Pony Tale: The New Pink Pony Misses the Point

Categories: Cafe Review

pinkpony64.jpg
Jackie Mercandetti
Pork chops with polenta, house chopped salad, and pretzel fondue from the Pink Pony.
The first time I visited the Pink Pony, following its floor­-to-­ceiling overhaul earlier this year, I was distracted. Where was the slightly shabby lounge singer, cracking us up with tacky renditions of ancient Pet Clark hits? The cozily dark bar, straight out of a 1930s Warner Bros. gangster film? Where was the fun of visiting an old Scottsdale steakhouse?

In the end, mostly disappointed by near-­miss appetizers and entrées, I left wondering, The Pink Pony's main draw, for decades, has been its scruffy sentimentality and dependable steak dinners. In a town full of upscale restaurants offering New American cuisine, we don't need another.

See also: Cafe Review: Angry Crab Shack in Mesa

Closed last summer for renovation, the Pony, added to Scottsdale's Historic Register in 2004, reopened in February. New owner Mark Shugrue, who runs restaurants in Sedona and Lake Havasu, gutted the more-­than-­60-­year-­old dining landmark, trading up tatty history for sleek lines and smooth surfaces. The Shugrue Pony offers the much­-favored, loft-inspired open floor plan that seemed so new and daring -- blown­out ceilings! exposed brick! fun lighting fixtures! -- 20 years ago.

pinkpony81.jpg
Jackie Mercandetti
An open kitchen at the back is fronted by an eight­-seat chef's table; the main dining room is all tuck­-and-­roll leather banquettes and glossy wood-­paneled walls offset with industrial sand-­blasted masonry and exposed ductwork. The zinc-­and-­marble-­topped bar, formerly on the north and now on the south side of the building, is overwhelmed by typical giant-­screen TVs blasting sports events and two dozen beer taps.

The restaurant's new design takes a sidelong glance at its own past by incorporating token décor from the old place: The bar is hung with the hand­-drawn caricatures of famous baseball players and other pro-­ball memorabilia from the old days, and the Pony's familiar pink-­inset wooden doors have been transformed into a collapsible wall on the front­-end open patio.

Location Info

Pink Pony

3831 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Restaurant

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11 comments
bmcphx
bmcphx

That pork chop dish looks terrible.

naoma
naoma

I found none of the photos "appetizing."  But, then, I eat no meat -- so I am limited in restaurant meals.  My husband has been my cook and he can make anything that I want.  So, I rely on him to cook for me.  

unmutual
unmutual

The "tuck­-and-­roll leather" looks a lot like what we used to call naugahyde back in the sixties. And the faux wood paneling makes the image complete. A buddy of mine had an Econoline van decked out just like that. Sorry the food sucks too.

Lucas Mitchell
Lucas Mitchell

This makes me sad. My wife and I have over a decade of stories from the Pony. I hope they can at least fix the menu.

Chris Lee
Chris Lee

I miss the original Pink Pony. :/

clueh
clueh

Longtime Scottsdale resident...I've been a few times to this latest incarnation and didn't come away feeling as negatively as the reviewer, though I did note some problems. First, I understand the nostalgia for the old layout, but another person already tried to resurrect the Pony a couple years ago with the same feeling as the old one and that didn't work out. The open and windowed look is what was going to bring people in nowadays. A cave-like old school feeling might work for Durants but it just wasn't going to get the younger Scottsdale crowd. The food, I would agree, needs some improvement. I went in March and was pleasantly surprised by the some of the starters, but the mains did not impress. A couple more times and I warmed up, but the last visit I had one of the pizzas and it was completely bland and unremarkable. I too was told (with excitement) that they had just canned their chef and staff--I really didn't understand that, like I was going to be really happy and just assume a change would be for the better. In any event, I understand why they made the changes in layout and menu, and I did like some of the food. If the menu can get firing on all cylinders (e.g., if the mains live up to their prices) I'd put it in the regular rotation. 

Jennifer Peters
Jennifer Peters

It's been good every time I've been.. Good food and excellent service

Bruce Leadbetter
Bruce Leadbetter

You mean it got worse after that abomination of a restaurant it was about 2 years ago?

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