Friday, August 03, 2007

Review: Cafe Zuzu, Hotel Valley Ho, Scottsdale AZ

(In interests of full disclosure, I work at Hotel Valley Ho, but in a different department. I stayed objective as possible, and yes, they did know I work at the hotel.)

I have been working at the Hotel Valley Ho for over a year now. It's a great place. However, due to my weird schedule from working the dinner shift, I haven't been able to partake in the offerings at the hotel's other restaurant, Cafe Zuzu. I'm always either in bed or at work when Zuzu is open. I do have a friend who joins me regularly for breakfast, and we love going all over the place. We've been to Matt's Big Breakfast, Butterfield's, Au Petit Four, and a host of other breakfast places. There are some great places for breakfast in town, but I would have to say that Zuzu blows everything else clean out of the water. The atmosphere is delightfully retro, with oranges and browns all over the place, and plenty of curvaceous furniture. The waitress, Sharon, did a wonderful job of keeping our coffee and juice full and the table clean (she's one of the few I've seen who regularly picked up empty sugar packets) and was just the right level of cheerful warmth to make you feel right at home. The food is serious stuff, too. I had the daily special, a Seafood Newburg omelette loaded with crab and shrimp; my friend Mike got their breakfast sandwich, consisting of a fried egg, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and veggie cream cheese smear on toasted white bread. My roomie came along too, and he tried the strawberry waffle. I truly love how everything was perfectly done familiar comfort-style food with just enough of a twist to make it interesting. That's a tricky balance; too familiar and it tastes just like everything else out there, too unique and almost every breakfast diner out there will turn up their nose at it. I'm very hard pressed to pick a stand-out dish; all three were winners. I think that Mike's breakfast sandwich was the winner by a nose. It was something about the veggie smear that just brought everything together. Roomie's waffle had lemon-orange curd on top, which somehow went brilliantly well with maple syrup. My seafood omelette was very rich, but not *too* much so. It knew right where that line was and came as close to it as possible. House-made apricot preserves were a very delicious touch to top my toast.

Before tax and tip, the full breakfast for three was around 42 dollars. I would say it's a very solid value; a little pricier than most breakfast places, but you will certainly be well-fed with very high-quality grub. I've spent a long time searching, but I may just have myself a regular weekend breakfast spot. And to think, it's been right under my nose all this time.