Monday, March 26, 2012

Best of SpringTraining: Don & Charlie's and Daily Dose

Baseball is almost here!!!! March brings my now yearly pilgrimage to Scottsdale, Arizona to get my first looks at the team as they are in Spring Training preparing for the upcoming season. It was great having Buster and Freddy back in action and I got a few good creeper pics of Timmy warming up in the outfield bull pen!

Nate! My Giants "Boyfren"

As with any vacation I always look forward to those special dining experiences that you don't have at home. A tradition for any Spring training attendee has to be dinner at Don & Charlie's. Maybe even more famous for the memorabilia collection than they are for their excellent classic Americana steak house fare this is always a good spot to catch a glimpse of the front office staffers schmoozing or players out for dinner with family and friends. My other favorite spot is a unique breakfast & lunch joint Daily Dose for their classy take on the classics!

Don & Charlie's

We put a lot of thought into the perfect night for this particular dining excursion. Our hope, as always while in Scottsdale, was that we might run into someone (anyone) from the Giant's organization. With their off day on Monday Sunday night seemed pretty promising! I called to make the reservation a month in advance to be certain we could get in. The weather was absolutely crazy on Sunday (rain, hail, & gale force winds!) so we ended up retreating to our hotel room much earlier in the day than anticipated leaving us with a little extra time to walk next door to the mall and enjoy a beverage at the Yardhouse there. Even with the extra time with 5 girls in one hotel room we were getting ready down to the last possible second. With the crazy weather still looming cabbing it to the restaurant (only about 4 blocks from our hotel) seemed like the best move. As our group arrived we were just in time to make our reservation. The hostess called for Jennifer Brock and we hurried through the crowd to the front, as a did a charming silver fox of a gentleman "claiming" he was with our party as well. Little did I know in the moment that he was actually the manager so when I teasingly asked him that if he was with us could he please point out which one was Jennifer? I shouldn't have been too surprised when he immediately replied "you of course!" Our interaction paid off as the waiter took our drink orders He stopped by to ask if we had been there before and I let him know that it had become part of my tradition to have dinner there and had brought my friends for the first time. He in turn rewarded us with a complimentary appetizer! All day we had been talking about spinach dip so as the waiter named our options it was easy to be unanimous when that was offered.
Warm creamy and delicious their dip is served with chips and has just the right amount of broiled cheese on the top. We were scrapping the ramekin to get every last bit. Our wedge salads arrived not long after and I couldn't help diving into that as well! Wedge to me is a special occasion salad since it basically has no nutritional value and the ice berg lettuce is basically just receptacle to carry the blue cheese dressing, bacon,& tomatoes to your mouth.
The older I get the more I appreciate a well made martini and Don & Charlie's does them top notch, so top notch in fact that I had 2.
Just how I like it, Bombay Sapphire Dirty
As our entrees arrived we couldn't help noticing Larry Baer, Giants recently promoted CEO making the rounds and shaking hands. Not long after that a table of older gentlemen (all sporting various World Series rings) were seated next too us. Though we weren't sure who they were it was obvious they had been in the game for sometime!

We had quite the variety of items at the table when it came to entrees. I love their coconut shrimp with marmalade dipping sauce, Alicia went light with their chopped salad, Fiona had the Prime Rib, and Tori & Angelina shared a filet. Tori learned last year that while delicious, the chicken dish is huge! Someday I need to try their famous ribs, I wasn't really dressed to cover my hands in BBQ sauce that night. Of course we couldn't say no to dessert and shared an ice cream sundae, banana creme pie, and creme brulee with chocolate chunks on the bottom.

While we all enjoyed the food one of the most unique parts of Don & Charlie's is the memorabilia. It's lining every surface, even the ceiling in some areas! From signed jersey's of various sports, the magazine covers and caricatures they have it all. I love the huge cases of signed baseballs from some of the greatest to ever play the game.
You could spend hours looking at it all so if there is a wait for a table don't fret you will be endlessly entertained. Forgetting we had intentions to hit the town that night we soon found ourselves back at the hotel in bed lulled to sleep by the wonderful meal we had just eaten.


Daily Dose

Another find from our 2011 Spring Training trip was Daily Dose, an inviting and modern diner type restaurant on the main drag in Scottsdale's old town. They serve up all the favorites for breakfast with lots of tempting options and really high quality. Right off the bat I'm always impressed with the slice of cucumber in each water glass and the huge mugs filled with rich flavorful coffee.
I enjoy this restaurant so much for breakfast that I actually came here twice on our trip which is almost unheard of for me! This is my one chance each year to get to spend time with my best friend from high school who lives in the Phoenix area. We decided that we would catch up over breakfast and I was eager to take her here. We both enjoyed variations on eggs Benedict "DD Style" Replacing the English muffin and hollendaise with a biscuit and gravy. I had to have some of their house specialty hash as well with it's roasted butternut squash and mushrooms. While it might not sound like a total breakfast food it compliments everything so well.
Since the other girls didn't come with us I was happy to enjoy their food again on Monday morning as we got ready to finish up our time in Scottsdale. This time I tried the "Blue & Ginger" french toast. Nice thick slices of texas toast battered and grilled topped with a blueberry compote and their house made ginger snap granola that gave it a really unique texture and crunch. Of course I had more of their delicious hash with this too!
Every plate they do is great!

Since it is such a popular spot it can be a little bit of a wait especially if you want to enjoy the patio, but don't fear there are lots of chairs for waiting outside and complimentary coffee!

All in all we had a great time at spring training this year and can't wait for the season to get underway! I'll be bringing you more food reviews from the ball park like I did last year, as well as suggestions of other restaurants near by to grab a beer or a bite before or after!

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