Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Asylum - Jerome, Arizona

It's exceedingly rare to find a decent restaurant in an out-of-the-way tourist town. Selections are often limited to the kitschy tourist-themed (Uncle Petey's Wacky Mountain Chuck Wagon) to the expensive faux-fancy (Chez Petey's House of Steak and Beans). But befitting an organically atypical town like Jerome, I wasn't surprised that there was at least one top-notch restaurant in town.

They Asylum's located in the Jerome Grand Hotel, a concrete beast that looms above Jerome like Willard Scott's cliffside El Centro sex den. The hotel was originally built in 1927 as the town's hospital and then lay dormant (like much of the town) for most of the second half of the 20th century. In 1994 the hospital was rehabbed into a luxury hotel.

Being a few hundred feet above a town that's already a thousand feet above the valley below affords some of the best views of any restaurant I've been to.

We had a couple local beers at the dark wood-appointed bar and then moved to the patio overlooking the Verde Valley. Appetizer was the fried squid--medium sized squid rings and tentacles lightly dusted and quickly fried and perfectly tender. Well seasoned, not greasy, nice heat from the accompanying spicy aioli. Good stuff.

Our server recommended a really nice inexpensive Pinot Noir (Barra of Mendocino) served at a perfect temperature for out-of-doors dining on an 85 degree night.

Entrees. Grandmaster A had the New Zealand rack of lamb special which was excellent, albeit pricey (unlisted and a good 25% more than the most expensive item on the menu--a practice I'm not too keen on). I had the vegetarian entree--roasted butternut squash with sesame-crusted tofu, brown rice, vegetables, and pickled ginger. Great flavor combinations but an odd preparation: the squash was one big chunk of roasted squash instead of pieces, so it was a bit bland with an inconsistent texture. Mild hiccup.

We also had dessert, it was good--chocolate--don't remember what it was. We were drunk at this point.

Great space, gorgeous views, great wine list, solid food, and fair prices. It's nice to have an opportunity to end a day of exploring that isn't either McDonald's or diarrhea-inducing Mexican food. Worth a stop if you're in the area--near as we could tell it was nicest spot for dinner in the greater Jerome-Cottonwood-Sedona area.

The Asylum
200 Hill St
Jerome, AZ 86331
(928) 639-3197

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