Now Open in Ahwatukee: Mad Chef Gastropub

​How long does it take for an international culinary trend to hit Arizona? I'm always curious about the trickle-down effect.

In the case of gastropubs, the trend du jour, it's about six years, if you consider the 2004 debut of The Spotted Pig in Manhattan's West Village to be any major milestone. Gastropubs' popularity in Great Britain goes back even further.

And now, with nary an AZ gastropub in sight until this new decade, suddenly there are three new restaurants calling themselves just that. Culinary Dropout and Mabel's on Main launched about a month ago, and now there's a Mad Chef Gastropub, new spot in Ahwatukee that just opened today.

How does owner Vincent Rana define "gastropub," you might wonder?

"It's a pub that has all the liquor (of a full bar), but the main focus is food -- really good homestyle food," Rana says.

To look at the menu, there's a cornucopia of everything here -- pub grub like bangers & mash and fish & chips, "oriental" chicken salad, St. Louis-style ribs, Italian snacks like crostini and charcuterie, French onion soup, roasted turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce, a few entrees like pesto-crusted salmon, and burgers (of course).

Mad Chef occupies the former Big Daddy's Smokehouse at 3941 E. Chandler Blvd, #101, in Ahwatukee, and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

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We went to the Mad Chef on a football playoff Sunday afternoon, and I plan to go back.Atmosphere and Service: I love that is has that Irish pub look and feel, plus a dash of extra comfortable and didn't smell like a pub. We sat near the bar to watch the game on one of several smallish flat screens (not HD). Our waiter, Patrick, was pleasant and attentive. Ages of customers varied from very young (21) to an older crowd. I liked that it didn't have that "I just turned 21" meat market. Instead, if felt homey. The bartenders were highly engaged in conversation and knew most of their customers. I didn't see it but assumed there's a large flat screen in the back for big games.Food: If you're a hop head (love beer) you won't be disappointed; the options and selections are vast. We ordered lamb sliders, shepherds pie and onion rings. The sliders were amazing with a mint jelly. The shepherds pie was great and homemade, but I would try something different next time. And the onion rings were cooked properly in hot hot oil; crispy and came with a delicious spicy sauce.

I'm looking forward to going back.

Now if we could just get a great fish grotto in Ahwatukee...

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