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He Said: Wine-paired dinners at Match Cuisine & Cocktails makes for a great meal

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Inside FOUND:RE, a new hotel in downtown Phoenix near Central Avenue and Roosevelt Streets, is Match Cuisine & Cocktails.

The hotel’s primary concept is a focus on local providers and artists. Located in the hip Roosevelt Row district, it incorporates the hipster and artist scene that make the area what it is today.

After taking a look around the hotel and enjoying its gallery space, you can make your way to the restaurant for a delightful meal.

If you are looking for a special way to enjoy your evening, take a look at the wine pairing dinners. We were lucky enough to be invited to the first wine dinner in a series. There are many more to come, so keep an eye out on their social media and webpage for more information as they get scheduled.

In the meantime, let me tell you about our experience.

The San Felice Winery was the featured vintner for our seven-course dinner. The dinners have limited seating to ensure you get an intimate experience and a chance to learn while you eat.

Before each course, the winery’s representatives told us about the wine we were about to enjoy. They included history and specific information on how the grapes were grown and the history of the particular wine.

Once we were fully informed and enjoying a glass of wine, we were treated to an equally wonderful meal. Chef Akos Szabo described each course and it was clear that a lot of effort was put into ensuring the pairing was perfect.

The first course was a “lollipop” of foie gras with an apricot gelee and crunchy basil sprinkled on top. It was inventive and amazingly balanced.

Next up were Kauai prawns, which were poached and covered with a velvety brown butter and topped with toasted hazelnuts and urfa biber — a dried Turkish pepper. The hazelnuts stood out to my palette, as I would not think to pair them with shrimp, and were a highlight accompaniment.

This was followed by a Top Knot Farm duckling with onion jam, kumquats, grilled grapes and mushroom jus. As a surprise, the owners of this local farm were present and they provided interesting tidbits of information about the farm and their partnership with Match.

My favorite dish — an herb-crusted rack of Colorado lamb — was next. It was plated on a carrot hollandaise with mascarpone gnocchi and a celery salad. The lamb was perfectly cooked and the gnocchi were little pillows of happiness.

Top Knot Farms furnished the next dish, a quail pillard with wood-fired strawberry, peppercorn-yuzu vinaigrette and shaved black winter truffle on top.

At this point, we were stuffed, but soldiered on for the final two dishes. The tempura pork belly was very meaty and not as fatty as I am used to, which balanced everything out well without being too heavy. It was plated on wild rice with Thai basil, licorice ponzu and a star anise lacquer. This rice was another wonderful accompaniment that was unique and surprising.

Last, but not least, was dessert — milk chocolate pot de crème that incorporated candied bacon, smoked almond, bourbon maple and freeze dried raspberries. I wish I wasn’t as full as I was because I would have eaten the entire dish.

At a cost of $149 for the evening, it was part entertainment and part beautiful meal. It lasted around three hours, as there is a lot to enjoy and learn.

When you consider the amount of wine and meals along with the intimate nature of it, it is quite a deal. If you aren’t one for a three-hour dinner, the regular menu at Match looks amazing and — if the food is as good as the menu for the wine dinner — you’ll want to go any night and enjoy.

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