Pat’s BBQ

I’m not usually one to rag on local restaurants. I like to think of myself as more of a hype man regarding SLC’s dining scene than anything else. I truly feel that anyone that’s willing to stick their neck out and run a restaurant deserves our applause and support. Generally speaking, if a restaurant is out there trying their best, I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt when things fall short.

However, there’s a point in which certain restaurants don’t even try anymore, and when they get to that point, they deserve to be called out. I feel it’s disrespectful to customers when the service and the food is so egregiously bad that it’s obvious the restaurant has given up on having any sort of standards.

Sadly, such is the case with Pat’s BBQ. I don’t know what happened to Pat’s over the past little while, but whatever it is, it hasn’t been for the better. I will say I noticed a similar pattern with another once-great BBQ restaurant: R&R BBQ. Both have seemed to followed the same path: original owner/pitmaster sells out, transitions away from the business, and the quality control falls apart.

At the Commonwealth location off 21st South, it’s a full-service restaurant, unlike their State St location, which is quick-serve style. I feel the quick-serve setup is better for most BBQ restaurants, and given that 90% of the BBQ restaurants I’ve been to over the years is the “order at the counter and sit down” style, I think it’s evident that that’s the way to go.

Walking into Pat’s was a sleepy affair, with us waiting several minutes be be acknowledged by the lone server working that day. The first red flag was that the place smelled absolutely nothing like a BBQ place. I want to walk in and smell like there’s a raging campfire in the room next door (or at least somewhere in the vicinity.) Staged or not, I want some smell of burning wood to tell me there’s some serious smoking work going on behind the scenes. Pat’s smelled more like a Costco or a library than a BBQ restaurant.

Once seated, no drink order was taken, and what seemed like ten minutes passed before our food order was taken. It was not busy.

And then the food arrived. First, the positives: the french fries were very good. Breaded, crispy, and warm. Same goes for the baked beans, which were rich and flavorful. And then there was the brisket, which was a room-temperature nightmare, and the slices had some obvious oxidation that told me these slices had been sitting out for a while. The room-temperature meat made me nervous. A comment was made to the server about this, and the reply was “I’ll let her know” (assuming the “her” was the cook). No efforts were made to rectify the situation by either replacing the meat with another option, or taking it off the bill. If I’m running a restaurant and a customer tells me something’s not up to snuff, they’re going to get more than just an “I’m sorry.” “I’m sorry” doesn’t fix the problem. It just makes the server feel better while leaving the diner with a bad experience.

For the cornbread, I might as well have eaten drywall spackle. It would have been more moist and would have had more flavor than what we were given. And maybe the drywall would have come with a side of butter, which is more than the cornbread came with.

My kid had the mac and cheese, which looked sadder than the empty band stage behind us. He didn’t even touch it. It was barely warm, with terrible presentation, and lacking in flavor. For my four-year-old to not completely house a cup of mac-and-cheese told me everything I needed to know about it.

If a shoulder shrug and an eye roll could be personified in food and service format, it was perfected in this meal at Pat’s.

Enjoy the $25, Pat’s. It’s going to be the last money you ever see from me.

Marc Marrone’s Italian Graffiti Coming to The Gateway

Italian Graffiti is the first full-scale restaurant by Nice Hospitality, the visionary team behind HallPass and SkinnyFATS. This new venture will offer a contemporary interpretation of classic Italian fare and hand-crafted family recipes from Chef-Partner Marc Marrone’s Italian-influenced upbringing in New York City. Building upon nearly 20 years of experience earned at world-class restaurants across the country, Chef Marc brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to Nice Hospitality’s newest venture. Guests can expect to be immersed in the art of vibe dining with Italian Graffiti’s expansive wine menu, open format cooking, daily house made pasta, a full bakery, and dry aged meat program. The area’s first modern osteria will feature floral-inspired decor with one-of-a-kind art installations throughout the dining room, bar, and lounge areas.

“With grandparents who immigrated from Italy, my most cherished family traditions centered around sharing homemade meals together. I want our guests to experience that same gracious hospitality and convivial atmosphere,” says Marc Marrone. “The popularity of HallPass at The Gateway paved the way for this new concept as we feel it has increasingly become a coveted dining and entertainment destination in Salt Lake City.”

Italian Graffiti is slated to open this summer at the southeast corner of The Gateway.

Park City’s “Savor the Summit” Returns

After a two-year hiatus, the Park City Area Restaurant Association’s (PCARA) annual Savor the Summit will return to Historic Main Street on June 25, 2022.  

“We could not be more excited to bring Savor the Summit to life this year, and we are so grateful for the collaborative efforts of the City, Historic Park City Alliance (HPCA) and our loyal patrons who have been patiently awaiting the event’s return,” said PCARA Executive Director Ginger Wicks. “Guests can look forward to a completely revamped, refreshed version of our favorite summer dining tradition.”  

This year’s participating PCARA-member restaurants will celebrate the official kickoff to summer by offering their own inspired menus for guests to enjoy. The full lineup of partners and reservations for a seat at the Grande Table will be available soon. To save yours, as well as stay up to date on ongoing event updates, visit www.savorthesummit.com

Wildwood

Wildwood Restaurant sits nestled amongst historic homes on 3rd Avenue in the city’s Avenues neighborhood, and is located in the former Avenues Bistro location.

“American Comfort Food” is the name of the game here. Their website describes themselves as a “product driven restaurant which features an evolving and continuously changing menu with craft cocktails, beer, and wine.”

It’s no surprise the menu is approachable yet innovative, given that Wildwood is owned by Chef Michael Richey. Richey is a mainstay of the Salt Lake culinary scene, having opened Pago and working previously as the chef at Solitude as well as Grand Targhee Resort. Those familiar with Pago’s culinary approach will feel right at home at Wildwood.

The menu is innovative yet not intimidating. Diners will spot recognizable offerings such as shishitos, salmon pillows, croquettes, chicken wings, fish and chips, and fried chicken. But each of these dishes buck tradition in their own unique (and good) way.

For example, the chicken wings were cooked to a perfect crisp. That much is to be expected from any competent kitchen. But the spicy sambal sauce that the wings were doused in added a unique, spicy tangent that presented wings in an entirely different light and paired with the blue cheese dip made an irresistible combination. I couldn’t stop eating them. I will admit that I wasn’t sure at the time (and I’m still not sure now) if the bright orange oil that covered the plate was a feature or a bug of the dish. But that question certainly didn’t slow me down.

The braised pork dish had some familiar aspects, featuring crispy pork belly and tender short ribs, accompanied by shishitos, some greens, and a deliciously light and tart cara cara orange and pear gastrique. The citrus was a perfect foil for the rich and fatty pork.

The “Desert Mountain Burger” features caramelized onions, Beehive Cheese cheddar, bourbon bacon, and an aioli. The burger was really nice, and pretty much what you’d expect from a restaurant of this caliber. Although I must admit I continue to hold out hope that the fancy burger trend will shift away from these giant, gloppy, unmanageable creations, and shift back to something that I’m able to eat at my leisure without having to wolf it down before either a) the bun disintegrates and it turns into a big, sloppy mess or b) everything slides off the burger because there’s simply too much “stuff” on it. I’m of the opinion that burgers shouldn’t be taller than what I can fit in my mouth. Make Burgers Approachable Again.

Other items such as the mushroom risotto, cast iron bavette, and roasted steelhead trout left me anxious to stop by again to try them out. With their quickly-rotating menu, I hope that I’ll be able to catch them before they’re gone, although I’m sure that when they are replaced, they’ll be replaced with items that are equally delicious.

The layout of the restaurant is, shall we say, unique. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise to those familiar with the eclectic architectural designs of Avenues residences and businesses. Our reservation was at 6, and so the dinner service was just getting into full swing, with the main-level dining room completely packed.

The hostess beckoned us to follow her, and indeed we did, past all of the diners, past the galley-style kitchen, being careful to avoid the dish rinsing station, kitchen racks, and other various “back of the house” objects. We made it past the kitchen, to the back of the building, and then down a narrow staircase into what can best be described as a downstairs bar/speakeasy. The speakeasy was plenty dark, and we were the only ones down there. The tables were rounded glass perched atop High West whiskey barrels, so leg-stretching was not an option. The chairs were backless mid-height barstools.

On one hand, it was a cool, unique experience. On the other had, it was somewhat uncomfortable, and lacked the typical conviviality that is usually experienced in a busy, bustling restaurant. I felt like we were sitting at the otherwise empty kids’ table at Aunt Mildred’s house.

But the awkwardness abated after a half hour or so, as other diners found themselves seated in our intimate dining dungeon. It was actually sort of fun as we laughed about the situation and found some humor in all of it.

The separation also made me wonder if the attentiveness of service would suffer as a result of our being cast into outer darkness. But those concerns were unfounded as our server was extremely attentive and did everything he could to make sure we had a special experience at Wildwood.

My advice is as follows: if you want a busy, loud dining experience with a bunch of hub-bub, ask to be seated in the main dining room. If you’re looking for something more intimate and secluded, and are fine sitting on stools and dining on whiskey barrels, then by all means ask for downstairs. It was a fun experience. My suggestion to WildWood would be that if you’re going to seat someone down there, make sure you ask them ahead of time when they make the reservation, if it’s ok. Explain the situation. Don’t put your diners in the uncomfortable situation of either requesting a seating change and disrupting the dining plans for the evening, or just dealing with the surprise of the seating situation.

Either way, no matter what you decide, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the food, or the experience. As an Avenues resident, I’m glad that we have these small neighborhood spots to enjoy, and hope that Wildwood will be around for many years to come.

Wildwood is currently open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner service only, from 5pm to close.

WildWood
564 E 3rd Ave
Salt Lake City
(801) 831-5409

Ellerbeck Walk-Up Café

For those familiar with the Avenues neighborhood, you’re well aware of the beautiful pioneer-era Victorian at the corner of 3rd and B Street. The mansion now holds a bed and breakfast and was purchased two years ago by Tyler and Kara, who have been making serious efforts to rejuvenate this Avenues jewel.

Recently Tyler and Kara have added their new secret weapon to their B&B—Victoriya, who is the Ellerbeck Innkeeper. Together, they’ve launched a new project at Ellerbeck—a walk-up café to serve all of your caffeinated and caloric needs.

The concept fits in perfectly with the general vibe of the Aves, which is known for its walkability and easy access to just about everything.

I stopped by to have a taste of their offerings. The hot chocolate (made with steamed milk, of course) was rich and delicious. I also tried their “Johnnycake” slathered with “Beehive Butter,” which is essentially what you would get if you crossed cornbread with cake. Lighter than cornbread, but still with the delicious, crunchy top that I love so much.

I’m excited to stop by again soon to try out their “cottage cakes,” with strawberries and cream. Cottage cakes are fluffy pancakes made with cottage cheese to give it body. Sounds pretty great to me.

The walk-up is open 8am-2pm Thursday through Sunday, and features a rotation of pioneer-inspired breakfast items.

140 B Street, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Deer Valley Announces New Food and Beverage Leaders

Deer Valley Resort announced new leadership of their award-winning food & beverage operations. Jacob Musyt has been named the vice president of food & beverage, while Deer Valley’s own Sammie Doyle has been promoted to the director of food & beverage.

“With more than 20 years of hospitality experience, Jacob brings fresh ideas and a seasoned outlook for the future of Deer Valley’s food and beverage offerings,” said Jeremy Levitt, resort president. “Additionally, we are grateful for Sammie’s years of dedicated service with us, and we look forward to her leadership in her new director role.”

As the vice president of food & beverage, Jacob Musyt will oversee more than a dozen restaurant outlets, resort culinary teams, and Deer Valley’s banquet and catering experiences. Musyt was formerly the director of food & beverage at Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, following roles with Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, VA, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group in Washington, D.C., and Waldorf Astoria Park City. He studied at Johnson & Wales University in Denver with a focus on hospitality and restaurant management.  

“I am in the business of creating memories guests will cherish and last forever, something Deer Valley has been doing for decades,” said Musyt. “I’m thrilled to be back in Park City and to join the resort’s world-renowned food & beverage team and be able to provide those meaningful experiences for years to come.”

Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Sammie Doyle has been with Deer Valley since 2012. She was most recently the resort restaurant operations manager, and before her time at the resort she worked as a detox case manager for people experiencing homelessness through Volunteers of America. Married with two children, Doyle is a fitness coach, foodie, wine lover, traveler and lover of the outdoors.

Fenice Mediterranean Bistro

Right before the pandemic began, Jeff and Lisa Ward (owners of Silverstar Café in Park City signed a lease on the small restaurant space formerly occupied by Fireside on Regent, just next to the Eccles Theater and a stone’s throw from Prettybird Salt Lake.

To be honest, I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to even think about opening a restaurant right as talk of remote work and quarantining started to infiltrate our daily conversations. But for the Wards, it gave them a bit of a breather; a chance to reset and really think things through and consider how (and what) they wanted their first venture into Salt Lake dining to be.

Ant their thoughtful approach shows in every detail at Fenice Mediterranean Bistro (126 S Regent Street). The layout and design of the space keeps things intimate and warm (no doubt helped by the piping hot pizza oven located in the corner of the open kitchen). I was invited by the restaurant to stop by and check out some dishes.

The menu reflect the Mediterranean vibes well, with various small plates such as roasted olives with burrata, polenta with balsamic-roasted potatoes (really tasty), and patatas bravos.

For pasta, I tried the bolognese bianca, which was absolutely rich, creamy, and delicious. Exactly what you would expect from a well-executed bolognese. Other dishes that caught my eye that I didn’t get a chance to try were the mushroom risotto, the osso bucco, whole roasted branzino, and a New York steak au poivre. Inquiries to other diners who had those dishes were met with strong, favorable reviews. The pizzas also looked delicious.

Prices are reasonable considering the level of execution of the dishes as well as the downtown location, with the mains ranging from around $25-$30, pizzas $18, and pasta dishes $17-$22.

For the adult beverage side of things, I will as always graciously bow out of offering any opinions other than saying that the restaurant features a full cocktail menu and what appears to me to be a quite substantial selection of wines and beers. I will note that due to their current liquor license, you must be 21 or older to dine at Fenice.

The restaurant is currently open for dinnerTuesday through Saturday from 5pm-9:30pm, and their websites states they are closed Mondays and Tuesdays. No mention of Sundays so be sure to check with them prior to hoofing it down there. Dinner only for now, but they anticipate they will expand into brunch and lunch soon.

Patatas Bravas
Bolognese

The Future

As we are still very much in the early stages of this pandemic, my heart goes out to all of those involved in the restaurant/hospitality industry. For years, I (and many others) have been touting the ever-growing food scene in Salt Lake. In the past 10 years, our dining scene has seen growth and transformation that I don’t think anybody could have fully imagined. So it pains me to think of what the state of the industry in our salty city will look like a year or two from now.

Gabrielle Hamilton

This piece in the New York Times, written by Gabrielle Hamilton, is a heartbreaking glimpse into what is going on in the industry right now. Even more disheartening is that Hamilton is an award-winning chef and author—someone who you would expect to be able to financially able to weather a financial storm such as this. And if Prune may not survive after all of this is over, what is going to happen to all of the mom-and-pop shops out there that don’t have the sizzle and star power of a James Beard award-winning chef? Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

It would be nigh impossible for me, in the context of a pandemic, to argue for the necessity of my existence. Do my sweetbreads and my Parmesan omelet count as essential at this time? In economic terms, I don’t think I could even argue that Prune matters anymore, in a neighborhood and a city now fully saturated with restaurants much like mine, many of them better than mine — some of which have expanded to employ as many as 100 people, not just cooks and servers and bartenders but also human-resource directors and cookbook ghostwriters.I am not going to suddenly start arguing the merits of my restaurant as a vital part of an “industry” or that I help to make up 2 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product or that I should be helped out by our government because I am one of those who employ nearly 12 million Americans in the work force. But those seem to be the only persuasive terms — with my banks, my insurers, my industry lobbyists and legislators. I have to hope, though, that we matter in some other alternative economy; that we are still a thread in the fabric that might unravel if you yanked us from the weave.Everybody’s saying that restaurants won’t make it back, that we won’t survive. I imagine this is at least partly true: Not all of us will make it, and not all of us will perish. But I can’t easily discern the determining factors, even though thinking about which restaurants will survive — and why — has become an obsession these past weeks. What delusional mind-set am I in that I just do not feel that this is the end, that I find myself convinced that this is only a pause, if I want it to be? I don’t carry investor debt; my vendors trust me; if my building’s co-op evicted me, they would have a beast of a time getting a new tenant to replace me.But I know few of us will come back as we were. And that doesn’t seem to me like a bad thing at all; perhaps it will be a chance for a correction, as my friend, the chef Alex Raij, calls it.

Tip Your Server Hospitality Support Fund

Salt Lake City, in conjunction with actor Ty Burrell, and the Downtown Alliance, have launched the Tip Your Server initiative, which aims to provide grant money to employees of the Salt Lake hospitality industry who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.

So far the fund has raised nearly $500,000, thanks to individual donations as well as matching donations provided by various organizations.

If you’d like to donate, you can get more information here.

Free online wine pairing from Pago

Here’s a fun event that Scott Evans is putting on this Saturday. See below for more info.

Join us LIVE for a this Saturday, April 25th at 7pm on Facebook for a fun and interactive wine pairing event with Pago Restaurant Group Owner and Sommelier, Scott Evans.

Scott is pairing the Freghino wine from Agricola La Segreta in Umbria, Italy with Pago’s 3-Course Braised Short Ribs + Whipped Potatoes + Roasted Vegetables Meal.  Follow along as Scott talks about why he selected this pairing and shares his tasting notes with you.

Purchase the 3-Course Short Ribs meal from Pago – order online for curbside pickup
Purchase the Freghino wine from the DABC wine stores – search inventory here so you see how many bottles are available at each store (item #906908)

Or just grab a glass of wine of your own and join us for a fun and casual conversation. Scott will answer live questions and give insights into how he selects wine, and what he looks for in wine pairings with food.  Anyone can join in FREE (even if you don’t order a meal)!

Come hungry and with your questions about wine. Hope to see you Saturday!