By Kathy Montgomery | Photograph by John Burcham
It’s easy to miss Abbie’s Kitchen. The building looks like someone’s home, which it was before Abbie Ashford turned it into a restaurant in 2011.
Built in Jerome in the 1920s, the cottage moved to its current location in Old Town Cottonwood in the 1940s. Two intimate dining rooms and a commercial kitchen make up the interior. Painted in muted shades and decorated with original artwork, the dining rooms feel homey, each table set with a mix of china patterns and a single rose in a milk-white vase.
Ashford describes her cuisine as “high-end comfort food,” with high-quality, locally sourced ingredients prepared simply. The focus on local extends to the beverages, which include a selection of Arizona wines and beers. The pastas, sauces, crackers, dressings and desserts are all made in-house, and the menu changes frequently.
Ashford’s background as a private chef perhaps explains the restaurant’s homelike atmosphere. Wearing a monogrammed apron and glasses with thick black frames, Ashford circulates among her diners, chatting companionably like the hostess of a dinner party.
Abbie’s Kitchen doesn’t turn tables. Your table is yours for the night. And a maximum of about 30 diners allows for an uncommonly personalized experience, beginning with questions about food sensitivities when making reservations.
On our arrival, our server explains that we should consider the menu a guideline. Substituting salmon for shrimp, for example, presents no problem. We can order half of one entrée and half of another, or split dishes at no additional charge. Of course, that level of quality and service comes at a price. On the night of our visit, entrées range from $24 for a niçoise salad with seared yellowfin tuna to $49 for a rack of lamb that is the night’s special.
Old Town Cottonwood emits a charming small-town vibe, yet Ashford’s menu reflects big-city sophistication. Our dinner begins with complimentary hummus, served with snap peas, celery and boutique carrots in a rainbow of colors. The night’s appetizer menu features foie gras with onion jam and a stone-fruit caprese salad with prosciutto. Entrées include Canadian duck breast with blue-cheese sauce, wheat-berry pilaf with roasted vegetables and a 16-ounce Arizona rib-eye. Our server says the scallops today were not up to the restaurant’s standards, so wild-caught salmon has been substituted in the chermoula shrimp and scallops over fettuccine.
After dinner, we aren’t sure we can manage dessert, but our server suggests a half-slice of cherry rhubarb pie, served warm with ice cream. We eat every bite and want more. It makes the perfect finish to a delightful evening. If you find yourself in Cottonwood at dinnertime, you won’t want to miss it.
Abbie's Kitchen is located at 778 N. Main Street in Cottonwood. For more information, call 928-634-3300 or visit www.abbieskitchen.com.