The Copper Onion was one of the first restaurants to raise the bar of the food scene in Salt Lake City. It continually draws attention time and time again for its food, drinks and atmosphere. It’s one of those places I affectionately visit often but somehow never wrote a fully-dedicated post about it here on my blog. I know my dear friends, I’m sorry. So here it is! If you haven’t been there, here is why you should go. And if you have, together we can reminiscence about what makes The Copper Onion one of Salt Lake City’s gems.
The Copper Onion is a lively, energetic restaurant bustling with friends, couples and solo diners sipping wine, cocktails and artisan beers while munching on an array of bites, small plates, entrees or a combination of all of the above. The open kitchen gives guests a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes action, the waiting area (which is usually just as packed as the dining room) has tables topped with cocktails and appetizers, and if it’s summer, the patio is filled to the brim with people enjoying the fresh air. It’s a happenin’ place that could easily be a part of any major city.
The menu gives way to a sort of choose-your-own adventure vibe. If you want to go the wine-focused route, there are tiny bites like olives ($4), cheese ($4-5) or charcuterie ($4-6) to add on to comply with the “must have food with your alcohol” law. A fun tidbit at Copper Onion :: wine is available by the glass, bottle and a few in quartinos (half bottles that have about two glasses each in them).
Then there’s the small plates path, with plenty of appetizers to build a meal-worthy feast, like the rich and cheesy ricotta dumplings (one of my favorite dishes in all of Salt Lake City, $9), the savory and crunchy sauteed mushrooms (another mind-blowing must-order, $9), and the warm, buttery roasted wagyu bone marrow ($15).
Or you can go the regular route of entrees. Copper Onion classics that have made waves since they’ve opened are the meat loaf ($19), a medley of beef, lamb and pork, seasonings and flavor that is nothin’ like your momma made. Not only will this change your perception of meatloaf, it’ll ruin you from ever having it anywhere else again. The wagyu beef stroganoff ($20) shares a similar fate; it’s a savory dish with house-made pappardelle noodles, mushrooms, chunks of beef and a bit of creme fraiche that will put your home-cooked version to shame.
And lest I forget the dessert. If you’ve managed to save room til this point, you should reward yourself with (what else?) more food. I like the olive oil cake, a lightly fluffy way to finish the evening ($7) or the house-made ice cream (in flavors that change daily, $4-5) are always a good way to go. If you haven’t saved enough room (I don’t blame you with all the offerings on the menu), you can opt for a liquid dessert–one of the many rich cocktails with the sweet tooth in mind ($8-11).
The service at Copper Onion can be hit or miss, although I’ve noticed an improvement over my last few visits. The menu doesn’t change with the exception of minor tweaks, which is good when I crave my favorite dishes but bad because I’d love to see what else Chef Ryan Lowder can come up with (although that’s what the specials are for).
I’m proud to have Copper Onion in our city and representing the food scene not only in Utah, but throughout the country in places like Wine Enthusiast.
Go to Copper Onion for :: a casual but outstanding dinner full of your favorite dishes, only better. Notes :: It can be noisy, so maybe not the best place for an intimate conversation. Open Reservations are practically required. Walk-ins are available but wait times can be long even on weekdays. Make reservations online here. Follow Copper Onion on twitter here and friend them on facebook here.