Sunday, October 27, 2013

Penny Ann's Cafe

Address: 1810 South Main Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84115. 801.935.4760.

Review: About every month or so, a group of young attorneys picks a restaurant for our lunchtime get together. This month was Penny Ann's Cafe. The staff was exceedingly nice and accommodated our group with ease. What you understand the moment you enter Penny Ann's is that you will receive standard dineresque fare. There's nothing fancy about this joint, and thank heaven for that. And while lack of pretense is a good start, food is king. It is to this we now turn.

I began with the fried ravioli ("ravioli" is already plural, so, please, no more "raviolis").

Fried ravioli are what you expect: ravioli rolled in bread crumbs and fried. The quality of the fried ravioli is entirely dependent on the quality of the underlying ravioli. These ravioli tasted industrial, filled with gobs of mozzarella (kind of a non-standard choice as a filling), but lacking in any real taste. The sauce was equally blasé. (Note: of course diner fried ravioli are not haute cuisine (although they could be), but that doesn't mean blah components make a dish taste anything other than blah.)

Next up was the grilled Reuben. I asked for sourdough bread because me and rye, we no get along so well.   

The bread (i.e., where all sandwiches begin and end) was okay. Nice and crispy, but without any discernible sourdough flavor. The corned beef was okay; nothing special. The sauerkraut was unassertive to the point of not really being there. (Existential query of the day: when sauerkraut is just there to be there, then why is it there?) Couldn't taste the Swiss cheese at all, like at all. Man, to be honest, there just wasn't much to this sandwich.

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

Penny Ann's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Trattoria Brown: Roasted Heirloom Tomato Sauce

With an abundance of heirloom tomatoes to use and/or preserve at the end of Salt Lake City's growing season, we have decided to make boatloads of tomato sauce. Now, this is a fairly standard preserving procedure, so we thought we'd get a little creative. Usually, tomato sauce consists of blanching tomatoes, removing the skin, and then canning them as is or cooking them down before canning. Honestly, however, I don't much like peeling tomatoes, and with this recipe you don't need to.


1.5 pounds fresh heirloom tomatoes
1 medium yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400 Fahrenheit. If your heirlooms are large, quarter them and place them on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil of parchment paper (your choice) so they don't touch. If you are using smaller heirlooms, halve them. If they are cherry tomatoes, just put them on the baking sheet as is. Chop the onion into large pieces and place on baking sheet, along with garlic cloves. Salt and pepper to taste and drizzle olive oil over everything. It should look a little something like this:

(As you can see, we used a variety of heirlooms. Six different types to be precise. You can use one type or many, depending on your tastes.) 

Roasted in the oven for approximately 90 minutes, turning every thirty or so. When everything is roasted, place everything in a food processor and process until smooth. It is read to use at this point. You can also freeze the sauce in ziploc bags to use during those clod, tomato-less winter months. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Address: 87 W 7200 S, Salt Lake City, Utah 84047. 801.566.5100.

Review: Thai food is good, there's no two ways about it. The sweet, the sour, the bitter, the spicy, the salt, all at the same time. It's like a complex little dance on your tongue. Mmm.

Chabaar fashions itself as Thai and beyond. I guess that's an ode to a Thai-American fusion cuisine, but, honestly, I'm not sure. We ordered standard Thai fare, and that was good enough for us.

I ordered the kow soi (here Chabaar's description of the dish: “More popular to Northern Thailand this curry is coconut gravy served over egg noodles topped with fresh shredded carrot, red onion, pickled mustard greens, basil, bean sprout, and lime.”).

Now, Chabaar's has an interesting heat index. It starts at 0 and goes to 10. They will not serve you anything above a 3 on your first visit. You will be thankful for this rule, as 3 is fairly hot. Not scorch your mouth hot, but hot enough to make things uncomfortable. I appreciated this because most Thai restaurants dissipate the heat so thoroughly for American palates that it really loses any bit of authenticity.

The kow soi was beautifully creamy and dark and rich. The egg noodles were what they were (i.e., filler), and the pork was thin and soft, if not somewhat indistinguishable from any other type of meat. The vegetable made the dish. The carrots were crisp and refreshing and livened the sauce's deep flavor. The pickled mustard greens did the same, although in a more mild and more acidic way. Quite enjoyable dish.

We also ordered the appetizer sampler, complete with fried tofu, fried and fresh spring rolls, cream cheese wontons,  and pot stickers.

Some items were more successful than others. My favorite (and I hate to admit this): the cream cheese wontons. They were airy, crispy, cheesy goodness. The pot stickers were also good, but a little too dry. Fried tofu. Who knew? Simple and light. Tofu will take on whatever flavor you wish, so the sauces really came through. Thankfully, the sauces were good. The spring rolls were okay. Nothing entirely special, although the fresh spring rolls were beautifully fresh.

My wife ordered the green curry. She quite enjoyed it, declaring it creamy with a mild curry flavor.

We enjoyed our meal, and we will be back.

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

Chabaar on Urbanspoon