Living Room offers cool vibe, shareable plates SanTan Sun News

Living Room offers cool vibe, shareable plates

Living Room offers cool vibe, shareable plates
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By COLLEEN SPARKS
Managing Editor

The Living Room in Ocotillo has been giving diners a cool, relaxed place to hang out for leisurely bites they share with friends.

People have been enjoying “Awesome Fries” and “Bang Bang Shrimp” as they sip on wine, whiskey and cocktails for almost a decade at the restaurant on West Queen Creek Road, slightly east of Price Road.

It offers dishes ideal for passing around the table for groups to nosh in a setting reminiscent of a family or living room.

Couches and plush chairs indoors and outdoors on a cozy patio create a comfortable but hip feel.

Families, couples and singles pack The Living Room to feast on injectable donut holes filled with chocolate, Bavarian cream or berry flavors, as well as custom-made omelets and crepes and to sip drinks from the Bloody Mary bar during brunch on weekends.

Diners line up for half-price whiskeys and to eat tender barbecue brisket on Wednesday nights and they dive into oysters on Thursday nights.

On “Burger And Bottle Night,” customers can sink their teeth into two burgers, one side dish and a bottle of wine for $35 per couple.

A wide array of wines and whiskeys, along with fun cocktails complement the meals and appetizers at The Living Room.

Customers can also check out the other locations of The Living Room at 4905 E. Ray Road in Ahwatukee and in Scottsdale in DC Ranch at 20751 N. Pima Road or Gainey Village at 8977 N. Scottsdale Road.

David Emran, operating partner with ownership for all locations, said the restaurant is all about customers kicking back and taking their time eating and drinking with others.

The Living Room in Chandler was the first of the group to open, first welcoming customers in December of 2009.

“It’s sort of that lounge and relax,” Emran said. “We encourage you to stay as long as you like. Everything we do is 100 percent quality.”

Crystal chandeliers, as well as mid-century, modern soft seats and gold wallpaper create an upscale but warm environment in the restaurant.

Some popular appetizers diners like to share at The Living Room in Chandler are the oysters available from 4 p.m. until the restaurant runs out on Thursdays.

Customers can get individual fresh oysters on the half shell for $2 each, served with their choice of mignonette, cocktail sauce, horseradish or Tabasco sauce.

The Living Room brings in about 20 dozen oysters a week and always sells them out, Emran said. The oysters come from seafood purveyors in Oregon, Washington state and California.

Oysters Rockefeller, a half dozen, for $15, are also on the menu Thursdays and are baked with a combination of cheese, pancetta and spinach.

Customers can drink oyster shooters, which are beverages with a Bloody Mary with Tito’s vodka, Tijuana drinking water – Cuervo Traditional Plata, pickle juice, salt and lime and street oysters with Cuervo Traditional Plata, pico de gallo and green Tabasco, for $6.

Sea salt and vinegar fries plated with a housemade tartar sauce for $5 are also available on Thursdays.

Whiskey Wednesdays are also a big hit at The Living Room in Chandler. Guests are eager to buy whiskey for half-price and also to eat the barbecue prime brisket for $15.50 prepared by Dave Mains, a local chef.

The barbecue is available from 5 p.m. until the restaurant runs out of it. The brisket is cooked overnight in a smoker over a mixture of charcoal, hickory, oak and chunk pecan.

“We want to be (at) that moment in time the best brisket,” Emran said.

The Living Room also carries at least 100 different types of whiskey and two popular ones are TX Whiskey out of Texas and Yellow Spot from Ireland.

Weekends are busy and crepes and omelet stations are set up. Brunch is offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Customers can order omelets any way they like with their choices of regular eggs or egg whites, along with four different types of cheese, as well as bacon, diced chicken, ham and sausage and numerous vegetables including asparagus, basil, bell peppers, mushrooms and green chilies.

Six crepes are tempting treats many diners like to eat during brunch.

The most popular Southwest crepe features chicken tinga, along with jack and cotija cheese, salsa fresco, guacamole and sour cream for $13. Guests can also order mixed berry, veggie, as well as ham and cheese, the Nutella and banana combination or peanut butter-and-jelly crepes.

The injectable donut holes are “perfect for brunch” and are cinnamon-sugar dusted, Emran said. They come with customers’ choice of two of these flavors: chocolate, Bavarian cream or berry for $10.

The berry flavor has blueberry, raspberry and blackberry infused inside it. People can add a third flavor for $1.50 extra.

A variety of breakfast plates including chicken and waffles; breakfast sliders and chilaquiles are also on the brunch menu.

With the chicken and waffles meal, for $13, visitors get fried chicken breast with Aji Amarillo maple sauce, which Emran described as “a different take on syrup,” with “a little bite.”

The breakfast sliders are topped with scrambled eggs and blend American cheese and a choice of bacon or turkey sausage, paired with hash browns for $14. Chilaquiles, at $14, are layered tostadas with green chili chicken, cotija, fried egg and crème fraiche.

A build-your-own Bloody Mary bar during brunch gives diners freedom to pick bacon, cheese, jalapenos, lemon and many other edible offerings to add to their drinks, which have Tito’s vodka.

“You can load up,” Emran said. “People will put anything in a Bloody Mary.”

Also available during brunch are bottomless mimosas in orange or ruby-red grapefruit flavors. They are $14. Live music is performed Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturdays from 3 to 6 p.m.

A big selection of wine, cocktails  and beers are also available at The Living Room. Spanish red wines are popular now, as are the Sauvignon Blanc wines for the summer.

Wine is a passion for Emran and Tom Kaufman, who is founder and owner of The Living Room restaurants.

Hospitality LLC, a group of investors that includes Emran and Kaufman, also owns Humble Pie – Pizza, Wine and Spirits, which is next door to The Living Room, as well as CHoP Steak Seafood & Burger Bar and Rock Lobster Teppan, Sushi, Sake.

“We certainly have a very dynamic selection,” of wines, Emran said.

He said The Penguin, a cocktail with three olives, pink grapefruit vodka, agave nectar and Leinenkugal’s grapefruit shandy is his favorite cocktail on the menu.

During the week, those who eat at The Living Room have lots of choices in appetizers, salads, sandwiches and other foods to split with their parties.

The “Awesome Fries” are well-liked “start & share items” and combine parsley, garlic, parmesan, lemon zest and chili flakes regularly priced at $8. People love to share the “Bang Bang shrimp,” crispy golden shrimp with sweet, spicy aioli for $12.

“The Big Board” gives diners lots of meats and cheeses to nibble on together including prosciutto, Genoa salami, white cheddar, brie and olives, roasted peppers, fruit compote and Ciabatta bread.

The Living Room goes way beyond basic bruschetta, giving diners lots of sweet and savory concoctions.

The Orchard bruschetta offers apples, brie, fig jam and agave nectar on bread for a sweet, fruity taste while Nature bruschetta combines dates, toasted walnuts, creamy brie and agave nectar for a flavorful taste.

Harvest bruschetta combines spinach and artichoke creamy cheese for a rich and filling appetizer or small meal. Diners can order gluten-free bread for the bruschetta and other foods on the menu.

Juicy, tender and savory prime rib sliders come with Gorgonzola crumbles and creamy horseradish and au jus that is perfect for dipping.

The tuna melt is created in an unusual way with red onion, garlic aioli, Provolone cheese and olives on sourdough bread, Emran said.

“People literally come here for the tuna melt,” he said.

Customers also love to share sushi rolls and the most ordered ones are the K.I.G. rolls, which have spicy crab, cream cheese, shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, jalapeno and sriracha aioli, for $14.

Those opting for lighter choices can enjoy a healthy meal while still feeling satisfied with the Super Food dinner salad, a mixture of kale and romaine lettuces, as well as dried cranberries, avocado, watermelon radish, almonds, quinoa, flax seeds and herb yogurt for $13. For more protein, diners can add chicken, tuna, salmon or steak to the salad.

Many people are praising the food, ambiance and customer service at The Living Room.

DeAnna Simmons expressed her happiness on The Living Room’s Facebook page.

“This was our first time here and we absolutely loved it,” Simmons said. “We went for brunch and everything was perfect. Mimosas are great and our meals were cooked to order, everything tastes fresh. We loved the live music. The guitarist there had a Jack Johnson vibe that really fit the brunch mood.

“The volume was loud enough to where we could enjoy the conversation with our friends and the music simultaneously. We’ll definitely be back. You’ve turned us into frequent flyers.”

Robert Valerio also toasted The Living Room Downtown Ocotillo.

“Great place to have a drink and their Happy Hour is off the charts,” Valerio posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Suzanne Davis also ate up the food, service and décor at The Living Room in Chandler.

“Excellent place for brunch and some really delicious food!” Davis posted on The Living Room’s Facebook page. “Patio area is great and the service is too! I especially loved the fondue and donut holes with 3 yummy fillings with the plastic syringes!!”

Customers can get deals on food and drinks during happy hour, which is from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily for drinks and from 3 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays for food.

“I love this community,” Emran said. “It feels like my family every day. It’s really, really cool.”

The brunch will be extended over Memorial Day weekend so customers can order the brunch items Saturday, Sunday and on Memorial Day, May 27. Regular hours for The Living Room are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays; 10 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays. Information: livingroomwinebar.com

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