Scottsdale’s hottest new haunt—The Second Story Liquor Bar. This eclectic eatery is trending
as the see-and-be-seen Old town Scottsdale hotspot, and with good reason. The vintage-
inspired vibe and visionary victuals at this intimate dining and imbibing venue are as distinctive
as they are delightful.
Perched atop The Gelato Spot, “SSLB” as it is dubbed overlooks the intersection of Third
Avenue and North Scottsdale Road, and is just a short golf cart ride away from the kinetic
nightlife in Scottsdale’s downtown entertainment district. The restaurant is owned and operated
by the exceedingly engaging Tommy Plato, who can be seen nightly in the restaurant chatting
patrons up tableside. Tommy and his father, Don, meticulously built and designed the location
over a 3-year period—an effort that was not in vain.
gastronomics it serves. When I first entered the eatery, I was struck by the lounge sensibility
of the thoughtfully designed bar and dining space, which all wraps around a stunning crystal
chandelier that adds the perfect note of elegance to the space. The cozy bar shares the
restaurant’s open floor plan with four-tops and two-tops aptly positioned for privacy. Outside
there is additional two-top balcony seating overlooking the busy street scene below.
Décor-wise, it’s apparent that every detail of the sophisticated interior, including staff
styling, was instituted with intention. The wait staff dons lace, pearls and beautifully custom-
embroidered aprons, giving patrons the sense that they’ve stepped back in time into a moody
members-only club where they can kick back, enjoy a cocktail and stay a while. But, don’t let the
old fashioned frocks fool you—the fare here is quite contemporary.
Speaking of cocktails, beverage service at SSLB also breaks out-of-the-box as fine spirits and
fresh ingredients spun into both classic and signature concoctions are the backbone of this
dining experience where “old school” bartending is reprised. Signature cocktails such as Corpse
Reviver ($12)—gin, Lillet blanc, cointreau, creme de violette, and lemon juice—and Stay Nimble
and served up by the ever-charismatic bar man, John Christie, who frequently leaves the bar to
work his own charm on the rest of the room. And it works. Creative cocktails flow amid a lively
atmosphere filled with modern music and eager anticipation for the foodstuffs to follow.
During my dinner visit I found the menu, which notably changes not only seasonally but every
six weeks, to be delicious indecision. So, rather than opting for just one per-course selection,
my party of three decided to share two 6-course tasting menus ($70 each) that would allow us
to sample twelve dishes of our choice in total—nearly all of those offered on this adventurous
iteration of the SSLB menu.
What an extraordinary decision this turned out to be. In perfectly timed intervals, Executive Chef
Josh Bracher, formerly of Posh Restaurant and Capital Grille, sent out one painstakingly plated,
expertly-executed dish after the other. These escalated from the lighter starters to the heavier
meat-laden entrees. While each dish was a visual victory unto itself, even more impressive
was Chef Bracher’s knack for turning a mélange of components into exquisitely balanced and
layered combinations heeding both taste and texture. Collective favorites from our party’s dual
6-course tasting menus included Ahi Poke Asian Chopped Salad with honey ginger vinaigrette;
Mushroom Flatbread with Fontina cheese sauce, skiitake and oyster mushrooms, caramelized
onions and truffle oil; Duck Confit with spinach and ricotta gnudi, rapini pesto, golden raisins,
brûléed cherry tomatoes and wild mushrooms; Sweet Corn Agnolotti with crab leg meat, truffle
butter, lobster mushrooms and sorrel greens; Lamb Chop with goat cheese persillade, charred
Bone-In Rib Eye with miso butter, lemon verbena and honey caramelized turnip, tempura
asparagus and Maltese hollandaise.
Although the three of us were sharing a tasting menu built for two, all of us were perfectly
satiated by the eighth course as even the sample portions were generous. Even so, there was
no choice but to press on amid the culinary drama and intrigue that was unfolding before us.
After gaining a second wind, attentions turned to dessert. In another fun twist that makes this
SSLB distinctive, dessert here is “chef’s whim.” There is only one single dessert offering each
evening, which is based entirely on what ingredients engage the imagination Chef Bracher at
the market earlier that same day. For my visit, we were presented with a brilliant interpretation
of a deconstructed blueberry cobbler.
Given my own experience at SSLB, I’ve no doubt this restaurant is well on its way to making an
indelible mark on Scottsdale’s burgeoning cuisine scene. It’s certainly an essential itinerary item
“The Luxe List” Executive Editor Merilee Kern scours the luxury marketplace
for exemplary travel experiences, extraordinary events, and notable products
and services. Submissions are accepted at www.LuxeListReviews.com.
Follow her on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/LuxeListEditor and Facebook
***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were
provided at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee
Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***