The Grill at Hacienda Del Sol may be pricey, leaving you wanting it for special occasion, but it will not disappoint. From the atmosphere, to the service and food – Hacienda Del Sol is worth the four-star rating on all levels.
We were able to sample most of the menu, and see what the dishes look like and how well they please an audience through a birthday party with 13 guests. I should add that many of those were from The Explorer Newspaper, so we are a hard group to please.
To start, many of us lounged at the bar. Some of us drank wine (there is plenty to choose from, with a wine list thicker than a dictionary), and many of us tried the specialties on the drink menu. They offer some signature drinks featuring their own infusion, including the Lemon Basil, which has cointreau, lemon, gin along with lemon and basil.
The Lemon Basil is a drink that begs to be enjoyed once the heat of summer arrives, or in our case, on Sunday. Having the drink outside wouldn’t be a bad idea with the grounds nestled in the foothills just off of Sunrise Drive. You get a good feeling for the atmosphere as you walk through the courtyard with the gurgling fountain and cactus garden, you sense you are in for a treat.
Once at the table, we were served bread with rosemary butter and an assortment of salts, including sea salt, a red Hawaiian salt, and a smoked salt. Our waiter was able to explain the salts and how the different ones could enhance different dishes, including the assortment of breads we were served.
Besides bread, the salts were also used to enhance the flavors of some of the entrees served to the group.
If there were any complaints from the evening, it would be the appetizer menu. It just wasn’t very appealing. Instead, I went with the butternut squash soup ($9), and my husband got the Ahi tuna salad ($12) with a miso dressing.
While the ahi tuna was seared to perfection, the soup lacked flavor, requiring some extra salt and pepper. To be fair, I will always judge butternut squash soup harshly, as I do not believe I will ever be served one that will compare to the best bowl of soup I had at the Cottage House in Flagstaff. Other reviews from the table regarding the soup were tepid at best.
The salad portions were generous. One couple split a salad, and their servings appeared to be enough to serve as a light meal.
The entrée menu is a little heavy on the red meat selection, which I wouldn’t say is a problem for me or most of the people in our party.
I struggled with my choice, having a hard decision between the Diver Scallops ($38) and the Grilled “Cedar Rivers Farms” 14 oz Ribeye ($45). I decided against the red meat I do love, and went with the scallops for a change.
My husband went with a special menu item, the wild boar ($36), which was part of the tasting menu, but our waiter assured us it is also available as a stand-alone entrée.
The scallops were the best part of the night. Cooked to perfection, the scallops were on a bed of pancetta celeriac polenta, with cucumber scallion salad and a citrus-date gastrique. The gastique added a delightful tang to the dish. I savored every bite, and while the portion size was generous, I couldn’t help but want more of the wonderful mixture of flavors.
The wild boar was a tenderloin, which was pork-like but with a depth of flavor that was not gamey. The waiter warned that it had some gaminess, but it wasn’t detected because it was incredibly tender and seasoned to perfection. The subtle sweetness from the leek-mashed potatoes was a perfect accompaniment to the meal.
Another dish that looked good was the Pecan Wood Grilled Filet Mignon ($42). Our friend was not disappointed in the dish, and left me thinking I will be trying it the next time we return.
Following the main course, the group was given a pallet cleanser that consisted of hot chocolate with jalapeño, peppermint and marshmallow. It didn’t particularly sound appetizing, but ended up impressing me.
I could have ended the meal there, but what would be the fun in that, considering we were there celebrating a birthday. For desert, my husband went with the liquid chocolate cake, and I took on the chocolate cake.
Both desserts were a hit, as it left both me and my husband arguing over whose was better.
I was impressed with the desssert menu because of the number of items with chocolate. Too often I feel restaurants leave out the chocolate factor.
By the end of the evening, we were pleasantly full, in good spirits and pleased with the view of the city lights as we walked out.
Hacienda Del Sol
5501 N. Hacienda del Sol, 529-3500
Recommended Dishes: Driver Scallops and Fillet Mignon
Price Range: Entrees - $25 - $45
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.