By Alison Bailin Batz
The newly opened Dust Cutter, a modern restaurant and saloon nestled into the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel, is part-homage to the Old West, part-homage to the authentic flavors that make the Valley extraordinary, and all that you need for a very special night on the town.
“When the West was wild, after a day of riding the desert trails, a cowboy would saunter into a saloon for a shot of something strong to cut the dust and lift his mood,” says Jon Erikson, director of sales and marketing. “Fast forward to today. Our eclectic, urban desert setting that is no stranger to the occasional violent and expansive dust storm itself – especially during the August monsoon and haboob season – is the heart of Dust Cutter: a place to take off your metaphoric hat and spurs and relax with amazing food and drink.”
An Instagram-worthy restaurant situated between the hotel’s lobby and the newly opened, pedestrian-friendly Adams Street, Dust Cutter’s open floor plan and massive garage doors roll back to welcome both locals and hotel guests, creating an interactive intersection of community, culinary and contemporary cowboy. A 25-foot-long streamlined bed of local river rock and large custom iron logs are cleverly set up to create a sculpture mimicking a roaring blaze, with real flames planned and warmth for the winter months. Open to both the inside and out, low stools line the bar area, creating a perfect venue for people-watching or catching a game on any of the eight 55-inch screen televisions.
“Dust Cutter has design elements that range from spirited to whimsical, including stools resembling lug nuts and light fixtures made of salvaged parts from old bridges. Over-scaled railroad beams suspended with frayed rope support an eye-popping 6-foot pair of spurs, along with a variety of rustic pendant lights,” Erikson explains. “Our feature wall, fittingly named The Cabinet of Cocktail Curiosities, pays homage to the mixologists of yore with an eclectic display of vintage barware and collectibles.”
With a room this bold and imaginative, Dust Cutter Executive Chef Josh Murray – the former executive chef at the famed Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort & Spa – was driven to create a menu that was equally memorable and representative of the Valley of Sun, purposely avoiding being labeled Southwest or Tex-Mex. Murray’s commitment to “pay respect to the Sonoran Desert” is evident in his menu of sandwiches, salads and signature entrees, featuring shareable portions at affordable prices, including: tender belly bacon-wrapped struffed dates ($7), Hatch chile Hayden Mills corn bread skillet ($5) and avocado fries ($7).
Lead Mixologist Tony Escalante is equally committed to creating a Sonoran-infused menu and incorporates house-made shrubs and syrups into the signature Dust Cutter batched cocktails, including an early favorite in the Beet Around the Bush cocktail featuring Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, maple beet shrub, maple syrup and bitters.
Dust Cutter is open daily from 11 a.m. to midnight. Dust Cutter, 100 N. 1st St., Phoenix; 602.333.0000; www.renhotelphx.com.