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.

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!

My Cuisine Wishlist for Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City continues to broaden its culinary chops, offering a wide variety of cuisines from around the globe. However, we still have a ways to go. Often we only have one or two restaurants offering a particular cuisine, and to use baseball parlance, I’d love to see us have a deeper bench. In no particular order, here’s my list of cuisines I would like to see in the city.

Cuban

We desperately need a solid Cuban food restaurant. And I’m not just talking about the sandwich. We need a place that offers ceviche, plantains, yucca fries, empanadas, vaca frita, and roasted pork. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a solid Cuban sandwich, head over to Beltex Meats early on Saturday mornings to pick up one of their Cubans. They only make a small amount of these sandwiches on Saturdays, and always sell out. And it’s no wonder they are so popular, since the sandwich features their in-house smoked ham, roast mojo pork loin, house-brined pickles, Weber’s mustard, Swiss cheese, fennel marmalade, and Red Bicycle bread. It’s the best Cuban I’ve tasted anywhere.

Beltex Meats November 2016
Prepping the Cubans at Beltex

Continue reading “My Cuisine Wishlist for Salt Lake City”

Ridge Vineyards Wine Dinner at tupelo

tupelo Park City, historic Main Street’s home for inspired fine dining, invites guests to an exclusive wine dinner featuring Ridge Vineyards. These single-vineyard wines hailing from California’s Sonoma and Santa Clara Counties will be paired with four handcrafted courses from tupelo’s kitchen on Wednesday, October 24, at 7:00 p.m.

“Ridge Vineyards produces some of the best wines in Northern California, and we know the palates here in Park City will thoroughly enjoy them,” said tupelo Park City Chef & Owner Matt Harris. “Our menu is focused on the season, and we look forward to pairing some of our autumn harvest with the vineyard’s exceptional varietals.”

Chef Harris and his team will prepare four courses and close with a decadent dessert course, each to complement a thoughtfully selected Ridge Vineyards wine. The full menu includes:

1st

Black Bass Crudo, Compressed Apple, Spruce Tea, Lemon, Ginger Crumb, Dashi

2016 Ridge Estate Chardonnay

2nd

Suckling Pig, Caramelize Shallots, Grilled Concord Grapes, Braised Endive, Toasted Pecans

2016 Ridge East Bench Zinfandel

3rd

Roasted Duck Breast, Tupelo Farms Chokecherry Gastrique, Roasted Autumn Vegetables, Acorn Squash Puree

2016 Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel

4th

Braised Rabbit Risotto, Wild Mushrooms, Spiced Bordelaise Sauce

2015 Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

 

Chocolate Truffles & Autumnal Macarons to Finish

The 21+ event seats only three dozen guests. Tickets are $180 per person for dinner and four wine pairings before tax and service fee. More information and reservation details can be found here: https://tupeloparkcity.com/events/ridge-vineyards-wine-dinner

To learn more about the Ridge Vineyards Wine Dinner at tupelo, contact Christa Graff with Graff Public Relations, LLC, at 435.640.7921 or christa@graffpr.com. Additional information, hours of operations and reservations are available at tupeloparkcity.com.

 

 

Park City “Dine About” Happening Now

WHAT:           The Park City Area Restaurant Association (PCARA) welcomes foodies to its fifth annual “Dine About” this fall. The two-week restaurant event features savory two-course lunches and three-course dinners at more than two dozen area dining establishments, all at an incredible value.

PCARA partnered with Stay Park City to offer exclusive lodging packages for guests during Dine About. Thanks to their unique local perspective, Stay Park City provides hand-picked accommodations situated in the heart of historic Park City, tucked in surrounding neighborhoods, and nestled in the mountains at the guaranteed lowest prices. Dine About lodging offers can be booked here.

WHERE:         Foodies can enjoy Dine About at more than 30 participating restaurants:

Baja Cantina

Bistro 412

Brass Tag

Butcher’s Chop House

Café Terigo

Cena Ristorante

Chimayo

Deer Valley Grocery~Café

Escala Provisions Company Restaurant & Bar

Fletcher’s

Grappa

Grub Steak Restaurant

Handle

Lespri Prime Steak Sushi

Park City Marriott – DEN

Park City Marriott – Timbers

Powder at Waldorf Astoria

Purple Sage

Red Rock Junction

Red Tail Grill

Riverhorse on Main

Riverhorse Provisions

Shabu

Silver Star Café

Squatters

Sushi Blue

Trio Café Park City

tupelo

Twisted Fern

Wasatch Brew Pub

Versante Hearth & Bar

Visit parkcityrestaurants.com for full menus.

WHEN:           Sunday, October 1 – Sunday, October 15

PRICE:            Two-Course Lunch: $10 and $15 per person

Three-Course Dinner: $20 or $40 per person

2017 Downtown Dine O’Round

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The 2017 edition of the Downtown Dine O’Round kicks off September 15th and runs through October 1st. During the Dine O’Round, over 45 downtown restaurants offer various dining specials. Participating restaurants will offer either a $5 or $10 fixed price lunch, and $15, $25, and $35 three-course dinners.

The Dine O’Round is an excellent way to try out some restaurants that perhaps aren’t in your normal rotation. New additions this year include HSL, Rib and Chop House, Fat Jack’s, and White Horse. I’m particularly interested in what White Horse’s $10 lunch will include, as I’ve been meaning to try that place.

You can find more information, check out some menus from last year, and make reservations at the Dine O’Round website.

Dave and Busters Coming to Gateway

In another step toward re-establishing itself as the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, The Gateway has announced that they have reached an agreement with entertainment and dining chain, Dave & Buster’s, to open its first Utah location on the property.
In addition to its $100 million redevelopment plan, The Gateway and its parent company, Vestar, have been looking for a big name, family-friendly venue to anchor its rebranding effort.

“This is a huge win for us,” said Edie Trott, marketing director at The Gateway. “We like to offer our visitors something exclusive and unique, and Dave & Buster’s is the perfect one-of-a-kind dining and entertainment experience that we think people can get excited about.”

“Vestar has a long, fortunate history of working with Dave & Buster’s throughout our portfolio,” said Jenny Cushing, Vice President of Leasing at Vestar. “They’re synonymous with the kind of entertainment we’re dedicated to bringing to The Gateway. This latest announcement is just the start of a series of new developments that we’re excited to share with all of Salt Lake City.”

With restaurants in 34 states, and internationally, Dave & Buster’s has found success with a unique combination of entertainment and dining, offering its customers the opportunity to “eat, drink, play and watch,” all in one location.

“We take a great deal of care with how we grow our business—and coming into the Salt Lake market appealed to us for a number of reasons,” said John Mulleady, Senior Vice President of Development. “The Gateway provided us with the perfect opportunity to introduce Utah families to our brand of entertainment and dining. With something to offer everyone—at any age—we think this brings something special to the community.”

High West Named Distiller of the Year

High West Distillery received Distiller of the Year in Whisky Advocate’s 23rd annual awards. The award exists to recognize excellence in the world of whisky. The publication noted: “High West delivers innovative and delicious whiskeys, expands the definition of what it is to be a distiller, and pioneered a successful new paradigm for craft distilling.”

We’re speechless to receive such a great honor. It is a testament to the hard work and passion the team here at High West puts into making our endeavor successful every single day. I’d like to give a special thanks to my co-founder, Jane Perkins. We’d be nowhere without her. -High West co-founder David Perkins

You can find out more about the distiller of the year award by clicking here.

 

On Restaurant Design

Salt Lake City’s restaurant scene has never been brighter or more vibrant. And not only are our lovely local restauranteurs taking their food seriously, but many restaurant owners understand the importance that design plays in their guests’ overall dining experience. A restaurant’s design begins to mold a guest’s experience and perceptions long before a plate of food even hits the table. Design is a visual appetizer.

Heirloom, fresh, clean, organic, simple, local. I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that these words are used to describe food. You’re not wrong. But these are the same words being used in the context of restaurant design throughout Salt Lake.

I remember the first time I walked into Bambara restaurant: striking black and white was balanced by warm browns. Contrasting tiles and stonework, textured houndstooth seats, and beautiful fixtures evoke a sense of class, and hearkens back to the “good old days” of downtown metropolitan business and banking. The restaurant’s design pays homage to the building’s heritage as the Continental Bank, before it was converted to the Hotel Monaco. Staff circulate efficiently through and around the large, open kitchen (before open kitchens were really even a thing). Bambara’s design is contemporary, classy, and all business. Just like its food. This restaurant has been around for a while, but they knocked it out of the park with the design, and it is just as fresh as day one, in my opinion.

bambara_020316_8922-jpg-1024x0
Photo courtesy Bambara

A restaurant’s design, when done right, complements the food. Andrea Beecher of M3LD designed the striking new Table X restaurant, which used to be a cheese factory in Brickyard. Beecher and the Table X owners were able to preserve much of the original elements of the building in order to preserve character and pay homage to the building’s history. When asked about her design inspiration for this unique space, she said:

After having eaten the chef’s food and being inspired by how bright, fresh and vibrant it was, how much of a piece of art every dish was, I thought about a trip to Iceland that I took a couple years ago. I was there in summer where layered on top of what is typically a barren landscape of black, grays and browns, there are colorful wild flowers of all kind and the greens of grasses and moss. The monochromatic landscape allowed these seasonal touches to pop in a huge way. I thought of their food as that foliage and wanted the restaurant to mimic Iceland’s landscape so their food would pop just the same. So their food could be the art in the space. Be the highlight it should be.

I.e. restrained design focuses attention where it should be: on the food. Design sometimes needs to know when to get out of the way.

One common denominator amongst restaurants leading down the design path is a focus on textures, and the impact that different materials have. A reinvigorated design focus around various textures complements many chefs’ approaches to a multi-faceted dining experience.

Even hot dog places understand the interplay of restaurant design and the overall guest experience. For those unfamiliar, J Dawgs is a hot dog shop that started as a tiny little shack on the south end of the BYU campus. It has since grown to five locations (four in Utah County, one in downtown SLC).

Immediately upon entering the space, one recognizes the thoughtful approach that the owners took in designing the space. In fact, J Dawgs hired Rapt Studio, a design firm that has worked on projects for Adobe, Google, Apple Youtube, and HBO. Rapt worked with J Dawgs to redesign their brand, and to design their Salt Lake City location with the goal of creating a space that was reminiscent of the original hot dog shack in Provo, but with a more grown-up angle.

Communal tables are intermixed with single seats, counter seating, and a lounge-type area with a TV towards the back of the shop. A giant wall installation utilizing bottles of their signature sauce form a giant American flag. Corrugated steel is tastefully installed to hearken back to the original shack. And the centerpiece of it all is an open kitchen, where guests are afforded a 360 degree view of the entire cooking and dog-building process.

Mollie & Ollie‘s clean design, while it may be viewed as overly sterile or antiseptic by some, also reinforces their focus on “clean” foods–those that are simple, organic, and responsibly sourced. M&O owners invested a small fortune to completely renovate the very long but skinny footprint that stores on SLC Main Street are famous for. I personally enjoy the clean, simple nature of the space that allows diners to focus on what really matters: the food, and the people you are enjoying the food with. I also applaud Mollie & Ollie for realizing that it’s ok to be brave with design (and yes–white is brave). It’s refreshing to walk into a space and not be bombarded with Edison bulbs as far as the eye can see. But I wouldn’t blame you if you felt like you were in an operating room.

The LaSalle Group took things down to very core (literally) with their renovation of the old Baker Motors building on 3rd South in Salt Lake in order to house the new Current Fish & Oyster. The old car dealership building was in serious need of updating, so the owners went in, gutted the place, and started with a clean slate, while preserving the exterior of the building. LaSalle did a similar gut-job renovation on the old Faustina place in order to create the deliciously clean Stanza Italian Bistro.

Rich, vibrant greens cast a striking, yet comfortable contrast with the grays and whites in the newly-opened HSL. HSL, the second restaurant venture of Chef/co-owner Briar Handly, partnered with real estate and design heavyweight cityhomeCOLLECTIVE, who were involved in designing numerous striking restaurants in the city, including Pallet and Finca. When you enter HSL, you are immediately hit with the impression of life, warmth, and vibrance.

“Melissa (HSL co-owner of HSL) and I talked for a long time about what we wanted HSL to feel like. Where would the magic be? We knew that we wanted patrons to walk into a space that felt alive and conscious…like it had a soul of its own.” -Cody Derrick, cityhomeCOLLECTIVE

So much of Handly’s expertise lies in his ability to raise vegetables to be on par (or many times, exceed) that of the protein, typically the star of the show. HSL’s design, centered around vibrant green plants, complements his approach.

“We tried to create a space that feels the way Briar’s food tastes. We wanted the design to be interesting, calming and comfortable. To evoke a sense of nature. Design is a critical component to the guest experience. We believe that for us to be successful we need to have a equal balance of food, service and ambiance. That being said, it doesn’t matter how good your design is if your service and food aren’t exceptional as well.” -Melissa Gray, co-owner

Design is a seemingly endless proposition, framed by finite resources. Budgets limit choices, restaurant layouts limit designs, and city codes can restrict design freedoms. But that challenge brings opportunities.

“There is something I’ve learned to be true in all aspects of design: convenience kills creativity. When you’re given the world–too many choices, an endless budget, no timeline–some key part of the process inevitably gets lost. Perhaps it’s our innate desire to be problem solvers, or our constant inability to be satisfied, but designers and artists in most any capacity seem to thrive in an environment laden with obstacles.” -Lauren Bald, cityhomeCOLLECTIVE, regarding the challenging FINCA design project

Cody Derrick continues:

“We’ve gotten to create a space where we’re inspired to be. It’s something that’s never been done before; something that’s inspired by the space itself. It’s inspired by the food and the chef, the owner, the locals. It’s inspired by all of that, but it’s still here. It’s in Utah. Which is why we have mountains on the walls, and locals in the photos. It’s not trying to be anything other than what it is. Finca is a Spanish restaurant in Salt Lake City, so let’s just celebrate that.”

Indeed, that’s what proper design should be about. It should be inspired by (and should celebrate) the surroundings. Reflect the nuances, talents, and quirks of the chef as well as the food itself. A properly designed restaurant should not distract guests from the meal, and should in fact be the platform upon which the food is allowed to truly shine. Design should be a quiet element of the dining experience, shaping, but not intruding on a guest’s experience. Design should celebrate the personalities of the staff and guests, and make all feel welcome and free to enjoy themselves.

Design is expression.