Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Copper Onion

Address: 111 E Broadway (300 S), Ste 170, Salt Lake City, UT 84111. 801.355.3282.

Review: Last night was movie and a dinner (in that order) night at our house. We chose to see "The Walk" (an alright movie by Emilio Estavez about a group of mismatched pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela; but this isn't a movie blog, so I won't go on) at the Broadway Theater. Coincidentally, or perhaps providentially, The Copper Onion (TCO) is situated fifty feet from the Theater, so our dinner choice was made.

I've heard many a thing about TCO over the last year. It's the new in restaurant in Salt Lake. I tend to look at the new in thing with a healthy dose of skepticism. The in is often like fashion: the in's inness wears off after a few months (think slap bracelets from the late 80s) and people move on to the next in (think capris, or, even more hideous to the soul, manpris); man, can't wait for those to soon die an ignominious death once again). With this in mind, we entered TCO's stainless and glass doors.

The initial waft of food smells was delightful. You know what I mean by food smells: all the smells of all the foods being prepared amalgamated into one aroma. If the initial smell is not a good one, chances are the meal will be correspondingly not good. Under the circumstances, we were encouraged right out of the gate.

We began with the bone marrow plate, which came with not only bone marrow but also a salad of radishes, capers, parsley, and fennel.

Now, for those out there not sold on marrow, you should be. Marrow, which is almost pure fat, is the best butter you'll ever taste. It's incredibly rich and silky. The idea with this plate was to scoop out the marrow and couple it with a bit of the salad on the toast. Great idea, and it worked pretty well. The salad, light and vinegary as it was, contrasted nicely with the fattiness of the marrow. Unfortunately, the marrow was somewhat inartfully prepared. Some of the smaller bones has been roasted too long, so the marrow had coagulated too much. Conversely, the large bones weren't cooked all the way through, which left hard, unspreadable marrow in the center. This notwithstanding, it was a good way to start the meal.

Next arrived the bone-in pork chop, laid on a bed of crispy polenta over an ancho chile sauce, topped with an egg, and surrounded by shishito chiles. It looked a little something like this.

I noticed two things right of the bat: (1) the chop, which was thick, thick, was cooked perfectly (still a little pink in the middle, the way pork should be); and (2) the polenta was out of this friggin' world. (Note: I have lived in northern Italy, so I've been fed polenta many times in many different forms. This was probably the best I've ever had. It was full-flavored corn, crispy like you wouldn't believe, and creamy on the inside. Great stuff.) The ancho sauce was beautiful and added great savoriness to the dish. The sauce also played well with the shishito chiles. They too are a bit more savory than most chiles, and the heat added a little something to the chop. The meat, as stated previously, was perfectly cooked, and just tasted like a good pig should taste. In all, very well done dish.

And now, the sides (because man cannot live on pig, corn, eggs, and chiles alone).

Left-to-right and top-to-bottom: (1) sauteed spinach with golden raisins and cashews, (2) grilled scallions topped with romesco (i.e., sauce made from red peppers and almonds), and (3) roasted cauliflower with capers and what I think was a homemade aioli. The spinach was our least favorite. It was under-salted, and the raisins added little sweetness. The scallions were nicely roasted and the romesco was a wonderful compliment to them (note: this dish is a staple in Spanish cooking, and for good reason). The cauliflower was our favorite. Caper and mayonnaise-like sauces are always a good bet, and the roasted cauliflower was a spot on vessel for all the flavors.

Keeping in mind my healthy skepticism, I really enjoyed this meal. At this price level, a couple mistakes were made that shouldn't have been, but the flavors and overall quality was quite good. We'll be back, and soon.

Rating: 7.5/10, and likely to go up after the second visit (5/10 is average).

The Copper Onion on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 29, 2011

3 Brother's Tacos

Address: Corner of 200 E 500 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84111. 801.688.9352.

Review: I park in front of an old folks' home on 500 S whenever I have a hearing at the Matheson Courthouse. On the way to the court is a new taco shop called 3 Brother's Tacos.

3 Brother's makes all manner of standard taco truck fare: tacos, burriots, tortas, etc. I wanted me some tacos, so I picked three: one tongue, one chicken, and one adovada. All came topped with grilled onions.

All came with the normal self-serve accompaniments: radishes, cilantro, salsas, limes, etc. The tongue was succulent and well seasoned. (Tongue is possibly my favorite taco nowadays. The meat is so supple it's a real treat to eat.) The chicken had that great Mexican taco feel, and was cooked perfectly. The best, however, was the adovada (pork cooked with red chiles). The pork was juicy and fall-apart tender. The chiles lend a spicy and oddly fruity taste that goes swimmingly with the pork. A little red salsa, lime, and cilantro made this darn good taco. The only real knock on this place is the corn tortillas are of the store-bought variety. Hand-made tortillas always make taco-stand tacos exponentially better. In any case, 3 Brother's tacos are money.

Rating: 6.5/10 (5/10 is average).

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mountain City

Address: 4701 Holladay Boulevard, Salt Lake City, UT 84117. 801.272.3332.

Review: I have eaten at Mountain City twice. The first time, my wife and I were, let us say, less than impressed. I decided to give the place another try, just to be sure. I won't bore you with the particulars, but the food is simply not good. Salty, salty, and not much else. I could only eat half of the meal before I hucked it. Oh, and they forgot the soup, but upon eating the entree, I wasn't disappointed by the oversight. Mercifully, there will not be a third time.

Oh, and here's a picture.

Rating: 3/10 (5/10 is average).

Mountain City on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pat's Barbecue

Address: 155 W Commonwealth Ave, Salt Lake City, UT 84115. 801.484.5963.

Review: If you want to pick up barbecue and meth all at the same location, Pat's Barbecue is your joint. I'm kidding, of course, sort of. Pat's is situated at the end of a dead-end street in a somewhat run-down industrial zone. I'm pretty sure if I had walked around for a couple minutes, I would have bumped into Walter White or Jesse Pinkman. I actually enjoy restaurants in these types of neighborhoods. They lend an interesting juxtaposition to the surroundings. Alright, I know, I'll stop yammering and talk about food.

None in our group of ten or so lawyers had been to Pat's, so half of us bypassed the little yellow menus you're supposed to notice and grab on the way to your table. Eventually, we got ourselves situated, menus and all, and got down to the business of eating.

I ordered the smoked meatloaf plate. It came with mashed potatoes and gravy, corn bread,and creamed corn.

The meatloaf was what you want meatloaf to be: meaty, savory, juicy, somewhat dense, and covered in sautéed onions. The one thing missing was the smoke. I just didn't notice a discernible smoke flavor, although I could see a bark on the outside of the meat. In any case, this is the kind of meatloaf you wished your mom would have made when you were young. The cornbread was quality. The mashed potatoes were creamy and sticky, and the brown gravy was salty, meaty, and quite enjoyable. Then there was the creamed corn. I am not a creamed corn fan, but that changed midway through my first bite of Pat's creamed corn. The sweetness of the whole corn kernels coupled with the sweetness of the cream, joined with a bit of salty butter. Oh my, I salivate at the very thought. So good. So dang good.

In all, I missed a bit of the barbecue feel I wanted from the meatloaf, but the meal as a whole was good ol' downhome fare. The rest of the guys enjoyed their meals as well. In all, Pat's batted a thousand for the day.

I'll be back to Pat's soon, for some barbecue, and maybe some meth.

Rating: 6.5/10 (5/10 is average).

Pat's Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Garrett Popcorn Shops

Address: 2 West Jackson Blvd, Chicago, Illinois 60604. 888.476.7267.

Review: Here's the scene: I'm sitting at a table with nine people I don't know. (It's my friends wedding in Chicago, so I know all of three people in the entire state.) And how do you break the ice with a bunch of people you don't know? Well, you talk food, of course. Specifically, you ask a bunch of Chicagoans where to eat before you leave the next day. I received more than a fair share of suggestions, but one intrigued me more than the rest: Garret's Chicago popcorn mix. The Chicago mix is an amalgam of cheddar cheese and caramel popcorn. I've never heard of a more ridiculous combination, so I had to see if it was any good.

When I happened upon Garrett's the next day, I was surprised to find a line out the door.

After entering, I figured this place had to be good, judging from nothing more than the popcorn furnace.

After the popcorn exits that infernally hot furnace, it's placed in a tumbler with a cheddar-butter sauce that looks as heart stopping as it actually is. Eventually, I got me some Chicago mix. It looked a little something like this:

(Sorry, I took these pictures in a dark parking lot in my rental car.) First thing I noticed about the popcorn was how it kept its fluffy and crunchy structure, even after being doused in butter, cheese, and caramel. Next thing I noticed was how good the cheddar popcorn was. It was messy, buttery, and very cheesy. My fingers were yellow within ten seconds, and I liked it that way. Best cheese popcorn I've ever eaten, hands down. The caramel was good as well, but nothing special. And then there was the combination. Magic. Honestly, the combination makes no sense in my mind, but on my tongue it made perfect sense. Great combination of buttery sweet and buttery, salty, tangy cheese. It was completely addictive, although it was so heavy I couldn't eat that much at one time. Of course, that just meant it lasted longer, which was a good thing.

Rating: 7.5/10 (5/10 is average).

Garrett Popcorn Shops (West Jackson) on Urbanspoon

Al's Beef

Address: 169 W Ontario St, Chicago, IL 60654. 312.943.3222.

Review: So, as anyone (if there is anyone) who peruses this blog knows, I'm a sucker for (1) anything Italian, and (2) big meat sandwiches. Thus, when I caught a flight for Chicago to attend a buddy's wedding, I knew a dipped Italian beef sandwich would soon take up residence in my tummy. After some restaurant research, Al's Beef was chosen.

So, an Italian beef sandwich consists of Italian beef (i.e., roast beef roasted with vegetables until it becomes tender as can be), a Italian bakery roll, and roasted bell peppers. I got mine with some hot peppers and celery for good measure.

The meat was tender, salty, tasty, but on its own, it's just okay. What adds tons of flavor and really makes the sandwich is the jus. In fact, the jus is the first thing that hits you upon your initial bite. It's mix of meatiness, veggieness, and saltiness is just plain money. That it saturates the bread and makes it fall apart in short order would normally bother me, but such was not the case here. I simply couldn't get enough of the wonderful, juicy mess.

I seem to remember Al's Beef serves food in addition to the Italian beef sandwich. Honestly though, who cares? Go for the money-maker. You will not regret it.

Rating: 8/10 for the Italian beef sandwich alone (5/10 is average).

Al's #1 Italian Beef on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 10, 2011

Trattoria Brown - Dutch Baby

Having a somewhat (read: entirely) dry sense of humor, telling people I ate a dutch baby for breakfast is pure gold. It's nice that dutch babies taste good in addition to being a conversation stopper. a dutch baby's taste is perhaps best described as a cross between a pancake and a crepe. The fact they're baked adds a different, crusty taste dimension. And while my son will never like them more than pancakes (i.e., his favorite food on planet earth), dutch babies are a nice change up.

(Attribution: This is based on an Alton Brown recipe.)


  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted and divided
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • Lemon wedges


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place 4 tablespoons of the melted butter into a seven quart enameled cast iron French oven and place in the oven. Set the remaining tablespoon of melted butter aside to cool slightly. Wait 10 minutes before assembling the other ingredients.

Place the flour, vanilla sugar, salt, milk, eggs and remaining tablespoon of melted butter into the bowl of a food processor and process for 30 seconds. Carefully pour the batter into the preheated French oven. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until the edges are puffed and brown. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar and serve with lemon wedges.

This is what you'll have when it comes out of the oven.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

O' Falafel

Address: 790 E 2100 S, Salt Lake City, Utah 84106. 801.487.7747.

Review: My buddy at Publius Online loves O' Falafel (O'), so when BYU was getting pasted by USU, my wife and I decided it was time to decamp from the couch and go to dinner.

O' makes Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food, falafel being (obviously) most name worthy. We were in the mood for vegetarian dishes, so we ordered a lentil-spinach soup and majadareh. Let's discuss the lentil soup first.

When you put a spoonful of this to your mouth, the first characteristic that stands out is thick creaminess. This is created, not so much by adding thickening agents, as it is by blending the lentils and allowing their inherent starchiness to do its thing. Because lentils were (1) the primary ingredient, and (2) don't possess a great amount of flavor on their own, the soup was quite mild. Spinach was more a hint than a predominant flavor. A splash of lemon woke up the soup, but it was still very mild and a bit one dimensional. Sometimes simple is just too simple.

The majadareh is a dish of caramelized onions, mixed with lentils and rice, topped with crispy onions. It's served with a green salad heavy on greens and cucumbers, and a side of yogurt cucumber mint salsa. The majadareh itself is a starch bomb, and without accompaniment there wouldn't be much to it. Thankfully, O' provides you with a chili-vinegar sauce that rocks the world. It's hot, salty, vinegary, and full of gorgeous, fruity chili flavor. When matched with the majadareh, the dish sings. (I've never experienced a dish that is so totally made by a topping.) Likewise, the yogurt cucumber sauce brings out the majadareh's great onion overtones. The salad is a nice departure from the starch on the other side of the plate. In all, a quite enjoyable dish.

The next time we go, we'll be trying some meat, which I understand is quite good, as well as, because you gotta, some falafel. And we'll be returning soon.

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

O' Falafel on Urbanspoon

Cotton Bottom Inn

Address: 2820 E 6200 S, Cottonwood Heights, UT 84121. 801.273.9830.

Review: The Cotton Bottom Inn is a total dive bar. Oddly, however, it rakes in a rather high-end clientele. When my friend and I showed up for lunch, we noticed Audis, BMWs, Mercedes, etc. in the parking lot. As we walked in the entrance (which is actually the backdoor, far as I could tell), we were flanked by people robed in business attire.

We sat down, and a waitress promptly greeted us with, "Are you here for lunch?" I thought that an odd question asked at 12.30 p.m. That was until I looked around and noticed more than one table with patrons downing pitchers of beer with no food to be seen. Eventually, we responded, "Yes, we are." In response came the query, "Garlic burgers?" In reality, she meant to ask, "Do you want to order the only food item we produce at this establishment?" Needless to say, we ordered the garlic burgers.

Here's the spread we received.

I figured there would be fries. I was wrong. This place is all about the burger, so let's discuss it. Garlic burgers are what you think they are: burgers with large amounts of garlic cooked in the patty. Surprisingly, the garlic was not overpowering, but added a distinct flavor. The meat itself was juicy and flavorful. The toppings (onions, pickles, and cheese is what you notice most) complimented the meat. The cheese was nothing super high quality, but was perfectly melty. The bun was not really a bun, but a section cut off a loaf of substantial deli bread. I've never experienced bread like this on a burger, but I'd like to experience it more often. Thankfully, these guys didn't try to dress up this burger with mixed greens or any of that trendy stuff. They know their customers want a fat, cheesy, no fanfare garlic burger, and that's what they serve. Good for them.

Rating: 7.5/10.

Cotton Bottom Inn on Urbanspoon