Addendum: Johnny Slice

I’m going to keep this one brief, but I felt it merited a follow-up.

Back a few years ago (ok, maybe quite a few more than that), I was a mediocre little league basketball player. The only hot streak I ever had was the record number of consecutive games in which I would warm the bench. Of course, at the end of season awards ceremony, I was always the proud recipient of the “most improved player” award, even though technically I probably didn’t improve and even more technically it was a stretch to even classify me as a player. But they needed to award me something, and most improved was all they had left at the bottom of the trophy pile.

Anywho.

I wanted to post an addendum to my previous review of Johnny Slice and award their pizza the SLCeats Most Improved Player award. Except unlike my little league awards, this one is actually merited. It pained me in my initial review to praise the pizza place for everything except, well, the pizza. Truth be told, it wasn’t that great and I wasn’t a very big fan. But to their credit, it appears that ownership listened and made the necessary course corrections, because in the numerous times I’ve been since, their pizza has improved remarkably and is now among my favorite slices in SLC. The buffalo chicken pizza, laced with bleu cheese, is my new favorite.

Anyways, that’s it. Credit where credit is due. Johnny Slice is making some mean pizza now. Go and enjoy.

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Howdy Homemade Ice Cream

 

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Photo courtesy Howdy Homemade Ice Cream

“Come for the ice cream, but stay for the people” is a common saying of Tom Landis, founder of Howdy Homemade Ice Cream. This Dallas-based ice cream concept touts ice cream made in-house using high quality ingredients that yield unique results, such as the Dr. Pepper chocolate chip ice cream, a favorite in Dr. Pepper-obsessed Texas.

Oh, and the other unique aspect of Howdy? The majority of their employees have special needs related to Down Syndrome or autism.

“Our main goal and hope is that people recognize exactly what our employees can do instead of what they can’t do,” Will Nielson, son of the Howdy Salt Lake store said in a recent interview with the Deseret News. “I think when a disability or a special need comes up, often our mind starts running on to what are the limitations or the disabilities instead of thinking about (how) someone with autism, they have great retention skills, and someone with Down syndrome, they’re just naturally the most happy and loving people that you come across.”

Howdy Salt Lake is located at 2670 South 2000 East, across the street from Feldman’s Deli.  Local contractor Chris Nielson, who has a son with special needs, fell in love with the Howdy concept and brought it to Utah. The store features some local flair, offering sorbettos made by Amour Cafe, as well as a Publik coffee chocolate chip. All of the other ice creams are made in-house and feature everything from your basic cookies and cream all the way to a Dr. Pepper chocolate chip.

I particularly enjoyed the cheesecake ice cream, which is everything you’d hope it would be: rich and creamy. If you’re a fan of Coldstone’s sweet cream ice cream, this is the one for you. The Dr. Pepper ice cream was unique, but I was left wishing that a bit more of the soda flavor would have shone through. But it is a fun idea, and definitely worth at least sampling. Other favorites were the cinnamon brown sugar and the orange dream.

I love everything about the concept, from the location, the smart design, the delicious ice cream, the prices, and most of all, the wonderful smiles from everybody behind the counter. It is heartwarming to see the community coming out to support the shop, as evidenced by lines out the door when we stopped by.

Howdy Salt Lake
2670 S 2000 East, Salt Lake City

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Village Baker Downtown

I was excited when I saw that the Village Baker was moving into the main floor of the new 111 Main building in downtown Salt Lake City. I’ve been a fan of Village Baker since I lived down in Draper and frequented their West Jordan location. The new downtown shop opened a couple months ago, and has had a brisk business ever since, without a doubt helped by the continued growth of the downtown workforce and the accompanying strain this growth has placed on downtown lunch spots. I rarely venture out for lunch past about 11:45 because lines at almost every downtown dining spot will be 10-15 people deep. Maybe I’ll develop a new measure of downtown economic growth and base it on the line length at 12pm at sandwich shops.

Breakfast sandwiches, coffee, soups, salads, pizza, sandwiches, a variety of sweets and pastries–you name it, and this place will likely have it. As opposed to Kneaders, Village Baker’s bread selection is less rustic and artisan and centers more squarely on traditional American bread pan breads: honey wheat, honey white, French, and sourdough, with other specialty breads such as sunflower whole wheat, raisin, multigrains, and cinnaburst loaves produced on a rotating weekly schedule.

One popular sandwich is the turkey cranberry ($3.74 for half, about $7 for whole). The turkey, which was somewhat clumsily and unevenly placed in the sandwich, mayonnaise and cranberry sauce were contained by two thick slices of honey wheat bread. This sandwich is one of their more popular menu items, and I can see why: it’s delicious. I wasn’t initially sold on cranberry on my sandwiches, but once I tried it, there was no going back. For an extra $2.50 you can make your sandwich a combo and get a beverage and your choice of either chips or a large cookie. Sorry Lays, but I’m going for the homemade peanut butter chocolate chip cookie every time.

On another visit I tried the turkey, provolone, and avocado sandwich ($4.32 for a half sandwich and I think around $7 for the whole). This one came served with thin slices of bread despite my request for the thicker slices, and was, simply put, anemic and a little bit sad. It lacked the filling robustness I’m accustomed to at Village Baker. This sandwich was a boring dud.

The pizza is delicious, and extremely well priced at about $2 per slice. At that price I have to imagine they will give some other downtown pizza places a run for their money. The slices are generous, sauce well balanced, cheese is perfectly stretchy and gooey, and the thicker crust has the perfect chew. I’m a fan.

Their cookies are good, but sadly not as good as those that I remember from the West Jordan location. At West Jordan, the cookies are thick and chewy, whereas at the downtown spot they are much thinner. This results in a crisper, drier cookie that makes me yearn for their more robust southern brethren.

For breakfast, I was impressed by their savory breakfast roll ($3.59), which features hash browns, red and green peppers, mozzarella and bacon. The rolls are packaged for a quick to-go option, but the kitchen is more than happy to warm it up for you, which I would highly recommend if you have the time.

The space itself is bright, cheery, and well decorated. During the warmer months, patio tables are placed outside on the sidewalk, greatly expanding their capacity. During the colder times, diners are restricted to limited seating on the main floor, but Village Baker anticipated this and came up with a brilliant solution: they build a mezzanine floor above the kitchen, where I imagine 30+ hungry diners can fit at any given time.

Service is of the “order at the counter and take a number to your table” variety. I’ve always been helped by cheerful people at the order counter as well as those delivering my food. I’ve had them ask me how things are as they walk by delivering orders to other tables, which is greatly appreciated and shows me they care.

Does downtown seriously need another soup and sandwich place? Yes. While I’d love to see a bit more variety hit downtown dining spots, demand for noontime noshing continues to strain eateries, so it’s nice to have another sandwich spot to help relieve some of the lunch rush pressure. Village Baker is a top-notch addition, and I’m glad they chose to come downtown. Judging by their crowds, I think they’ll do just fine.

Stein Eriksen Lodge’s Corporate Chef Zane Holmquist Awarded Chef of the Year

On Tuesday, May 16, 2017, the Utah Restaurant Association, in partnership with Devour Utah magazine, hosted their 2017 Utah Restaurant Industry Awards Gala naming Corporate Chef Zane Holmquist of Stein Eriksen Lodge as Chef of the Year.

The annual award ceremony has honored food service professionals for the last 30 years, and past winners are among the elite of restaurant professionals. Award recipients are nominated by their industry peers.

“What an honor it is to receive this award among such talented company in Utah’s restaurant industry,” said Holmquist. “My team and I are so passionate about the dining experience we’re able to provide our guests, and I am incredibly grateful to be part of the Stein Eriksen Lodge family who allows me to do what I love every day.”

Holmquist joined the Stein Eriksen Lodge team in 2000 and was promoted to Executive Chef in 2001 and Corporate Chef in 2016. In 2005, Holmquist was invited to showcase his work at the renowned James Beard House and was the recipient of the Governor’s Culinary Artisan Award. He has made appearances on NBC’s TODAY Show, Sirius Radio’s The Martha Stewart Show, ABC’s Good Things Utah, Park City TV and Park City’s KPCW radio program. Holmquist’s cuisine has been featured in publications such as SKI Magazine, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Sunset Magazine, Food Arts, Salt Lake Magazine and City Weekly.

Other Park City award winners included tupelo, High West Distillery, and Stein Eriksen Lodge’s Glitretind Restaurant who earned the prestigious “Taste Utah” award, recognizing their successful contributions in Utah business and their value as members of Utah’s restaurant community. All award recipients, including Holmquist, will be featured in the July issue of Utah Business magazine.

Beyond the state level, Glitretind Restaurant recently received national recognition for earning Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence, an award the restaurant has earned consistently since 2007. The award recognizes wine lists that “display excellent breadth across multiple winegrowing regions, typically offering 350 or more selections. These restaurants are destinations for serious wine lovers, showing a deep commitment to wine, both in the cellar and through their service team.” Click here for the Glitretind Restaurant listing.

7th Annual Tastemakers at The Gateway

Tastemakers is back for its 7th year, this time at The Gateway in SLC on June 8th and 9th from 5pm to 10pm. This is one of my favorite food events of the year in SLC–food purveyors from across the spectrum (restaurants, chocolatiers, cheese makers) are all in attendance, giving out tastes of their signature dishes.

The VIP pavilion will feature additional food producers as well as plenty of alcohol providers. In addition to wine and craft beers, there will be five signature Tastemakers cocktails available at the event.

Hop-on-hop-off busses will also circulate through the city, dropping ticket holders at various participating restaurants in Salt Lake.

The general pass is $30 per person and gives guests access to the venue and tastings from all participating restaurants. Alcohol is not included, but can be purchased on site. The VIP pass is $85 per person and includes access to the VIP pavilion, exclusive VIP tastings and a five-drink passes. Tickets are now on sale at tastemakersutah.com.

Guests receive a Tastemakers Passport, to be stamped after each sampling. The Passports are valid for both nights of the event and are later redeemable for exclusive discounts and coupons at participating restaurants throughout the summer. Instructions and a stroll area map will be available online and on the Tastemakers mobile site.

A portion of all proceeds will benefit Head Start Utah, a program that promotes school readiness for young children from low-income families.

In addition to The Gateway, Tastemakers is also sponsored by Nicholas & Co., Bulleit Bourbon, Don Julio, Spark Solutions Group, Wasatch Brewery, Ketel One Vodka, Squatters Craft Beers, Presto Print, Southern Wine & Spirits and Kostizi.

Participants include:

BEEHIVE CHEESE COMPANY

FINCA

CACHE TOFFEE COLLECTION

FLEMING’S STEAKHOUSE

CHIP COOKIES

FRIDA BISTRO

CHOCOLATE CONSPIRACY

HARMONS

CREMINELLI FINE MEATS

HIMALAYAN KITCHEN

MICHELANGELO RISTORANTE

HUGO COFFEE

MOUNTAIN TOWN

LAZIZ KITCHEN

OLIVE OIL COMPANY

MARKET STREET GRILL

NEW YORKER

ROCKY MOUNTAIN CHOCOLATE FACTORY

PARK CITY CULINARY

RODIZIO GRILL

CUMMINGS STUDIO CHOCOLATE

RUTH’S CHRIS

REDSTONE OLIVE OIL

SPENCER’S FOR STEAKS & CHOPS

THE EKLEKTIK

TEXAS DE BRAZIL

EVA’S

STONEGROUND

SQUATTERS

SUGARHOUSE DISTILLERY

PROPER BREWING CO

350 MAIN

PROVISIONS

PROHIBITION

LA CAILLE

CUISINE UNLIMITED

R & R BBQ

DISTILLERY 36

HARBOR SEAFOOD & STEAK CO.

KETEL ONE

DON JULIO

BULLEIT BOURBON

Imperial House, Park City

What was once a miner’s hostel in the 1800’s at the very top of Main Street in Park City has undergone a multi-million dollar renovation to transform it into what is now the Imperial House and Riverhorse Provisions. On the main level you will find a wonderful little market featuring a selection of everything from freshly butchered elk tenderloin to various sundries, and everything in between. I was impressed in particular with their butcher case and chocolate selection.

Above the market, you will find Imperial House. The Imperial House has been renovated and is now available to rent as your own private house right on Main Street. With four bedrooms, six bathrooms, an enormous kitchen, dining area, and living room, the Imperial House is positioned to be the perfect spot to rent out for entertaining, a long ski weekend, or anything else you can dream up. I could see families renting this out to spend a week skiing, people watch from the balcony overlooking Main Street, and enjoy a catered dinner prepared in-house by a Riverhorse chef. I can also see this being a pretty wild basecamp for all sorts of Sundance shenanigans. I expect that once word gets out that there is an actual house for rent on Main Street, this thing is going to be booked up for Sundance for the next twenty years.

From Imperial House’s website:

A private staff of concierges, drivers and chefs. An enticing selection of food, beverage, and amenities tailored to your tastes. A place where your every need is anticipated and every desire fulfilled. That’s the reality at Imperial House on Main Street — a hotel experience exclusively for you.

We were invited up to experience the market, tour the house, and dine courtesy Imperial House’s in-house catering. Enjoy the photos below.

Riverhorse Provisions: main floor, groceries, butcher, chocolate, cafe. The perfect little lunch spot.

Imperial House: four bedrooms, six bathrooms, huge gourmet kitchen, plenty of living quarters to stretch out, enjoy the fire, or a movie.

In-house catering, 24 hour concierge, and all of the luxurious accompaniments that come with Park City living.

Disclaimer: we were invited guests of the Imperial House. Opinions are my own.

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The Food Truck League Launches Finder App

If you’re like me, one of the struggles with food trucks is figuring out when and where they will be. You need to hunt each one down individually on their various social media platforms.

The Food Truck League has launched an app that displays truck locations in real-time. This localized Utah app already has the largest amount of scheduled truck locations on any app in the country. During peak food truck season users can now find as many as 100 truck locations each week throughout the valley.

Food trucks have become a recent sensation in Utah, with over 100 trucks operating every day. This app gives users access to all the information they need to find and support local food truck businesses. Potential food truck customers no longer need to rely on word of mouth or sporadic social media posts to find their favorite food truck. They can now locate a truck with the click of their phone.

The Food Truck League Finder app has a litany of features that allows users to see upcoming roundups, follow a specific truck’s future schedule, or even request catering with their favorite truck. Use the map feature to find trucks near your location, or scroll through a list view showing all of the trucks scheduled for a selected time frame. Additionally, food trucks can use the app to provide periodic prizes and special offers.

“People are excited about food trucks — they love the concept, they love the food and they love the sense of community,” says Taylor Harris, a founding partner of the Food Truck League. “From the beginning, the goal of the Food Truck League has been to bring great food and communities together. We knew we needed a way to bring all the information we have to the community, and this app finally allows us to be able to do that in all the ways we envisioned.”

Holly with The Cluck Truck explains, “It can be frustrating as a new small business when people love your food truck, love your food, but your business can’t grow because your customers can’t find you. The Food Truck League Finder app makes it so easy for our fans to track when we’re near them so we can keep growing.”

The app is available now on Android, iOS, and online at thefoodtruckleague.com/events.
Throughout the spring and summer food trucks will offer promotions for any customer that presents the app on their phone upon ordering.

We Olive Salt Lake City

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Step into We Olive in Trolley Square, and be prepared for an education. On a recent visit, franchise owner Stephanie Ennis and her son, co-owner Josh Garcia, took time to walk me through various olive oils, allowing me to taste and pick up on the various nuances of each one. Stop by, and they will be glad to do the same with you.

Just like cheese, wine, and chocolate, tasting olive oils properly involves a few steps. Pour a small amount into a cup. Step 1: Swirl. Cover the top to trap the aromas, and rub the cup against the palm of your other had to gradually warm the oil and release the flavors and aromas. Step 2: smell the oil. Step 3: Slurp it into your mouth, incorporate oxygen to further enhance the taste. Step 4: Swallow.

According to Josh, the three things you want to taste for with olive oil is the bitterness, the fruitiness, and the robustness (high-quality olive oils contain high levels of oleocanthals, which tend to create an urge to cough. The more “robust” the oil, the more likely you are to cough after tasting). I tasted a few different types of arbequina oils, and could instantly pick out tropical notes such as banana in one, while the other arbequina was much more mellow and one-dimensional. Thus, tasting is key.

All of We Olive’s oils are sourced from family farms in California, as opposed to other olive oil companies in Utah who source theirs from Tunisia. We Olive knows their farmers, and understand the provenance of their products.

One of the struggles of the olive oil industry is the lack of consistent regulation and certification of what makes olive oil “olive oil” and what makes extra virgin “extra virgin.” While there are rules in place, there is no international enforcement body to ensure the rules are followed. Josh and Stephanie pointed out that olive oils need to be consumed within 18 months of pressing the olives in order to preserve the taste and health benefits before the oil turns rancid. But large conglomerates of olive oil producers (those kinds that you will likely find in grocery stores) frequently hold olive oils for much longer, and have been known to blend in other types of non-olive oils into their olive oils in order to increase the shelf life. All of this done, of course, without disclosing anything to the consumer.

We Olive also has a wide selection of various balsamic vinegars; some produced in California and some in Modena, Italy. They have the straightforward balsamics, and also have some more outside the box varieties, like mission fig, peach, pear, and blackberry. No artificial flavors are used in these vinegars, rather, fresh purees are blended in. My personal favorite combination was their pineapple balsamic paired with their jalapeño olive oil. It would go perfectly on a fruit salad or as a unique vinaigrette for a salad. They sent me home with a bottle of their mission fig balsamic vinegar, which I used to make balsamic-glazed pork chops over polenta with wilted spinach.

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Venture towards the back of the store and you will find the We Olive wine bar, where you can sit at the bar or a table and taste various wines alongside some delicious food. I was able to taste their cheese and charcuterie plate, featuring Creminelli salumi and prosciutto, a dish of stuffed African peppadews, prosciutto-wrapped dates (my favorite), an orchard salad, as well as a cheese and garlic flatbread. Josh is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York, and has worked in various chef roles at the New Yorker and other Gastronomy restaurants, so attention to detail with food at We Olive is a high priority. Various reds, whites, rosés, mimosas, and beers are available, including local producers Ruth Lewandowski, Proper Brewing, Mountain West Cider, and Talisman Brewing in Ogden. They plan to open their patio as soon as things warm up this summer, allowing diners to sip and dine while people-watching Trolley Square shoppers.

Josh and Stephanie are also building out a strong selection of local food producers for their grocery section, and currently carry Slide Ridge Honey, Four Sisters sauces, as well as various local pastas.

The next time you’re at Trolley Square, stop by, say hi, and ask them to take you on a tasting tour. You’ll learn more about olive oils and vinegars than you thought possible. And stay for a sip or two. And be sure to check out their events page which features various cooking demos, tastings, and other events.

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I was an invited guest of We Olive. Opinions are my own.

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Taste Utah TV Series Highlight Park City Restaurants

The Park City Area Restaurant Association (PCARA) is announcing their partnership with the Utah Restaurant Association (URA) to create twelve new episodes featuring Park City restaurants for the Taste Utah TV series.  Taste Utah is an interactive dining guide featuring innovative videos of the best restaurants in Utah. The series currently focuses on dining options in Northern, Wasatch Front, and Southern regions of the state, and will soon be joined by segments dedicated to greater Park City.

“We are honored to partner with the Utah Restaurant Association and participate in the Taste Utah TV series,” said Ginger Ries, executive director of the Park City Area Restaurant Association. “It is a welcomed opportunity to showcase our region’s world-class dining among incredible company in the restaurant industry across the state.”

A new Taste Park City section of Taste Utah is now accessible on tasteUT.com and  showcases 30 PCARA and URA members in four of Park City’s distinct dining districts: Historic Main Street, the Resorts, Prospector, and Kimball Junction. Each 4-6-minute episode follows hosts Katy Sine and Jami Larson to select restaurants. The duo interviews owners and executive chefs for an insider’s view on the history and vision of the establishment, along with behind-the-scenes tours and cooking tips for signature dishes from the kitchen. The interactive dining guide gives consumers the opportunity to explore the dining culture, find new dining destinations, and see what they can expect at each restaurant. Food enthusiasts are encouraged to share their dining experiences by posting their favorite restaurant photos to Instagram using #tasteParkCity and hashtagging the restaurant’s name to be featured on the Taste Utah website.

“The Taste Utah TV series provides a unique platform to promote our state’s diverse dining scene,” said Melva Sine, executive director of the Utah Restaurant Association. “We are thrilled to feature so many of Park City’s award-winning restaurants that help elevate Utah’s reputation as a must-visit food destination.”

Episodes 1-5, featuring Tupelo, Ritual Chocolate, Shabu, Glitretind, Bakery at Windy Ridge, Riverhorse On Main and The Brass Tag, have already been filmed and will be available on tasteUT.com. Upcoming Taste Park City episodes include:

Episode 6 (March 4): The Farm

Episode 7 (March 11): Silver Star Cafe

Episode 8 (March 18): Red Rock Brewing

Episode 9 (March 25): High West Saloon

Episode 10 (March 31): Cafe Terigo

Episode 11 (April 7): Myrtle Rose

Episode 13 (April 21): Yuki Yama / Wasatch Brew Pub

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