Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sister's Deli

Address: 1098 W South Jordan Pkwy, Ste 110, South Jordan, UT 84095. 801.253.9973.

Review: Sister's Deli is a relatively new place about a block from my office. It's situated next to a Indian food store I sometimes frequent, so it seemed a natural for lunch.

First thing you notice upon entering is the record covers. They populate the walls, the ceiling, the joint. All the greats from the Beatles to 70s and 80s rock bands are represented. What's nice is they aren't just for show. Oh no, no, the proprietors play the records on request.

The next thing you notice is the proprietor is a friendly man from Buffalo, New York. While he's lost most of his NY accent, he still loves the place. In fact, he loves Buffalo so much he decided to transport one of its iconic sandwich (the beef on weck) to Utah.

Turns out the beef on weck is a roast beef sandwich served on a kummelweck roll (weck is, of course, short for kummelweck). It's the roll that makes this sandwich different from other roast beef sandwiches. The roll is topped with caraway seeds and pretzel salt. It's served with loads of sinus-scalding horseradish.

Hailing from Alaska, and having driven through Buffalo only twice, this was my first experience with the beef on weck. It was simple and good. There is nothing here that will blow you away, but roast beef and horseradish is a great combination. My beef was a tad dry, which decreased the pleasure factor a bit. All in all, not bad.

The sandwich came with a pepper salad. Spicy. Good flavor. Very colorful. It was came with a tomato-based spicy soup loaded with ground beef. Again, good flavor, although, again, nothing that will blow your mind.

In the end, Sister's Deli makes good, solid deli food. Definitely worth a lunch-time jaunt.

Rating: 6/10 (5/10 is average)

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Visconti House

Address: 2340 E Phylden Dr., #3 (4640 S), Holladay, UT 84117. 801.277.6006.

Review: Visconti House is the type of place you love to find tucked away in the middle of nowhere. It's small, although they say they're expanding their dining room. It's Italian-owned by a guy from Naples or thereabouts. Like Americans from the South, Southern Italians know how to make food.

A friend of mine and I tried Visconti for lunch. The menu was small, which is understandable given the coziness of the restaurant. I had chicken tortellini in a gorgonzola cream sauce -- a dish that left me puzzled. I expected hand-made tortellini with a fresh chicken filling, and that is apparently what I received. (The tortellini are home-made and sold to other restaurants in the valley.) Only problem was I couldn't tell they were hand-made because they lacked the suppleness usually present in hand-made pasta. And, if the menu hadn't announced they were stuffed with chicken, I would never have known. Likewise, the sauce lacked that beautiful gorgonzola taste one gets when a quality gorgonzola is present.

My friend ordered the spaghetti with sausage. I tried a bit. It was a superior dish.

Ultimately, I wonder if I picked the dish on the wrong day. I'll let you know if that is in fact the case after I try the dinner menu.

Rating: 5/10 (5/10 is average).

Visconti House on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Address: 100 University Ave, Provo, UT 84601. 801.373.8000.

Review: Communal is a restaurant based on a concept: eating good food at one long table (i.e., communally). Of course, you can choose to be antisocial and eat at a normal table, but why not go with the flow and eat with those you don't know.

Recently, some business friends and I found ourselves at Communal during the lunch hour. I was initially taken aback by the limited number of selections (they have only six entrees). Well, I was taken aback until I bit into the blue bacon burger, that is. I then understood the selection was limited because Communal wishes to focus on making a few dishes well, rather than a lot of dishes okay. My burger was nicely executed. The bun was sturdy enough to hold the meat without becoming soggy. The burger was simply dressed with a blue cheese sauce and some quality greens. And then there was the meat. I'm not sure where Communal sources it's beef, but they did a jolly good job. It was well cooked (a juicy medium rare) and very, very tasty. It had a distinctive non-mass-produced quality that set the burger apart from 95% of those you get at restaurants. My only knock on the burger was the blue cheese sauce didn't have a pronounced blue cheese flavor, which I rather quite enjoy. All in all, very good.

Since they were out of beets, I ordered the fries. Good. Well seasoned. Nothing magical though. I can only imagine the beets, if sourced as carefully as the beef, would have been wonderful.

And the water. They make a big deal about employing a machine that balances the water's pH. Apparently, it's all the rage in Japan. Meh, it was okay. A selection of quality mineral waters would have elevated the dining experience far more. (Of course, I say this as one who has lived in Europe where mineral water is king. Honestly, this is probably just a idiosyncratic preference more than anything else, so take it with a grain of salt.)

Overall, a very enjoyable meal. I can't wait to try dinner.

Rating: 7.5/10 (5/10 is average). This score may very easily increase when I frequent Communal during the dinner hours.

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Addrress: 3951 W 5400 S, Kearns, UT 84118. 801.955.8858.

Review: There is one dish in the pantheon of southern cooking that rules above all others: chicken and waffles. It's origin is mysterious (some attribute it to Thomas Jefferson, some to recently released slaves who migrated north. Whatever the true origin, the dish is a revelation.

On Friday, I went to Q4U with some friends for a good old fill-your-tummy-with-BBQed-meat dinner. After setting my sight on the brisket dinner (my wife is from Texas, so brisket is the BBQed meat of choice in our family), the waitress declared the night's special was chicken and waffles. She had me at "chicken and."

Q4U did not disappoint. Unlike other chicken and waffles I've had that used breast meat, this one came with chicken wings. Dark meat makes the meal tastier and more interesting. The wings were fried well, juicy, and had a honey glaze. (Where there is fried chicken there must be honey.) They could have used a little more seasoning, but let's not sweat the small stuff. Good as the chicken was, the waffle was superior. As the cook informed me, the waffle was created in-house. It was tall, with a crispy exterior and fluffy interior. Perhaps the most intriguing characteristic, however, was the waffle's almost malted quality. It was one of the best I've eaten, hands down. And, thankfully, the whole meal came with a mess of butter and honey. What a delight.

As for Q4U's interior, well, it looks like the inside of a Dukes of Hazard diner. But who cares? They serve a mean chicken and waffles, and that's all that matters.

Oh, and I have no idea how the BBQ is. I was too full to taste any of it. Looked alright though.

(Note: The chicken and waffles is only offered Friday and Saturday night.)

Rating: I can't really give Q4U an educated rating since I didn't try the BBQ, but I can give the chicken and waffles a "hot dang, that's good"!

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