Some might call Boondocks Patio & Grill a restaurant with a patio. More accurately, it’s a patio with a restaurant attached. The expansive outdoor space boasts high-top tables, a large sofa area, a covered deck with tables, a game area with table tennis, bag-toss games and a digital dartboard. Open since March, the place has umbrellas and a misting system to defy the hottest days of summer, and both indoor and outdoor bars.
Daytime comfort might be irrelevant since this looks to be a nighttime destination in one of Scottsdale’s hot nightclub neighborhoods, off Camelback and Scottsdale roads.
Scene: When the sun goes down, Boondocks is no doubt a center of activity that belies its name. It’s all very attractive, with the possible exception of one corner of the patio that has a decidedly Flintstones look. Otherwise, the white sofa seating — how do they keep them clean against an onslaught of red wine? — and wooden tables and chairs shaded under a cedar overhang makes for a stylish environment that invites lingering. (Be warned: The sap drips now and then.)
Food: The menu was designed by Steven “Chops” Smith, who earned his chops at such notable Valley venues as Noca, Different Pointe of View, Olive & Ivy, St.Francis, Kelly’s at SouthBridge and the short-lived Searsucker Scottsdale (he left before it shuttered). Smith is an itinerant chef who creates a signature menu, tutors the staff and then moves on. Our amiable server kept calling the food “gourmet,” and this might have become annoying if it hadn’t been true. Maybe gourmet isn’t the right word, but it’s certainly a cut above most bar food.
We stopped by for lunch. The menu is constructed to pair well with beer, wine and cocktails. Much of it is nibble food that emphasizes appetizers and “boar’ds,” a nod to the restaurant’s boar mascot.
Two sandwiches are standouts: The Succulent Hen ($10) is aptly named with a generous but not ostentatious slab of juicy chicken breast, roasted red peppers, lettuce (ours had arugula), caramelized onions and goat cheese layered on exquisite Noble Bread. Made by a local artisan bakery, the bread has substance without being challenging, crusty but with a delicate crumb.
The character of the resident boar is well represented in the pork po’boy ($9), a sandwich of intensely flavored pulled pork accompanied by pickled onions, crispy shallots, cilantro mayonnaise, slaw and barbecue sauce that doesn’t overwhelm the meat with a backyard-cookout sweetness. It, too, is on a lightly toasted Noble Bread roll.
Sandwiches come with bowls of sides, such as roasted potato salad and roasted veggies. I’d like to see both a little chunkier instead of being chopped into tiny niblets, but they have a good flavor.
The starters menu is ample. You’ll find a kind of crossed swords of grilled broccoli ($8), two large stalks posed at right angles, charred in spots, drizzled with an anchovy vinaigrette and dotted with candied walnuts and breadcrumbs. Fortunately, a steak knife if provided. This veggie could be a little more tender, but every molecule of nutrition is preserved. Once you pare it down to edible chunks, it’s terrific.
The star of this meal was the two baby skillets of fried brussels sprouts ($7), pan-roasted until almost caramelized and dabbed with bits of goat cheese that melts just enough to scent every leaf. If you’re a sprouts lover, you’ll swoon. If you’re not, this might be your gateway drug into cruciferous vegetables.
If you’re nuts for arugula, don’t miss the arugula salad ($8), a nest of the peppery greens blended with pickled red onion, cubes of avocado, bacon, marinated tomatoes, dried cranberries and cotija cheese. The salad is dressed in a blue cheese vinaigrette.
Finally, our meat and cheese board ($18) arrived. Finishing a meal with salad and cheese is, of course, the European style. It was a lovely board, laden with Brie and Manchego, blue cheese, another Spanish cheese, curls of prosciutto, slices of sausage and salami, links of chorizo cocktail sausage, pepitas, dates, Marcona almonds, cornichons and grilled bread. The selections change according to the whims of the kitchen.
Desserts: Boondocks has an approach to dessert not unlike Henry Ford’s historic comment that a customer could have any color car as long as it was black. Here, you can have any kind of dessert — as long as it’s the seasonal skillet of the day. We were told our choice was some Oreo thing. Egad. I pictured a big, sweet gloppy mess of mashed Oreo cookies and who knows what else. What arrived was a dainty little iron skillet with three deep-fried Oreos and a scoop of vanilla ice cream ($6). This is the kind of stuff you find at the State Fair, where these concoctions are wildly popular along with deep-fried butter and burgers sandwiched between two doughnuts. Well, no wonder. This was the classic cookie dipped in tempura batter and flash-fried as the filling melts. It was delicious.
Drinks: Boondocks features a menu of domestic and imported wines and beers, including wines and beers on tap, and signature cocktails such as the Southern Belle, Moscow Mule, Pink Paloma, the Dirty Dock and the Fifty Shades of Grapefruit.
Lowdown: Everything indicates Boondocks is going to be a great place to hang out. Get there early and grab one of the couches. With a drink in one hand and a handful of nibbles in the other, management might have to call security to get you to leave.
Kid friendly? Yes, during the day.
Stars: 4(out of 5), based on food, service and ambience.
Price: Less than $20 per person for a three-course meal, excluding beverage, tax and tip.
Details: 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily. 4341 N. 75th St., Scottsdale. 480-949-8454. boondocksaz.com.
Reach Yost at firstname.lastname@example.org. She dines anonymously and The Republic pays all expenses.