Who doesn’t want that tight, gyrating go-go dancer? The titillating feel of newness with cat-like prowess? It’s true whether you’re talking about lovers, or cars, or restaurants — our DNA is triggered by the current and contemporary … it’s part of being creative, sentient beings.
As much as we’d like to talk about new cars, or what’s trending with the twinks, this is a restaurant column, and Michael has reminded us to keep it on-point. (Especially after last month’s column that gazed over Luan from Chakra Lounge a bit too long).
The restaurant scene in Salt Lake is like WeHo trade boys — there is something fresh coming along every time you turn your head. A partial list of the new and shiny includes: Avenues Bistro from the folks behind Fireside on Regent; Last Course; Kiraaak where Copper Bowl used to be; Hamachi Pescatarian; Nomad by the airport; the new Alamexo Cantina at 9th & 9th; The Dispensary is hitting home runs in the Ballpark neighborhood; a few blocks over, Frida made the transition to Rico this month; and finally, Pretty Bird Chicken, whose big breasts are the talk of the town.
Coming soon: 16 Post Office Place from Takashi, where Kristauf’s used to be; Freshies, the award-winning lobster roll cracks open a 900 South location; Este Deli expands to Main Street; and a little farther down, where short-lived SoCo got fried, the owners of Pleiku strut their stuff with London Belle. (This is a partial list, Michael doesn’t pay us enough to be comprehensive!) And, this is only downtown, it doesn’t consider the bevy of culinary delights opening daily outside of our little but liberal island.
With all the fresh things to gawk over, it’s easy to forget the stalwarts of the community which laid the path for these virgins to plant their seed in the culinary landscape. For instance, places like Cannella’s (204 E. 500 South), whose recent remodel and a mild menu update have made a 40-year establishment seem new again. The Brussel Sprouts and Kale Salad ($12) with sliced apples, pecans, and a maple vinaigrette is a master class in how to make kale delicious. If it isn’t Pride season, take a fork to the towering Lasagna ($15), like grandma used to make.
Meditrina (165 W. Harvey Milk Blvd.), whose sangria is worth a visit alone, has been slogging it out for a decade. First by the ballpark, and now in the up-and-coming lower Ninth South neighborhood; I don’t believe the owners have ever received the attention they deserve. They were doing tapas long before anyone else in Salt Lake, and continue to elevate the trend, long past its trendiness. Additionally, their Lobster Beignets ($13) with charred scallion remoulade is delightful, and the Tempura Frog Leg ($12) is spicy, daring, and imaginative.
One of my favorite forgotten gems is Em’s (271 N. Center St.). You’ll receive delightful service on their spectacular patio, or inside the candlelit, intimate interior. Many items on the menu have been there since opening, and for good reason — they are original and delicious. I return to the Leek-stuffed, Wild Salmon Roulade over creamy cabbage ($26) and the Tamales ($12) stuffed with goat cheese on a bed of chipotle con crema. Like Meditrina, a table would leave happy if they stick to the small plates menu, especially the Smoked Salmon Crab Rolls ($16) with avocado, sesame seed vinaigrette, and cilantro oil.
There are dozens of places in this vein. Places whose sheen has worn thin, but talent runs deep. We admittedly haven’t patronized any of these places in a while, because (again) there are many new places to evaluate. Who has been to Trio recently? Oasis Cafe? Blue Iguana or Rio Grande Café? Alternatively, Himalayan Kitchen and Cedars of Lebanon? We are guessing many of you have moved on from the tried and true to the sexy sizzle of some sassy new sinewy snack. But just remember the older fellas know how to sizzle a sausage, and put a bun in the oven just as well as the newbie down the street.