A Progressive Culinary Experience

The Place: Restaurant Progress
The Location: 702 W. Montecito Avenue, Phoenix
The Hours: Tue–Thu 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fri–Sat 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sun–Mon Closed
The Dish: 5-Course Tasting Menu, Narragansett Day Boat Scallops, Odelay!
By: Jessica Cowan

Look out Phoenix—there’s a new culinary experience on the rise, and it is every bit as good as its preceding reputation. Restaurant Progress is a small new eatery that sits at the corner of 7th Ave. and Montecito Ave. in the Melrose District (right next door to the quaint Melrose Pharmacy). Although it can be easy to miss the restaurant as you’re driving by, their delicious menu is worth the treasure hunt of finding this beautiful restaurant.

Restaurant Progress has an intimate and relaxed atmosphere, with dimmed lights, pristine subway tiles, and industrial-style chairs. The interior offers just under 40 seats, while the patio is enclosed in ivy-covered brick walls with heaters available for winter months. The kitchen itself takes up only a small corner of the open floorplan, allowing guests to watch as chefs prepare their meals. All in all, Restaurant Progress is a unique eatery with the propensity to change the Arizona dining experience with its high-quality food and unobtrusive location.

While this restaurant is perfect for romantic dates, the atmosphere is friendly and inviting, making it ideal for a comfortable dinner with family and friends. It offers a full bar with numerous wine and liquor bottles lined along its many shelves, and is staffed by an attentive bartender with fantastic recommendations. When asked what his favorite cocktail was, the bartender instantly suggested the Odelay! ($13), a light, citrusy drink made with mescal, elderflower, grapefruit, honey, lemon, orange, and bitters. It was the perfect addition to the savory, melt-in-your-mouth Narragansett Day Boat Scallops ($30), accompanied by chorizo, fingerling potatoes, and topped with shaved celery. The scallops were easily the highlight of the meal and are certainly something to write home about.

While the menu is small, the tastes are expansive. In addition to our scallops and cocktails, we also tried the chef-inspired 5-course menu ($75 per person), which includes an appetizer, salad, mid-course meal, entrée, and dessert, all chosen at random by the kitchen. Each plate is accompanied by a detailed description from the server about what the dish consists of and how it’s prepared. The kitchen served us the Ahi Tuna Tartare, Farro & Arugula salad, the Maple Glazed Berkshire Pork Belly, A-5 Wagyu Flat Iron, and the Lemon Semifreddo. Although each plate was delicious, our favorite item was the Maple Glazed Berkshire Pork Belly, which was juicy and tender on the inside with a maple-infused crisp on the outside.

Although we recommend the 5-course meal to anyone that can swing the price, the server assured us that each menu item is a la carte. As an add-on to the 5-course dinner, guests can also choose to pay for the Bartender’s Choice Wine Pairing ($35 per person), in which the bartender will hand-pick wines to best accompany your meal. The element of surprise with the Wine Pairing and 5-Course Meal is an enjoyable experience and encourages guests to relax and simply enjoy the food that comes out.

So, the next time you find yourself in the Melrose District, be sure to stop by, stay for a while, and enjoy a fine, high-quality meal in the heart of Phoenix.

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