If friends opened a restaurant in downtown Tucson, I hope it would be just like 47 Scott.
Opened earlier this year by Nicole Flowers, formerly of 58 Degrees and Holding Co., and Travis Reese, formerly of The B Line, the small eatery evokes a modern bistro vibe, although it's a bit on the minimalist side as far as the décor goes. Right across from the Pennington Street Garage, 47 Scott is prime real estate for the downtown lunch crowd.
Our first visit was on a rainy weeknight, and Ted and I delighted in watching the storm rage out the back window while we enjoyed a great meal. 47 Scott has a concise but wonderful wine list, featuring about two dozen wines, from all corners of the globe, at reasonable prices (from $20 to $49 per bottle). We opted for the Frenzy sauvignon blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand, for $22, which was a nice, fruity, fresh-tasting wine. The custom cocktails ($8 each), which include inventive ingredients like muddled sage, tequila and orange bitters, looked tempting.
Despite the rain, the restaurant was packed, but the service didn't suffer. Our server was quick and friendly, and soon after she delivered the wine (which you can opt to keep chilled in the back while enjoying a glass), she delivered our crusty bread and olive oil appetizer ($1), with a side of house-made fresh mozzarella ($2). The bread was divine—freshly baked and moist, with flecks of sea salt gracing the top of the crust—and was complemented perfectly by the fruity olive oil and the creamy, mild mozzarella, though I was wishing for more than the three small rounds of cheese.
I'd heard nothing but rave reviews from friends of the wild mushroom and spinach salad ($5 small, $8 large), so I had to try it out for myself—and those reviews were spot-on. The generous portion of roasted mushrooms was sweet and nutty, balancing the tangy spinach and the salty, warm bacon vinaigrette perfectly. (A vegetarian version of the dressing is also available.) The candied pecans were the figurative topping on the cake, lending a sweet crunch to the otherwise soft textures of the salad.
Our dinner arrived hot out of the kitchen. I dug into the burger ($11) with house-made fries, while Ted enjoyed the spicy fish cakes ($13) with a jicama and apple salad.
The burger was cooked to a perfect, juicy medium-rare, and was served with roasted red-pepper aioli and pickle slices made in-house, as well as your typical burger toppings—all on a challah bun, which brought an unexpected sweetness to the dish. The fries were absolutely delicious, crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside, and seasoned to perfection with sea salt and a hint of chopped herbs that I couldn't quite place.
The spicy fish cakes were equally fantastic, and were indeed spicy, as advertised. The small but plentiful cakes were seasoned like a crab cake, but made with white fish and hot sauce instead, and the jicama and apple salad offered a nice cooling element to the dish. It even came with extra chili sauce, which not only upped the heat factor, but also brought in a nice sweet flavor.
If 47 Scott were owned by friends, they could rest assured that I would be the obnoxious friend, hanging out there, hoping for the latest kitchen creation.
However, hanging out is not something that I really want to do when I'm pressed for time on a lunch break.
My second visit to the restaurant was on a weekday afternoon for lunch with my colleague, Rebecca. We had planned on an hour and 15 minutes for a round-trip lunch visit (from midtown), but we ended up being late to our afternoon appointments.
There were several empty tables when we first sat down, and the restaurant appeared to be understaffed. We waited nearly 15 minutes for a server to come to our table with menus and take our drink order, and then another 10 to 15 minutes for our entrée order to be taken. Thankfully, once we did order, the food came out quickly—but our empty glasses weren't refilled, and the service appeared very hasty. The pommes frites appetizer ($3) came out first, and since we had been waiting nearly 30 minutes, we were hungry and polished them off quickly.
My grilled cheese sandwich on brioche ($7) with "ever-changing cheeses" and the jicama and apple salad was delicious, with the sweet, buttery brioche contrasting with the salty cheese combo. Our server never explained which cheeses were featured that day, and I couldn't flag her down long enough to get the question in, either.
Rebecca, an Oklahoma native and barbecue enthusiast, took a chance on the pulled-pork sandwich on challah ($8), which she declared "delicious but dainty." It was a generous portion of sweet, sauced pork, and the house-made pickle slices and coleslaw added a needed tang against the sweetness of both the challah bread and the pork.
Once our plates were clear, we waited yet another 15 minutes for our server to return, making our lunch time longer than an hour, which can be the kiss of death for a downtown restaurant hoping to serve the harried masses at lunch. When she finally returned, we asked for the check and a dessert menu (an ever-changing verbal menu), and we each ordered a grilled Meyer lemon pound cake with macerated strawberries and vanilla-bean cream ($6 each). The warm chocolate-chip cookies with vanilla bean gelato (also $6) sounded tempting, but probably wouldn't travel well.
If 47 Scott can ensure that the delicious comfort-meets-bistro fare can be delivered quickly, without losing the intensity of preparation and freshness of ingredients, it will secure a place as one of the best lunch spots downtown. As it is, the restaurant is already a winner for dinnertime.