Dazzled by Chef Lee Hillson’s Cuisine at Royal Palms Resort and Spa’s T. Cook’s Restaurant
T. Cook’s Restaurant ~ Royal Palms Resort & Spa ~ Phoenix, Arizona – It is a most wonderful thing to live in vacation/convention/resort destination area.
With the 4.5 million people who live in the Greater Phoenix Area, plus the millions of visitors who come each year to the Valley of the Sun, we are blessed and able to sustain a large cadre of world-class restaurants and chefs.
One of the notable examples of this is Chef Lee Hillson, Executive Chef of T. Cook’s Restaurant within the Royal Palms Resort & Spa.
Chef Hillson has garnered national attention battling on television’s popular Iron Chef, has cooked on more than one occasion at the James Beard House in New York, hosted a Friends of James Beard dinner at the resort, and has received the prestigious AAA Four-Diamond Award for the last six years running.
T. Cook’s Chef Hillson is also very popular with local foodies where they have voted the restaurant “best” in a number of categories in the Arizona Republic Reader’s Choice Awards:
- Best Hotel for Dining 2010
- Best Splurge Restaurant 2010
- Best Romantic Restaurant 2010
- Best Place for First Date 2010
- Best Weekend Brunch 2010
If this hasn’t convinced you of my claim to world-class cuisine, then let me share with you our dining experience at T. Cook’s.
After settling in with a glass of wine, and some most excellent bread and pesto, we began to peruse the menu. I could immediately tell the decision making process was going to be difficult because I wanted a taste of everything on the menu.
But alas, decisions must be made.
For our first course, Carol opted for House-Made Paté with Chef’s Fixings, while I, in my typical fashion, ventured off into untraveled gastronomical lands and chose Wild Burgundy Escargot (with crisp brioche, lightly scrambled eggs, mushrooms and roasted garlic Mascarpone).
The paté was delicious, but the escargot was stand on the top of your table and start dancing good! Wow!
For our entrées, Carol went for Butter Poached Maine Lobster (with sour cream raviolis, asparagus, and champagne chive butter sauce), while I elected the T. Cook’s Mediterranean Paella (with 1/2 lobster tail & claw).
For me, Carol’s lobster was typical. However, her accompanying raviolis were outstanding. I was prone to sticking my fork in one of her raviolis only to be shooed away. “All you get is one ravioli, Buster!“, she replied.
Now, you must understand, when I see paella on a renowned restaurant’s menu, I am going to get it. I love paella!
This paella however…..oooooh….it was put into an iron skillet and finished off in the wood fire. On top of all the wonderful tastes in this Spanish dish of all dishes, there were the most wonderful crusties. Did I spell that right? You know… crusties? Right? Those crunchy little pieces of wonderfulness you get when you cook something in an iron skillet.
High Fives to Chef Hillson, the King of Paella!
OK! Dude, calm down!
Phew! Alright. Now. We are stuffed to the gills right? But you know what happens when you are being hosted at a world-class restaurant…right?
There is no way they will let you out of the restaurant without sampling their desserts.
Fortunately, I figured this out a long time ago, and now I have a most excellent take-home bag of paella. YAHOO!
If you look at the photograph above, Chef Hillson brought us a very special dessert with our names written in chocolate. Cool!
On the plate was Chocolate Fantasy (French chocolate silk on a decadent chocolate cake with chocolate sauce served with vanilla gelato), and Caramel Cheesecake Créme Bruleé (served with fresh berries & guava sauce).
Decadent is right. It was so good, some might think it darn right sinful.
Well, all good things must come to an end.
Listen, all the accolades are well deserved. This was a spectacular dining experience, the cuisine was sensational, the service was impeccable, and T. Cook’s has earned it’s way into our hearts as one of our favorite dining experiences.
Thank you Chef Hillson, and thank you T. Cook’s team! You all deserve a standing ovation!