MESA, AZ - Restaurants in Phoenix come and go. Many hope to gain loyal customers, but few catch on quite like Beaver Choice .
The eatery, which serves Scandinavian, Polish and Canadian cuisine, is now open in Mesa. Regulars remember the old location in Tempe, which closed down because it was too small to handle the large dinnertime crowds.
"I never thought we would become this popular," said the always charming chef and co-owner Hanna Gabrielsson.
The new location, near Baseline Road and Country Club Drive, is about four times the size of the original location. Gabrielsson has added more tables and booths, a bar and a huge selection of imported beers. Visitors should also note the lamps above each booth.
"The lamps are from Ikea," laughed Gabrielsson," I love Ikea!"
Swedish-based Ikea is known for its self-assembled furniture styled with clean, simple and minimalist lines. Like the lamps, the food is simple and appealing.
Schnitzel, thinned chicken or pork egg washed and fried, is one of the most popular dishes.
"It's the star of the show!" explained Gabrielsson.
Other popular menu items include laxpudding, (frittata with sliced potatoes, cream and dill baked and topped with cures salmon) and Canadian favorite Poutine, (French fries smothered in gravy and topped with cheese curds).
Entrées are served with side salads, and all of the vegetables are organic. The meat is local, as are most other ingredients.
As for the name "Beaver Choice?"
Before moving to the Valley, Gabrielsson was running her restaurant as a food truck on a university campus in Canada. The national symbol of Canada is the beaver, and Gabrielsson's favorite food company was President's Choice. She simply merged the two.
"The students thought it was funny and started calling my food truck the Swedish Beaver!" laughed Grabriellson. "The name caught on and I kept it."
The name has caught on in Arizona and amassed a cult following. Gabrielsson says she has more than 900 people on the restaurant's email list. Dinner guests often have to make reservations as lines can wrap around the building. Lunch hours are typically much slower.
Beaver Choice won the Critics Pick: Best New Cuisine 2011 in the Arizona Republic and was listed by the paper as having one of the ten best desserts (the sweet mixture of chocolate, walnuts, whipped cream and orange called Beaver Supreme).
The Phoenix New Timex called the quirky café "too good to keep secret."
Have you been? What did you think? Let us know!
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