Santo Tacos

Santo Tacos sits in a nondescript building with strip-mall vibes. It’s in an odd part of town: north of the fair park, and right off the 1000 North exit of I-15. If you’re not looking for it, you’d likely miss it, camouflaged in with the barber shop, smoke shop, and quick stop convenience store.

The interior is light and bright, and is set up quick-service style. Signs point diners to the various locations along the line to order (“tacos order here,” “nachos order here,” etc.). The staff is busy, grilling various meats and building orders. Their menu states “tortillas recien hechas” (fresh-made tortillas), and that isn’t just lip-service: one employee stays busy full-time making the masa, putting it into the tortilla press, and bagging up for service.

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Hearth and Hill Restaurant

hearth and hill park city

Tucked away towards the back of a Kimball Junction shopping area, between the Best Buy and Jupiter Lanes bowling alley, you will find the newly-opened Hearth and Hill restaurant. This smartly-designed restaurant seeks to be a local-centric, community-focused restaurant. A place where you would be comfortable hanging with your friends, go on a first date, or hang out with your grandparents. A lot of time, attention, and money was spent on the interior of the restaurant, which I would call industrial-chic. Large-pane windows showcase the bright white kitchen—kind of a different take on the open kitchen concept—and I like it. Make sure you spend some time at the gorgeous bar, and enjoy a cocktail or mocktail as you pre-game dinner. During the warmer months, live music will be featured on their large patio. 

The bar at Hearth and Hill restaurant in Park City, Utah

Brooks Kirchheimer, proprietor of Hearth and Hill, has restaurants in his blood. As a child his very first Christmas present he recalls asking Santa for was a cash register, and he would routinely drive his sisters crazy asking them to “play restaurant” with him (his restaurant’s name was Sharky’s). 

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Slapfish coming to Utah

I generally limit my coverage of chains and franchises, but when a good one pops up on my radar, I’m glad to toot their horn.

Slapfish started as a food truck serving fresh, sustainable seafood dishes such as traditional fish tacos and fish and chips to more adventurous items like chowder fries, ceviche, and lobster taquitos. Not gonna lie, looking at their photos is making me wish they were opening a bit closer to downtown, but I think I’ll make the drive. I’m excited to try out their version of the lobster roll.

“With our menu of seasonally rotating, gourmet dishes in a relaxed setting, guests experience the quality of fine dining with the cost and convenience of faster food. Also setting us apart is the fact that we only serve the freshest fish and shellfish sourced from responsible suppliers of seafood.” Chef Andrew Gruel

Slapfish intends to open up to eight locations in Utah. Grand Opening events will happen on March 10th and 11th in their Lehi location.

Slapfish
3360 N Frontage Road
Lehi

Christmas and New Year’s Specials

The holidays are well upon us, and many local restaurants are opening up for Christmas and New Years dining.

Cafe Niche

Christmas Eve: Open from 8am to 9pm, and will be serving special dishes including wild mushroom bisque, shrimp cocktail, and Black Forest cake.

New Years: Cafe Niche will offer a special New Years Eve dining special from 5-10pm. Cost is $60 per person. Reservations are a must, and can be made by calling the restaurant (801) 433-3380. The restaurant will also be open on New Years day at 8am.

Kyoto

Kyoto will be serving their regular menu, with adjusted hours. Christmas Eve: 11-2pm and 5-9pm. Christmas Day: closed. December 26: regular hours. New Years Eve: 11am-2pm, 5-9pm. New Years: closed for lunch and open for dinner 5-10pm.

Stanza

Stanza will be open Christmas Eve from 5-9pm, with specials in addition to the regular menu, and will be closed all day on Christmas and New Year’s Day. Specials on Christmas Eve include veal cannelloni, wagyu bavette, and buche de noel for dessert.

The restaurant will also offer a New Year’s Eve special four course menu for $65, featuring oysters, roasted pumpkin soup, lobster farfalle, branzino, Mary’s chicken, and cannoli (among many other options). Call the restaurant for reservations at (801) 746-4441.

Current Fish & Oyster

current-oysters
Photo courtesy Current

The restaurant will be open for lunch a dinner on Christmas Eve, closing at 8pm. The restaurant will be closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Chef Phelix Gardner is featuring customer favorites and many holiday specials for the restaurant’s New Year’s Eve celebration. The four course menu is available beginning at 4pm on December 31st. Options include oyster brie soup, grilled calamari, banana prawn videos, roasted beef loin, caramelized organic salmon, and a chocolate peanut cremeux, among other options. Guests can also choose to add a seafood tower with mussel shooters, poached lobster, oysters, shrimp, and crab legs.

Call (801) 326-3474 for reservations.

Oasis Cafe

Oasis will be open from 8am until 3pm on Christmas Eve, offering their regular brunch menu. The restaurant will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

The restaurant is offering a special four course prix fixe menu beginning at 5pm on New Years Eve. Offerings will include pan seared scallop, shrimp bisque, pan roasted halibut, prime rib, and dark chocolate cheesecake, among other options.

Cost is $45. Reservations are highly suggested. (801) 322-0404.

Finca

Finca has created a six course tasting menu for New Year’s Eve. Per Spaniard tradition, each dish will incorporate grapes in some way. Each course is also paired with an optional wine pairing as well.

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Pago

Pago is offering a New Year’s Eve tasting menu, plus wine pairings, from 5-9pm. Price is $70 for the menu, plus $38 for the optional wine pairings. Some menu items include hamachi crude, sweet potato gnocchi, venison, diver scallops, and bread pudding. Call the restaurant at (801) 532-0777 for reservations.

pago

HSL

HSL still has availability for their four-course prix fixe meal on Christmas Eve. Price is $65 per person, and features a selection of panna cotta, charred leek soup, ribeye steak, sea bass, chestnut risotto, and bouche de noel, among other choices. Call HSL at (801) 539-9999.

Laziz Kitchen

Laziz is offering a “New Year’s Eve Supper,” with two seating options: one at 7:30pm and one at 8:30pm. The menu is a four course prix fixe menu, including stuffed grape leaves, hummus, fennel salad, fish tajen, Zaatar crusted chicken, baklava bites, and assorted beverages (alcohol extra, but you can bring your own if you wish). Price is $70 per person, and must be paid for in advance by calling the restaurant at (801) 441-1228. More info on Facebook.

Avenues Bistro on Third

Avenues Bistro will host two seatings: one at 5pm and one at 7pm. The bistro will be showcasing the work of the newly-returned chef, Adam Findlay. This is a four-course meal featuring a cream of sunchoke bisque, watercress salad, ricotta gnocchi, wagyu beef, salmon, and dessert. No price was posted, but call (801) 831-5409 to inquire and make reservations.

East Liberty Tap House

East Liberty is still accepting reservations for New Year’s Eve, featuring a “tap takeover” by Red Rock Brewing. There will be other drink and food specials as well. Call them at (801) 441-2845.

Laziz Kitchen

Laziz Kitchen opened this week. The restaurant, located just off 9th South on Jefferson (next to Jade Market), is the next culinary step for Moudi Sbeity and Derek Kitchen, the brains behind the popular Laziz Foods (specializing in hummus, muhammara, and toum spreads). Moudi and Derek have always strived to be active participants in their communities. Their new Middle Eastern-focused restaurant is their next step to further their community involvement.

Over the years we’ve found ourselves in a unique position of bridging our passion for food with community engagement. Whether it’s advocating for social justice, or our involvement in local political office, or to early mornings with our neighbors at the farmers market, we’re driven by our love for the community. We’ve knocked on doors, talked to strangers, and told our story, and now we invite you into our kitchen – to gather around our table. We hope you feel at home. -Moudi and Derek

The space itself is beautiful. As a side note, I am so thrilled with all of the new restaurants popping up that understand the importance of a cohesive dining experience: atmosphere, service, and food. You need all three, and it seems like many of the newcomers get it.

Back to the space. Nice and open, but not too loud. Beautiful copper chairs provide nice contrast to the white, gold, and green found throughout the space. Servers bustle about in beautiful green aprons. Upon entering, you will be greeted by a small area dedicated to selling middle eastern products as well as some products from our very own local producers. Their small marketplace offers specialty olive oils from the West Bank, unique spice blends such as zaatar, and orange blossom water.

They were busy, but not overwhelmed. Our server was very friendly and very happy to explain different menu items to us.

After seeing some photos online, I knew we had to try the fried cauliflower florets, which arrived perfectly golden and cooked just right. The cauliflower was accompanied by a tahini dressing topped with parsley, which could have used a bit more punch. Lemon juice and maybe a hit of salt would have helped boost it up enough to stand up to the cauliflower. I ended up dipping the cauliflower in some toum (an absolutely wonderful garlic sauce), and it seemed a better match.

Laziz offers many different small plate/appetizer options, including hummus (of course), Baba Ghannouj (eggplant), grilled Halloumi cheese, fries, and an olive and pickle plate, among many other dishes.

Entrees range from hummus wraps to Man’Oushe Zaatar, a stone fired flatbread stuffed with zaatar, olive oil, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, and mint.

My entree of Shish Tawook ($11) was a very nice portion of chicken, rice, and a basic (and forgettable) tomato, cucumber, and lettuce salad. The chicken was perhaps the best cooked chicken I have ever had–perfectly moist, which just the right amount of char and flavor. The rice was cooked well, but needed something else along with it to make it not so one dimensional. The toum, once again, saved the day. You can order the Shish Tawook as a sandwich as well ($10) if you aren’t interested in the rice and salad. I would go that route next time.

A kafta wrap (beef and parsley skewers with onions, tomatoes, pickles and hummus) also found itself lacking a bit in flavor. When mentioned, the server quickly went and consulted with the kitchen, and brought out a sauce that rounded out the dish very nicely. I’m excited to return to try their Clifford Farm Egg wrap, the Pepper Tajen, as well as some delicious desserts.

Laziz is a fantastic addition to the SLC dining scene. Derek and Moudi have always created deliciously vibrant and flavorful spreads and dips which have been so very popular, and I think with a bit of time, that same focus on bright, contrasting flavors found in their muhammara, for example, will make their way into the dishes offered at Laziz Kitchen as well.

Laziz Kitchen
Tuesday through Friday 8am-6pm
Saturday through Sunday 9am-4pm
912 South Jefferson Street, Salt Lake City
(801) 441-1228

Table X Opens Today (11/2/16)

Table X, a chef-owned and operated restaurant, opens its doors on Wednesday, November 2nd. Three chefs, Mike Blocher, Nick Fahs, and David Barboza have been working on the concept for two years to build a space they could call their own.

The restaurant, located at 1457 E 3350 S, in the Brickyard neighborhood, is located in a 1930’s brick storehouse and cheese factory. The three chefs aim to offer a menu that is top-shelf, but missing all of the pretense typically associated with “fine dining.”

We want to present the highest caliber of … food, wine, and service in the most casual and least pretentious environment possible. -Nick Fahs

Come as you are, but you will receive something that is totally unexpected; something that may change your philosophy on the food we eat. -Mike Blocher

We’d like it to be warm and inviting. Like you’re coming into our home and we’re inviting you back time and time again. -David Barboza

The restaurant is open Wednesdays through Sundays for dinner only. Reservations can be made at their website. They have documented their journey through a series of videos, which can be viewed here.

Sweet Lake Biscuits and Limeade

In another SLC Farmers Market success story, Sweet Lake Biscuits and Limeade has opened their very own shop at 54 W 1700 S. Sweet Lake began as a limeade stand at the Farmers Market a few years ago, and they have seen big demand for their deliciously tart drinks. The popularity has driven the owners to open a new restaurant on 17th South, with biscuits and limeade as the stars of the show.

The restaurant opened this week, and I want to caveat this review with the full knowledge that any new restaurant will invariably have some kinks to work out. So, feel free to grade this on a curve if you would like. As for me, a customer paying full price, I expect full service and great quality food, regardless of how long you’ve been open. The time to work out kinks is during your soft opening and test dinners, before you open to the public. Paying customers should not be your guinea pigs.

The actual space is well designed, with a hip, clean exterior. I was actually surprised upon entering to find that this is a full service sit-down restaurant; for some reason, I was expecting an “order and pay at the counter” arrangement. The interior is bright, simple, and cheery.

Kink #1: the servers are still figuring things out, and must not have assigned tables. This caused us to be welcomed multiple times, asked what we would like to drink multiple times, and attempted to take our order multiple times. Upon completion of our meal we were asked twice how things were and whether we would like our check. The second time, the check was already on the table. Not a big deal, but having your meal interrupted numerous times by varying servers was a bit of a distraction.

Kink #2: they were out of numerous menu items (such as the popular spoon cakes, as well as their pancakes). No problem. They were busy this morning and probably still trying to figure out what menu items are popular and which ones are not.

Kink #3: the food took a while to come out. We were told that they either 1) had a cook quit already or 2) had a cook call in sick (depending on who you talked to), and so the kitchen was in the weeds and trying desperately to dig out. No big deal, as we had nowhere to be this lazy Friday morning.

When the food arrived, there were some good and some bad. The good: the biscuits are really delicious. My wife ordered the Biscuit Bar ($6), which came with three biscuits (two biscuits and gravy, and the third with jam, honey, and butter). With a little added help of some salt and pepper the biscuits and gravy were delicious, with just the right amount of kick. This is an excellent value for the money.

My order of Spoon Bread Benedict were unfortunately less than great. They were out of the southern corn cakes spoon bread, which they substituted with biscuits (with my ok). A room-temperature biscuit topped with cold ham and a cold, tasteless tomato contributed to a dish that was room temperature at best (kink #4). I think their version of hollandaise was trickled on the plate, but was more decoration than anything helpful to the dish. A hollandaise-less Benedict. Hmmmm. Hollandaise should be the Roots to the egg’s Jimmy Fallon. But in this case, it ended up being the Mike Pence to Donald Trump (#topical #hottake #heyooooo). This dish has a ton of potential, and I think it will be amazing once they work the temperature issues out.

Upon paying, I was asked by the owner to give some honest feedback, which I did. I let her know about the cold Benedict and the multiple interruptions during our meal, which I think she took to heart, but didn’t make any effort to make it right with me via a credit on my bill or even an apology. But I was glad to hear she was asking customers for feedback.

Our mint limeade was tasty, and I look forward to trying out their lunch menu, in particular the San Anton, which is a biscuit, fried chicken breast, honey, hot sauce, cheddar, and slaw (what’s not to love about that combo?). And if there’s one thing they’ve nailed, it’s the biscuits. Except I think I’ll give them a few weeks to iron things out before I stop by again.

Sweet Lake Biscuits & Limeade
54 W 1700 S, Salt Lake City

7am – 3pm 7 days a week

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HSL

A new restaurant has opened in the old Vinto space on 2nd South in Salt Lake. HSL is endeavor #2 for Chef Briar Handly, with #1 being his wildly successful Handle restaurant in Park City. Handly has brought Chef Craig Gerome as chef de cuisine. I don’t know Handly very well, but anybody smart enough to get someone as talented as Gerome has my respect. I’m a fan of Gerome ever since I met him when he was at the helm of Annex.

I was invited to a press preview event, and the photos that follow come from said event. “New American” seems like such an overused term, however, I love the breadth in food and presentation styles that such a category provides.

The restaurant was designed in partnership with Cody Derrick at CityHome Collective, so naturally expect your dining environment to be a bit darker and cozy, with plenty of floral print wallpaper to go around. Upon entering, you are greeted by a beautiful, bright bar, lounge area, and communal table, with regular seating throughout the remainder of the restaurant.

Mark my words: get in there now, because it’s going to get harder and harder to get a table at this place as word spreads. I’m especially thrilled as it’s only a five minute walk from my house. which is both exciting and terrifying all at once.

Expect to pay $20-$30 for an entree and $10-$20 for an appetizer. 

HSL
418 E 200 S, Salt Lake City
(801) 539-9999
website

Some activity has been spotted at the old Bayleaf Cafe spot at 159 S Main St, next to Eva Boulangerie. Mollie&Ollie is slated to open Spring 2016, and judging by the extensive construction work, they are completely gutting the place and starting from scratch.

Julie Payne is the manager of the spot, and she gave me the low-down: ordering will take place at the counter either in-person, via tablets, or through apps on your phone. The menu is being developed by Chef Ryan Lappe (formerly of Cafe Niche), and will focus on fresh and healthy (e.g. wraps, bowls, scrambles, stir fries, salads, smoothies, etc). 

Mollie&Ollie will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, adding some evening dining options to downtown, which will seemingly work well with the new performing arts center right next door. The space will flow through all of the way back onto Regent Street, which is currently undergoing revitalization along with the 111 building and the performing arts center construction.

This is not a franchise (yet). This is the first location for this concept, and if they are successful, they plan on expanding along the Wasatch Front.

More to come as they get closer to opening! You can sign up for their mailing list by going to their site here.

This is the Sloppy Joe sandwich from Feldman’s Deli in Millcreek. When you think “sloppy joe,” get the hamburger concoction on a bun out of your head. This sandwich is the real deal and unlike anything else you’ll find in Utah.

At $14, it ain’t cheap, but this sandwich could easily feed two moderately hungry human beings. Or, take half home for dinner. Either way, if you polish this whole thing off in one sitting, I’ll be impressed. It’s $14, but it is worth every penny.

Slices of rye struggle to contain the mounds of pastrami, corned beef, cole slaw, and thousand island dressing. They mostly fail at their task (please refer to name of sandwich–you knew full well and good what you were getting yourself into), but they put forth a valiant effort to contain the heaping hordes of flavor.

Everything at Feldman’s is excellent. They make their own bagels, import their meat from one of the top delis in NYC (think Katz or Carnegie deli), and make everything fresh in house. I particularly love their fries, which are cut and prepped in-house. Try the matzo soup, make sure you get some potato pancakes along with a knish, and if you’re on the braver side of things go ahead and try the gefilte fish. Certainly not my cup of tea, but they say it sells well.

You won’t have room, but get a cheesecake to go. This is the richest cheesecake I’ve had–much denser that what you will find elsewhere. So rich that, again, you’ll want to split it or save some for later.

I have a running “last meal” list, and I’m confident saying that the sloppy joe would certainly be on it. I’m not kidding. Go try it.

Feldmans Deli
2005 E 2700 S
Salt Lake City

(801) 906-0369