Sunday, May 31, 2009


***Editor's Note: Less than a year into its much-anticipated debut, TIPICA has left the building. I first heard the rumor at a dinner party late last month, and a quick google search when I arrived home that night confirmed the rumor's truth: TIPICA would close January 31, 2010. After visiting the restaurant several weeks back I was not entirely surprised by the news. Chef Kreisel seemed to have the weight of the world on his shoulders as he scanned the quiet dining room, but he was also hopeful that some planned menu modifications might attract more customers. I'm not sure what transpired in the weeks that followed, but I do know that this is a loss for our city. Like many, we scaled back our dining out over the past year in response to job uncertainty as a result of the recession. In a good year, we would have likely visited TIPICA much more frequently. Construction of modern condos near the restaurant also slowed with the economic downturn, and I am convinced that if it had only been filled with residents, TIPICA would have had a healthy crowd looking for an excuse not to cook dinner on a Wednesday night. Some say the health-conscious maybe had the misconception the menu was all pasta and risotto. The reality is that the closing of the restaurant is probably not this simple, but it is saddening all the same.

TIPICA, the latest project from the people who brought vibrancy -- and a cheese cave -- to downtown Salt Lake City is finally here after much anticipation. It was last summer when we first learned that Tony Caputo's Market and Deli was planning to transform its deli into a dinner spot by night; we've since enjoyed following the progress during weekly visits to stock up on an array of vices from the marketplace. We became Adam Kreisel fans during his stint as chef at Acme Burger Company, and the idea of combining his creativity with the forward-thinking vision of Caputo’s is a recipe destined for greatness.

I’ve had a special place in my heart for Tony Caputo’s Market and Deli ever since their meatball sandwich knocked me right off the vegetarian wagon I'd been riding on nearly a decade ago. The line, “I'm vegetarian with the exception of meatballs from Caputo’s,” quickly wore thin and the jig was up. Like some recovering vegetarians, my “born again” relationship with meat exists in a complex and admittedly compartmentalized zone I like to refer to as “denial.” Carpaccio is a favorite, but sweetbreads were checked off my “life list” only by accident. That said, I have a deep appreciation for the “nose-to-tail” philosophy: if you are going to (insert euphemism) send an animal to swim with the fishes, at least show it the respect of utilizing as much of it as you can. Leave it to Kreisel and the pioneers at Caputo’s to introduce this concept to Salt Lake City’s still-growing dining community.

Risotto Cakes 2
Amuse Bouche - Risotto Cakes with Meyer Lemon Marscapone and Micro Greens

Tipica's Scallop Crudo
Scallop Crudo, Shaved Fennel, Braised Kale, Lobster Vinaigrette - $10

TIPICA'S web site lists this plate at $12, but I am pretty sure the printed menu at the restaurant had it coming in at $10, which seems more realistic. Raw scallops likely aren't for everyone, and Kreisel indicated that opinions have been pretty split on this one. I for one enjoyed their cool texture, nestled within the salad's Napolean-esque presentation.

Roasted Cauliflower
Roasted Cauliflower with Balsamic Glaze, Parsley sprigs - $5

If all veggies were served like this J would never fall short of the food pyramid's daily recommendations. He thoroughly enjoyed the slightly charred intro, followed by the nuttiness of the cauliflower and finally, the sweet finish provided by the balsamic.

Lamb Ragout and Polenta
Lamb Neck and Shoulder Ragout with Creamy Polenta, Micro Fennel - $18

J reports that the meat was soft, moist and balanced in flavor: not overly pungent yet with a nice earthiness to it. The dish was, as he put it, "how lamb should be." He ventured to suggest its subtle flavor might pleasantly surprise those who typically steer clear of lamb.

Heirloom Squash Ravioli
Heirloom Squash, Ricotta & Chestnut Honey Ravioli with Sage Cream, Wild Mushrooms, Arugula - $15

A rather hearty dish and a culmination of so many of my favorite things. Kreisel hand makes the ravioli, which is evident in the thick folds of pasta. The fresh arugula helped to take the edge off the richness of the sage cream.

As for the dining room, mustard-toned curtains give TIPICA a willowy feel while concealing the soda machines, cash register and other evidence of the daytime deli. Unfortunately, the curtains also hide the kitchen from diners; the voyeurs in us had wanted to watch Kreisel et al at work.

TIPICA'S menu may be small, but it offers something for everyone: carnivores, omnivores, herbivores -- and those of us who reside somewhere in between. Favoring local, sustainable sources Kreisel intends to change things up frequently. It will be interesting to watch the selections evolve with the region's very distinct four seasons.

We were quite pleased with the restaurant's affordable wine list and very minimal wine much so that we ordered a bottle of Marques de Gelida cava ($23) to enjoy in addition to the bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape we'd brought from home. With a food menu of nothing over $20 and a wine list this approachable, TIPICA, like Caputo's Market and Deli, is in touch with what our community wants and needs. We look forward to its progression.

- K

314 W. 300 S.
Salt Lake City, UT 84101

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Farmerie 58


We happened upon Farmerie 58 while en route to check out another restaurant, but were so famished that we quickly succumbed to its sunny patio (and for J) the promise of a burger.

Using products that are farmed sustainably, Farmerie 58 strives to offer a wide-ranging menu that is affordable to the River North neighborhood's residents -- and not just its visitors. Selections go from simple (grilled chicken salad) to saucy (white chocolate bread pudding with roasted quince, caramel popcorn, and vanilla anglaise) in an effort to meet everyone's needs.

Lobster Bisque - Diced Lobster Meat, Lemon, Parsley - $10

Your standard lobster bisque, only prettier.

Bistro Burger - Tallgrass® Beef, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Smoked Cheddar, Dijon Aioli - $12

Nice and juicy. The grass-fed beef had a great flavor, though J would have preferred a hamburger bun over the thick slabs of Focaccia.

Pan-Roasted Wild Salmon BLT - Applewood Smoked Bacon, Tomato, Tarragon Aioli,
Wild Lettuces, Red Wine Vinaigrette - $12

A fun retreat from the traditional BLT. I loved the sweet potato chips, which were still hot, slightly chewy and glistening with just a hint of oil.


And with that we had the fuel we needed to head out in search of the Vosges Boutique on Michigan...

- K

Farmerie 58
58 E. Ontario and Rush Street
Chicago, IL 60611

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

North Pond

North Pond Exterior 2

Typically when blogging about a trip's eats I like to follow the course of the trip from beginning to end, creating a "virtual photo album" if you will. However in the case of our recent visit to Chicago, I simply must start at the end, and a restaurant which successfully combines atmosphere and approach for one particularly noteworthy meal.

Situated in Lincoln Park, North Pond is housed in a circa 1912 former ice skating shack, aptly located at the north end of a pond. The restaurant operates on a seasonal schedule, offering dinner and Sunday brunch year-round, and adding a weekday lunch service June through September.

Chef Bruce Sherman's manner of cooking with what's fresh, local and in season is rooted in the three and a half years he spent living in New Delhi, India. Through daily jaunts to the corner vegetable vendor, Sherman learned to develop meals around what was available. The experience, combined with his subsequent education at Ecole Superieure de Cuisine Francaise, has been parlayed into a positively inviting, creative restaurant which should be at the top of every culinary list when visiting the Windy City.

To toast a friend's milestone birthday we visited North Pond for Sunday brunch and the three course prix-fixe menu for $32. Though the menu is prix-fixe, the range of selections we found on this particular Sunday offered a diverse array of options for those with a hankering for sweet, savory or a little bit of both.

First things first: the view of downtown Chicago from North Pond's porch.

Steak, Egg
Steak and Egg - Poached Farm Egg, grilled Hanger Steak Medallions, Artisanal Grits, Spring Onions, Frisée

A refined take on homestyle cooking.

Ramps, Cheese at North Pond
Ramps, Cheese - Wild Ramp-Uplands Cheese and Prosciutto Crêpes, Potato Chips, Watercress Salad, Cherry Vinaigrette

With seasonal delicacies like ramps and cherries this dish was a fitting celebration of spring, and proof positive of Sherman's culinary style.

Lemon, Strawberries - Lemon Curd Tartelette, Strawberry Jam, Toasted Pistachios, White Chocolate, Meringue

A thoughtful and well-executed work of art. The tangy combination of flavors served to cleanse my palette following the rich crêpes.

I recommend making reservations when visiting North Pond, and in doing so, you may even receive special arrangements. In the case of our meal, we arrived to find that our menus had been printed with a personalized message for the birthday girl in our group, and the server even brought her a glass of bubbly, compliments of the house. Now that's my idea of a celebration.

- K

North Pond
2610 N. Cannon Drive
Chicago, IL 60614

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Red Iguana

Red Iguana

When my parents decided to pay us a visit over Mother's Day Weekend, mom made one thing clear: Mother's Day brunch was not to involve anything remotely approaching an omelette station. Fortunately what I had up my sleeve was far more exciting than a chocolate fountain and all-you-can-eat petits fours.


Many years ago the menu at Salt Lake City institution Red Iguana promoted paella as being available via special order for parties of two or more. I'm not certain when the Spanish dish of saffron rice, sausage, chicken and seafood disappeared off the printed menu, but every now and then it still makes an appearance on the specials board. Paella was always a favorite in my family growing up, but enjoying it also meant that mom had to make it happen.

Determined to serve mom this special dish on Mother's Day--without actually having to prepare it--we visited the folks at Red Iguana and discovered they would indeed make the family favorite for our party at $24.99 per person. We were sold.

We arrived at the Red Iguana on Mother's Day, armed with a bottle of rosé and healthy appetites. Something about the moved expression on mom's face immediately told us this was going to be a memorable meal. Indeed, following starter salads and guacamole, an entourage of people including the chef, owners and our server proudly carried the paella to our table with much pomp and circumstance. We learned then that the chef who typically prepared Red Iguana's paella was back in Mexico, but his brother had stepped up to the plate to prepare our beautiful meal. As he stood at our table beaming, I took stock in the incredibly rich moment. We were strangers bonding over a dish for presumably differing reasons, but ultimately, I'd like to think, a shared appreciation for the value of a meal spent with the people you love. As we began to dig in to our lunch, the chef et al returned to the kitchen, followed moments later by a round of applause, celebrating a job well done.

The above-pictured dish was created for our party of five, and after everyone had seconds, J and I were still able to take home enough for dinner the following night. We all loved the addition of green olives, which mom's recipe does not call for. But more important than the food was the unique experience the folks at Red Iguana helped us put together in appreciation of a very special lady.

- K

Red Iguana
736 West North Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84116

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