was a picture-perfect finish for a tasting experience of food as art. Or was it art as food? You decide!
The Tasters at Atria Restaurant Flagstaff
As is common in the travel industry, UNSTOPPABLE Stacey was provided with accommodations, meals, and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the Arizona travel writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.
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