Last year a group of food-obsessed friends and I lamented about the lack of seafood restaurants in Salt Lake City. Besides sushi restaurants (which don’t count), there was really only one seafood place in the city— unfortunately way past its prime. Apparently restauranteurs noticed, because several seafood-focused places recently opened throughout the city.
One of them is Kimi’s Chop & Oyster House, sitting in the center of Sugarhouse in a beautifully revamped space with huge windows, a stunning entryway with an LED fireplace and swanky bar, plus an inviting, yet classy dining space. While the cuisine is labeled “European,” much of the menu is dedicated to seafood and a Swedish flair is obvious throughout the line up.
Owner Kimi Eklund is no newcomer to the restaurant business. She previously owned Kimi’s Mountainside Bistro, Dijon and Absolute. Several standout dishes from her previous restaurants resurface at Kimi’s, like the Chanterelle Mushroom soup ($9), an intensely savory soup with heavy flavors of garlic, mushrooms and nuttiness with delightful kicks of dried cranberries and smoked bacon that is comforting and insanely satisfying. The bowl is big, so beware, or ask for a cup (like we did; $5.50).
Kimi’s has a full cocktail list and plenty of wines, conveniently arranged on the menu by price range with bottles starting at $28 (Firestone J Riesling) reaching to $110 for Veuve Cliquot Champagne.
Being a seafood restaurant first and foremost, the usual seafood bar menu items like oysters ($3/each), mussel shooters ($13) and white shrimp cocktail ($14) start the menu. And of course, no seafood restaurant would be complete without Clam Chowder ($10); Kimi’s is enhanced with hickory smoked bacon.
Combined with the number of shareable plates, Kimi’s would be a great place for a wine- or cocktail-centric evening. It’s seems they had this in mind, especially with offerings like the nuts ($6) and olives ($8). Other shareables are various toasts, like Toast Smögen ($16) with shrimp, crab, and dill horseradish creme topped with caviar, although it somehow tasted like simple tuna salad.
The Kimistyle Crab Cakes (2 for $14) had good texture with a crusty edge, except no actual crab flavor. The chili avocado cocktail sauce was the overbearingly prominent taste, the lemon aioli could have easily been straight mayonnaise and the mound of whipped potatoes seemed awkward for the appetizer (not to mention made for a ton of food). Maybe the coconut shrimp cakes with mango couli and lingonberry chutney ($14 for 2) or the jalapeno salmon cakes with a toasted cumin lime aioli ($14 for 2) would have been better choices.
The main entrees are again seafood-focused dishes, like cashew crusted sea bass ($36), sauteed pacific salmon ($34) and crusted seared tuna ($33), sashimi-grade tuna with a delicious coriander and pink peppercorn crust served with basmati rice. Its mustard ginger coconut veloute sauce was the standout flavor of the dish because, frankly, the tuna lacked any and all tuna taste.
For the land-dwelling meat lovers, there is plenty of that on the menu, too. Spice-rubbed ribeye ($38) with garlic, green onions and cilantro; filet mignon ($38) with a bearnaise hollandaise; and beef tournedos ($38) with poblano peppercorn sauce round out the beef options, plus there’s a double bone pork chop ($26) with a roasted pear and apple chutney, mustard coulis and whipped potato.
The chop arrived extremely undercooked and although the server told us this cut was safe to serve medium rare (except he didn’t ask our preference), it was very rare so they cooked it more for us. The apple chutney was the perfect mix of slightly sweet with a hint of spiciness, definitely not the typical pork + sweetness dish. It was the best dish of the night.
Overall, Kimi’s felt a little overpriced and under-flavored. The most memorable aspect is, unfortunately, the decor. But with a decent and affordable wine selection, I’ll likely be back to savor the atmosphere, sip on wine and slurp down an oyster or two.
Go to Kimi’s for :: for seafood with a Swedish flair in a beautiful restaurant. Order the chanterelle mushroom soup, skip the Toast Smogen. Notes :: The menu is full of gluten-free items. Open Monday-Saturday, 11:30 am – 3 pm and 5 pm – 9 pm. The oyster bar and lounge is open Monday-Saturday 4-9. Reservations are available online here.