By Roberta Peterson // February 2017 // Gilbert Woman Magazine
Downtown Flagstaff has become a burgeoning food mecca, as suprising as locals seem to find that development. You could stay a week and easily enjoy a top-shelf but distinctly different dining experience every night.
Dara and Joe Rodger, co-owners of the small but extremely high-energy Shift Kitchen and Bar downtown, share a passion for food, a background in hospitality and a love of mountain towns. The combination landed them in Flagstaff. Dara's hometown is Chicago; Joe was originally from Sedona; his parents now live in Gilbert.
The emphasis at Shift is small plates and creativity.
"This is the most fun job I've ever had," declares Dara without hesitation, as she assembles a creative dessert during a weekend dinner rush, half hidden by several tall stacks of clean plates fresh from the dishwasher.
"Here at the bar, that's where the action is," she says, as Joe bends to meticulously paint a large house-made cracker with colorful puree from a pastry cone, carefully selecting the additions for an orchestration of flavor with visual presentation.
Every small plate that leaves the kitchen at Shift receives the same care and usually includes a surprise- such as a fried egg perched atop pasta. Yet somehow the unexpected works. Very Well.
Each new dish builds on the previous for a frenzy of flavor and texture, creating a satisfying meal. The energy is shared by both chef and customer. Diners can construct meals from the day's offering or can request to have the kitchen staff customize a presentation. Love your dinner? Add $10 to the check to buy the kitchen a six pack.
Shift opened in April and enthusiastic endorsements have been plentiful while ringside seats overlooking the kitchen are increasingly hard to come by.
"This is such a change for Flagstaff, and that's where the name comes from," explains Joe.
The high-energy dinner experience doesn't inspire an early bedtime or sitting but the fire, it's best followed by an evening of bar hopping or downtown shopping. Options are plentiful for both.