The Collins Small Batch kitchen
3160 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, 85016
The Collins Small Batch Kitchen opened its doors last month on the northwest corner of 32nd Street and Camelback Road. Tucked into the back right corner of the shopping complex, the Collins is a kind of reinvention of the restaurant it replaced, Twisted Grove Parlor + Bar.
To the right side of the entrance is a seating area, where diners can either look out at 32nd Street, or face the other direction and see what is going on in the large exposition kitchen. Guests can also sit at the bar and choose from an extensive list of beers, wines, cocktails and shandies.
The Collins has a regular lunch and dinner menu, but also features four to eight daily specials that may be limited in quantity. Examples include a Maine Lobster Roll on noble bread pan loaf, a Crab & Corn Chowder, or a Seasonal Pumpkin Pie on graham cracker crust.
It will be tough to skip the appetizers while having dinner here. Some of the most popular are the French Onion Dip, with caramelized sweet onions and chives, and the Pecan Wood-Fired Artichokes, with parmigiana-reggiano, citrus aioli and black pepper. But the two that stood out to me were the Salmon Tartare and Charred Brussels Sprouts.
The tartare is a bowl of sushi-grade salmon mixed with avocado, cucumber, fresno peppers and scallion. Lattice chips accompany the main course, and a heaping portion on a chip gives you a surprising fresh taste of salty and sweet. Speaking of sweet, the sprinkled candied bacon and the balsamic reduction make the Charred Brussels Sprouts seem like anything but a vegetable.
The entrees showcase a wide variety, from omelets to beef short ribs. But believe it or not, the best bite of food in the entire evening may have been from a slice of pizza. They are cooked in a wood fire oven, and the crunchy and doughy crust combination is an immediate giveaway if you have any doubt about the process. Those with wheat allergies can rest easy, as The Collins has gluten-free dough available too.
There are eight different pizza options, but it would be difficult to imagine beating out the Mushroom + Sausage. The two main ingredients are heaped onto a parmigiana-reggiano white sauce with gruyere cheese. The curveball ends up being the charred Brussel sprouts littering the top. That may give some people pause, but it ends up being the smoky crunch that brings the entire ensemble together.