PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) --The scenic drive up to the Arizona Biltmore Resort is lined with gorgeous estates and lush green fairways, which could serve as a hint for the impending experience. The upscale interior of the resort is impressive as you make your way down the long hallway after walking in. At the far end of the illustrious resort, you'll have reached your destination - a Central and South American restaurant inspired by Latin cuisine and brought to life through traditional smoking and grilling traditions: Renata's Hearth.
This contemporary restaurant has it all! A comfortable bohemian vibe with soft chairs, bench-style couches, round-table seating (with throw blankets to boot!) colorful and cultural artwork, high-vaulted ceilings, and an open modern design. There's even outdoor seating where patrons can enjoy a fireplace fit for a throne room, lush trees, and more of the well-maintained resort. The entrance of the restaurant features two unique "action stations" flanking on the left and right. As you walk in, to your left is the cocktail headquarters, where the restaurant's "Mezcal Maven" makes all the marvelously crafted drinks. The Mezcal Maven mixes drinks and prepares flights of agave spirits to bring directly to guests. Across the way, on the right side corner, is the guacamole cart. This is where the "Guac-Star" makes (you guessed it) the guacamole and slices charcuterie for the meat and cheese boards. After soaking in the ambiance of Renata's Hearth, relax back into a comfy seat and gear up for some exceptionally prepared meals.
This lovely establishment brings a lot to the table (pun somewhat intended), and when it comes to the food, a lot of the inspirations come from the mind of Assistant Executive Chef Oscar Granados.
"I have two uncles who are chefs, as well as my grandfather who was a chef, so that's how I pretty much came into the industry," Granados explained. "My uncle was a hotel chef, and seeing everything that goes on behind the scenes, is something that really sold me on becoming a chef."
Renata's Hearth Cocktail Headquarters
Granados started cooking at the age of 11 by helping his mom in the kitchen making lunches and dinners. When he entered high school, Granados got a weekend job as a baker and would clock in at 3 a.m. After a scone ingredient mishap, Granados was relocated to the restaurant above the bakery, where he got his first introduction to the kitchens at the age of 16. The chef seed was planted, and Granados decided to go to the Culinary Institute of America, and the rest is history!
Granados's culinary journey began in New York City, working at the Ritz-Carlton in Battery Park in 2001. Granados worked for the Ritz-Carlton company for about ten years then switched coasts for San Francisco, California, where he worked for the Rosewood Hotel in Menlo Park. Granados stayed in California for some time and would go on to work at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. Granados switched coasts again, heading back to New York City to work at the New York Palace Hotel in 2016. After two years, Granados found his way back to California to work for Hakkasan in downtown San Diego for another two years before finally finding his way to Phoenix.
Granados received classic French culinary training while studying at the Culinary Institute of America and learned how to incorporate Asian and Latin fusion as well. Over the years, Granados mastered his craft, fueling his passion for cooking, leading kitchens, and inspiring others.
"My passion is waking up every day and knowing that I can make a difference in someone's life; whether it's one of the cooks showing them how to do something new for the first time, making sure that they learn it, making sure that they're doing it the correct way. Then during service coming out to greet the guests, and they tell you, 'hey, I've never had something like this before. What did you do, how did you do it?' The interaction and making a difference, making a mark in the industry," Granados explained.
While Renata's Hearth has only been open for about five months, it's already firing on all cylinders. Granados and his team are constantly working to improve behind the scenes through trial and error to ensure a prime experience for guests when they come to Renata's Hearth.
"I hope they walk away feeling like this is a breath of fresh air, the restaurant that they were looking for, and experience smoke in a different way," said Granados.
Many of the dishes are inspired by international cuisines, such as Mexico, the Caribbean, Spain, Peru, and Argentina, to name a few. Granados and the kitchen keep a broad culinary scope, which he says gives his team liberty to experiment and evolve what they serve up. At the end of the day, for Granados, it's all a labor of love.
"You either have it, or you don't. I like the process, like starting off my day firing up the smoker at 5 a.m. because if I don't do that, the brisket's not going to taste the way it's supposed to. The chicken's not going to taste the way it's supposed to," Granados explained.
The use of smoke and fire techniques contribute to some interesting flavor combinations and profiles for the finished products, whether food or beverage. Before we get to the picks, check out what Renata's Hearth has to offer!
Renata's Hearth Walkthrough
The colorful and lavish spread covered a wide array of veggies, meats, fish, potatoes, and desserts. Each dish carried a unique tone and had that wow factor! Whether your preference is to either one specific dish aforementioned, you won't be disappointed in your selection! And of course, if you'd like to check out the full menu, click here.
Roasted Chilean Seabass - This dish is Renata's Hearth's most popular and crowd favorite. The seabass is extremely juice and exploding with immediate flavor. It's moist and soft, quickly and easily melts in your mouth. The flavor resonates with your taste buds and even lingers in just the right capacity. Served with a zesty mole verde, all brought together with hearty Peruvian rice with hints of garlic and lime.
Mishima Ranch Wagyu Brisket - An excellent char and grill to this fine piece of meat! Absolutely fantastic flavor, albeit simple seasonings of just salt and pepper. Granados truly utilizes the essence of smoke in the way he is able to bring out so much flavor with almond wood grilling. The side salad has robust flavors with pickled tomatoes, avocado, and vinaigrette dressing.
Warm Fava Beans - A very earthy and buttery blend of sizeable and hearty beans. The hen of the wood mushrooms are delicious and really stand out in taste. The serrano-oregano butter gives the elegant but straightforward side a nice glaze.
Grilled Branzino - A fully-grilled fish (like entire fish) with a castelvetrano olive 24-hour brine. The insanely tender fish is succulent from end to end (well, minus the head and tail) and again has remarkable taste with the subtle salt and pepper seasoned grill it receives. One of my favorites and an all-around standout dish for seafood/fish enthusiasts.
Crispy Smashed Potatoes - A stellar side dish with great presentation, taste, and out-of-this-world sauces served alongside. Granados and the kitchen incorporate a blend of seasonings and top the lightly toasted potatoes with cotija cheese. The sides served alongside for dipping are a romesco sauce and mole negro, two very different styles of taste. The romesco sauce has a sweet and peppery kick. The mole negro has a thicker consistency with elements of chocolate, clove, cinnamon, and cumin and really shines as a perfect blend of sweet and spice.
Smoked Shrimp Cocktail - An excellent assembling of seasoning, pulling from a Caribbean-inspired blend. There's such a wide range of flavors, enhanced by the smoke (with an excellent presentation, by the way!) with the Aleppo chili and granny smith pico de gallo leading the way. Another great side for seafood lovers!
Capirotada de Sonora - Still got room? Consider this decadent and delicious brioche bread pudding. This should be at the top of the list for every sweet tooth person out there. The Capirotada has heavy cream, yolk, honey, and more infused into it, giving it a very sweet but still light and airy composition. It crumbles easily in one's mouth and is paired superbly with dulce de leche ice cream. The honey lingers throughout and permeates in every bite. A must-try (if you have the room, of course)!
Abuelita Chocolate Mousse - A simpler but still rich and heavenly dessert. An elegant and genuinely crafty presentation, with a moment-pausing mousse and considerable incorporation of macerated berries and toasted Marcona almonds. Relatively lighter and easier to put away if you're limited on room after dinner!
Granados and his team have really found their groove in utilizing smoke and incorporating different international cuisines and styles into their cooking. The cuisines being crafted and under experimentation at Renata's Hearth are on point and live up to the modern Latin flair for which they strive. Something to look forward to, Granados plans to dive more into Peruvian cuisine, so stay tuned! Whether you're planning a brief staycation at the Arizona Biltmore Resort or just dropping in for a lavish meal, you'll enjoy the dishes served up via labor of love by Granados and his kitchen at Renata's Hearth!
This is the fifth segment in a breakout series on chefs in the Phoenix metro. Arizona’s Family Foodie is sitting down with chefs around the Valley to tell their stories of triumphs, perseverance, and dedication to their crafts. There is a sizeable amount of work, research, and experimentation that culminates into what gets placed in front of you on a plate or in a drink. These are the stories of the creative minds behind those delicious meals or cocktails, and how their passions for food and beverage bring us joy and closer together.