St. Francis Restaurant Phoenix

St. Francis, as of 5/27/2009.
St. Francis, as of 5/22/2009.

Update 09/05/2009: St. Francis is now open. Website with menu available. For my opening night preview in the Downtown Phoenix Journal, go HERE.

Just open already.

For nearly a year now, we’ve been anxiously awaiting (read: nearly frothing over) the opening of St. Francis, a much-hyped new restaurant on Midtown’s northern fringe. We’ve been teased with drips of information in the interim, which only seems to exacerbate local buzz even more-so.

One of the reasons is simple. St. Francis is one of the first genuinely high-profile dining spots to open in Midtown in recent memory (the new Gallo Blanco Cafe and Postino Central also come to mind). If fact, if the hype pans out, St. Francis could be considered the formal beginning of Midtown’s big dining bang. We’ve only been teased up until now.

Don’t get me wrong, there are great spots to eat in Midtown – Pane Bianco, Durant’s, Tuck Shop, Lola Tapas, Coronado Cafe, just to name a few. They all contribute greatly. However, the area hasn’t exactly been considered a true dining destination worthy of distant travel to as, say, other spots like the Biltmore and Arcadia areas, Downtown Scottsdale, North Scottsdale, etc.

Even Downtown (Phoenix) has moved up the dining destination ladder with the recent and impressive additions of Sens, Moira Sushi, PastaBAR, etc.

The magnetism behind St. Francis is chef-owner Aaron Chamberlin, who has fine-tuned his known culinary mojo at such acclaimed restaurants as Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s flagship NYC restaurant Jean-Georges, Washington D.C.’s power-haunt Citronelle, as well as a couple of notable, multi-acclaimed restaurants in San Francisco. Since moving to the Phoenix area several years ago, Chamberlin has also been associated with locally famed La Grande Orange Hopsitality.

It’s like, we get it already. You’re good.

Site as of 5/22/2009.
Site as of 5/22/2009.

Chamberlin, along with his partner (in more-ways-than-one) Lori Fenn, are developing a rustic, French-accented seasonal American menu, with a primed focus on “wood-fired” preparations.

Anyone who has driven along Camelback Road, just east of Central Avenue (at 2nd Street) has noticed the construction. Or, maybe re-construction is more appropriate.

St. Francis is taking over the notable two-story, mid-century office building that was originally constructed in the 1950s by architect Harold Ekman. St. Francis earns its name from the residential neighborhood of the same name just to its south.

The structure itself was beautiful, in that classic, ‘mid-century Phoenix’ sort of aesthetic. It thankfully appears that the folks behind the renovation are doing a careful job of enhancing its features without removing too much of its retro charm. And lucky for us patrons, apparently Chamberlin plans on utilizing both levels of the building for our dining experience.

The new space is planned to be upscale in product but casual in vibe, with the majority of entrees priced below $20. Once open, both a lunch and dinner menu is to be offered, as well as an all-day brunch menu on Sundays.

Keep an eye out in the coming days for a website, and more announcements. But please, hurry up and open already.

Expect a full review once this snail opens for business.

St. Francis | 111 E. Camelback | Midtown Phoenix

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10 Comments

  1. I’ve been watching this go up steadily since I pass by this location several times a week. The progress toward completion has become much more accelerated recently. I look forward to an imminent opening.

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  2. Agreed. I too have noticed the accelerated pace of construction lately. In just the past week or two alone a lot has been done.

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  3. Aaron Chamberlin is my brother, and I have to say that I don’t know a single soul that has spent his/her entire life dedicated to any craft like Aaron has been to cooking. He has been working in kitchens since before he was of legal age. When we were in high school, he always had some new recipe he was trying out (I never complained!). And even today, he spends practically every waking hour reading, studying, learning, living, and breathing food! This restaurant is going to be AMAZING. There are very few people that have the talent and experience that he does, and I’m not saying that because I love him. It is the truth!

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  4. For those of you anxiously awaiting, we are pushing for a July 15th opening. Remember….the best things in life are worth waiting for!

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    1. Great to hear Michelle, looking forward to it.

      Definitely keep us posted, as the opening date draws nearer.

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  5. For Aaron it is not just a talent but a life style. For example he spent some time in Mexico and steady the origin of masa, chocolate, coffie and various Salsa’s. He not just a chef, but well educated in food conbination, origin and presentation. He came by it naturally his grandfather (my father) was a chef. Arron has a cook book collection that has his grandfathers, grate grandmothers and grate grate grandmothers cook books. When Arron cooks for the family partys everyone comes, that is not true for when I cook!!! I am proud to be his mother.

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  6. ive known Aaron for about 8 months now and he is a very hard working and knowledgeable man. We met when we were working at olive and ivy and offerd me a job at his restaurant. And gladly accepted, can’t wait to start.

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