Wasn't it revealed that the desserts are all bought and re-packaged? Anyway, if you've got the time and patience, the comments at the link are pretty damn awesome.
Amy’s Baking Company in Scottsdale, 3.5 stars
Outside Amy's Baking Company in Scottsdale.
PHOTO BY: John Samora/ The Arizona Republic
35 CommentsBy Barbara YostSpecial for The Republic | azcentral.comTue Jun 4, 2013 3:56 PM
Two years ago, a friend was in from Chicago for the winter. One night, we had dinner at Pita Jungle in the Shea Scottsdale shopping center, then strolled down the plaza and went into Amy’s Baking Company, the French-Italian bistro on the corner. She headed right for the pastry case.
But as we drooled over the chocolates, meringues and creme brulees, a man behind the counter began shouting and waving his arms to chase us away. “You can’t bring food in here!” he screamed.
We explained that we were holding little takeout boxes of Pita Jungle leftovers and had no intention of eating them on the premises. We just wanted desserts. He continued his tirade and told us to get out, coming around the counter and shooing us out the door.
My friend marched back in and asked to speak to the owner. “I am the owner!” the man informed her and barked her back outside. The man was Samy Bouzaglo, now of “Kitchen Nightmares” fame.
When all the ruckus erupted recently over TV chef Gordon Ramsay’s failed attempts to help Samy and Amy Bouzaglo rise from their ashen reputation among patrons like us, I was intrigued. The May 10 show had exposed a den of chaos, infighting, petty treatment of servers, cursing and more bleeps than a forklift backing up.
It was time to tiptoe back into enemy territory, this time to try the food and test whether Amy’s cuisine is worth dodging verbal shrapnel and culinary IEDs.
Scene: Amy’s online reservation system had broken down. But when I showed up with two friends, we found a table in this attractive bistro, which was doing a brisk business on the Sunday night before Memorial Day.
The atmosphere was slightly tense, fresh from the bistro’s public meltdown. Our servers seemed especially eager to please, frequently refilling water, smiling graciously, coming back time and again to ask how we were enjoying the food.
Food: Samy himself took our order, not writing it down but consigning it to memory. This is one of my pet peeves, but if someone can do it, fine. Time would tell.
We started by ordering an olive tapenade ($3) from the appetizer menu. Samy asked if we wanted to order bread to go with it, because it doesn’t come with any. That seemed odd. If we didn’t order bread, how were we supposed to eat this dip? It’s like offering bruschetta toppings but charging extra for the baguette slices to put it on. So we ordered the flatbread ($5) to go under the tapenade and they arrived together on a plate. Why not just offer a tapenade plate with both dip and bread for $8 when customers have to order both anyway?
The flatbread was excellent, beautifully golden, slickly oiled, just the right thickness. The tapenade was fine, with a rich, meaty consistency but surprisingly bland. It could have used a hit of capers, anchovies or a dash of salt, something to give it a bit of spark. If those ingredients were in there, they were mighty shy.
Service was leisurely, so we waited a while before our next shared dish appeared, a lemon-chicken panino ($12). The chicken inside was juicy and spanked with lemon flavor, studded with slices of preserved lemon. But someone left our sandwich in the panini press a little too long — the bottom was overly browned and burned at the corners. Not a complete deal killer, but points were deducted.
Declining to write down our order came back to bite Samy. A margherita pizza arrived at our table instead of the asparagus-and-prosciutto pie we had ordered ($12). The server quickly hustled it away, and Samy came out to apologize. He was certain we had ordered margherita. Pen and paper — what a concept!
This was a minor speed bump. The pizza, with shaved asparagus, strips of lean prosciutto, a sprinkle of goat cheese and mozzarella that streamed from each slice in gooey threads, was terrific. I like my crust just a little chewy; this was crispy and similar to the flatbread, but that’s personal preference. Our pizza rated nothing but raves.
We couldn’t say the same for the gnocchi. On “Kitchen Nightmares,” the incendiary chef Amy insists all her food is fresh and homemade. Samy, however, acknowledges that sometimes they don’t have time to make their own pastas, such as ravioli and gnocchi. Ramsay ranted that the ravioli served him had been frozen.
Still, we went for the gnocchi, soft little pillows of potato dough bathed in a tomato-basil sauce ($12). The question of whether the pasta came from the freezer — the pillows were tender and flavorful — was overshadowed by the sauce. Less sauce, or one more delicate, would have been preferable.
We saw Amy herself poke her head out of the kitchen only once as she worked on something behind the counter. No fireworks ensued. If patrons had come hoping to see a melodrama play out, they were disappointed.
Desserts: Finally, as if I had come full circle, I got to have my French pastries, and there was no holding back. All made in-house, according to our server, they don’t disappoint. But be prepared to share. Portions are not skimpy. Make your choices right from the jewelry case that teases patrons throughout dinner, reminding them to pace themselves or risk being too full for sweets.
The creme brulee is traditional ($8) with a creamy custard base and a sprinkle of sugar on top. Samy whisked it away from the display case to be freshly torched as the sugar morphed into a crunchy amber shell. The garnish is one splayed strawberry.
Another good choice is the lemon-meringue tart ($8), a tepee of a dessert with a round, hard crust as its foundation, a floor of piquant lemon filling and a pyramid of fluffy meringue as its peak, broiled golden and scented with almond.
Chocoholics have several treats to choose from, including classic mousse, but try the chocolate brulee cake ($10). It’s a slab of chocolate cake layered with ganache and a dollop of light chocolate buttercream, punctuated with a streak of hard dark chocolate balanced on its crest and dusted with sparkling sugar.
I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the desserts.
Drinks: Amy’s has a full bar, an ample wine list and signature martinis.
Lowdown: Peel away all the hoopla and see Amy’s Baking Company for what it is. If you choose to dine here, leave your bias at the door. The interior is bright, breezy and open. Attention from the young servers is genial and efficient. Any delays are not their fault. As for the food, consistency is not Amy’s strong point. To be safe, come for the pizza, stay for the phenomenal desserts.
Everyday Dining restaurant critic Barbara Yost dines anonymously and pays her own expenses. Reviewed restaurants are chosen because of their location, unique menus or newsworthiness, among other reasons.