By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Partners in The Mick Brasserie, John Krause and Brent Menke feel blessed and lucky to have found success after opening August 5—at the height of a pandemic and Arizona’s hottest summer.
“It was not part of the business plan or model, but luckily, the way we designed the place, we were able to get through,” Krause says. “We’ll be able to get through this—not unscathed—but we’re better than a lot of other places.”
Dubbed “a modern interpretation of a French brasserie,” The Mick Brasserie is a pleasant surprise to North Scottsdale. Krause and the chef, Menke, treat everyone who walks in the door like a VIP.
“We try to give them a personalized experience so they really enjoy the food,” Menke says. “If you want to go to get a burger, taco, pizza, wings, steak, fried calamari, you could go to almost any standard restaurant in Phoenix.
“We’re trying to give people something that’s a little bit different, with a quality of service and personalization that a lot of places just don’t want to give these days.”
The Mick Brasserie specializes in small plates like tomato and watermelon gazpacho ($6), ratatouille tarte ($13), brisket and potato hash ($14) and pork belly banh mi slider ($8). The sweets are to die for. Samples are vanilla bean gelato with whipped coffee, Averna and chocolate crumble ($8) or champagne sorbet sparkler, lemon or raspberry sorbet served with champagne ($12).
“People dining out don’t want the big overflow lasagna dinner or the 22-ounce ribeye or Mexican food with all the rice and beans,” Menke says. “They’d rather explore a menu and have some fun. We think we’ve done that with The Mick.”
The Mick Brasserie’s signature dish is the duck confit Moroccan pastilla, a small meat-stuffed pastry served with charred onion agrodolce, julienne salads and pickled pineapple ($17).
“It’s a modernist take on a traditional Moroccan meat pie,” Menke says. “It’s long, slow cooked in its own fat but infused with all kinds of Moroccan spices—you know, coriander, cumin, a bit of cinnamon, salt, pepper, orange zest and orange juice. It’s sweet and sour and then rich, crunchy, hot and then a cold, fresh shaved vegetable salad that’s up on top.”
Enjoy the wine ordered with the tapas? Take it home.
“We have a liquor license, so we can also be your bottle shop,” Krause says. “Anything that you drink here, you can also take home. We have more grocery store kind of pricing. The difference is, you can try it before you buy it. So, if you’re out of wine at home, stop by and grab a bottle.”
Menke is partial to French food, as his wife, Benedicte, is French and the two have a home in France.
“Traditional French dining, I have to admit, is still one of my favorite cuisines,” he says. “My wife is my hardest critic, telling me straight up, ‘This isn’t right,’ or, ‘You do this or this and this.’”
He and Benedicte worked on luxury motor yachts for 15 years together. They traveled the world catering for “the highest of the high end.”
“To bring aspects of that back here was one of the things I wanted to be able to do,” he says. “So, you’ll see that in the presentation.”
As for destinations, he doesn’t “do favorites.” But there are places he’d like to return to.
“I love being in Cannes,” Menke says. “It’s vibrant, and they have some amazing restaurants and great little walking streets you can go visit.”
Bali is one of his go-to places because the Balinese people are “amazing” and hospitable. He adores the tradition and culture.
“There’s a respect for that. There’s a respect for others,” he says. “They’re such amazing people. We had a villa over there, and every day they would come and make offerings to the different deities who were there on the property.
“Bali is a little Hindu enclave in their own island. What I was blown away by was the Galungan festival. It’s almost like the Hindu version of Passover.
“Basically, for the entire day, everyone—including the tourists—goes dark. There’s no partying, no going out, no restaurants open, no music, no TV at night. It’s quiet. The entire island goes dark for the day so the evil spirits will pass over and they’ll have a prosperous coming New Year.”
After the festival is over, “they went for it.”
“The streets are draped with flowers. The entire island is decorated everywhere you go,” he says. “It’s just part of their culture.”
Meeting of the minds
Menke, a Chaparral High School graduate, and Krause are longtime friends. The two were fraternity brothers at the University of Arizona but born and raised in the Valley.
Randomly, they wound up in Rhode Island at different times and traveling the world on yachts. Menke opened The Farm Table in Massachusetts but returned to Phoenix when his father fell ill.
“We spent a lot of time putting together all the things we liked and didn’t like about certain restaurants and what we wanted to create,” Krause says.
“We eliminated all the things that make a restaurant challenging. What came about were small, shareable plates; the beer and wine; and the bar being the center focus of the restaurant. Everything revolves around their brand’s experience in the restaurant.
“If you want to have your scrambled eggs and toast and bacon on the side with a Schlitz, this isn’t your place. We want to be a little more elevated, but we also want to be able to deliver value as well.”
Krause says it was important early on to establish The Mick’s vibe.
“We want to be your neighborhood hangout,” Krause says. “We want everybody to be cool, have a great time and do whatever we can to make you happy.
“We consciously chose to do beer and wine only. It’s a very short pour, which allows a very professional staff to either manage more customers and take better care of customers who they do have and engage in the customers.
“The more that we can engage in you and you engage with us, we can hear your stories of your travel to Napa or France or Italy for your wine trip. We can tell stories and Brent can tell stories about his travels. That builds the bond of our customers, where in two short months, we’ve already developed a nice following.” ν
The Mick Brasserie
Mountain View Plaza
9719 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale