As we travel with The Food Channel we love to seek out local restaurants—what the industry calls “independent operators.” These are the places where we learn about the habits and customs of a town, find its specialties, even its oddities. We can chat with the locals and ask for recommendations for everything from menu items to where to find a replacement charger.
These are also the places where we find new ideas just starting to bloom. It’s where innovation and inspiration often come together.
We figure it’s time to share, so we’ll be bringing you a few of our favorite menu items, with full credit to the restaurant where we found some of the Most Interesting Things on the Menu.
First up is a surprising find in—wait for it—an airport. We still have an image of airport food as unimaginative, tasteless and overpriced. Our experience lately shows there is a stepped up game when it comes to airport food.
Case in point: Chelsea’s Kitchen in Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Chelsea’s Kitchen is billed as “an Arizona roadhouse on the canal” and apparently the locals liked it so much they decided to share it up close and personal with travelers. Our recommendation to eat there actually came from an airline representative, who told us it was the restaurant everyone was talking about.
The item that wins them “Interesting Thing on the Menu” status is deviled eggs. Think about it—how often do you see deviled eggs on a restaurant menu? The fact that it took us by surprise won them points. The delivery solidified it, with a beautiful presentation of five fully filled egg halves topped with crisp bacon pieces. The flavor was nuanced—they didn’t just add mayonnaise and call it deviled. There was the flavor of onion, mustard, salt, and perhaps a little vinegar. All this at an airport restaurant.
The rest of the menu was innovative, too, with Havarti and caramelized red onions on one of the cheeseburger choices, balanced by a nice selection of salads and an offering of shrimp ceviche.
They topped off their experience with another surprise—a stemmed cake plate at the exit with complimentary salted chocolate chip cookies that were really good, and just the right touch to make you totally rethink your perceptions of airport food and airport service.
Kudos go to Chelsea’s Kitchen for its interesting menu. Watch for the next in this series!