Beckett’s Table and Southern Rail:
Hop on Justin Beckett’s Southern Rail and take a seat at his Beckett’s Table.
Different in cuisine and vibe, chef’s two Phoenix restaurants are both committed to incredible tastes and innovative twists on traditional dishes. They’re great experiences, too, with open spaces and gregarious, knowledgeable staffs to enhance your culinary journey.
At Beckett’s Table, 3717 E. Indian School Road, 10 minutes from downtown Scottsdale in the Arcadia community, chef focuses on seasonal American cooking in a hip, comfortable environment.
Opened in 2010, the restaurant celebrates his passions: family, friends and great food. Seven miles west, Southern Rail, 300 W. Camelback Road in north central Phoenix, offers contemporary Southern cooking, with a seasonal menu sourced from heritage grains, smoked meats and fish and, whenever possible, fine produce from Valley farms.
“It’s been great going back and forth between both locations, creating the menus and working with our great people at both restaurants,” says chef, who is celebrating six years at Beckett’s Table with wife and partner, Michelle, and their business partners, Scott and Katie Stephens. “It’s always a fun day and really keeps you busy.”
The son of a pastry chef, chef remembers thinking about his eventual career by the age of 10. After completing his studies at the California Culinary Academy, he worked for Chef Roy Yamaguchi at his restaurants in Pebble Beach and Maui. Another mentor was Chef Charles Wiley at the landmark Hotel Valley Ho, where he assisted at its fine Cafe ZuZu.
Beckett explains that because of their menus and various hours, the restaurants have attracted somewhat different diner profiles but that both welcome a multigenerational audience intent on combining ambience and outstanding food in a community atmosphere. Dinner is served at Beckett’s Table, Tuesday through Sunday, and Southern Rail is open for lunch, Monday through Friday, dinner every day, and weekend brunch.
Featuring an expansive open kitchen to watch chef and his crew, a wine cellar wrapped in barrel staves and exposed bow truss ceiling beams, Beckett’s Table is warm, comfortable and sophisticated space.
Both restaurants are members of Local First, which celebrates ingredients sourced no farther than 30 miles away. For instance, appetizers and starters at Beckett’s Table include Local Hickman Farms Deviled Egg of the Day, Locally Milled Super Creamy Grits & Schreiner’s Sausage, with mustard jus, and McClendon’s Green Salad, including heirloom carrots, shaved radish, puffed corn and roasted tomato vinaigrette.
For entrées, signature items are Beckett’s Table Signature Fork Tender Short Ribs, with creamy mashed potatoes, sautéed veggies and red onion demi-glace; the Pan Seared Sea Scallops, including green bean, potato, spinach, chorizo, almond and creme fraiche; and the Tender Belly Pork Chop with smoked apple, kohlrabi, braised cabbage, butternut squash phew and apple gastrique.
“The focus here is seasonality and twists on American cuisine, but we keep the menu as broad as possible,” says chef, who notes that many items are gluten free, and vegan dishes are also available.
Across from the Central/Camelback light rail station, Southern Rail includes a dining room, outdoor patio, a bar with an extensive bourbon list and an award-winning wine program. Opened two years ago, the restaurant anchors The Newton, an adaptive re-use project honoring restaurateur Jay Newton, founder of Beef Eaters restaurant, a Valley landmark for more than six decades.
Scott, who oversees the restaurant and its beverage program with Katie, describes the food as a rail journey from the “low country” cooking of the coastal Carolinas to the Cajun and Creole fare of New Orleans, the slow-smoke barbecue of south Texas and on to the Southwest, represented by items such as the Mushroom Leek & Potato Enchiladas.
Stop in and enjoy just starters and soup and large plates, such as the Dirty Rice Balls, with smoked onion cream and corn relish; the House Smoke Trout, with sweet cornbread pea cake and lemon tomato jam and; the signature Smoked Chicken & Grilled Andouille Gumbo Ya Ya, with rice and green onions.
For the soup, chef notes, “It’s got to be the perfect dark roux, consistently the right color. I even went to Home Depot to get a color swatch to make sure it’s right on every time.”
Everyone talks about the Fried Chicken, whose soft, moist batter results from ingredients including Coca Cola sugar, black pepper and buttermilk. “What makes it is the touch, the motion of flaking. It’s all,” he says, “in the hands.”
For more information on Beckett’s Table, see beckettstable.com and call 602.954.1700 and for Southern Rail, SouthernRailAZ.com, 602.200.0085.