Village Inn: An exlusive Salt Lake City Diner!

There is a little known restaurant close to downtown Salt Lake and the University of Utah. It’s called Village Inn but currently goes by the acronym, VI.

Okay, would I really write a post on Village Inn? Finn’s-yes, Blue Plate Diner-yes, Penny Ann’s-yes, IHOP-no.

I did eat at a fabulous breakfast restaurant that might be a little less known nationally than VI but a popular place in Salt Lake. It’s called The Original Pancake House and even on weekday mornings, the place is crowded. Now that’s the sign of good food. If you go on weekends, plan on a wait.

Not having been to this place in years, it had not crossed my mind to go there. My sister loves this place and got us together there for a family breakfast last week.

I ordered the American Breakfast: your choice of Bacon or Sausage (patty or link), 2 Eggs any style, Hashbrowns and a Short Stack of Pancakes. Their traditional buttermilk pancakes are fluffy and delicious but you can choose any style of pancakes. Let me give you an idea of that decision process: Buttermilk, Buckwheat, Potato, Sourdough, 49’er, Swedish, Blueberry, Bacon, Banana, Hawaiian, Georgia Pecan, Coconut, Dollar and Wheat Germ. If you are an indecisive soul, you could be there for a while.

The Greek Omelette

My Parent’s agonized over the Omelette selection before splitting a Greek Omelette with a side of Bacon. Those Omelettes are huge. The Eggs Benedict was calling to my Sister. Tasting it, she made a great choice. The Hollandaise was perfect. Hollandaise is one of the five mother sauces. You can make anything taste good with that sauce.

The American Breakfast was delicious. It’s not an obese amount of food; just right and for the price of $7.50, you can’t complain. I had the eggs cooked over medium. Something about cutting into the egg and having the yolk run over the plate and mix with the other food is delicious. When my wife reads this, she will want to beat me as my food mixing disgusts her. Better to do what you love and tolerate abuse than repress it.

Eggs Benedict

The eggs were delicious but the best part of the meal were the hashbrowns and pancakes. The hashbrowns are thick cut and perfectly browned. They don’t even need ketchup as they are very flavorful. The pancakes must be whipped with a little butter in the batter. They are delicious. Probably not as unhealthy as Penny Ann’s pancakes, but delicious nonetheless.

It wasn’t until I was writing this post that I found out that The Original Pancake House is actually a chain. There is only one location in Utah. Each location can alter the menu accordingly. Typically I don’t find myself going to chain restaurants, but anytime I see this while traveling, I will glady stop by.

790 East 2100 South
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84106

Happy Eating

 Original Pancake House on Urbanspoon

Carbonara alla Roma: alla heart attack maybe; but alla delicious!

This recipe is likely not one that you would make if you were a health nut. Even if you are very healthy, your heart will feel heavy after eating and you will need to do a little more exercise that day. However, it’s a delicious dish and your palate will be very happy.

Thanks to the fabulous Penny Phillips for sharing this recipe. She is a wonderful cook and has taught me much. One evening we cooked up five Indian dishes. It was truly a party. Most recipes I will alter slightly as needed. Not Penny’s recipes; she has perfected them already.

Carbonara alla Roma

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 lb. pancetta
4 large eggs
1/2 cup pecorino cheese, grated
Salt & pepper to taste
1 lb. penne

Coordination of frying and boiling is important in this recipe; so while boiling the pasta in 3 quarts of water, gently fry the finely sliced (almost a julienne cut) pancetta in butter. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl and add a ladle full of hot pasta water. Drain the pasta and pour the eggs into the hot pasta pot. Immediately place the steaming penne back in the pasta pot (if it’s not completely drained, that’s all right) and pour the pancetta/butter combination on top. Sprinkle the pecorino, salt & pepper and toss vigorously.

The immediacy of the above steps is important because the eggs need to be cooked by the time you’re ready to serve. Sprinkle with additional pecorino.

Happy Eating

Chanon Thai Cafe: What, no Tom Yum?

Lately I feel like I am in a constant state of Eater’s block. Anytime I am asked to pick a restaurant I go blank. Maybe that’s a sign of eating out too much or a hint that some therapy is needed; or both. I find myself scanning google maps or deliberately hunting for restaurants.

While driving east on 900 S. earlier this week I looked to the right and saw “Chanon Thai Cafe.” I was in awe. It definitely called to me and I knew that it had to be patronized soon. The very next day was my definition of “soon.” I pulled up at 11:27am and it looked quiet. No need to panic, stay calm. Many restaurants open at 11:30am for lunch. While looking for some anti-depressants, the owner walked to the door and turned on the “OPEN” sign. Immediate relief was felt.

Chanon Thai Cafe is housed in a old building which adds to the character of the establishment. It’s a unique set up inside with tables tucked quietly into corners, in front of fish tanks, in front of the serving area and anywhere else where there appears to be room. It’s a very warm and cozy atmosphere. It reminded me of Oh Mai. Now that I have taken that in, let’s look at the menu.

Glass Noodle Soup

While quickly reviewing the menu I found myself looking for anti-depressants again. There was no Tom Kha (Thai Coconut Soup) or Tom Yum (Thai Hot & Spicy Soup) on the menu. Certainly this is okay since they have the soup and it’s just so common that they don’t need to list it right-at least those were my thoughts. What is a Thai meal without one of those soups? Was there still time to drive to Tasty Thai or Siam Orchid?

My hopes were totally dashed when the waitress told me that they have neither of those soups but that the soup of the day was Glass Noodle. I ordered the Panang Curry with chicken and a cup of Glass Noodle Soup, all while wondering if I was too distraught to eat.

Medium Spicy Panang Curry with Chicken

They brought out the cup of soup. It really wasn’t impressive. There were no noodles; just chicken, carrots and onions in a broth. Pretty much a mire poix soup. Very bland, very flavorless and simply not worth ordering. The Panang Curry however was really good. It was creamy, the chicken was moist, tender and the kafir lime leaves added an extraordinary fresh flavor.

I learned a valuable lesson with the curry however; medium spicy might as well be extremely spicy. I went through three cups of ice water. Be cautious when ordering.

278 East 900 South
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84111

Happy Eating

Chanon Thai Cafe on Urbanspoon

PANZANELLA: A Tuscan Bread Salad

As mentioned in my post about Chicken Valdostana, the class also made Panzanella that evening. This is a Tuscan bread salad. I had never thought of a salad without lettuce. Chef Tim Belarde is a fantastic cook. I recreated this dish for a dinner with friends. I was a little nervous but all tasters said that it came out very nice.

Panzanella

1 loaf fresh sourdough bread
2 bunches fresh basil
4 Roma tomatoes
1 medium red onion
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Cube bread into 1″ pieces and lay out on a sheet pan. Drizzle 1/4 cup of olive oil over cubes, season with salt and pepper. Bake in 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Outside should be toasted. Set aside to cool.

Dice tomatoes in 1/2″ pieces, coarsely chop basil, and sliver slice the red onion.

Add all ingredients in a large salad bowl, season to taste, toss and serve.

As I write this, I can taste the panzanella. The ingredients make a perfect party in your mouth. The trick is the bread. If you bake it too long, it’s tough like croutons; if not long enough, the bread cubes get soggy quickly. It’s the perfect “salad” compliment to a meal.

Happy Eating

Bohemian Brewery: What is Gypsy Food?

Often I am drawn to a restaurant simply by it’s name; Old Bridge Cafe, Red Ginger Bistro, Curry Fried Chicken. There is definitely a branding and marketing appeal in having a great name. While discussing where to eat with my friend Pete last week, I had Eater’s block. I couldn’t come up with a place. Initially I mentioned an Indian restaurant (which is great food by the way) but that really wasn’t calling me from within. I was scanning google maps in order to find a place for lunch. It worked as I came across the Bohemian Brewery. A while back my parents had gone here. They said that it was good but never mentioned much about the food.

You feel like you are in a Bavarian Chalet during Oktoberfest; beer, beer everywhere. I am a Teetotaler and wondered if my experience at Red Rock Brewery would be repeated. The many people entering the restaurant right at noon did speak highly of the popularity of the place.

Shortly after we were seated,the waitress brought out some bread with a side of butter. The butter looked odd at first and I wondered if it may have been dropped on the floor-there were lots of food bits in it. I tasted it just to be safe and was delighted. The food bits were pimento, green olive, Parmesan and garlic. It was delicious. So much for limiting my carbs.

You really become awestruck as you read the menu. Everything from Summer Salad with Goat Cheese to a Brew Master’s Basket and Bohemian Goulash. One of those moments where I was really glad that I came.

Ultimately, the Pastrami Philly on the Lunch Specials part of the menu called my name. It’s pastrami, caramelized onions, sweet peppers, Swiss cheese on a Parmesan hoagie with chipotle aioli and served with garlic fries. I upgraded to sweet potato fries for $1.00. Maybe not as glamorous as other foods on the menu but it looked delicious.

My sandwich was done to perfection. It’s easy to see that they use quality ingredients and take great care in preparing the dishes. The pastrami was not left over from days prior, it was very fresh and moist. The peppers and onions were very delicious and full of flavor. And how can you not love sweet potato fries? They had a little extra batter which adds to the crunch. I was incredibly full as it’s a heavy sandwich.

What a wonderful place. Get there early as it was full by shortly after noon. They were a little short on wait staff so I felt bad for our server. She seemed to be taking care of half the restaurant. She was wonderful however and the food was definitely worth the wait. If you want pub food, I would pick this ten to one over Hopper’s.

As my friend and I were wrapping up our conversation. He stated that when traveling for work, he tries to stay unemotional about food. This goes against everything that I stand for.

94 East 7200 South
Midvale, Utah, 84047

Happy Eating

 Bohemian Brewery & Grill on Urbanspoon

East-West Connection: Stellar Vietnamese Cuisine!

Sometimes, okay often, I pick restaurants on a whim. Even if the lunch appointment is not for a few days, I will choose whatever I happen to be craving at that particular moment. What if I am no longer craving that style of food when I arrive? This has happened but thankfully not with this place.

When I arranged lunch with my friend John, I happened to be craving Asian Cuisine. In addition to that, people that know of my passion for food, rarely want to pick the restaurant. Earlier this year I went camping with my brother-in-law. We drove into Escalante, Utah for dinner. There are 3 restaurants in town. Knowing that he has been there more often than I had, I said “whatever you want for dinner is fine.” He replied, “oh no, I’m not picking the restaurant in case it’s not good.” Should I tone it down?

East-West Connection is a Vietnamese Restaurant in Salt Lake’s Foothill Village. The last time I was here was in 2005. I couldn’t remember anything about it other than the location. Maybe Vietnamese food is my latest addiction having recently eaten at Oh Mai and La Cai Noodle House.

The place is very clean and everyone is extremely proper. Makes you think you already know the prices and it makes you nervous. Opening the menu I saw that the prices weren’t too bad. A little higher than most places of similar cuisine but not by much.

Five Spices Roasted Chicken

Since it was after 1:30pm and I only had a small breakfast that day, I needed an appetizer. I asked the waitress the difference between the Spring and Summer Rolls. She said that the spring rolls are deep fried and the summer rolls are not fried but are wrapped in a rice paper. For a moment I felt like someone who has recently recommitted to getting in shape but finds himself in a fast food drive-thru on the way home from the gym. A fast food drive-thru that really wasn’t on the way home. Listening to my conscience, I went with the summer rolls. They were similar to the rolls at Siam Orchid-filling and with a lot of flavor. One great component was the bean dip. It looks like a caramel and has a very unique texture and taste. Definitely worth the $5.00.

Saigon Style Barbeque Pork

John got the Five Spices Roasted Chicken and I ordered the Saigon Style Barbeque Pork. Aren’t the names of those two dishes wonderful? The pork is marinated in a special seasoning then grilled to perfection. They  also must add some honey or syrup because there is a perfectly sweet, semi-crunchy glaze to it. It’s like an orchestra in your mouth with all participants putting on their best show.

The Five Spices Roasted Chicken definitely had a stronger taste to it. They are serious about the spices here. If you are looking for a fresh, earthy, spicy dish, this is for you. If you want a hint of sweetness, go with the Saigon Style Barbeque Pork. And if you want neither, there are plenty of beef, chicken, pork and seafood and noodle dishes to choose from. Each of our choices were $12.00. You pay a little more and get a little less food but it’s worth it. They know good food.

1400 Foothill Drive
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84108
Happy Eating

East-West Connection on Urbanspoon

Chicken Valdostana: Rolled in Prosciutto and Smeared with Herb Butter!

Often I volunteer at cooking classes, mainly at Orson Gygi. There is a lot of setting up stations, prepping food, helping students and cleaning dishes involved. It can be a long tiring evening. I do however get the pleasure of working close with Chefs. I love learning new cuisine styles and skills. A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of assisting Chef Tim Belarde. He owned restaurants in California for 15 years where he focused on Italian, Mexican and Cajun cuisines. Tonight it was Italian, which is a cuisine style that I want to improve upon.

The menu for the night was Chicken Valdostana, Mama’s Sauce, Tuscan Baked Bay Shrimp and Panzanella. We were in for a treat, and a lot of dishes. I didn’t get to do any cooking myself that evening. However, with the prep work, assisting at the cooking stations, tasting the food and talking with Chef Tim late into the night, I was optimistic that I could make the dish at home.

I was a little anxious as this past Saturday I would be cooking the Chicken Valdostana with Mama’s Sauce for the first time. Especially since I would be taking it to my buddy and his family whose 6 month old son was in the hospital. I wanted it to be a great meal for them. Thankfully Sous Chefs Sam & Jesse assisted me and we went to work.

Chicken Valdostana

5 boneless skinless chicken breasts
10 thin slices Prosciutto ham
10 – 1″ by 3″ block of mozzarella cheese
4 whole eggs
10 tablespoons herb butter (see below)

Cut the chicken breast in half and pound out chicken with a meat mallet. Spread a tablespoon of her butter on the inside of the chicken, and then lay the prosciutto over the butter. Place the mozzarella cheese at the bottom of the chicken breast and roll half way, tuck in the sides and roll the rest.

Place the rolls in the freezer for 15 minutes. Heat up 1 cup of cooking oil in a large skillet to about 325 degrees. Beat the eggs in a bowl, roll chicken in flour then dip in eggs. Carefully drop rolls in oil and cook until all sides are brown. Place on cookie sheet in oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Mama’s Sauce (A Rich Tomato Sauce)

1 6 ounce can tomato paste
8 tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup yellow onions, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt & Pepper to taste

Sweat the onions and celery in oil, deglaze with red wine. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning and nutmeg. Let simmer for 30-45 minutes-very important as flavors need to develop. Taste, season as necessary, then mix with hand blender.

To Serve: place chicken valdostana on dinner plate and ladle mama sauce over the rolls.

While tasting the Mama’s sauce I was quickly introduced to what “Rich” meant in Italian cooking. It means strong and powerful and takes you back a little bit. I am use to some sweetness in my Heavenly Homemade Pasta Sauce. It didn’t take long to get use to it and made a beautiful marriage with the chicken.

Herb Butter

1 lb butter
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Soften butter for 1 hour. Place all ingredients in mixer bowl and whip until light and fluffy; or double in size.

Happy Eating

Red Ginger Bistro: Should 1/2 price Sushi scare you?

Would you trust a place that advertised “50% off all Sushi Rolls?” There have been many cheap sushi joints popping up. Most of them scare you to look at and make you feel like you would be better off buying sushi from the grocery store.

I truly fell in love with sushi when my sister was managing The Happy Sumo. This was the pinnacle of Sushi restaurants. A place where you could come and enjoy a 1 1/2 hour lunch-and this is coming from a Teetotaler. Each roll was either put together with love or an addictive chemical. A good lunch would also run you about $80 for two people.

Sitting at the Bar, I began dreaming of “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.”

Today my plan was to actually head to an Italian restaurant downtown. As I approached Red Ginger, I knew that I was too hungry to keep driving; that would have taken 5-7 more minutes. It didn’t look like the kind of place that the health department would shut down without further warning. I was seated at the bar and got really excited having just watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Reality sank in when I remembered that eating at Jiro’s restaurant in Tokyo will run you 30,000 Yen ($375).

Lover Roll

Looking at the menu I saw what looked like a lot of good sushi rolls for $8.95, $9.95, $11.95, etc. I had to ask the waiter if this was the 50% off price or if it is taken off from there. He said that it’s 50% off from the listed price. Wow, with that in mind I thought “I’m American so I might as well buy more than I can eat.” I ordered the Spider, Lover and Vegas rolls.

Spider Roll

The salmon on the Lover roll was a little mushy but everything else was actually pretty good. I love the spicy mayo. You can’t go wrong with a Vegas roll. It has cream cheese and is deep fried-heaven.

When the bill came, the total was $14.50. That is for 3 sushi rolls. Maybe not on the same level as The Happy Sumo but not bad. I don’t know if this 50% off each roll is limited or permanent. While it is 1/2 off, definitely stop by and indulge.

Vegas Roll

3333 South State Street
South Salt Lake, Utah, 84115

Happy Eating

 Red Ginger Bistro on Urbanspoon

La Cai Noodle House: What is Pho?

Always on the hunt for restaurants to try, a friend recommended La Cai Noodle House. It had been over 6 years since I had eaten here and could not remember anything about it. About a month ago, I stopped in for a visit.

La Cai is a Chinese and Vietnamese restaurant located on State St. near downtown Salt Lake. The sign is old and if you weren’t looking for it, you would drive right on by. It doesn’t matter. This place has been around so long and has such a following that a bad sign probably doesn’t bother them. They open at 11:30am and within 5 minutes the parking lot goes from completely empty to nearly full. When we were finished at 12:13pm, there were no tables available and many people waiting.

I ordered Pho, having heard about it from my Parent’s on their trip to Vietnam. They loved it and continue to eat it at any opportunity. Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup usually served with beef and contains cilantro, green onion, lime juice and bean sprouts. The noodles are made with rice flour. All of this is in a large bowl with broth.

Pho

It was okay but tasted a little primitive. The beef was pretty scary. It reminded me of the street food in Asia.

I did not want to write a negative review based on that one experience. Yesterday I went back with the friend who frequents the place. He recommended the Vermicelli Noodles. That is what I ordered, the vermicelli noodles with chargrilled beef and an egg roll. Vermicelli are thin noodles made from rice.

It was amazing. There is a small bowl of fish sauce which I poured over everything. It’s sweet and tangy-very addictive. They also serve the noodles with bean sprouts and shredded carrots; A perfect mixture with the noodles, egg roll and beef. There is some type of ground meat in the egg roll mixed with veggies. It has a delicious crispy batter. This is no ordinary egg roll, it’s very large and almost a meal in itself.

Vermicelli Noodles

The beef was very tender and good-unlike the beef I experienced with the Pho. The noodles were really good. It was a fabulous dish. I was so happy. Oh Mai Vietnamese Sandwiches is another great restaurant. More simplified food but delicious Vietnamese style.

My friend is a very busy guy. He said that lunch is his solace during the day. Usually he reads and enjoys the time to himself. When he goes to a restaurant where the food is bad, he feels cheated out of his time. On the contrary, when he eats a great meal, he feels totally relaxed and ready to return to work. I definitely see why he frequents La Cai Noodle House. Get there early however.

961 South State Street
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84111

Happy Eating.

La-Cai Noodle House on Urbanspoon

Hawaiian Nachos: A simple yet fabulous Appetizer!

While visiting Florida last January, my Cousin and his wife had a fabulous nacho appetizer waiting for us. After flying all day, we were definitely hungry. They said that the recipe came from their daughter. I immediately sent her a message to thank her.

Hawaiian Nachos

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey or chicken
6 ounces Lawry’s Hawaiian Marinade
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 package Tostito’s Scoops

Brown the meat in a fry pan. Add the marinade once browned. Let cook until the marinade thickens. Spoon meat mixture into Tostito’s Scoops. Place on cooking sheet. Sprinkle with cheese. Broil for 2 minutes. Enjoy!

This is a quick recipe and will give you all the adulation you crave. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that this appetizer was actually our main course for dinner last night.

Happy Eating

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...