Monday, April 18, 2011

Coming (Back) Soon: Stempkowski's Own Restaurant

About three and a half years ago, local chef Robert Stempkowski opened his own restaurant after a good number of years working in Phoenix's finest kitchens. It was called Urban Campfire, and it was terrific. I yammered very enthusiastically about it to almost everyone I knew. It was a casual restaurant near ASU. Stempkowski cooked barbecue and smoked meats with a master's touch. Along with the great dishes came little fine dining touches with down-home flair, such as a deviled egg amuse-bouche, and Otter Pop mignardises. Then, he and the guy with the money behind the operation had a falling out; Stempkowski was gone. Without its driving force, the kitchen fell hard. The smoke in the meat disappeared, the meats were tougher, the macaroni and cheese's sauce broke... everything that came out of the kitchen showed they just didn't care anymore. Shortly after, the Campfire went out. Stempkowski stayed in the industry, this time working in the front of the house at notable local restaurants like noca and Rokerij.

Then today, I woke to an email from none other than Robert Stempkowski. It turns out he's getting set to open his own place again. The idea is going to be pretty similar, with a number of dishes from Urban Campfire making their return. There's also going to be some new things including smoked meats to-go and homemade sausage, a summertime snow cone bar (Is it too much to hope a liquor license will be involved?), and some Polish smokehaus-style comfort cuisine. Best of all, this time he's running the show all by himself.

Ya think I'm a little excited about all this? Oh, hell yes. Look for the new place to open in central Phoenix some time in May. And of course, look here for more details as Robert lets me know.