Showing posts with label Restaurants. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Restaurants. Show all posts

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dinner: The Bohemian, Movie: Lincoln

Last week my husband and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary.  Having been there before, we chose celebrate at the Bohemian Brewery in Midvale.  The restaurant is decorated like a German hunting lodge, and we were seated by the fire and the Christmas tree.

The appetizer a baked flatbread with feta and a sweet balsamic reduction.  It was served with hummus. It was fantastic and we looked forward to our meal.

   Unfortunately, our experience at the restaurant went down hill form there.  We waited.  The couple seated right before us ate their meal and left.  We waited.  A couple that was seated 10 minutes after us ate their meal and left.  The waitress came out and apologized and said our order was after a large group. However, we had already ordered long before that group was completely seated and long before their order was taken.  

We decided we would wait 5 more minutes before we left since we would be late for our movie.  Our our food came just in the nick of time.

I had the lamb chops with spaetzle. My husband had perogies and bratwurst. 

Was it delicious?  I don't know because I was too busy cramming it down my throat so  I wouldn't be late for the movie. I don't know about you, but I really don't enjoy going to an expensive restaurant and not taking the time to savor the meal.  This is so disappointing because I really enjoy this type of food, and I was looking forward to the spaetzle.  Instead all I can remember is the lamb appeared to be quite tender and the spaetzel was greasy. 

When we rushed out the door, there wasn't even anyone with whom to make a complaint.

The evening wasn't a total loss.  We were able to go see the movie Lincoln with Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field. 

Images from
President Lincoln

Mary Todd Lincoln

Senator Thaddeus Lincoln

William Seward

"This is a profoundly thought-provoking portrait of 16th president and his drive to end slavery and unite the country."
USA Today
Claudia Puig

Every American needs to see this movie. Not only are all the actors superb, but the dialogue is thought provoking and well written.  Except for the opening scene, all the action takes place through dialogue, and yet, even for our ever decreasing modern attention spans, the movie never was boring or slow.  It is a look into the lives of all the main players in a way we have never seen before.  The personal story of the president tugs at the heart and one is filled with respect as he succeeds in doing that which seems insurmountable. 

Sadly, I was embarrassed for the woman behind me during the scene where General Lee surrenders at Appomattox.  As he surrendered she said, "Who is that man on the horse?"  I'm shaking my head in bewilderment at her statement even now as I write.

5 out of 5 stars
Five Star Rating Clip Art

The Bohemian Brewery 
2.5 out of 5 stars only because I went there once before and loved it.  This time the service was so poor, the rating went down. 
2.5 Star Rating Clip Art

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Benja Thai and Sushi in St. George

You wouldn't think that in the land locked metropolis of St. George, Utah, there would be good Sushi.  But surprise, surprise, Benja's somehow brings good Sushi to the desert.

Now, I am not a sushi aficionado.  I can probably count the number of times I've  ordered Sushi on one hand.  As a matter of fact, the first time I went to Benja Thai and Sushi, I saw a former student and her family eating big slabs of raw fish.  I'm not that brave.  I stick with the "beginner" rolls like spicy tuna and my new favorite, the Alaska roll. I liked the food so much the first time, we went back last week while in St. George.

Not only was the sushi delicious, the Thai food was delicious as well. My daughter was brave and tried the Thai duck.  She's been watching too much Food Network.  We all agreed this was our favorite and loved the duck shaped serving platter.  Nice touch.

The green curry was also delicious and super spicy, and the cashew and pineapple rice added a respite of sweetness to the otherwise hot fair.  The rest of the dishes were good but didn't have that "wow, this is fantastic" factor.  You could get them at any old Thai restaurant.  

I think a restaurant is a success if my kids will eat sushi and duck! I'm giving Benja's 4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sonny Bryan's Smokehouse

We didn't live in Texas very long, but long enough to know that people take their bar-b-que seriously.   And the best place to go for bar-b-que was the Salt Lick  located out in the country in Driftwood.  The Salt Lick was in a dry county so people could be seen bringing their spirits to the restaurant in coolers.  Then they were seated at a picnic table where they were served generous portions of brisket, sausage, ribs, pork, bread, potatoes, baked beans and coleslaw.  For about 15 dollars the food kept coming as long as a person could keep eating.  This popular eating establishment was even featured on the Travel Channel's "Man vs. Food."

The Salt Lick has become our bbq litmus test.  The big, scientific question: Is this as good as the Salt Lick? Sonny Bryant's Smokehouse is a franchise from Dallas so it had promise.  Was Sonny Bryant's as good as the Salt Lick?  Yeah, almost.

The ambiance wasn't nearly as "country" and down-to-earth. But it was comfortably casual and clean.  The food was great.  My husband's platter consisted of brisket, jallepeno sausage, and turkey.  They were all tasty but the turkey was the best.  I had a pulled pork sandwich with mac and cheese and green beans.  Did you know mac and cheese is considered a vegetable in the South?  The only slight disappointment was that my green beans weren't appropriately melt-in-your mouth soft as they were in the South.

My sandwich, on the other hand, was fantastic.  Now let's talk buns y'all.  They can either make or break a sandwich.  So many restaurants use stale grocery store buns.  Theese were not store buns but buttery, soft, fresh buns that really added to the sandwich.  I wish they had topped the pork with a little coleslaw as is also common in the South, but the sandwich could stand on its own merit.

One of our dining companions is lactose intolerant.  We were all impressed how the manager personally oversaw the preparation of his food to make sure it was prepared correctly.  Now that is good service.

4 out of 5 stars.

By the way my Utah friends, bbq is not grilling! Go to Sonny Bryant's Smokehouse and try the real deal! Don't forget to try the fried pickles.  You won't regret it!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Embracing Utah's Mexican Food or It Is What It Is.


When we moved to Utah from Texas, we were disappointed with the Mexican food that we found here.  We missed Casa Garcias and Los Jalecienses (which only had a menu in Spanish).  We also missed the fresh and more yuppie Tex-Mex of Gueros and Curras (home of one of Texas Magazine's 11 Tacos You Need to Eat Before You Die).  The lack of flavor I found in Utah food was one of the reasons I started this review blog.  

The style of Utah food is vastly different than that of Tex-Mex.  It is a slooshy sloshy mix of enchilada sauce and cheddar cheese that has been melted under the heat lamp.  That slooshy sloshy mix of sauce and cheese covers all your food so that you don't know exactly what it is you are eating.  Is that an enchilada or a burrito? And how long has that plate been under the heat lamp?  It is burning a hole through the table. 

That is not to say that we haven't found a few good places.  The Red Iguana makes a variety of delicious mole sauces.  There is a little gas station remodeled into tiny restaurant called Chunga's that has the best Tacos al Pastor.  These tacos should be in a Utah magazine for "The Tacos You Should Eat Before You Die!"  

Once when we were discussing the difference between Utah Mexican food from Texas Mexican with our friend Kim Simpson, a former Utahn, he said that sometimes he had a craving for Utah Mexican. He wanted a big combination plate with sauce and lots of melted, gloopy cheese.  It was like comfort food.  

That was exactly how it was for my family tonight.  We went to La Frontera, and "Ute-Mex" was exactly what we got. All of our meals were just as described especially my husband's large combination plate.  It was good.  It was different.  Not quite the flavors of Texas.  It wasn't yuppie Austin Tex-Mex, but why did it have to be?  It was comfort food.  It was what we ate when we went to Mexican when I was a kid.  So to coin an overused phrase, "it is what it is." I won't turn up my nose to the local Mexican food.  After all, I'm a local.  

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Kathmandu

Little did I know when I ventured into The Kathmandu for dinner, that I was eating at Salt Lake Magazine's winner of "The Best Indian Restaurant 2011." This little gem tucked away in a strip mall in Holladay (what is it with me and strip malls in Holladay--see previous post), serves Indian and Nepali cuisine and was truly was fantastic!

photo   From the owner.

We thought that since we were already familiar with Indian food we would be adventurous and try the Nepali dinners.  My husband had the Everest Lamb which was cooked with curry and other spices, but the real treat was the addition of mango to the sauce.  I had the Chicken Momo, not because I had any idea what it was save the brief description on the menu, but because it sounded cool, and it was!  They were little dumplings arranged like tiny hats around a spicy, yellow sauce.  Fabulous.   Later a charming, young waiter told us momo was his favorite dish when he lived in Nepal.  

Yes, we are going back.  And, adventurous or not, we are taking friends.  4.5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Thai Garden and Noodle House
Last weekend after viewing the lights at Temple Square with my family, we went to Thai Garden and Noodle House in the trendy 9th and 9th neighborhood of Salt Lake.  

Salt Lake Tribune

     The neighborhood is charming.  From the website:
     "Often described as funky or earthy, there are no strip malls in this neighborhood (the plumbing store is even in an old house!). An excellent walking district with a unique collection of shops, businesses and services."
     The restaurant itself was very good and the service was excellent.  I had my usual yellow curry, my husband had red curry, and the children had spicy rice with tofu, cashew chicken, and crispy chicken.  All loved their meals and reported them delicious.  

So how does this compare with my favorite restaurant, Thai Orchid? First, the location and ambiance win hands down for Thai Garden and Noodle House.  A strip mall in a parking lot just can't compare to this neighborhood with personality.  The plating was better at Thai Garden as well.  The cook drizzled hearts with an orange sauce on the side of the plate. We are easily impressed!
     In the end it all comes down to price.  If the food tastes the same, and it did, delicious, and the quality was the same, and it was with the exception of the cute little hearts, and both places have great service, which is the better value? Without question, Thai Orchid on Highland Drive in Holladay is a much better value.  By about 5 to 8 dollars per dish.  I loved the location of Thai Garden and Noodle House, but the location wasn't worth the extra 25 or more dollars it cost to feed my whole family for the same tasty meals.  My kids don't care that 9th and 9th is a trendy district.  Strip malls are fine for kids.  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Wild Grape Bistro

I love Groupon and Living Social Deals. They tempt me with coupons that inspire me to try new restaurants.  That is why on our anniversary, my husband and I were excited to try The Wild Grape Bistro in downtown Salt Lake City

Although I don't think our waitress was thrilled to see coupon carrying, non-drinking, suburbanites walk into the restaurant, she still gave us pleasant, on-the-spot service.

We had a creamy roasted pepper soup for an appetizer that had a nice zing to it.  I ordered the Potatoes Gnochi with beef and mushrooms and my husband had the scallops.  He was embarrassed to have me pull out my phone to take a picture of our beautifully plated food, and thus, no food pics for the blog.  

The menu had a variety of flavored lemonades.  I was tempted to ask what flavor went well with the beef, but held my tongue and chose the huckleberry.  

Wow, my dinner was wonderful.  The beef was tender and had a perfect flavor.  My husband loved his scallops as well.  They were tender, not chewy, and melted in your mouth.  Although, I do believe that mine was the better of the selections, especially when complimented by a lovely red wine, I mean, huckleberry lemonade!

The decor was clean, modern, and tasteful.  The prices were in the mid to high 20s for the entrees.  Our bill came to $60 minus our coupon.  So it was pricey for Salt Lake standards.  A definite special occasion place.  The only complaint I have was that it was loud, and I was quite cold seated by the window.

4.5 out of 5 stars.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Dodo Restaurant and Epic Casual Dining

The previous two weekends have found me at two local restaurants. I always try to go local before any of the franchise fare.  My husband and I went to The Dodo for his work's once a month "try a new restaurant" get together.  

The Dodo is located in Sugarhouse on 1355 East. and 2100 South. Their menu had a large variety of choices from sandwiches to the the fancier specials of salmon or staek.  Prices for dinners ranged from the low teens to low twenties.  

My husband got the Coconut Thai Chicken and I got the Portabella  Ravioli in Creamy tomato sauce.  The sauce had just enough cream, to make a perfectly delicious addition to the ravioli without being overbearing.  My husband couldn't say enough about his dinner.  Everyone in our party had positive things to say about the quality of the food.  The service was excellent and the waiter handled our partly of twelve with ease. The key lime pie is reputed to be the best outside the South.  I didn't have any as I was too full, but it sure looked gorgeous!  

                                        (Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Dodo Restaurant's Key Lime Pie.

The decor was simple, modern and elegant. When we left the restaurant, the lobby area was packed with people waiting to get a seat. This contributed to the loud atmosphere, which is the only complaint I have.  I guess when the delicious food attracts that many people, it is going to be loud.  4.5 out of 5 stars.

Epic Casual Dining is located in Midvale, on 707 East, Fort Union Blvd.  My husband and I had a Groupon to use before November was up so we gave it a shot.

We ordered the crab cakes and the grilled artichokes for appetizers.  Both were quite tasty, and the sauce on the crab cakes was tangy and the best part of the appetizer.  

For our main courses I ordered the risotto with smokey bacon, mascarpone,  and portabella mushroom, and my husband ordered the sausage fettucine.  My risotto was good albeit on the salty side. I guess when you order something with bacon in it that's what you get.  My husband's fettucine was disappointing.  The tomato sauce was too sweet and it taste like something I could throw together at home on a busy week night, not something to spend fourteen dollars on. 

Prices ranged from the low teens to low twenties.  The decor was pleasant and warm with rich, dark wood on the walls. Although, I was very chilly throughout the meal. 3 out of 5 stars. My husband says that is too generous and would give it about 2.5 stars.

If I am going to spend about the same amount of money, I would choose The Dodo over Epic any day. 


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Three Northern CA Restaurants

This weekend I had a whirlwind trip to Northern California to visit my brother-in-law who is in the hospital in San Francisco.  When we arrived around dinner time,  my generous nephew took us to his favorite restaurant in Manteca, El Jardin.

As I have said many times before, Utah just doesn't have good Mexican food so I am always skeptical of, but at the same time looking for, a good Mexican restaurant.  This place did not disappoint me.     

The homemade tortilla chips were just the beginning of a delicious meal.  The salsa actually had a spicy flavor, and the bean dip with a large dollop of sour cream in the middle, was a treat on those homemade chips.  I ordered the Chicken Chipotle which consisted chicken,  onions and mushrooms in a cream chipotle sauce. Wow!  Talk about a spicy, roasted, creamy flavor.  The beans and rice were fantastic as well.  I kept eating and eating and the food never seemed to vanish on my plate.  When I was full, my plate was still covered with food.  My husband ordered a chile relleno and an enchilada with green sauce.  I've always referred to the sauce as tomatillo sauce, but the waitress just called it green sauce.  Regardless of what the name of the sauce, it was a perfect combination of tangy and spicy.  The relleno was excellent as well, without being soggy.  

Prices were reasonable and the servings were huge.  The service was attentive.  My glass was never empty, and two wait staff took care of us all evening.  The only mild complaint I had was that it was loud in the restaurant.  But hey, we tend to be a loud family so we talked right over it.  4 1/2 out of 5 stars.  

The next night for dinner we went to Tony's Cable Car Restaurant off of Geary and Presidio.  I probably would have never been to this establishment, but it was right across the street from Kaiser hospital.  Good burger.  Good fries.  Decent fish and chips.  Nothing special.  Decent prices for San Fransico. Limited seating.
Almost 3 out of 5 stars.   

Finally, we went to Yubic Frozen Yogurt in Lathrop.  This is one of those make it yourself places like a yogurt salad bar.  First you get your frozen yogurt, and then you put all the toppings on you'd like. You pay buy the weight.  The yogurt itself had a slight chemical taste and the toppings were stale.  The decor was colorful and it was super clean.  2 1/2 out of 5 stars.  The only reason I gave it the extra half star was because it was so clean. 

And finally, Ghiradelli chocolate is the best, but don't go to Ghiradelli Square during the chocolate festival unless you like to be in the same small area as 10,000 of your closest friends! Or so it seemed!