“Choose Your Own Adventure.” With that invitation, you know you’re in for a culinary journey. An Arizona native, Chef Joshua Hebert discovered his gift at an early age—reading cookbooks as a youngster, cooking for friends in high school and working at Tarbell’s by his senior year. Since then, his cooking adventures have taken him to Zuni Café and Café Kati in San Francisco, to Tokyo to open Café California in a five-star hotel, back to Tarbell’s as the executive chef and to Dual in Gilbert. Dual is where he developed his philosophy of a menu concept showcasing accessible and familiar ingredients versus modern and unique. His most recent career move came on New Year’s Eve of 2008, when he opened Posh in the Camelback Optiview.
Chef Hebert embraces the description of an “improvisational cuisine” restaurant. Guests won’t receive a menu here; instead, they will help create their own individualized, multi-course tasting. Guests note choices on a sushi-bar format—selecting the number of courses desired, optional wine pairings, listing allergy comments, preferred temperatures and crossing off any dislikes from a list of the seasonal main ingredients. A recipient of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, Posh’s wine list demonstrates Chef Hebert’s commitment to great wine, including many Arizona favorites. This attention is also shown in the large selection of beer and craft cocktails.
On my last visit, the list of 10 options included prawns, Wagyu beef and Copper River salmon, along with more exotic choices, such as Blue Moki bass, wild boar bacon and kangaroo. Chef Hebert and his culinary team spend two to three hours every day creating anywhere from 20-30 dishes from their available ingredients. With labor-intensive and imaginative dishes, Posh is a special treat.
A sleek, window-lined space with scattered tables lining the perimeter, Posh is anchored by the expansive chef’s counter which surrounds the open kitchen. For me, this is the perfect spot to dive into the interactive menu and watch Chef Hebert and his staff work their magic. After adding the optional wine pairing, upgrading to cheese and foie gras courses and noting no dislikes, a friend and I settled in to enjoy the parade of delights headed our way.
As bubbly was poured (a South African sparkling for me and a Spanish cava for my dining companion), we couldn’t help but clink our glasses to a perfect start. A whimsical amuse of Posh Scalloped Potato was our first bite—a savory potato coin seasoned with dashi (a classic Japanese stock), decorated with celery, fennel and crème fraiche, and cleverly served in a scallop shell.
We knew we’d be receiving different dishes so we were ready to share, starting with soup and salad duos. Creamy potato soup was enhanced with the mellow flavor of black garlic and partnered with a Posh riff on Vietnamese bánh mì—a butter lettuce salad with silky chicken-liver pate, tart Vietnamese pickled vegetables and cilantro vinaigrette, accented with a toasted sweet bun. Just as delightful was a sweet-corn and wild-ramp velouté, complemented by a medley of cherry tomatoes, basil, preserved lemon, radicchio and shavings of Red Cloud goat cheese.
Course two was one of my favorites of the night. One of the hallmarks of Chef Hebert’s cooking is his harmonious blend of French techniques and Japanese influences from his time spent in Tokyo. In this dish, a crispy soft shell crab perched on okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese pancake packed with vegetables and chopped shrimp, drizzled with Kewpie mayo and Japanese barbecue sauce and topped with a flurry of bonito flakes. A perfect pairing, especially with a glass of local white wine—Pillsbury’s new Symphony.
As we ooh’d and aah’d, more pristine seafood was set before us—ling cod dusted with togarashi (a Japanese seasoning blend), with sweet potato puree and grilled shishito peppers; velvety Copper River Salmon on creamy salsify puree; fennel-dusted fluke with spring-green zucchini sauce, zucchini spheres and fava beans.
Veal sweetbreads made an appearance as lightly breaded nuggets served with umami-rich miso and karaage sauce with yellow wax beans, while slow-cooked pork cheek arrived on a bed of scallion polenta and vegetable ratatouille, all draped in a glossy jus. A first for me—juicy, medium-rare slices of lean kangaroo were stacked on a fluffy bed of olive oil millet and the plate dotted with minted pea sauce and butter-glazed English peas. Another delicious surprise was a Posh take on
Salisbury steak with tender, minced lamb tongue topped with a crunchy panko crust, accompanied by a smooth cauliflower puree and flavorful red-wine-juniper reduction.
Thankfully, we still had room for the decadent foie gras trio, starring seared foie with red-wine-plum sauce, crackly bruléed torchon with honeydew melon sauce and an outstanding foie and lemongrass sorbet. Fromage signaled we were winding up our amazing feast and we polished off a domestic cheese plate of Haystack Mountain Sunlight (Colorado), Nicasio Reserve (California) and Rogue Oregon Blue.
A glass of Equifera Cabernet Franc Ice Wine from Canada poured for me and a Sandeman port for my friend heralded our dessert courses. Sweet plums were transformed into an elegantly spiced plum consommé topped with meringue and spiffed up with brandy foam, spiced crème Anglaise and walnuts. An irresistible chocolate cake embellished with bruléed Chambord marshmallow, meringue chips, glistening raspberry “caviar” and pastel berry crackling was just as wonderful as it was beautiful on the plate. How could we finish off such an extravagant feast? With a pair of fanciful, spiced pineapple and cream cheese lollipops, of course.
With its unique philosophy, Posh is well worth seeking out as a destination restaurant. Not only will guests be impressed by the delicious, innovative dishes, but the Posh crew takes pride in customizing their individualized menus. An adventuresome diner? Posh is a perfect introduction. Vegan, gluten-free or other dietary restrictions? Mention these when making reservations and Chef Hebert will be sure to create a worry-free dining experience. Alcohol-free? Posh offers a selection of inventive “Mocktails,” made with fresh juice and sodas. Looking for a casual exploration? Monthly Japanese Street Eats events (10 p.m. to midnight) draw crowds who gather to slurp up bowls of Chef Hebert’s ramen ($10), chewy noodles served in broth with a variety of toppings, and his delicious okonomiyaki ($12), along with Japanese beer and drink specials. With interactive and creative dining at the hands of a gifted chef and his crew, Posh is the ideal vessel to embark on your own culinary adventure.
Photos by MichellJonasPhotography.com