Posted on: July 15, 2013
I recently heard about pop-up dinners being served at NCounter in Tempe. This is a bit of a departure for NCounter, which typically closes at 3:05 p.m. and is known for its excellent breakfast/lunch menu, which I highly recommend. The pop-up dinners are being served on Friday and Saturday evenings only throughout July and feature a four course pre-set menu prepared by Chef Tony Andiario. Those of you who have dined at Quiessence at The Farm at South Mountain are most likely familiar with Chef Andiario’s outstanding homemade pasta.
I was intrigued by this pop-up dinner concept and joined five friends at NCounter last Saturday for the first of three weekend dinners. The preset, four course menu consisted of an heirloom tomato terrine with crispy squash blossoms and marinated cucumber and basil vinaigrette; grilled and roasted eggplant ravioli with sweet corn, ricotta, cherry tomato and homemade salami nola; slow-cooked Two Wash Ranch chicken with summer squash puree, peppers, purslane and Queen Creek Olives; and melon sorbet with tuile cookie and Utah cherries. Delicious! Although delicious falls terribly short as the proper adjective to describe this meal. My mouth is still watering at the memory of all the intense, fresh, wonderful flavors and textures of each dish.
The first course-the tomato terrine was gorgeous to look at and the perfect starter. The intense flavors of the tomato along with the fresh crisp cucumber and light crispy squash blossom worked my taste buds into a total frenzy. I couldn’t wait for the next course, the eggplant ravioli with sweet corn, ricotta, tomato and homemade salami nola. Sublime! Pastas are a specialty of Chef Andiaro and this one was fantastic. I’m not usually a fan of salami, but these small medallions of salty deliciousness were the perfect accompaniment to the silky, delicate pasta. The savory chicken served with squash puree, peppers, purslane and Queen Creek olives was a beautiful medley of flavors, textures and colors. The purslane part was a mystery to all but one in our group who knew that it’s actually a weed that grows practically everywhere, even in Arizona. It was quite tasty and a little reminiscent of watercress. Finally it was time for the elegant melon sorbet dessert. I cannot even begin to describe how wonderful it was. Talk about bursting with flavor! It was served with this lovely thin wafer of a cookie and fresh cherries and was pretty amazing. I would love a little scoop right now.
Everything about this pop up dinner experience was great. The dinner, with its perfect combination of wonderful fresh ingredients and flavors along with gorgeous presentation, was pure artistry. The first class NCounter team took care of us effortlessly (or so it seemed) from the minute we were seated. NCounter’s interior, with its stylish, but unpretentious ambiance was the perfect setting. As I looked around, it was apparent that everyone was having a thoroughly enjoyable time—the way you do when you’re sharing a memorable meal with good friends.
Chef Andiario will be preparing unique menus for the remaining pop-up dinners on July 19 and 20 and July 26 and 27. Each weekend will feature a unique preset menu. Also, I should mention that you can purchase wine by the glass. At our dinner we had a choice of two white and two red California wines that were excellent. Between the six of us, we sampled all four.
Reservations are required. Seating is limited to 40 people. Dinner is $45 plus tax and tip. Wine can be purchased by the glass.
NCounter is located in Tempe at 310 S. Mill Ave. For reservations, call 480-447-7248 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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