Raven’s View: A Wine Bar Oasis
Writer Amanda Christmann
Photographer Bryan Black
Way out east on Cave Creek Road, long past the manicured homes of the town it’s named for, is the wild of open desert that has lured artists and dreamers for half a century or so. Though it is still within city limits, the surrounding silent hush of Tonto National Forest’s three million acres of open space lends itself to a tranquil energy different from the buzz of the nearby towns.
One mile past the popular turnoff to Bartlett Lake, across from the secluded and scenic Desert Mountain Outlaw Course is the quiet community of Tonto Hills, and at its entrance is an unexpected and delightful oasis.
The outside of Raven’s View Wine Bar may be unassuming. In fact, it may even be confused for a simple, contemporary house, but step inside and it’s immediately clear that something different is happening out here on the frontier.
With breezes 10 to 15 degrees cooler than Phoenix air flowing through the open glass garage door window and voguish and eclectic artwork and décor, it’s an instant respite from more than just the heat.
Dozens of white wines and reds, including some reserves, are on the menu, along with a selection of local craft beers and the traditional American stand-bys.
Weekend brunch offers choices like breakfast paninis, Tonto tacos, the most savory bowl of oats you’ve ever seen (hello pesto, bacon, egg and feta!), and my own personal favorite, build-your-own avocado toast with toppings like chorizo, roasted peppers, red onion and jalapeños. Add a handcrafted fruity mimosa or homemade sangria, and there’s no better way to start the day!
Daily small plates like truffle popcorn, Bavarian pretzels with blonde beer cheese and whole grain mustard, charcuterie plates, and freshly made jalapeño corn, artichoke spinach and white bean hummus dips compliment the beer and wine selection.
Fresh salads and a small but to-die-for choice of paninis, and the house specialty, homemade meatballs served with crostini round out the menu in the most delicious way.
For owner Kym Westhoff, it’s a dream come true.
“My mom was a single mom who worked as a waitress. I can remember being five years old and sitting in the booth picking beans with her at the Chinese restaurant where she worked,” she says with a down-to-earth smile. “I grew up in the restaurant business and had a catering and events business of my own for seven years, so owning this place is kind of a wonderful culmination of everything I’ve done up to this point.”
Though Raven’s View now has her savvy and welcoming fingerprint, the wine bar was not originally her idea. Former owners Tom and Linda Rawles finished building it two years ago before selling it to Westhoff.
Hers wasn’t the first offer they’d gotten. Other potential buyers had ideas that didn’t bode well with their vision. When Kym came along with experience and similar goals, they entrusted her to carry on its spirit.
She’s done so with gusto.
March 16, she took possession at 9 a.m. She and her husband Steve, a builder, spent the day painting and redecorating, then opened in time for dinner that evening. It was a whirlwind day, but Kym wouldn’t have it any other way.
Since then, she’s expanded the menu and the hours, opening Raven’s View doors seven days a week. She contacted local artists she admires to feature their work on the walls on a rotating schedule, and employed some of the best servers and staff she knew to provide the kind of experience she herself would want to enjoy.
“Tom and Linda built a great foundation, and we’re going to continue to expand on that,” she explains.
Based on Raven’s View’s ratings and reviews, she’s doing a wonderful job.
Westhoff pegs just as much of her success on her personal work ethic as she does on the food she serves and the wine she pours.
“One thing I really like about the Cave Creek and Carefree area is that it isn’t just people supporting businesses; it’s other businesses supporting businesses,” she says. “They tend to really support entrepreneurs and people who are out there working hard.”
There’s still plenty to do. First on the a order is to expand the patio so that, as summer’s heat dies down, more people can take in the phenomenal sunsets and desert breezes.
Sitting at the bar on a quiet Monday mid-afternoon, she takes a moment to appreciate how far she’s come.
“The views are just awesome,” she says, almost to herself as she looks outside the large open window above the bar. The gorgeous green of the golf course looks as if it is part of her own private front yard, and the desert hums along with the calm music flowing through her speakers.
“There’s really no better office view than this.”
Raven’s View Wine Bar
42016 Old Mine Rd., Cave Creek
9 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekends
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays