There was a weird time in history when revolving restaurants became popular. Only one of these, at least as far as I understand, also was a Playboy Club back in the day, and that was the Compass Arizona Grill on top of the Hyatt in Downtown Phoenix. Today, it serves as kind of a throwback steakhouse, there to remind you how cool rotating restaurants once were, while trying to adapt to the modern palette.
Thus, we began with a couple of appetizers – the calamari and the meat and cheese board. One turned out well and the other left a little to desire. Surprisingly, I have to give kudos to the calamari. It was lightly fried and tasted fresh. I probably could have done without the accompanying veggies, but this was exactly the kind of calamari you want at a more upscale place. As for the meat and cheese board, both the meat and cheese were delicious, as you might expect. The trouble was that there was only one type of each. Variety is key for a charcuterie like this and this rotating restaurant didn’t provide it.
As for my main course, I ordered the Bone-In Niman Ranch Ribeye in honor of Hef, because I assume that is what he would have ordered. It came with a black garlic demi-glace, which is not something I would have expected at such a place and was eager to try out. After watching the sun set in the full 360 degreees, the steak arrived a surprisingly perfect medium-rare, and I set to work on spreading the black garlic evenly over the meat. The meat wasn’t quite as marbled as I would have liked, with sort of uneven bursts of fat and meatiness, but that’s really the only complaint I had. I thought the black garlic was a nice modern touch to bring out some extra umami that pretty much every meal could use.
I should also mention that the steak came with a choice of a side and I went for the bacon-brie mac and cheese. My only wish from this was that there could have been more of it, because it was perfect in every way.
Considering the gimmicky nature of the revolving restaurant and it being in a hotel, my expectations were pretty low for my meal. Lucky for Compass Arizona Grill, those expectations were exceeded. It may not be the best steak in the Phoenix area (I’m still partial to Mastro’s and waiting to be convinced that a better steak exists), but it did a good job. Like its Playboy roots, you may come for the views, but you’ll stick around for the articles.