First bite: Our reviewer shares some thoughts on a new restaurant after an informal visit.
Taking the winding road to the hillside hamlet of Jerome is an essential Arizona road trip. But until recently, the best thing to eat when arriving was a haunted burger.
Michelle and Eric Jurisin were drawn to Jerome’s stunning vistas and quirky artistic vibe, so the Phoenix couple drove a hundred miles down the road and opened the hugely successful Haunted Hamburger in 1994. The restaurant was named a ‘after the ghosts who would have reside in the historic building play tricks. (The couple said that during the overhaul three of their hammers have mysteriously disappeared.)
End of 2020, the Jurisins have opened another place worthy of destination in Jérôme, a bistro and boutique hotel called The Clinkscale. I visited on a weekend, hoping to catch a glimpse of the town’s most famous resident, musician-turned-winemaker Maynard James Keenan of Tool. Didn’t spot Keenan, but my meal at Clinkscale was so good it was worth the trip alone.
The chic antique dining room may not be haunted like its sister business, but the inspired kitchen suggested to me that the kitchen might have an otherworldly helper.
A new restaurant in a pair of well-known Jerome restaurants
Located just a flight of stairs down the hill from The Haunted Hamburger, The Clinkscale is also perched in a charming historic building. Originally a commercial store, the building dates from 1899, the same year Jerome was incorporated as a town. It now houses a six-room boutique hotel and a restaurant of the same name.
There aren’t many options in town, so the restaurant caters to hungry locals as well as travelers looking for a party experience.
Judging by the photos of its brioche French toast and lemon ricotta pancakes, the restaurant appears to be offering average brunch service. But I was there closer to dinner time, so I dove into a menu that oscillates between casual and fine dining, with a great selection of sandwiches like a wood-fired cauliflower steak burger and a French roast turkey dip. Appetizers run the gamut from comfort food like grilled shrimp and parmesan grits to filet mignon and porterhouse steaks. They also have a double stack bacon cheeseburger if you still fancy the Haunted Hamburger experience.
At Clinkscale, order the pasta
My dinner partner and I ordered orecchiette. His sausage sported and perfectly grilled strands of broccolini, while mine featured a finely pounded Redbird chicken breast that was perfectly fried and placed next to a mound of buttery pasta.
That would have been pretty convincing, but then the offering was smothered in arugula lightly dressed in a lemon vinaigrette. Bitter greens were the perfect foil for the heavy pasta and fried chicken. It made me incredibly nostalgic for arugula orecchiette at a now closed bistro, B-Line in Tucson.
The Chicken Pasta Milanese was one of the most delicious bites I’ve had in the past few months. But I still managed to rally for dessert.
There were three dessert options: peach bread pudding, donuts, and flourless chocolate cake, which I ordered. It was decorated with strawberries and a sweet and brave whipped cream with Chambord liqueur.
It’s unfortunate that the menu doesn’t offer much when it comes to the Arizona wines this Verde Valley town is known for, but nonetheless, I found a nice contrast to the chocolate sweetness in my Cottonwood IPA.
After my mesmerizing dinner, I was certainly glad I had booked a hotel room nearby, as the walk back that evening was infinitely more fun than the drive.
Believe the hype: This restaurant in Phoenix is truly one of the best in America.
Or: 309 Main Street, Jerome.
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. every day
Price: Plates to share $9.50 to $17; sandwiches $13 to $16.50; salads $9 to $13; entrees $20 to $44.
Details: 928-634-6225, theclinkscale.com.
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