Saturday, September 24, 2011


Address: 1481 W 12600 S, South Jordan, UT 84065. 801.446.5646.

Review: Bombdiggitys is a restaurant with a plan. That plan, far as I can tell, is to introduce the good people of Utah to beefalo burgers. Beefalo is a cross between, you guessed it, beef and bison (i.e., buffalos). The result is a meat leaner than regular beef (bison meat has very little fat content), but still retains some beefy flavor.

The beefalo Bombdiggitys uses is Utah raised, which is nice in a let's-eat-local sort of way. Of course, the overarching question is "how do beefalo burgers taste?" Let's find out.

I had the quarter pound burger with cheese. It came with fries and fry sauce.

I usually address the bun first when writing about burgers, but since this place's shtick is the meat, let's address that first. The first thing I noticed was the flavor of the meat: it was a cross between bison and beef, although beef was the predominant flavor. The second thing I noticed was the meat was extremely lean, like bison. As with any lean meat, if cooked too long, it becomes dry as a bone. Unfortunately, my burger had been cooked too long and was dry as a bone. The cheese added some fat to the mix, but no amount of fatty cheese can add sufficient moisture to dry patties. The bun appeared homemade. It was soft. By the end, however, the bottom portion was falling apart. Toppings were standard: onions, pickles, tomatoes. Cheese was fine. In the end, it was a dry burger, with a taste a little different than normal.

Fries were okay. I ate most of them, but there was nothing particularly exciting about them.

Bombdiggitys also makes frozen custard. Good frozen custard is one of the better pleasures on earth. Thick, creamy, rich, silky on the tongue, oh so good. I ordered the chocolate variety here.

(Sort of looks like Don King's hair.) So, this frozen custard was a disappointment. It wasn't very chocolatey. In addition, it was hard as a rock. Honestly, there was no give, no silkiness to the custard. Not something I would order again.

Ultimately, I wasn't impressed at all. And while I love little local places that use homegrown products, I won't be frequenting Bombdiggitys.

Rating: 4/10 (5/10 is average).

Bombdiggitys on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Greek Festival 2011

Every year, the Salt Lake Greek community puts on a Greek Festival. It's a celebration of Greek culture and an educational tool. Mostly, it's a big party put on by a proud community that wants to keep it's identity. And, as this picture evidences, it was pretty well attended.

And then there's the food. Greeks, like Spaniards and Italians, are very proud of their traditional foods, and with good reason. I had a gyro, some spanakopita, dolmades, and an assortment of olives.

This food was prepared by an army of gracious volunteers.

The food was good and complimented the ongoing cultural celebration. Nothing could be more appropriate than eating a gyro while watching traditional Greek group dances.

In all, Greek Festival is a great time put on by a great group of people.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tin Roof Grill

Address: 9284 S 700 E, Sandy, UT 84070. 801.566.5226.

Review: Sorry, no pictures with this review. I had good intentions, but when I pulled out the camera to snap the first photo, it didn't turn on. Battery was dead as a doornail. Oh well.

The Tin Roof Grill has a warm, modern, earth-toned decor, as well as an inordinate number of televisions for a restaurant its size. Honestly, I was a bit confused by it all. My confusion only increased when I read the menu. It was part tapas bar, part Italian/pizzeria, with some standard American and Asian fare thrown in for good measure. Chimeric is perhaps the most apt description.

We started with the baked goat cheese. It's goat and asiago cheese baked with herbed tomato sauce, served with ciabatta bread. The name of the dish implied it was primarily about the goat cheese, but, quite honestly, this dish was about a heavily herbed chunky tomato sauce with some quite mild goat cheese mixed in. The bread was the most enjoyable part, if that tells you anything.

For the entree, I ordered the daily special, which was a steak sandwich with horseradish: classic American food. The bread was substantial enough to handle the meatiness of the steak and the toppings. The horseradish was, as it always is, a perfect accompaniment for steak. And the steak. Well, it was juicy, tender, and sliced to just the right thickness. It was also absolutely without one granule of salt, which meant it was completely tasteless.

My friend ordered a sausage pizza. The crust was doughy, the cheese was indistinct, and the sausage was okay. He wasn't impressed.

Look, I'm no restauranteur. I just write about what food tastes like to me and whether I like it or not. That said, the Tin Roof Grill tries to be too many different things at the same time; and, in so doing, doesn't seem to be any of them particularly well.

Rating: 4.5/10.

Tin Roof Grill on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Trattoria Brown - Crostini Three Ways

Crostini are the simplest of Italian foods. They are in essence, grilled or broiled bread with some sort of topping. They are a blank slate, which makes the infinitely versatile. At Trattoria Brown, crostini play a part in almost any dinner party. During our last one, we decided to try crostini three ways, and all turned out quite well.

All three crostini start with a baguette cut into 3/4 inch slices. The slices are then grilled under a blazing hot broiler until each side browns nicely, but does not burn (approximately 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side). This is your base, now on to the toppings.

Crostini with Rubbed Garlic and Parmigiano


15 broiled baguette slices
1 large clove garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt, to taste
Parmigiano Reggiano, to taste


Take the sliced baguette slices just after they come out of the oven and rub them with garlic until lightly covered. Place the slices on a serving plate and sprinkle salt over all pieces. Pour over olive oil, then microplane parm on top. You get something that looks like this.

Don't be afraid of the rubbed garlic. The heat from the warm crostini cook the garlic enough to take away much of its pungency while leaving a light, fresh taste.

Crostini with Caramelized Onions


15 broiled baguette slices
3 large white onions, halved and sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt


Preheat your oven to 350. Mix together onions, olive oil, and salt in a heavy pot (e.g., dutch oven) and place in oven. Cook onions for approximately 3 hours, stirring about every 15 minutes.

When onions are caramelized, remove from pot and place atop baguette slices. (Picture to follow next recipe.)

Crostini with Swiss Chard and Bacon


15 broiled baguette slices
2 bunches swiss chard stems included, washed and chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
3 strips bacon, sliced


Place a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add bacon and render until lightly crispy. Lower heat to medium low and add the garlic and swiss chard. Cook until the chard is tender and soft, about 15 minutes. (Hint: when the stem is soft, it's done.)

When fully cooked, remove the mixture from the sauté pan and place atop baguette slices.

Here's what the last two recipes will look like.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Firehouse Burger

Address: 1445 N Main St, Springville, UT 801.489.1900.

Review: Here's what Firehouse Burger (FB) isn't: a restaurant. Here's what it is: a stand that hawks its wares next to not much of anything on North Main in Springville. (Yes, "hawk", which means "to sell, especially on the street," is the correct verb, not "hock," which means "to pawn.") If you want anything more than a couple places to sit and a coat rack dressed with a fireman's uniform, FB will not satisfy you. If, on the other hand, what you want is a tasty burger, you're golden.

I ordered the one-alarm firehouse burger with two patties.

The first thing you notice when you bite into an FB burger is the bun. It's thick and a bit spongy, in a good way. It's not gourmet by any means (nothing here is), but it's substantial and stands up nicely to the burger's heft. The next thing you notice is the meat. In all honesty, the patties aren't thick enough, so there's no pink juiciness left when cooked, but this fact doesn't detract because the patties are sprinkled with, I think, steak seasoning, or something similar. This adds quite a lot of savory flavor without overpowering the meat or the other ingredients. Quite good, really. And not that you can really tell from the photos, but the one-alarm comes with jalapenos, pepperjack cheese, and a chipotle mayo. Nothing really packs a spicy punch, but it's all fun to eat just the same. The tomatoes are beef steak, the onions are white, and the lettuce is a complete afterthought whose only purpose is to appease Al Gore by being green. In the end, all this stuff comes together and produces a burger you want to eat, and eat, and eat some more.

Unfortunately, the burger was the full extent of my meal. I will have to try the fries next time around.

Rating: It wouldn't feel right to assign a X/10 score since I didn't eat any fries, but it does feel right to say FB makes some dang tasty burgers.

Firehouse Burger on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 5, 2011

Trattoria Brown - Slow Cooker Chunky Pork Ragu

Something magical happens when you cook pork for hours upon hours in ragu. The colagen uncoils and the pork shreds with ease. Moreover, the pork becomes imbued with ragu flavor, which cannot possibly create anything other than good eats. Start this Sunday morning, and by dinner it'll be ready to go.


4 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds bone-in pork blade steak
1 1/2 medium onions
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
3 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 cup beef stock
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste


In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the pork with salt and pepper and brown on each side. Remove meat to slow cooker. Poor over tomatoes and beef stock, and turn slow cooker to high.

Turn heat to medium and add onion to pan and cook until the onion is almost translucent, about eight minutes. Stir in the garlic, sage, and rosemary and cook for another two minutes. Add mixture to slow cooker and incorporate. Cover and cook for six to eight hours, or until the pork is tender and the blade falls out without resistance.

Remove pork to a cutting board and chopped into small pieces. Return the meat to the cooker and incorporate.

This sauce works equally well over pasta or creamy polenta.

Salt Lake City Shout Out in Bon Appetit Magazine

In Bon Appetit's latest restaurant issue, Ty Burrell (star of "Modern Family") gives a quick shout out to Salt Lake City's food scene. Here's what he said:

"There a big farm-to-table movement in Salt Lake City, my adopted hometown. It's given a lot of life to the food scene here, and it's bringing more Salt Lakers back. Among the newer restaurant here that I'm liking are Forage, Pago, and the Copper Onion. The chef at Copper Onion is a local guy who worked under Jean-Georges [Vongerichten]. There's also an amazing sushi place called Takashi. It's a four-way tie between those chefs for my favorite restaurant meal."

Congrats to all those mentioned.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Trattoria Brown - Homemade Nutella

Nutella is like chocolatey, hazelnutty crack. The first time I ate it, I consumed 2/3 of a rather large container and had to throw away the other 1/3 because I knew If it stayed in the house, it would be consumed forthwith. Of course, that was in Italy, and the Nutella you can buy in American supermarkets is produced in either Canada or New Jersey. (I think it's produced in Canada and distributed from New Jersey. And, as everyone knows, the only good thing to have come out of New Jersey is Bon Jovi.) In any case, it's not nearly as good as the Italian version. Because of this, I decided to make my own. The result was something with a much more pronounced hazelnut flavor that isn't as smooth as the industrial version. That noted, it certainly tastes good, and it allows you to tell people you made nutella, which is just plain cool. Enjoy.


1 cup of raw hazelnuts
5 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons canola oil (or some other neutral oil)
4 to 5 tablespoons whole milk, more as needed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


Toast the hazelnuts on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Let the hazelnuts cool down for about five minutes, and then place the hazelnuts between two kitchen towels and rub until the skins come off (you may have to do this with your hands if they don’t cooperate). (Note: if you don't want to roast and peel the hazelnuts, just buy a bag of chopped hazelnuts at the store and blend those. They have some skin on them, but that's okay.)

Place nuts in a food processor and blend in 45 second intervals, stopping to wipe down the bowl after every interval. You should have a fairly smooth mixture after about 5 cycles, but keep in mind it won’t be as smooth as peanut butter or the Nutella you buy in the supermarket.

Add the cocoa, sugar, oil, and milk, and salt and mix for another 45 seconds. If the mixture is too firm (you want it to spread easily), add another tablespoon or two of either vegetable oil or milk and pulse for another 45 seconds until you obtain the desired consistency.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Smile Cafe

Address: 400 S 200 E, Salt Lake City, UT 84111. 801.532.1977.

Review: Smile Cafe is one of those places you just want to like. It's a small joint that serves standard American fare alongside Korean foodstuffs. The list of burgers is innovative and surprisingly extensive. And they have sweet potato fries. So, how was the actual food? Let's discuss.

I ordered the pineapple teriyaki burger and some sweet potato fries.

The fries were light and crispy crunchy. Smile's fry sauce complimented the sweetness of the fries quite nicely. Honestly, these were as good as sweet potato fries get. That said, I can never eat an entire order of sweet potato fries, even these ones. They always end up being just a bit too sweet. Anyway, Smile's fries are good eats and my sweetness aversion should not take away from that fact.

The pineapple teriyaki burger.

Hmm. The bun (i.e., the most important part of the burger) was white as a sheet and pretty flavorless. Moreover, after five bites, the juice and teriyaki sauce saturated the bun and it fell apart, making eating the other 2/3 of the burger a messy chore. The amount of meat was substantial, but it was overcooked and had become somewhat dry. Moisture was provided by teriyaki sauce, which didn't taste very teriyaki-y, and a pineapple ring, which came from a can. In the end, everything was muddled and messy.

My buddy had the spicy egg burger, which he really enjoyed. It looked pretty good, but I didn't taste it, so all I have to base my review on is my burger, which wasn't.

Rating: 4/10 (5/10 is average).

Smile Cafe on Urbanspoon

The Olive Bistro

Address: 57 W 200 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84101. 801.364.1401.

Review: I had a dilemma yesterday: where to eat. I was scheduled to lunch at Lamb's Grill with a bunch of other politiphiles before a 1 p.m. settlement conference, but I wasn't feelin' it. Instead, I walked to Capital Theater contemplating Siegfried's (one of my favorite SLC haunts), but I've eaten there many a time, and variety is the spice of life, no? It was during this internal dialogue that The Olive Bistro (TOB) caught my eye. My decision was made.

TOB is a quaint little shop with a summer patio on 200 S. With a visible kitchen that is all of seven square feet, there isn't much room to prepare foods that require extensive preparation, so panini and salads are TOB's go-to dishes. Initially, the black truffle salami panino caught my attention, but they were out of salami, so I ordered the hummus and pepper jack panino. (Quick Italian lesson: "panino" is singular, "panini" is plural. Saying panini when referring to a single sandwich is never acceptable. Likewise, saying paninis is like saying bananases: it no makey no sense.)

To be honest, the idea of putting together hummus and pepper jack on a panino makes little sense to me, which is exactly why I had to try it.

Amazingly, it worked. As with any sandwich, it all starts with the bread. TOB's ciabatta is just thick and hearty enough to hold the ingredients and make the sandwich substantial. The crisp on the bread was very well done, and was accomplished with a minimum of added lipid. Complimenting the bread was a wonderful hummus, which ended up being the real star of the sandwich. It was earthy, smooth, salty, with a hint (it felt like only a hint) of tahini. The pepper jack wasn't very peppery, but it was smooth and creamy, which is all it needed to be. The greens, thankfully, were not wilted and slimy as they so often are in grilled panini, and the tomato was wonderfully tasty. A lot of thought went in to constructing this panino, and it showed.

Alongside the panino was a mixed bag of stuff. There was small green salad. Good. A small selection of fruit. Okay. Blue corn chips from a bag and some salsa. Blah.

In all, TOB produces a mean panino. We'll be eating here often before taking in events at Capital Theater.

Rating: 7/10 (5/10 is average).

The Olive Bistro on Urbanspoon