24 Course Dinner at Rogue 24 in Washington, D.C.

If gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins, I’d been looking forward to sinning in Washington, D.C. weeks before I arrived in the city for my holiday trip.  I travel for food (and culture and opera) so each trip includes a “splurge meal,” an extravagant meal that I wouldn’t find anywhere else.  When I discovered the 24 course tasting menu dinner at Rogue 24 in Washington, D.C., it was exactly what I was looking for.

The final course, called Rocks, was chocolate, powder, pop rocks and gelato.

The final course, called Rocks, was chocolate, powder, pop rocks and gelato.

The Medieval priest Thomas Aquinas argued that there are six ways to commit the sin of gluttony beyond over-eating.  He also included eating too soon, eating too expensively, too eagerly, daintily and wildly to be under the category of gluttonous sin.  For the record, I’ve disagreed with Aquinas since I took Philosophy of Religion my freshman year in college and after reading his thoughts on gluttony, well, it solidified my distaste.

Chef RJ Cooper in the open kitchen at Rogue 24 in Washington, D.C.

Chef RJ Cooper in the open kitchen at Rogue 24.

Rogue 24 is the culinary creation of chef RJ Cooper, a James Beard-winning chef from Detroit.  He leads an impressive team in an open kitchen that sits at center stage of the restaurant, surrounded by tables of diners so everyone can see their innovative production in action.  The barrier between what happens in the kitchen and what’s delivered to the diners is completely evaporated, making you feel like you’re all part of the performance.

Courses 1-6 were bites: kumo, pinenut sable, sunchoke, bonbon, truffle, potato puff, duck's blood lavash at Rogue 24 in Washington, D.C.

Courses 1-6 were bites: (clockwise from left hand corner) duck’s blood lavash; potato puff (close up above left); truffle; sunchoke; pinenut sable; kumo oyster; and bonbon.

Rogue 24 is hidden in a back alley’s back alley, giving it a sort of speakeasy-type feeling of accomplishment of simply finding the location.  It’s all part of a fun excitement that surrounds the restaurant and once inside, the energy is bursting, especially with the glowing kitchen as the focal point.

Course 7. osetra with onion soubise, 8. sea urchin with concentrated carrot juice and prawn puff, 9. sweet romaine with aracona egg emulsion at Rogue 24 in Washington, D.C.

7. osetra caviar with onion soubise; 8. sea urchin with concentrated carrot juice and prawn puff; 9. sweet romaine with aracona egg emulsion.

I arrived at Rogue 24 on a normally-closed Sunday night, open only because of the surrounding holidays, so the restaurant was calm.  This gave me the chance to chat with Chef Cooper and his colleagues as they delivered my dishes, as well as get to know my servers and fellow diners.  It really created a community between us; by the end of the night, we all felt like friends.  (Or perhaps it was just the wine talking!)

10. swordfish with fennel, blood orange and truffle, 11. aji with radish, ginger and wasabi, 12. grapes spheres with olive tapenade and orange zest at Rogue 24 in Washington, D.C.

10. swordfish with fennel, blood orange and truffle; 11. aji with radish, ginger and wasabi; 12. grapes spheres (like eating a bubble) with olive tapenade and orange zest.

Rogue 24 only provides a tasting menu service in 16- and 24-course packages with optional wine pairings.  With “go big or go home” as my mantra, I picked the 24-courses ($135) with the wine pairing ($85).  The first courses were tiny bites followed by two-bite courses that slowly moved to heavier (but never much larger) dishes.  An early favorite was the clam chowder in the mini bread bowl.  (I’m a sucker for cute things.)

13. sepia with duck broth, 14. razor clam chowder with broiche and whipped lardo, 15. pigtail with candied cabbage and hot mustard oil at Rogue 24 in Washington DC.

13. sepia (cuttlefish) with duck broth; 14. razor clam chowder with broiche and whipped lardo; 15. pigtail with candied cabbage and hot mustard oil.

Courses progressed through fish to pigtail, a first for me.  It was surprisingly delicious, like a slow-roasted rib.  That was followed by a long favorite of mine, squab (aka pigeon) with grits and a fun take on veal :: veal “fibers” served in a mushroom.

16. squab with grits and dates, 17. veal fibers with parmesan, agaricus bisporus and truffle, 18. venison with squash, oatmeal and huckleberry at Rogue 24 in Washington, D.C.

16. squab with grits and dates; 17. veal fibers with parmesan, agaricus bisporus and truffle; 18. venison with squash, oatmeal and huckleberry.

Seamlessly the courses transitioned to a rich chestnut, pistachio soup.  It was a good course to allow me to reflect on what I’d had so far and dream of what could possibly be to come.  I should have known :: all that richness implied that desserts were on their way.

19. chestnut, pistachio, truffle parmesan soup, 20. glacier: lychee, lime, white chocolate, 21. earth: butterscotch, peanut butter and bananas at Rogue 24 in Washington, D.C.

19. chestnut, pistachio, truffle parmesan soup; 20. glacier: lychee, lime and white chocolate; 21. earth: butterscotch, peanut butter and bananas.

Cheekily named glacier, earth, rocks (pictured at the top of this post) and finally, happy endings, the desserts were rich, complex and deliciously sweet.  I loved the play with textures and temperatures, using ice cream, ice and gelato to keep my taste buds alive, even after 20 courses.

The final course of Rogue 24 was "happy endings."

Courses 21-24. simply named “little things/small bites.”

The final courses, thankfully, were tiny house-made candies delivered in a wooden box.  I’d been happily eating for hours, made friends with not only the chef and my servers but the girls at the table next to me.  It was a truly wonderful night and one of the highlights of my trip.  A 24-course dinner may be considered gluttony—therefore I may have sinned—but, damn, was it worth it!

Go to Rogue 24 for :: an unforgettable journey through food that you’ll never forget.  Notes :: Reservations are required but easily made online here.  Open Tuesday – Saturday, 6-11 p.m.  It’s a bit tricky to find so check out these directions before you head there.

Rogue 24 on Urbanspoon

Cannella’s in Salt Lake City

There are nights when I want going out to dinner to be an event with a dress code, a busy see-and-be-seen crowd and a cuisine that offers a little challenge.  And there are nights when I want to go to dinner simply to be pampered in a place that feels comfortable and enjoy food that’s familiar.  Cannella’s is a perfect answer on those nights, tucked away in the corner of downtown Salt Lake City.

The bar at Cannella's in Salt Lake City.

The bar at Cannella’s.

Cannella’s has been serving Italian food to Salt Lake City since 1978.  A true “ma and pa” establishment, the family-owned restaurant is known for being friends with its customers and serving them like they would family.  My parents have been going to Cannella’s for decades and last weekend when they returned from Hawaii, we went straight to there for dinner.

The caprese appetizer at Cannella's in Salt Lake City.

I loved that the Caprese had a dollop of pesto.

Canella’s recently updated their menu, giving it a fun grid-like look with food-centric quotes like “There is no love sincerer than the love of food” (George Bernard Shaw).  They added classic cocktails (like Pimm’s Cup, Moscow Mules, Manhattans, etc., all $8) and appetizers, like mushroom risotto cakes ($9), mussels and clams ($12) and Caprese ($11).

Alberto's meat lasagne at Cannella's in Salt Lake City.

The meat-packed lasagne is intense, but delicious.

Their famous classics, like Alberto’s Meat Lasagne ($17), are still on the menu.  Packed with Colosimo’s sausage, meatballs, pepperoni, mozzarella, asagio, and topped with red and yellow pepper sauce, it’s a bold take on the classic layered pasta.  (There’s a less-meaty version for $15, too.)

The Pomodoro pasta at Cannella's in Salt Lake City.

The Pomodoro lacked meat but not flavor.

Much of the menu focuses on pasta (it is an Italian restaurant, after all), but with variation.  There is a good variety of seafood-based ones (seafood marinara, $19; house made gnocchi with shrimp, $18), chicken-based one (tortellini with chicken, $16), and meatless ones (Pomodoro, $13).  The wheat-based spaghetti Pomodoro was full of marinated tomatoes, garlic and olive oil, a spicy, yet light pasta dish.

The Pappardelle Bolognese pasta at Cannella's in Salt Lake City.

The gorgonzola added an awesome element to the Pappardelle Bolognese.

I found some middle ground with the Pappardelle Bolognese ($19), a light pasta with ground veal, pork and pancetta mixed throughout, topped with roasted red peppers and gorgonzola to give it a good, rich kick.  It was really enjoyable, with bursts of different flavors in every bite.  All entrees are served with soup or salad.  The salad of the day was a roasted red pepper tomato bisque, a spicier version of the comforting tomato classic.

The roasted red pepper tomato bisque at Cannella's in Salt Lake City.

Spicy, creamy, peppery/tomato goodness.

The best addition to Cannella’s menu is the gelato martinis.  They have solved the problem when you can’t decide between a cocktail and dessert, with combinations like the Sophia Loren (lemon biscotti gelato in Limoncello and La Marca Prosecco) and the Boardwalk Empire (Nutella gelato in Kahlua, Bailey’s Irish Cream and cherry liquor).  I picked the Whiskey Bravo, vanilla bean gelato doused in High West American Prairie Bourbon and a dash of chocolate.  It was phenomenal and something I will be re-creating at home from now on!  All are $8/each.

The Whiskey Bravo with gelato and High West American Prairie Bourbon at Cannella's in Salt Lake City.

Whiskey + gelato = heaven.

If you prefer to eat your dessert instead of drink it, they also serve Cannolis, Tiramisu, chocolate beet cake (I’ve gotta try that next time!) and gelato sans-cocktail (all $6/each).  Cannella’s has a great, affordable wine list with bottles starting at $30 and wines available by the glass, and plenty of beers if you want that route.  (My dad loves that they have PBR on tap.)

There’s a reason Cannella’s has happily been serving Salt Lake City since 1978 and people keep coming back.  If you don’t know why, it’s worth visiting to find out!

Go to Cannella’s for :: a casual, comfortable dinner or laid-back lunch.  Notes :: Open Monday 11 am-9 pm, Tuesday-Thursday 11 am-10 pm, Friday-Saturday 11 am-11 pm and Sundays 4 pm-9 pm.  Reservations are available online here or by calling 801-355-8518.  They also are available to host private parties and events for up to 20 people.

Cannella's on Urbanspoon

Flatbread Neapolitan Pizzeria in Salt Lake City

Pizza has a bad reputation for being a last resort answer to the “What’s for dinner?” question.  That’s probably thanks to the cardboard delivery kind of pizza that comes to mind instead of the delicately-prepared, creatively composed pizzas that are made at a place like Flatbread Neapolitan Pizzeria in Salt Lake City.

The bar area of Flatbread Pizza in Sugarhouse, Salt Lake City, Utah.

The bar area is great for a quick bite or to watch a game.

Flatbread Pizza is a Boise-based company that recently made it’s debut in Sugarhouse, replacing the former eye-sore of a giant hole in the ground with a hip restaurant.  The open kitchen creates a welcoming space with large tables and huge garage-like glass doors that open to a patio when it’s warm.

The SUGAR sign in Flatbread's Sugarhouse location in Salt Lake City.

The walls are dedicated to Flatbread’s neighborhood :: Sugar House.

Last month when a bunch of my friends were in town for the holidays, we were looking for a casual place that could seat a large group at one table and Flatbread was an easy answer.  Pizza is always a crowd pleaser and Flatbread takes it a step further with a ton of choices.

The Diavola pizza at Flatbread Pizzeria in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Diavola was our favorite of the night.

Half of the pizzas are DOC-certified, meaning that they have been certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana that long-standing cultural traditions have been followed to make the pizzas.  Those regulations include importing certain ingredients like flour, mozzarella, herbs and tomatoes from Italy.  Only a handful of pizzerias in the country have been VPN certified so it’s quite an honor to have Flatbread serving these authentic pies in Salt Lake City.

The Tomato Margherita pizza at Flatbread Pizzeria in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Tomato Margherita pizza.

We ordered the Diavola ($14.50) with Mozzarella di Bufala, San Marzano Pomodoro, Creminelli Calabrese, garlic, crushed red pepper and basil.  It was a huge hit, especially with the Creminelli.  We also ordered the classic Tomato Margherita ($14.50) with Mozzarella di Bufala, San Marzano Pomodor and fresh basil.  I loved the thin crust and flavorful sauce but felt it was missing something.

Stuffed Mushrooms, Baked Goat Cheese and Caesar Salad at Flatbread Pizzeria in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Stuffed Mushrooms, Baked Goat Cheese and Caesar Salad

The rest of the pizzas are more “Americanized,” according to our server, with more toppings (that aren’t imported), like roasted chicken, caramelized onions, asparagus and so on.  As for appetizers, we ordered the Ricotta-Stuffed Mushrooms ($8.50) with chili flakes and garlic.  A good vegetarian option, they were lacking a punch of flavor so ended up being almost bland.  The Baked Goat Cheese ($8) was simple but satisfying, and the Classic Caesar Salad ($9.50) was served in a not-so-classic way that made sharing really easy.

The pick two lunch special at Flatbread Pizzeria in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Pick Two during lunch is combo option.

They also offer flatbreads (of course), airier versions of pizzas with toppings like shrimp, chorizo and feta ($8.50), pot roast and potatoes ($8) and sea salt and Parmesan ($7).  A portion of every flatbread sold is donated to the Utah Food Bank.  Soups, salads, sandwiches and pasta also grace the menu, plus kid-friendly options and a Pick Two special for lunch.  A combo of any two options is only $9.50, including a “pizzetta,” half sandwich/salad, mac and cheese or soup (only served from 11-4).

Flatbread is a great place for a casual meal, whether it be lunch or dinner.  They have a great, reasonably-priced wine list, plenty of beers available and a cocktail list (lovingly called Dranky Dranks).  I’ve also ordered take out, which is really easy (just pay at the bar near the door).

Go to Flatbread for :: a casual lunch or dinner.  Notes :: Gluten-free pizzas are available. Parking can be a hassle since there isn’t a designated lot, so be prepared to get creative.  Reservations are available online here.  Open Monday – Thursday from 11 am-11 pm, Friday – Saturday from 11 am-midnight and Sunday, 12 pm-9 pm.  Follow Flatbread on twitter or friend them on facebook for updates.

Flatbread Neapolitan Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Seven Restaurants to Try in 2014

It’s a new year full of renewed resolutions and anticipations of greatness. While every article out there is boasting about what not to eat this time of year, I’m going to counteract that by telling you where to eat in 2014.  So without further ado, here are seven restaurants to try in 2014.

 

Restaurant No. 1:: Mazza Middle Eastern Cuisine

Chicken & Potatoes Mutabbak at Mazza in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Chicken, potatoes and onions, oh my!

Why :: Redefining comfort food, Mazza’s deeply flavorful dishes will have you savoring spices in a whole new way with their authentic Middle Eastern cuisine.  The menu is detailed and descriptive so you won’t feel like an outsider when ordering–or shocked (in the bad way) when your plate arrives.  See my full review on Mazza here.
Order :: Get the Lamb and Spinach (my favorite go-to dish) or Chicken & Potatoes Mutabbak (pictured above). Don’t forget the twice-fried fries.

 

Restaurant No. 2 :: Naked Fish Japanese Bistro

Salmon nigiri at Naked Fish Japanese Japanese Bistro in Salt Lake City.

Salmon nigiri.

Why :: Naked Fish takes Japanese food to a whole new level with their insanely fresh fish, creative presentations and informative staff. And I mean their fish is so fresh, it will taste like nothing you’ve had anywhere else (except maybe the Tsukiji Fish Market in Japan). And if you’re looking for authentic Japanese ramen, hit Naked Fish for lunch, where they focus on ramen and only ramen. See my full review on Naked Fish here.
Order :: Let Chef Sunny take care of you for an omakase at the sushi bar.

 

Restaurant No. 3 :: Silver Restaurant

Maple Braised Bacon with Chickpeas at Silver in Park City, Utah.

This mouth-watering bacon was the highlight of our meal.

Why :: Chef Carter at Silver has a little obsession with two things, pork and whiskey. He’s married the two ingredients in several dishes, which pretty much makes him my hero. His creations are practically art, in both execution and flavor, and the restaurant decor is just as beautiful. It’s more than worth the drive up the canyon to Park City. See my full review on Silver here and fork photos of their winter menu here.
Order :: The braised bacon with maple bourbon glaze (pictured above).

 

Restaurant No. 4 :: Del Mar al Lago

Ceviche at Del Mar al Lago in Salt Lake City.

One of Del Mar’s many ceviche options.

Why :: Eating Peruvian food in a strip mall might sound like the ending of a bad joke, but trust me on this one and you can thank me later. Del Mar serves some of the best ceviche in town (and it arrives flaming, no less). Not to mention their steak is marinated to perfection and Chef Frederick Perez makes this awesomely spicy green sauce and… well, you get the idea.  See my full review on Del Mar al Lago here.
Order :: The ceviche tasting of three ceviches to get the full idea of what Del Mar is about or the Lomo Saltado, marinated beef with sauteed onion, tomatoes and rice.

 

Restaurant No. 5 :: Cafe Trio

The Eggs Benedict at Trio in Salt Lake City.

The Eggs Italiano is one of my favorite benedicts in SLC.

Why :: You’ve probably tried Trio’s famous pizzas or had pasta for dinner at one of their two Salt Lake City locations. But if you haven’t been for brunch to try the polenta eggs benedict (called the Eggs Italiano) or breakfast paninis, you’re missing out. Both locations have excellent patios and a staff that allows you to relax, gaze at the mountains and sip your Sunday away with mimosas (that are only $3/each, I might add). See my full review on Brunch at Trio here.
Order :: The Eggs Italiano, Trio’s version of eggs benedict, with sweet Italian sausage.

 

Restaurant No. 6 ::  The Kathmandu

A feast of Indian dishes at Kathmandu in Salt Lake City.

A feast of Indian dishes.

Why :: Indian food is the new Mexican food; it may  be consider “ethnic” these days but it’s hardly exotic because there are a hundred different places serving it up in the city. So the new dilemma is where to go. My solution? Kathmandu. Always. It has the best Indian food in my book and it never, ever fails to deliver the most flavorful punch of spiciness goodness.
Order :: The Vegetable Chow Chow (spicy noodles with a whole medley of vegetables, shown at the bottom of the above photo), Lamb Saag or any of their traditional Indian dishes.

 

Restaurant No. 7 :: BTG Wine Bar / Caffe Molise

Chocolate cake at Caffe Molise in Salt Lake City.

The best chocolate cake in the city is from Caffe Molise.

Why :: The BTG Wine Bar has suddenly turned into my go-to place for an after work dinner downtown. I wander in with intentions of wine and suddenly a wondrous plate of pasta is in front of me and I’m happier than can be. The BTG serves all of Caffe Molise’s amazing food (thanks to the convenience of their shared owner) and I take full advantage of it whenever I can. The best part about sitting on the bar side is that the servers are less likely to rush you through your meal so another table can take your place. See my full review on the BTG here.
Order :: The Gnocchi di Patate or Pappardelle al Sugo (with pork and beef sauce) are favorites.  Whatever you do, don’t forget to order the Dark Chocolate Cake with touch of Cinnamon (pictured above).

 

Salt Lake City (and Park City) have a never-ending rotation of great restaurants to dine in these days. It was only a few years ago that I found myself repeating the same place every weekend for lack of anywhere else to go. Now there aren’t enough days to eat at all the places I want!  Where do you want to eat in 2014?

 

Related :: See last year’s restaurant recommendations in Seven Restaurants to Try in Salt Lake City.

The Copper Onion in Salt Lake City

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 table full of food and wine at Copper Onion in Salt Lake City.

Good food, good wine, good company = a great night.

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.

Sauteed mushrooms at the Copper Onion in Salt Lake City.

The sauteed mushrooms topped with a fried egg, parsley and garlic.

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).

The bone marrow and toasted bread at Copper Onion in Salt Lake City.

It may look intimidating, but bone marrow is simply delicious.

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).

The beef stroganoff with creme fraiche, chives and mushrooms.

The beef stroganoff with creme fraiche, chives and mushrooms.

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.

Olive oil cake and Fernet at Copper Onion in Salt Lake City.

Olive oil cake served with house-made ice cream and a bit of Fernet to finish the night.

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 meatloaf at the Copper Onion in Salt Lake City.

One of my favorite Copper Onion dishes is the meatloaf.

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.

The Copper Onion on Urbanspoon

Alamexo in Salt Lake City

The American restaurant Zy recently morphed into a Mexican restaurant, trading in its focus on cheese and wine for guacamole and tequila.  Chef Matt Lake traces his culinary roots to a gourmet Mexican restaurant in New York City and after the cheese and wine concept went stale at Zy in Salt Lake City, decided to return to his beginnings by changing the restaurant’s cuisine to Mexican and calling it Alamexo.

Alamexo's Christmas tree.

Alamexo’s Christmas tree.

One of the biggest gripes about Zy was its price point, which, unfortunately, didn’t change much when the restaurant evolved to Alamexo.  Appetizers still hover around $6-12 while entrees are in the $16-27 range.  Most of the menu items are identical to those served at any Mexican restaurant :: enchiladas, mole poblano and tacos, but there are a few that are unique, like cod filet with roasted squash (Pescado con Pipean y atole, $23) and spiced chicken breast with queso fresco taco (Pechuga de Pollo, $20).

The Alamexo Vida Rita at Alamexo in Salt Lake City.

The Alamexo Vida Rita

The cocktail list obviously focuses on tequilas with a few wines and beers listed too.  I tried the Alamexo Vida Ria ($10) with Vida Tequila, Cointreau and jamaica.  It was a little sweet for my tastes.  I liked the Ginger Fizz ($12), with Patron Silver, ginger and bitters better.

The mole poblano at Alamexo in Salt Lake City.

The sesame seeds added a fun crunch to the Mole Poblano.

On my first visit to Alamexo I picked the Mole Poblano ($18), one of my favorite Mexican dishes.  Theirs is served with pulled pork seasoned with avocado leaf and topped with white onions, cheese and toasted sesame seeds.  There was a complex mixture of flavors that I enjoyed but I kept wishing for more spiciness every time I took a bite.

Guacamole, queso and roasted corn at Alamexo in Salt Lake City.

Guacamole, queso and roasted corn.

On my next visit to Alamexo, my friends and I decided to split a bunch of appetizers.  We started with the Guacamole ($10), made table-side.  Avocados are one of my favorite things in the world, so I only wished there was more of it.  The Queso Fundido ($8), baked queso Chihuahua with rajas, house-made chorizo and onions, was unmemorable and overshadowed by the Elotes de la Calle ($3), roasted corn with queso fresco, lime and chile molido, a surprisingly delicious dish.

Lobster topped with salsa, steak with queso and the quesadilla at Alamexo in Salt Lake City.

Lobster topped with salsa, steak with queso and the quesadilla.

For our next round of appetizers we ordered the Sopes de Langosta y Hongos ($12), Maine lobster and mushroom sopes with tomatillo and habanero, a well-rounded dish; Bistek con Hongos y Rajas ($25), perfectly-cooked steak with rajas, queso and cotija cheeses, and Quesadilla de Calabaza ($8) with roasted squash and poblano peppers, a predictable version of the classic dish.

The ceviche at Alamexo in Salt Lake City.

I liked the creamy sweetness of the ceviche.

My favorite appetizer of the evening was the Ceviche del Dia, a creation that changes daily.  The seafood mixture was semi sweet, with a nice balance of texture.  We finished the meal with a side of Plantanos con Creme ($3), fried sweet plantains that worked as a savory dessert.  Alamexo also delivers churros on the house.

Complimentary churros at Alamexo in Salt Lake City.

The churros are complimentary at Alamexo.

I had high hopes for Alamexo, but left the restaurant unimpressed both times I ate there.  The dishes have potential but many are missing something, especially for the price.  Even with a new concept and menu, I’m afraid Zy’s main issue–the price–might come back to haunt Alamexo as well.

Go to Alamexo for :: a nice dinner when you’re craving Mexican food.  Try the ceviche and the fried sweet plantains.  Notes :: Open seven days a week, Monday-Friday, 11:30 am to 10 pm, Saturday 5 pm to 10 pm and Sunday 5 pm to 9 pm.  Reservations are available online here.

Alamexo on Urbanspoon

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