Forty-Three Bakery One Step Closer

Great news on the heels of Forty-Three Bakery’s recent announcement that they are moving from their current shared commissary location on 1700 South to new digs on Genesee Ave, Salt Lake City recently announced that the loan fund approved a $100,000 Economic Development Loan for Forty-Three, which will enable them to make the move a reality.

As an added bonus, the move will further promote the redevelopment of the The West End project, which is an RDA-driven initiative designed to bring more businesses to the west side and to the Nine Line area in particular.

The move to the bigger space will allow owner Andrew Corrao to not only continue offering his wonderful pastries, but to also expand his product offerings to include coffee, cakes, and made-to-order sandwiches. According to Andrew, he expects that construction will take around 3 months, and is hoping for a spring opening.

In the meantime, you can continue buying his treats at his current location at 67 W 1700 S.

A box of four pastries baked by Forty-Three Bakery

Utah James Beard 2023 Semifinalists

Big kudos to the following restaurant chefs and owners for making the semi finalist list for 2023!

  • Outstanding Restaurant: Hell’s Backbone Grill & Farm
  • Outstanding Bakery: Normal Ice Cream
  • Outstanding Hospitality: Manoli’s
  • Outstanding Bar: Post Office Place
  • Best Chef Mountain Region: Paul Chamberlain and Logan Crew, SLC Eatery; Andrew Fuller, Oquirrh; Briar Handly, Handle Park City, Ali Sabbah, Mazza.

Sometimes restaurant awards miss the mark, but in this case, each one of these nominations is so very well deserved. Each of these restaurants has had an outsized influence on the Salt Lake dining scene in their own unique ways.

Congratulations to each of the nominees! The full list of nominees can be found here.

High West Commits $1 Million to Protect the West

I’m way late on getting this one out, but felt it was important to share due to the sheer size of the commitment and the impact to our community. See below.

High West, the Park City-based distillery known for its meticulously sourced and innovatively blended whiskeys, announces today its Protect the West initiative, a $1 million commitment over the next three years to protect the land and its inhabitants. The announcement coincides with the national release of High West’s seasonal bottle Campfire, one of the brand’s most unique and iconic expressions. In honor of Campfire, the first donation will benefit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the brave few who run towards the fire, including the wildfires increasingly plaguing the West. 

Since opening its doors in 2007, High West has witnessed firsthand how the West has been impacted by a rapidly changing climate, resulting in higher temperatures, severe droughts, drier forests and reduced snowpack. Immediately taking note, the brand has donated more than $1M to nonprofits to date, with the majority of those funds going toward organizations protecting the West and its inhabitants. Now, High West is reaffirming and strengthening this commitment to its own backyard. As part of the Protect the West initiative, High West will partner with organizations that share High West’s passion for the West and whose conservation efforts fall into three focus areas: the fight against wildfires, protecting winters and wildland preservation. 

“Now is not the time for us to sit on the sidelines. Our home in the West and everything we love about it is in more and more danger every year,” said Daniel Schear, General Manager of High West. “We’re building on our past work with this $1 million commitment to protect the West, and we are excited to work with those who are also passionate about saving this beautiful part of the world we call home.”

The $150,000 inaugural donation will be split between three organizations to support them in their crucial missions. Future donations will be announced over the course of the next three years as High West continues to identify and support organizations striving to Protect the West. 

●      Wildland Firefighter Foundation, dedicated to helping the families of firefighters killed in the line of duty and to assisting injured firefighters and their families. 

●      Protect Our Winters, a community of athletes, scientists, creatives, and business leaders advancing non-partisan policies to protect our outdoor playgrounds from climate change.

●      American Prairie, creating the largest nature reserve in the contiguous United States by purchasing critical habitat that connects a vast network of existing public lands for wildlife conservation and public access. 

In recognition of the Campfire release and to continue supporting the brave protectors who defend us from fires each and every day, High West is donating $50,000 to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and matching consumer donations up to an additional $50,000. The American West is burning more quickly than it has in a decade, and over three million acres of U.S. land – almost the size of  Connecticut – have burned so far this year. The donation to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation will directly benefit the families of fallen and injured firefighters, honoring those who tirelessly work to protect our lands. 

Pizza Volta Now Open in Sugarhouse

The good news/bad news world of SLC dining continues. Right on the heels of the news of the closure of two Sugarhouse restaurants, Flatbread Pizza and Habit Burger, a new pizza place opens around the corner.

Pizza Volta, created by Martin Brass and Paul Cucchiarelli of Hand Fire Pizza in Jackson, recently opened on McClelland Street. The restaurant is making community involvement a pillar of their operations, by offering non-profits one night per week to fundraise based on a portion of that night’s sales. More info on the “Pizza With A Purpose” nights can be found here.

The menu appears to have some interesting options. I’m particularly intrigued by their take on a “funeral potatoes” pizza, which features cheddar cream sauce, mozzarella, roasted potato, prosciutto, red onion, and yes, corn flakes. I’m not sure how any true Utahn could resist that!

Full press release below

Pizza Volta announced today the opening of their newest location in Sugar House with a menu featuring a variety of artisan pizzas made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. From classic cheese to more creative options like beet, goat cheese and dill or the bacon and caramelized onion combo, there’s something for every pizza lover at Pizza Volta. 

Pizza Volta offers an extensive beer selection and specialty cocktail menu to compliment every aroma and flavor. For kombucha lovers, try the Bad and Boochie or celebrate a special occasion with a glittery swig of Strawberry Fields. The current cocktail menu features local favorites Jack Rabbit Gin and Five Wives Vodka arranged with convivial mixers of mint, lavender and more.

Pizza Volta’s Paul Cucchiarelli and Martin Brass said, “We are thrilled to open the doors in Salt Lake City and look forward to sharing their passion for great pizza with the community.  We are also excited to give back to the community through our weekly fundraisers with local nonprofits. It’s important for us to be able to make a positive and lasting impact in our new neighborhood. Supporting the community that supports us has always been one of our fundamental principles.”
Pizza Volta believes in serving more than just delicious pizza to the Salt Lake City community. On Tuesday nights proceeds from local nonprofits are given a platform at Pizza Volta to promote their cause. Portions of every pizza sold in-house or for take out go directly to that participating organization. Nonprofit organizers interested in being featured can check out the Pizza Volta ‘Pizza With a Purpose’ page for application information.

Cucchiarelli and Brass are no strangers to creating successful pizza restaurants in beautiful locales. They launched Hand Fire Pizza in Jackson, Wyoming in 2017 in a landmark, historical theater building.
Pizza Volta is now open 11:30 am – 10 pm and offers dine-in and takeout options. Parking is available along McClelland Street, in addition to street parking all around Sugar House and in the parking garage below the Pizza Volta building.
For promotions, menu changes and other delectable news, follow the Pizza Volta blog or follow Pizza Volta on Instagram and Facebook

Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club Celebrates One Year Anniversary

Tons of action happening over the next few weeks at Flanker. Check out the info below.

Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club is celebrating its first anniversary with a new high-energy concert series, delicious brunch, and a Super Bowl watch-party for the ages. Reservations for the Super Bowl Watch Party and Anniversary Brunch are highly recommended and can be made at www.flankerslc.com

Grammy Award-Winning Artist Anderson Paak who is DJing under his alter ego DJ PeeWee, said, “I’m super excited and honored to be spinning at Flanker for their 1 year anniversary! It’s gonna be the best way to start the year off right! Can’t wait to get the people moving and grooving! Salt Lake, here Wee come, baby! ” 

“It’s been an exciting first year and we look forward to building on our success,” said
Bryan Bass, Chief Marketing Officer of Carver Road Hospitality. “In addition to our anniversary festivities, Super Bowl Sunday was our most popular event last year and we’re going to make this year even bigger and better. As the best place in town to watch the big game, we expect this party will sell-out so sports fans should secure their reservations right away.”

While no excuse is needed to come enjoy the food, drinks and atmosphere, the Flanker Anniversary event line up is not to be missed: 

Friday, January 27 – ‘PARTY GOERS’ CONCERT

In the first installment of the new Salt Sessions concert series, the Party Goers will deliver an electric performance. Salt Sessions are modeled after the popular NPR Tiny Desk series where artists play original work made for the big stage but performed in an intimate setting. New artists will be announced each month. 

PARTY GOERS is known for high energy live performances and their swaggerous investigation of hip hop, house and electronic music. The three members reside in various locations strewn through the Rocky Mountain West, and in many ways their music reflects this geographic. Sampled sounds from the forest creating tech-house soundscapes, high-elevation hip hop beats, side-chained kicks gasping for oxygen, gritty MPC laden tracks scratched by countless turntables…a sonic collage that strikes original. It’s a party.

The pre-show entertainment will be DJ Gabba from 6:30PM to 8:30PM and DJ Karma will close out the evening. 

Saturday, January 28 – DJ SOXXI and DJ PEE WEE aka ANDERSON PAAK  

DJ Soxxi hails from Las Vegas and mixes buoyant sounds with screaming dance music. She illustrates a raw, unrestrained style of hard house while maintaining an approachable opening to club-goers. She symbolizes in life and music that anything is possible and there are no boundaries. 

Anderson Paak is fresh off a New Year’s Eve collaboration with Bruno Mars and ready to party in Salt Lake City! At the 64th Grammy Awards he won Song of the Year for Leave the Door Open. In addition to his solo career, Anderson Paak formed the duo NxWorries, regularly plays with the band Free Nationals, and collaborates with Bruno Mars in Silk Sonic. This Grammy award winning rapper not only dazzles with his high-energy sets, he also gives back to under-served communities through his Paak House initiative.

Sunday, January 29 – ANNIVERSARY BRUNCH WITH MYSTIC MUSE

Help celebrate 365 days of food, cocktails, sports, karaoke, concerts, dance parties, and so much more at Flanker + Kitchen and Sporting Club. Toast with a spicy mimosa, chai mule, a bloody maria, any artisan cocktail you crave or sip from the well-rounded beer selection. Enjoy eggs benedict four ways, steak and eggs, shrimp and grits, and the famous hot fried chicken sandwich. 

Eat, drink and converse while Sea Jay, known as DJ Mystic Muse, spins intoxicating tunes. Mystic Muse is a multidisciplinary artist who creates meditative and striking environments for people to dance and live in the present moment. She often paints live during her sets adding an ethereal nature to her work. The more the merrier at the Anniversary Brunch so book your group reservation now

Sunday, February 12 – SUPER BOWL AT FLANKER KITCHEN + SPORTING CLUB

No matter who is playing, the Super Bowl is always one of the most watched events around the world. Come for the atmosphere, more than 60 TV, large LED screens and stay for the unbeatable food and drink offerings. Sports fans wanting the best seats at Utah’s premier Sporting Club & Kitchen should book your reservation now, before Flanker is sold out for the biggest game of the season.

Taqueria 27 Has New Owners

Congrats to the Todd and Kristin Gardner, who recently sold Taqueria 27 to restauranteur Laxman Paudyal.

From the press release:

Taqueria 27, a local favorite, is delighted to announce new ownership. The restaurant will continue to serve up its unique signature tacos and delicious margaritas under the direction of the new owners, who are committed to preserving the quality and character of the restaurant.

Miles Clark, the new operations manager for Taqueria 27, is a Salt Lake City local through and through. He loves the food culture of the city and surrounding areas. He has also been in the restaurant business since he was 15 years old, holding jobs from dishwasher to manager to everything in between.

“I am looking forward to taking such an amazing company to new heights,” said Miles. “We plan to expand Taqueria 27 with the same high standards that have already been in place. We are very proud of the previous owners’ dedication to very fresh food and cocktails! We would like to continue with their high dedication to our food and drink menus. We are bringing in new liquor options for our guests.” 

Laxman Paudyal, Taqueria 27’s new president, is a successful businessman that has grown from the ground up. He is a military vet that worked with the US military in several countries as a translator. He was born and raised in Nepal. He has been in the United States since 2002, where he put himself through college at BYU. He has successfully run multiple restaurants, including Big Daddy’s Pizza and Carlos And Harleys.

“Our goals are to continue high-quality service and food standards,” Miles continued. “Our mission is to take care of our guests as though they were at our own dinner tables. Our drive is to provide guests with timely service, great food, and a high-quality work environment for our staff. Our key to success will be our fresh-to-order food and drinks and our knowledge of the restaurant industry.”

Urban Hill at Post District

I think it’s safe to say that the Kirchheimer family is all-in on Salt Lake City. Brooks Kirchheimer has been saying for years that they would love to one day open a restaurant in SLC after two successful ventures in Park City, Heath & Hill and Hill’s Kitchen.

And now they’re putting their money where their mouths are, opening the gorgeous new Urban Hill restaurant in the exciting new Post District. Brooks’ dad, the other co-founder of their restaurant group, said “we’re all betting on SLC’s future.” And this restaurant proves that statement completely.

I will disclose that I am an unabashed fanboy of what the developers of Post District are doing. They are taking old buildings on the block (between 5th South and 6th South and 3rd West and 5th West) and are not only preserving the character of the area, but are amplifying it.

So naturally I was ecstatic to hear that Urban Hill was going to be Post District’s first commercial tenant, anchoring the rest of the retail development and setting a very high bar for future retail neighbors.

No expense was spared with the restaurant design. The Hill group hired Denver-based restaurant design firm Semple Brown Design. The best way I can describe the design is modern, elegant, and warm. Fireplaces, warm tones, and elegant woodwork abound.

The Hill restaurant group is officially named Leave Room For Dessert Eateries, but I’m way too lazy to type all of that out. So it’s called Hill restaurant group around these parts. The Kirchheimers take a unique and refreshing approach to staffing their restaurants. They are big believers in community, and believe that community starts with their employees, whom they call “associates.”

Hill associates are given health insurance benefits on day one of employment. They participate in profit-sharing and other benefits that you typically don’t associate with restaurant staff benefits. Brooks believes that if they have inspired associates, then they will create inspired experiences for their guests. Given their prior successes, it seems like they’re proving that the model works.

I wasn’t able to try too much of the menu at the grand opening event, but I think it’s safe to say that their high standards regarding staffing and restaurant design also transfer over to the food. To start, they hired Executive Chef Nick Zocco, formerly of Mesa Grill, SW Steakhouse, and most recently at Tupelo in Park City.

The menu is robust but not overwhelming. The same can’t be said of the alcohol menu, which I believe has more pages than the Bible. While we were there, they were putting the final bottles of wine in their wine cellar, which is smack dab in the middle of the dining area, and very impressive.

The food menu features oysters, mussels, the largest shrimp I’ve ever seen, striped bass, black angus filet, and bison ribeye. The prices reflect the quality of the ingredients, with entrees ranging from $29 to $110. Urban Hill seems to be the Hill group’s final leg of their three-legged stool of affordability, with Hill’s Kitchen at the lower price range, Hearth & Hill in the middle, and Urban Hill at the top. Seems like a smart strategy to me.

I wish them the very best. They’ll have a feather in their cap as the first business to take a risk at Post District, anchoring the future development of the area. And if this is the level of quality that will fill out the rest of Post, then SLC is in for a treat.

Urban Hill
550 South 300 West, Salt Lake City
(385) 295-4200
urban-hill.com
Open daily from 4pm to 9:30pm

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

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

Ginger Street

 

Let’s get a few things established right off the bat.

  1. There is a disco ball, posters of Saved by The Bell, and a DJ station at Ginger Street
  2. There is a lot of neon
  3. The servers wear fanny packs
  4. This is not a place I will take my mother in law, who thinks the Red Iguana experience is a bit “out there”
  5. The food in incredible

In the food blogger/writer world these days, unfortunately the trend is that it’s more about speed and less about quality. She or he with the first review rules the world. I tend to shy away from that approach. Not for any reason other than I don’t like opening week crowds and I like to give the front and back of the house a little time to settle in. But Melissa and I found ourselves with an extra hour or two after a wedding reception sans kids, so we decided to pop over to Ginger Street for a quick second lunch to see what all of the fuss is about. 

The first tip: the entrance is on the 3rd South side of the building. We tried entering from the porch, but the door was locked. Then we walked along State Street. No dice. Then we found the hard-to-miss pink “red carpet” that welcomes you to the large space with tall ceilings and plenty of room. You’re greeted by a host or hostess and given a menu, and you place your initial order with them. Once paid, they then will give you a number and help you choose a table. Ours happened to be made out of an old bowling alley lane. I say “initial” order, because the intent of Ginger Street is that this is “hawker style.” Hawker stalls are prevalent in Singapore, and the idea of them is sort of like a food court where you order from the various vendors and then sit down and enjoy the varying dishes. A bit of a conundrum at Ginger Street, since there’s only one purveyor, so I’m not totally convinced they really get what hawker stalls are about. But it does follow along the hawker model in that the intent is that you order numerous different plates of dishes to share (or not) throughout your stay. I wasn’t a huge fan of feeling the pressure of walking in and feeling like you had to make a quick decision since there’s a line of people behind you, and I can’t imagine I’m the only one that feels that way. I’d much rather be able to sit down and settle in before deciding on what I want to eat. Maybe their intent is to help turn tables by eliminating that initial 10 minute “settling in” period. I don’t know. I’m curious to know if they stick with that approach or not. I’m hopeful they don’t.

Even at 2 pm, the dining room was steadily busy. Michael McHenry, one of the owners of Ginger Street, mentioned that within the first day or two of them opening, they had a line of 140 people waiting for lunch. I’d say there’s a bit of hype with this one. And after our meal, I’d say the hype is very well justified.

Varying textures are prevalent throughout your experience at Ginger Street. Textures in music (yes, they have a DJ booth and a disco ball), décor (they have posters featuring Saved By The Bell and pillows with a distinct Indian flair), and tastes. I have a feeling that this spot will be a bit of a chameleon as the day and week progresses. Downtown white collar workers will find it suited well for a quick lunch, but as the night progresses and the bar crowd emerges, I have a hunch that this place will get a bit crazy. In a good way. But maybe not a 40-year-old-with-two-kids-in-diapers good way. I’ll likely stick to lunchtime or early dinner.

Ginger Street is in a good location, centrally located between the Main Street bar scene, Gallivan, and Broadway theater. They are also in the late stages of opening a walk-up dessert and small bites window, where you will be able to order a quick bowl of rotating soft serve flavors, ice cream sandwiches, and on late nights during the weekend, small hot bites of pork buns and other items. The window is expected to open in the next two weeks. I find it interesting that two similar concepts (walk-up Asian-inspired food) are launching at nearly the exact same time, within a block of each other. Ginger Street’s window, and Ryan Lowder’s latest idea: a walk-up window named @hotbunsnfun on the side of Copper Common, where you can get noodle dishes as well as various steamed buns.

img_5973
Future Dessert and Hot Bites Walk-Up Window

We ordered a starter of pork dumplings, perfectly cooked and filled with napa cabbage, garlic chive, and accompanied by a very nice chili soy sauce. The Crispy Fish Cha Ca La Vong was a standout dish: pieces of white fish breaded in their version of a panko coating with a hint of citrus, laid on a bed of cold rice vermicelli, peanuts, scallion, and topped by a hearty helping of dill. The fish was accompanied by the best sauce I’ve had in a while: a pineapple nam prik, laced with bird’s eye chili for a bit of heat. This dish had sweet, sour, warm, cold, crunchy, soft. Chef Tyler Stokes understands textures and contrasts.

img_5945
Ginger Noodles

The Ginger Noodles dish was perhaps my favorite dish. It’s a simple dish, and screams “humble,” but it was so good in so many ways. Ramen noodles are accompanied with a salty scallion relish as wells as pickled cucumbers and sauteed baby spinach and topped with peanuts. The dish had great balance and the noodles were perfectly cooked. Just an all-around great dish, and a bargain at $13. 

At this point in our lunch I was spotted by Ginger Street co-owner Michael McHenry. McHenry, who has formerly worked at Blue Lemon, cofounded Even Stevens sandwiches, and recently took over Oak Wood Fire Kitchen in Draper, has a track record of establishing unique concepts backed by solid operations and excellent service. After speaking with him, you begin to understand how each of his concepts are able to execute his vision so well, and each one so uniquely. He gets it, and is passionate about bringing a new type of culinary experience to Salt Lake. McHenry sent out a few other dishes for us to try. The steamed Snake River Farms pork belly buns were pillowy soft, and the hoisin, pickled cucumbers, and scallions provided a nice counter balance to the rich pork. 

 

The crispy duck rolls were a hit. Tender duck is wrapped up and fried, then wrapped with Thai basil and finally an outer casing of rice paper to provide the perfect contrast of crunchy and soft. Wrapping the basil outside of the cooked portion of the roll allows the basil to really shine through and retain its texture and punch. 

The green curry has the right amount of spice (if you’re more brave than I with spice, get the red curry). The sauce features charred eggplant, cauliflower, red bell pepper and basil. Again, a steal at $10. Other items I can’t wait to come back and try include the fried spicy chicken sandwich and the caramelized lemongrass shrimp. 

There is an extensive drink menu, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. We had the Naam Manao, a fresh-squeezed Thai limeade that was tart and punchy in all of the right ways. Desserts are provided by Jane Anne, formerly of Vinto, Stanza, and Normal Ice Cream. Ginger Street features a rotating menu of soft serve flavors, and we tried the curry vanilla, which was rich and delicious, and had just the right amount of curry flavor to get the point across but not make you feel weird about eating curry for dessert. An ice cream sandwich with a cocoa almond crust and passionfruit ice cream, as well as a rich “G Bar” with a gingersnap crust, were both top-notch delicious. 

I really like Ginger Street. I like that they’re trying something different that what we’re used to. They’re bringing a level of quirkiness and character that the city doesn’t have enough of. But it’s not a gimmick, either. They’re backing this innovation up with a solid menu and excellent execution from the kitchen. I look forward to seeing what they accomplish, and am optimistic that they’ll do very well.