Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Pago SLC

Given that we've been enjoying Sunday brunch at Pago nearly every weekend since they first expanded their lunch and dinner service in June, I don't have a good excuse for why it has taken so long to report about 9th & 9th's new hot spot. Perhaps I was subconsciously afraid that any additional praise will make it even harder to score a table for dinner! Drive by on any given night and Pago will likely be packed, with a minimum one-hour wait. (Which is GREAT news, just make sure to plan ahead and take Pago up on their willingness to accept reservations.) However I still find that when I rave about the brunch menu, people are surprised to learn Pago serves brunch. And it simply wouldn't be fair to keep a good Sunday meal option in town a secret.

Owner Scott Evans and co-executive chefs Adam Findlay and Michael Richey are committed to providing a farm-to-table experience at Pago, carefully seeking out quality locally-sourced products, including: beets from East Farms, heirloom tomatoes from Traces and wall art from talented Salt lake City-based artist Zach Hixson. The menus are altered seasonally and based on availability, but two brunch favorites admittedly make us wish summer could stay forever:

Pago SLC Almond French Toast
Almond French Toast - Almond Crust, Berry Compote, Vermont Maple Syrup - $9

The berries were at their peak for this sweet plate of comfort food. Almonds nestled within the slabs of toast added some crunch to the otherwise soft bread, giving the added benefit of helping to lower one's blood cholesterol--which may come in handy after a meal like this one.

Pago SLC - Pago Salmon
Pago Salmon - House cured salmon, heirloom tomatoes, blini, yogurt - $9

During our first brunch at Pago I had the Croque Madame, but after that it has been purely Pago Salmon, Pago Salmon, Pago Salmon, with a side of eggs over easy ($3) and a glass of prosecco ($7), of course. Each time the tomatoes have been slightly different, and the cucumbers have ranged from being chopped, sliced or (once) MIA, but always this dish is fresh and savory--and doesn't feel like a heart attack on a plate.

I do wish Pago's wine markup was a little more accessible (the $7 glass of prosecco is five ounces of Adami, which retails for about $14/bottle at the DABC) but I can also respect the fact that Evans is in business to turn a profit--and not simply fulfill the dreams of all who have long awaited a neighborhood spot this cozy, intentional and refined.

- K

878 South 900 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84102

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Forage SLC Exterior 2

I may complain incessantly about not being able to buy wine at the grocery store, but with the addition of restaurants like TIPICA and Pago, even I have to admit that Salt Lake City is only getting better. Then there's Forage, which has brought an entirely new level of fine dining to town. Money may not be able to buy happiness, but as we learned during our recent trip to Forage, it can buy one beautifully crafted, entirely unprecedented SLC meal.

We decided to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary with Forage's 10 course tasting menu, which is $79 per person. The restaurant also offers a three course tasting menu for $39, which is a very reasonable equivalent of what an appetizer, entree and dessert would run you at any restaurant--even those unnamed chains pushing free bread sticks. While the course options for Forage's three course menu were carefully detailed, the staff were a little evasive when we inquired what the 10-course tasting menu would entail, promising only that we would enjoy some things that were on the menu--and some things that were not. Personally, shelling out that kind of dough for dinner is a treat: I at least want some foreplay by way of a menu. But all was forgiven as the courses started coming...

Forage SLC
Amuse Bouche: Tomato Garlic Croquette

More Amuse: Poached Egg with Maple

Big Eye Tuna 2
Big Eye Tuna "Mi Cuit" with Fresh Polenta, Tomatoes and Pine Nut Vinaigrette

Atlantic Fluke
Atlantic Fluke "Sashimi Style" Cucumber, Olive Oil and Chives

Vegetable Garden 2
Vegetable Garden - Seasonal Selection and Summer Herbs

Summer Squash Risotto
Summer Squash Risotto Without Rice, Tomato and Garlic, Crispy Squash Blossoms

Sea Scallop, Corn Jalapeno
Sea Scallop, Corn, Chorizo, Jalapeno

Braised Shellfish
Braised Shellfish, Shrimp, shellfish Essence, Sea Beans

As night fell and the wine bottle emptied, the quality of the photos started to go downhill, but the food most certainly did not...

Pouet Rouge
Niman Ranch "Poulet Rouge" Napa Cabbage, Potato Confit, Mushroom Ragu, Bacon

Roast Colorado Lamb 2
Roasted Colorado Lamb, Chick Pea Gnocchi, Smoked Paprika

Beef Strip Loin
Beef Strip Loin, Tomato Confit, King Oyster Mushroom, Potato Puree, Nasturtium

Cheese Course - Forage
Goat and Sheep's Milk Cheese - Courtesy of Tony Caputo's Market and Deli

At this point we switched to dessert wine, and the photos digressed even further...

Passion Fruit Soup
Chilled Passion Fruit Soup, Soft Vanilla Cake, Compressed Melons, Lime Sorbet

Bear Lake Raspberries, Rose Custard Cake
Bear Lake Raspberries, Rose Custard Cake, Black Sesame Croquant, Yogurt Sorbet

The irony, which we realized by the end of our three-and-a-half-hour meal, was that the 10 course menu had indeed consisted of everything listed on the overall menu. As the night wound down, chefs Bowman Brown and Viet Pham visited each and every table (unfortunately though there were only three including us) to chat with guests, which I thought was a lovely gesture on their part, and hopefully, a tradition. On our next visit (which can't come soon enough) our budget will have us more bound to the three courses for $39 route. If you've driven by the transformed house on 900 South but have yet to venture in, don't let the white linens and elegantly minimal interior fool you: Forage is approachable. It is also unmatched. They even sent us home at the end of the evening with little individually wrapped pound cakes, a touch which reminded us of dining at NYC's Bouley. Needless to say, Salt Lake City's food scene has long been waiting for a culinary journey like this one: Forage is worthy of the support to indicate such.

- K

Forage Restaurant
370 East 900 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84111

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