Partners Becky Windels and Susan Smederovac-Wilcox were hoping for a quiet, “soft” opening for The Herb Box, as most restaurant owners do, but that didn’t happen.
The Herb Box in Old Town Scottsdale officially opens today, just in time for the mayhem known as Fiesta Bowl week.
“We ended up with a hard opening — The Herb Box way,” Chef Windels quipped.
As if opening to the public wasn’t enough, the new Herb Box is hosting ESPN’s “green” room for the coming week, too.
Fortunately, this isn’t the dynamic duo’s first rodeo. The Herb Box started out as a catering business (which still accounts for a significant part of the business) in 1995 at Shea Boulevard.
Windels says that location is transferring to this new Southbridge prime spot, while the DC Ranch restaurant and market will continue to serve North Scottsdale.
Oh, and they just opened an Herb Box branch in a Minnesota health club last month, too.
In just over two months, Windels and Wilcox transformed the former Estate House restaurant space into a contemporary, bright and airy space, adding patio doors and moving the bar from one side of the room to the other. The patio doors and the new windows to the bar will bring a little bit of the outside inside.
The Estate House’s muted, butter-colored walls have been replaced with splashes of color — tangerine, navy blue and cream — and The Herb Box’s trademark use of bold accent patterns add just a touch of whimsy here and there.
There is just as much seating outside on the wrap-around, two-tiered patio as there is inside.
On the way to the bathrooms, a portal offers a tiny glimpse into the sparkling white kitchen.
On the other side of the door, the staff gets a gentle reminder that it’s “showtime” before they step into the dining room.
The menu is packed with dishes that have put The Herb Box on the fresh-is-best map with huge market salads (my favorite is the Urban Market Steak Salad ($15) a mixture of medium rare steak with watercress, avocado, bacon and sweet dried corn with a tangy blue cheese vinaigrette.
There are shared plates (I’m crazy about the fried olives), wraps, sandwiches, flat breads and The Herb Box’s signature butternut squash corn enchiladas with a tomatillo sauce (vegetarian and gluten free, by the way).
Facing Steton Drive is the grab-and-go Herb Box Market. In the morning, sit at French market patio tables with an espresso and a house-made pastry, or at lunch, pick up a cup of soup or a sandwich to go.
Soon you’ll be able to buy a bottle of wine to take with a wrapped plate of cheese and salumi, or grab an entree to take home for dinner.
“This is my baby, my playground” Windels said, gesturing to the corner market.
Today’s opening of The Herb Box is another compelling reason to linger in the Old Town Scottsdale/Southbridge area, already populated with the award winning FnB, Cowboy Ciao and Metro Brassiere, just to name a few.
Congrats to Chef Windels, Wilcox and The Herb Box team.
The Herb Box
Old Town Scottsdale
7134 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale