By Patty Talahongva
No detail is too small for Andrew Fritz to attend to at his restaurant, aptly called The Gladly, and that’s why he has toothpicks in the restrooms and a menu that offers everything from chicken pate to duck meatloaf and dozens of varieties of whiskey, scotch and local wine and beer.
Even the name evokes the feeling he and his staff have for their customers. They will gladly try to accommodate all requests because, as he puts it, “I really like that. It’s that taking care of people. It speaks to the service we want to provide.”
The menu is American fare with the special flair of chef and co-owner Bernie Kantak. Kantak made a chopped salad that’s so popular it even has its own Facebook page. Another popular item at both lunch and dinner is a burger made with Wagyu beef, a high-quality meat comparable to Kobe beef.
The menu changes with the season and right now Fritz likes the pot roast sandwich, served with fingerling potatoes. He enjoys watching his guest happily eating the food. And he especially likes it when chefs from nearby restaurants come in at the end of the night, or on their day off, to sit at the bar and enjoy the food, drink and atmosphere.
The Gladly is well-appointed but unpretentious. The generous, dog-friendly patio and indoor seating don’t make you feel cramped. There also is a separate room that can be reserved for a more intimate dining experience.
The clientele varies throughout the day. At lunch, business people enjoy the eclectic menu, while others may come in, set up their laptops and work right into Happy Hour. Fitz also notices that locals like to linger after work. Dinner for two, with drinks, is around $85, not including tax and tip. And right now you can select from several appetizers to the traditional dinner for two, or you can try a few smaller plates and salads.
If you are checking the place out for the first time, Happy Hour is a great place to start. Served from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, selections include the famed Chopped Salad, a pistachio chicken liver pate, roasted Brussels sprouts, smoked chicken wings, and a sausage, pretzel and cheese fondue plate. Portions are enough for two to share. Draft beer is half price and featured wines are $5 a glass or $20 a bottle. There also is a Cocktail of the Day for $6 and a Boulevardier cocktail (whiskey) on tap for $6.
Fritz and Kantak made the decision to offer a full whiskey bar, featuring more than 200 selections. It can be a bit overwhelming unless you know your way around Scotch whiskey, brandy and bourbon. They are happy to help you make a selection or reinforce your choice.
One specialty drink that will take your breath away is the Conflagration Nation. For $18 you can sip the drink made with rye whiskey, bourbon, ruby port and tobacco smoke. Have the bartender tell you the story behind this drink commissioned by the Smithsonian Museum.
Originally from Dayton, Ohio, Fritz loves the Camelback Corridor neighborhood and has been a resident in the area for about a year. He recognizes the vibrancy of the corridor and says he enjoys having his home and his restaurant in the area.
Fritz clearly understands the role a local restaurant can play in the community, and he is doing his share to help improve the area. He’s currently offering to donate $1 from every drink he sells that uses the Ice Ball. A small block of ice is pressed between to metal molds tableside, and you get to watch as it melts and becomes the size and shape of a tennis ball in a matter of minutes. The charity is selected every two weeks.
If you are looking for a great place to ring in the New Year, The Gladly offers two options for New Year’s Eve dinner. The dining room will be open from 3 to 11 p.m. and will serve one menu that features four courses. Reservations are high recommended and the cost is $60 per person.
The second option is the six-course dinner that will be very interactive with the guests. Fritz describes it as, “a molecular mixology interactive with food.” The cost is $200 and dinner will be served in the private dining area.
The Gladly is located at 2201 E. Camelback Road, #106. The best place to park is in the large lot to the south of the eatery, just east of 22nd Street. For reservations, call 602-759-8132. For lunch and dinner menus, visit www.thegladly.com. You also can follow The Gladly on Facebook or Instagram.