Sunday, May 17, 2009


InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa
4949 E Lincoln DriveParadise Valley, Arizona 85253
(480) 627-3200

Prado is the signature restaurant at the new InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa in Paradise Valley, Arizona. The design of the hotel is inspired by Andalusia in southern Spain. Camelback Mountain is a stunning back-drop to this sprawling resort. The history of southern Spain is unique with major cultural influences from Roman, Greek and Moorish occupation. The restaurant is a large space highlighted by lovely fabrics, textures and colors that truly create an old-world ambiance of luxury and comfort. Amongst the delightful design of archways, pillars and Moorish tiles, our table was located directly across a large wood-burning fireplace that is an outpost of the kitchen for preparing the wood-grilled specialties. The menu stays true to the foods of southern Spain and the Mediterranean, but is greatly influenced by the Italian born chef, Claudio Urciuoli. There is a strong emphasis on the use of fresh local ingredients and high quality food products along with simple preparations that allow the food to speak for itself.

Kate started with a Gazpacho of tomato and piquillo peppers. The chilled soup was a smooth puree with delightful flavors of sweet tomato, red pepper and a lovely essence of green vegetables. She loved it. I chose the Burrata with roasted tomatoes and olive bread. The Burrata was a large wedge of fresh mozzarella, enhanced with cream, with a fantastic light texture and sweet dairy taste. The accompanying herb scented roasted cherry tomatoes and grilled olive bread highlighted how three simple ingredients, in the right hands, can surpass culinary excellence. I know I will order this dish, again, when we return.

For entrĂ©es, Kate had a "nightly special" Arroces ( rice dish), with chicken, spicy sausage and heirloom tomatoes. This dish was baked in a large terra cotta cazuela and is Prado’s version of a Paella. We both enjoyed the dish and greatly appreciated to delightful melding of the flavorful ingredients in a flavorful roasted and toasty (but moist) rice matrix. I ordered the Alaskan Halibut. The large center-cut halibut fillet was perfectly cooked with a golden brown crust and served on a bed of farro. The farro had a pleasant chewy texture, nutty taste and was deftly seasoned with ras el hanout, a cinnamon scented spice blend traditional to Northern African.

The dessert menu looked too good to pass-up and we couldn’t resist each ordering one. I ordered the Spanish-style Churros with a warm chocolate dipping sauce and Kate ordered a Chocolate Tart with fleur de sal (sea salt) and red chili flakes. Both were great. The Churros had crisp, cinnamon and sugar coated outsides with light moist centers. The dipping sauce was cocoa-luscious. The Chocolate Tart was a creamy caramel infused chocolate balanced by a sprinkling of fine sea salt and perky chili flakes. A scoop of refreshing olive oil gelato crowned the dish.

Our service at Prado was exceptional and can be largely credited to their new General Manager, Pavle Milic. We were warmly greeted when we arrived and given perfect attention and service throughout the evening. Our waiter, Olivario, expertly answered our questions about menu preparations and ingredients and he delightfully guided our dining experience. This is a beautiful restaurant with elegant straight forward cuisine and attentive professional service. We give Prado high marks for knowing how to do things right. Bravo Prado.

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