Restaurant Rendezvous: Acacia, worth another visit - Tucson Local Media: Nourishment

Restaurant Rendezvous: Acacia, worth another visit

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Lori Mervin

Posted: Wednesday, December 28, 2011 4:00 am | Updated: 10:17 am, Wed May 29, 2013.

Acacia real food & cocktails gets their name because they believe that “local, sustainable and naturally-produced foods are inherently better for consumption than the alternative.”

 Whenever possible, this establishment buys local, all natural, certified organic products. Last Friday, my family and I had the opportunity to dine there. We were excited to try out the creative menu, and to experience the ambience of a restaurant tucked away in the folds of the Foothills Mountains.

It was obvious when we stepped through the doors that Acacia had all the components of a fine dining restaurant—lovely décor, a full wait staff, a lovely wine cabinet, etc. It was busy when we went on the Friday before Christmas Eve. However, the service this night was quite slow, and much time elapsed before we received the wine we had ordered. For a restaurant of this caliber, the service could have been better and this definitely impacted the overall rating.

Our server, however, had a strong knowledge of the wine menu, and we ended up enjoying a very basic, reasonably priced red zinfandel (2009 Wine Guerrilla for $36). The wine menu was notable in fact, because many selections were moderately priced, which can be difficult to find at high-end restaurants.

Although they were offering a tasting menu of three courses, we decided to choose from the standard selection of Starters and Entrees. Anything from pasta to mission fig and goat cheese tarts are offered on this portion of the menu, but my family opted for classic, individual soups and salads. My parents both ordered the Acacia organic field green salad ($7), and there was no description on the menu about its ingredients. This made for a delightful surprise because instead of a typical concoction of greens and carrots, it arrived almost in the form of a Greek salad with artichoke hearts, feta, olives and pine nuts.

I ordered the hearts of romaine salad, which came with chile-sage croutons and Parmigiano crisp ($7). This salad was not only very tasty; it was also beautiful because the chopped romaine hearts were displayed in order from light to dark green, making it seem like one large lettuce leaf.

My sister ordered the soup of the day—a tomato puree with what seemed like a basil crème on top for $5.25. This too was very well done. Overall, the starters were a strong part of our meal.

For the main course I ordered the cioppino ($28), which was a southwestern interpretation of this traditional San Franciscan seafood stew. The complex, spicy tomato-pepper broth was amazing, as it contained notes of cilantro and paired well with the steamed clams, mussels, shrimp, salmon, scallops and crab. In my opinion, the fish could have been fresher. However, the salmon was delicious; probably because it comes from Loch Duart, an organic salmon farm located in Scotland.

My mom ordered the vegetarian dish—the sweet corn and green chile custard ($24). This might have been my favorite of the entrees because the presentation was attractive and the polenta (custard) had a perfect creamy texture. The custard cake was placed atop braised spinach, grilled asparagus, portabella mushroom, grilled eggplant, broccolini, risotto, zucchini and sweet peppers. Whenever I return to Acacia, I will most likely be ordering this dish.

However, the flavors in the pecan wood fired pork chop ($26) that my dad ordered were incredible. The pork chop came on the bone, and was garnished with apricot, garlic and honey glaze. Other components of this dish included green chile and sweet potato mash, and baked honey crisp apple.

Unfortunately, my sister’s center cut filet mignon “café de Paris” ($30), came out very overcooked. Once she received the filet, cooked medium, she found it very enjoyable. It was served with crisp tobacco shallots, buttermilk and roasted garlic Yukon gold potato mash.

For desserts we ordered the pumpkin bread pudding French toast ($7). This was both unusual and delicious. The texture was sweet and sticky, and vanilla ice cream, blackberries, whipped cream and an abundance of caramel sauce accompanied it. Our server was kind to bring out another complimentary dessert for our table—a poached pear with berries. This too was interesting, but the French toast was by far superior.

The dessert menu, along with the dinner menus, recently changed to incorporate seasonal ingredients and to accommodate the snowbirds. According to general manager Jason Smith, the menu becomes considerably smaller in the summertime to account for fewer visitors.

“We really pride ourselves on using sustainable and local foods whenever possible. Our executive chef Albert Hall creates all the recipes, and during this time of year we expand our menu and shift towards comfort food,” said Smith.

 

Acacia real food and cocktails

3001 East Skyline Dr. 232-0101

Rating: ★★★

Recommended Dishes:  Field green salad, hearts of romaine salad, tomato puree soup, sweet corn and green chile custard, pecan wood fired pork chop

Price Range: Starters, $5.25 to $19; Entrees $24 to $38; Desserts, $4 to $7.50

What the stars mean: Ratings range from zero to four stars and reflect the reviewer’s response to the food, ambience, and service. Prices are taken into consideration.

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