SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. - The Friday night crowd at the popular Proof American Canteen is in a festive mood. Hearty laughter and lively chatter fill the air.
Servers slalom around tight tables as they balance pitchers of beer and plates overflowing with American fare: chili, hot wings, fried green tomatoes, crab cakes, shrimp and grits, Maine lobster rolls, chicken and waffles, shrimp and oyster po’ boys, and burgers piled high with deep fried bacon and eggs.
It’s straight out of the hit Food network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, only this scene is being played out in one of America’s chicest resort properties, the 5-star Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North.
Proof is the recent addition to Four Seasons Scottsdale lineup of noted culinary establishments but don’t let its rustic good looks fool you. At Proof, America’s “diner culture” intersects with “fine dining” and appropriately it’s all just a stone’s throw from iconic Route 66 (remains of the legendary highway cut through Scottsdale near the Four Seasons resort).
It was in the early days of Route 66 when dishes now featured on Proof’s menu were first served up to motorists heading west.
The relaxed atmosphere at Proof is the perfect complement to a resort that gets guests into “party” mode with one of the best pool complexes in the U.S. hotel industry, two of the most respected golf courses in the world, Pinnacle and Monument, hiking trails that allow you to meander into the bordering Sonoran Desert, and one of America’s highest-rated spa facilities.
Above: The Four Seasons Resort is chic but Proof adds a down home appeal.
The young hostess who welcomes us to Proof suggests we might like to eat al fresco on the restaurant’s wraparound terrace, and with the sun setting behind nearby Pinnacle Peak and turning the cloudless Arizona sky a ruby red, who can resist?
The congenial servers at Proof, dressed in cowboy chic, make the dining experience fun with a mix of lively chatter and information about the area — “there’s so much to do in Scottsdale; you must see Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West (one of the genius architect’s most famous house designs) and the Apache Trail (the fabled stagecoach route that brought early American settlers to the southwest),” says the enthusiastic young woman with the cheery freckled face.
Lots to do, indeed. But first, let’s eat!
Soon, the server arrives with our lip-smacking, finger-licking good entrees: spicy Louisiana gumbo, beef ribs smothered in a tangy barbecue sauce, bread rolls stuffed with large chunks of lobster, side orders of mac and cheese and cauliflower casserole. The late evening dinner is capped off with a frothy milk shake made at Proof’s nostalgic soda fountain.
Proof is the perfect way to end a fun-filled day at the Four Seasons Scottsdale — and the perfect way to start it, as well.
So impressed with what we experienced the night before, we return to Proof early next morning to sample some breakfast delights. We’re tempted by regional dishes like buttermilk biscuits, hash brown potatoes accompanied by tomato-bacon jam, ham steak that comes swimming in thick gravy and turkey sausage.
We end up ordering a short stack of blueberry pancakes, yogurt and fresh berries, a Venice Beach Smoothie, and wash it all down with prickly pear tea, made from a local cactus.
Energized by Proof’s delights, we set out to explore Scottsdale and its many attractions. A walk through the desert to Pinnacle Peak, where desert flowers are in full bloom, is the highlight of our morning activities. The Four Seasons has carved out a trail in the Sonoran Desert so guests can marvel at the flora and fauna living there.
Time for lunch, so we grab a cabana near the resort’s adults-only pool, order some light fare and admire the jagged mountains that ring this Four Seasons beauty while soaking in the warm water heated au natural by the blistering Arizona sun. Afterwards, we keep an appointment at the resort’s legendary spa — the therapists are among the best in Scottsdale, which qualifies as the spa capital in the United States.
Left: From the terrace of Proof diners get a great view of the Arizona desert. Right: The desert sits right outside Proof.
The Four Seasons’ spa, which is scheduled for a remake in the next few years, still looks pretty good and offers some unique programs like the summer Happy Hour (treatment prices are drastically reduced during certain summer periods) and that keeps clients coming back.
The spa’s signature treatments — the Head Over Heels (featuring two therapists), the Pinnacle Facial (this is pure gold because the precious metal is part of the treatment) and the golfer’s massage (it involves warm golf balls) — are always a tough choice because they’re all equally beneficial.
The Four Seasons Scottsdale also offers a variety of body treatments that use ingredients extracted from plants found in the Sonoran Desert — the jojoba and prickly pear polish inspired by local cactus is highly recommended.
You’ll need the golf massage to get you primed to play either of the resort’s great courses — both Pinnacle and Monument make most “Top” golf lists and most industry magazines rate these courses among their Top 10.
It’s hard for me to choose a favourite from these equally exciting courses — it’s like trying to decide which child you like most. However, Pinnacle is a bit more forgiving and offers a more relaxing outing for occasional players. Both courses meander through the awesome Arizona Outback and the stunning views challenge my power of concentration.
As the sun sets and we make plans for dinner while enjoying a late afternoon cocktail on the balcony of our well-appointed casitas-style room overlooking the pool and far off Pinnacle Peak, we are tempted to return to playful Proof but opt instead for romantic Talavera, the resort’s high-class steakhouse.
Talavera is Proof chic.
As we settle in for an evening of fine dining — Talavera’s menu features prime cuts of meat, poultry and game that have all been locally sourced — we are entertained as the sun silhouettes the mountains and stars sparkle on the black velvet sky.
This is Proof positive that Four Seasons Scottsdale is a place that you can enjoy the best of all worlds.
Air Canada offers direct daily flights to Scottsdale via Phoenix. / The Four Seasons Scottsdale is the perfect place to base yourself if you want to explore the Phoenix/Scottsdale areas. For informaiton and rates, go towww.fourseasons.com/scottsdale / For a list of things to do and see while in the Scottsdale area, check out www.experiencescottsdale.com or go to www.scottsdalecvb.com