By Marjorie Rice
The Shops at Town & Country’s shady, meandering courtyard is buzzing on a Tuesday lunchtime. It’s one of those perfect afternoons, made for a leisurely lunch with good food and conversation with neighbors and friends and the patrons at The Macintosh restaurant are lapping up the atmosphere, inside and on the patio.
It’s just the picture Chef Christopher Collins envisioned when he opened The Macintosh, third in his Common Ground Culinary collection of eateries.
The owner and creative force behind the group, Collins has deep family roots in restaurants.
“My father was with Marie Callender’s and my first job was at five years old, carrying pies out for people,” he said.
Collins studied hospitality management at Boston University before joining the Hillstone Restaurant Group. His work with Hillstone included a stint in New Orleans, which left an indelible influence on Collins’ future menus.
“How can you not fall in love with those people, the culture and the food,” he said. “Oh my gosh!”
Collins opened Grassroots Kitchen & Tap in Scottsdale in 2011, followed by Twisted Grove Parlor + Bar, The Macintosh, Wally’s American Gastropub and The Collins Small Batch Kitchen. He also operates Arcadia Catering Company and Sweet Provisions, which is an ice cream and bake shop next to Grassroots in Scottsdale.
The Macintosh originally opened in 2014 as Collins’ second Grassroots, but the name and concept changed.
“A couple of years ago someone said, ‘We love your chain of restaurants,’” Collins said. “I am the least ‘chain’ guy in the world, so I changed it. Scottsdale versus here were different neighborhoods, with different vibes. We describe ourselves as a collection of neighborhood restaurants, each with its own feel, where we can adapt and modify based on what’s going on in that neighborhood.
“This is the only Macintosh that there will ever be, and I can do whatever is good for this neighborhood.”
Collins has long ties to Town & Country.
“I grew up riding my skateboard to this center when I was in junior high,” he said.
“There used to be a movie theater here and I kissed my very first girl at that theater. So this center is my childhood. I see my little boys running around the courtyard between us and Bianco’s and I love it. It is a wonderful place. We have young families, older families, business people, date nights, birthdays, and that’s the nice thing about The Macintosh. It’s a very happy restaurant.”
Collins describes his food as craft neighborhood American fare.
“We are not here to reinvent any wheels,” he said. “But boy, oh boy, the dishes we are putting out are beautiful, they’re tasty, they’re approachable.”
When Collins re-branded the restaurant, he jazzed up the cocktail program.
“We have a lot of sophisticated darker liquors – bourbons, whiskies,” he said.
“You can get Blanton’s (a rare, single-barrel American Bourbon whiskey) here. At happy hour it’s half-off.”
Menu offerings include “community snacks” such as smoked salmon dip with buttered saltines, pork ribs, grilled shrimp with remoulade that tastes straight out of New Orleans and roasted beets with blue cheese.
Small plates include Collins’ takes on chicken biscuits, salad with kale and Fuji apples, and blackened shrimp risotto.
“This is a way to share amongst friends, to try a lot of different things, to come and get out of here at a very reasonable price ($7 to $9 for most items),” Collins said.
For lunch and dinner, the short ribs, braised with a hoisin reduction and served with jalapeno-cheddar grits, sautéed spinach and kale, are favorites.
Collins’ New Orleans influences also can be seen in the shrimp po’ boy, shrimp and grits and Nola red beans and rice.
The house-smoked salmon – silky and luscious with the proper notes of smoke, served with that remoulade and buttered saltines – is another customer favorite.
“We have people who come in several times a week for our chopped salad (a blend of cabbage, beets, grapes, butternut squash, corn relish, cherry tomatoes, scallions, Persian cucumber, edamame, feta, basil and champagne
vinaigrette),” Collins said.
“I tease them, and say, ‘Your mother would be so proud – you’ve got an entire week’s worth of vegetables in one sitting.’”
Collins takes pride in his from scratch menu.
“It’s just good food,” he said. “The menu is approachable, easy to understand. But boy-oh-boy, when you get that bacon burger, the ribs, there’s a smile on your face, and that’s what we’re going for.”
Collins said his aim isn’t to reinvent anything, or teach customers about some far-off dish.
“We do traditional dishes with a little bit of flair, a little bit of homegrown love, and we do them well, every single day,” he said.
The Macintosh, 2119 E. Camelback Road, is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesdays to Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. For information, call 602-36-8766 or visit