What’s in a name? While the word “dropout” rarely conjures anything positive, Culinary Dropout might be a game changer. The drop out part is the servers but not in a negative way, as here, they can wear their own clothes not some logo polo shirts or starched white shirts with bow ties or other costume-ish attire. While it helps if you’re a size 2, our servers were not one size fits all which included visible tats and hair color extremes. Reality.
Wow! This place is huge. Did I hear 19,000 square feet? There’s a large dining room with bar, another room with fire pits and yet another space called The Coop for private parties up to 150 people. One stop dining.
As part of the food media, I was invited and definitely will return but probably an off hour (yet to be determined) where it may be quieter.
My guest ordered the Pistols at Dawn, a colorful cocktail made with artisan bourbon, ancho reyes, ginger agave and a splash of cabernet; it gave her a buzz while I stuck with a glass of wine. The cocktail menu is dubbed “vices.”
We ordered the antipasti plate and can choose your options from a menu much like a sushi menu. Eschewing meat choices, we chose Manchego cheese, deviled eggs and Korean style Brussel sprouts. I thought the eggs too salty otherwise all good.
When I dine out, I order food that I never make at home so I wouldn’t order a bag of popcorn. The roasted salmon plate with black rice and veggies was winner as was my butterflied trout with a lemon butter sauce and roasted green beans. I would definitely order the trout again but second time around, ask for the lemon butter sauce on the side. Katie, our server, mentioned the dish came with a lemon butter sauce but in my case, I think I could have had less sauce as the preparation was quite rich (for me) but still delicious.
I don’t know if there will be daily specials but the menu is the same for lunch and dinner with appetizers or starters (from pretzels to pierogi), soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers and entrees. I saw the meat loaf plate whizz by and my carnivore cravings came alive. Lots of options to satisfy the vast range of dietary needs and whims.
We shared the monkey bread dessert caramelized with apples and brown sugar and a scoop of vanilla ice cream while I stopped to talk to a friend on the way out and saw her eating the chocolate s’mores pudding with house-made graham crackers. Hell, yes! That looked decadent.
Kudos to Sam Fox (a native Tucsonan) from Fox Restaurant Concepts, he gets an A on Culinary Dropout which is located at 2543 E. Grant Road in the former Grant Road Lumber Yard. According to this article in the Arizona Daily Star, Culinary Dropout cost $11 million and employs almost 250 people. Thanks for investing in Tucson!
Culinary Dropout opens to the public on September 20; from 11 am for lunch, dinner, late night, weekday happy hour and Sunday brunch.
*The plates are from HF Coors, made right here in Tucson.