This excerpt from an Eat Beats column sums it up.
Quiessence is the best restaurant in Phoenix. Those are fighting words, I know, and by them, I don’t mean any disrespect to the Valley’s acknowledged giants, such as Pizzeria
Bianco (which we all know has the best pizza in the world) or Kai at
the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort, which has a bigger budget
than a humble restaurant on The Farm at South Mountain could
ever dream of. But Chef Gregory LaPrad, who took the reins at
Quiessence, is quietly turning out food that would shine
in any restaurant market in North America. If I had to eat at one
Valley restaurant for the rest of my life, this would be it.
lane at The Farm at South Mountain, concealed behind a walled
garden and accessed by a crooked flagstone path. Seating is on a
garden patio, in a cheerful solarium, or in a cozy fireplace room (and
there’s usually a fire burning this time of year). That alone makes it
unique in Phoenix, where, if a restaurant is not in a strip mall, it’s
probably in a resort. More to the point from the kitchen’s perspective, it’s also within throwing distance of Maya’s at The Farm, a working garden that supplies much of the extraordinary produce for the
restaurant’s constantly changing menu. It is a privilege that would
turn most chefs pesto-green with envy, and LaPrad knows how to
take advantage of it.
Tradition and seasonality inspire Quiessence’s contemporary American farm cuisine made from domestic ingredients featuring Arizona’s finest farmers, herdsmen, and artisans. Our dinner menu proudly highlights the local market’s availability, offering a true ‘daily menu’ experience. Nestled in the historic Farm at South Mountain property in Phoenix, Quiessence welcomes guests to escape the city and savor nature’s bounty with handcrafted seasonal dishes for a truly ‘soulful & satisfying’ dining experience.
Its laundry list of accolades (including being ranked among America's most romantic restaurants) is not surprising:
"Four Diamonds" - AAA 2011
"Best Contemporary American Restaurant" -2010 Best of Phoenix New Times
"#1 Contemporary American Restaurant" - '09, '08 Ranking AZ
"America's Most Romantic Restaurants" -February 2011 Travel and Leisure Magazine
"Best Seasonal Cuisine" - '09, '08 Phoenix New Times
"Top-3 Romantic Restaurant" -'09 Arizona Republic
"27, 25, 25" -'09 Zagat Guide
"Top-5 Best Patio Dining" -'09 Arizona Republic
"One of the best wine lists in the Southwest" -'09 Bloomberg
"Food & Wine's Go-To List" -'08 Food & Wine Magazine