Review: Sandwich and Salad 2.0 at Baratin

It’s common foodie knowledge that FnB, Pavle Milic and Charleen Badman’s gastronomical mecca in Old Town, is completely and utterly culinarily enlightening. It happens to be one of my personal favorites, so naturally I was clamoring to try Baratin.

Milic and Badman’s new eatery redefines lunch – I have yet to try dinner – while keeping the traditional “salad and sandwich” theme intact. As anyone who has tried FnB knows, Chef Badman has a way with ... well, every ingredient. She does not fail to impress at Baratin either, transforming even the humble chicken sandwich into a gourmet (and heartily sized) ensemble with new onion ragout and arugula.

I have learned after eating at FnB upwards of 50 times that not one dish on the menu is less than a solid “A.” It's fortunate that this appears to be the case at Baratin as well, as the menu changes quite often based on the availability of various ingredients. Not that I would expect anything less from Chef Badman, but my disappointment in seeing the chicken sandwich replaced with a Mediterranean-inspired lamb one was quickly erased upon tasting the latter.

It goes without saying that most, if not all of the dishes at Baratin are made with local, organic ingredients, per Badman’s culinary philosophy. Food from old standbys (namely McClendon’s) and smaller companies alike grace Badman’s imaginative creations. Not content with only serving such ingredients, though, Badman and Milic showcase many at Baratin’s sister operation, Bodega.

Connected to Baratin, Bodega’s shelves glimmer with an array of artisanal foods. These range from raw produce to baked goods to spice blends – I picked up a can of their dukka, an Egyptian spice blend – and the vast majority are used in dishes at either FnB or Baratin. While the selection may not be as exhaustive as in the artisan shops themselves, Bodega is a viable way to sample many of the Phoenix area’s premier local eats.

Also next to Baratin is Milic’s other brainchild, AZ Wine Merchants. As the name may suggest, this shop features Arizona wines, as well as some global varieties.

I realize that it may seem oddly specific to talk about a restaurant’s lemonade, but Baratin’s meyer lemonade is not to be missed. I consider myself to be a bit of a lemonade connoisseur (it's an art, after all), and this lemonade is hands-down the best I've ever tried. It’s the perfect blend of tart, sweet and citrusy bitterness. And, while I’m no restaurant bargain hunter, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it only costs $1 per glass. Consider that a glass of Minute Maid lemonade costs around $2 on average.

Baratin could get by on its food alone, but Badman and Milic have managed to make their new hotspot every bit as charming as FnB. Delightfully hidden off of 5th Avenue in downtown Scottsdale, the cafe is reminiscent of an Italian street cafe – cozy, urban and trendy-yet-classic. Touches such as glasses made from recycled wine bottles (available at Bodega) add to the shabby-chic feel of the place.

Through dedication to local, artisanal foods and simple, yet flavorful preparations, Pavle Milic and Charleen Badman have managed to create another world-class downtown Scottsdale eatery.


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