Forage in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City’s dining scene has catapulted itself onto the national stage within the last few years, thanks to a handful of restaurants that could easily compete with those in much bigger cities.  Easily crowning the top of that list is Forage, the molecular gastronomy restaurant in the 9th and 9th district of downtown, owned by Bowman Brown and Viet Pham.

Forage Salt Lake City
Forages menu changes nightly.

Not only have Bowman Brown and Viet Pham made a name for themselves among Utahans, they’ve made their way into the national culinary conversation.  Food & Wine magazine named the pair Best New Chef(s) of 2011, after one of Forage’s dishes made their list of 10 Best Restaurant Dishes in 2010.  More recently, one of Forage’s desserts was mentioned in the New York Times’ 10 Trends for 2013.  Viet Pham was also the runner-up in the reality TV series Extreme Chef on Food Network and competed against–and beat!–Bobby Flay on Iron Chef last weekend.

The amouse bouche that made Forage famous :: the soft scrambled egg with sherry cream.

Forage is unlike any restaurant in Salt Lake City.  The tiny space is camouflaged as a house and easy to miss while driving by.  The cozy dining room is bathed in white, from the walls to the table cloths, with the exception of the heavy wood tables.  The aesthetic is clean, leaving diners to focus on one thing and one thing only :: the food.  There is only one option on the menu, the tasting menu ($84/person), which is a series of about 13 courses that runs around 3-4 hours.  An optional wine pairing is available for $59/person or a non-alcoholic pairing for $26.  The tasting menu leaves the diners to a relaxing–yet adventurous–culinary journey through food.

Forage Chicken Liver Mousse Amouse Bouche
What we thought was a table decoration, was actually holding sticks of chicken liver mousse.

A few weeks ago as the Christmas season was picking up and therefore sending my stress levels to their extremes, a few friends and I gathered for a much-needed distraction and a few hours of friend time at Forage.  For my friends, it was their first time at Forage and their first experience with a tasting menu.  For me, a tasting menu addict, it was my fourth time at Forage–and still just as memorable as the first.

Forage Buckwheat Trout Roe Sour Cream Amouse Bouche
Another amouse bouche :: Buckwheat with trout roe and house-made sour cream.

The journey begins with a handful of amouse bouches, tiny bites to give the palate a taste of what’s to come.  The amouses are always so exciting; the incredibly creative nibbles pack an intense punch of flavor that leaves me anxious for the next bite.  The first one was a glass of fuji apple cider that warmed us up from the cold and calmed our anxiousness.  Along with the cider were sticks of chicken liver mousse that arrived in a plant that we thought was a table decoration!  (Pictured above.)  That was followed by buckwheat with house-made sour cream and trout roe, crunchy and dry on the bottom, crunchy and bursting with flavor on the top, all joined together by soothing sour cream.

Miniature ice cream sandwiches of celery root and horse radish, topped with arugula.

Next was my favorite amouse bouche :: miniature celery root and horse radish sandwiches topped with arugula–in ice cream form.  One of the things that makes molecular gastronomy great is when your eyes trick your mouth into thinking a dish will taste one way, only to have it blow your mind completely by tasting another way.

Forage Onion Cheddar Meringue Amouse Bouche
Aged cheddar and onion balls with meringue.
Forage amouche bouche potatoes smoked yogurt smoked oat leaves
Potatoes with smoked oat leaves and smoked yogurt on the side.

The celery was followed by aged cheddar onion meringue, then the famous soft-scrambled egg with sherry cream sauce (pictured at top) that is a signature of Forage; then potatoes with smoked yogurt and smoked oat leaves (think of the best Tater Tot you could ever imagine).  Then came the main courses…

Forage tasting menu elk heart

Course #1 :: King Valley elk heart with thyme, turnip, elderberry and beets.


Course #2 :: Leaves from Forage’s farm with roasted chicken vinaigrette and brown butter vinegar.

Forage tasting menu carrot goat's milk

Course #3 :: Carrot and goat’s milk curd emulsion.

Forage tasting menu Kohlrabi apple

Course #4 :: Kohlrabi (a type of turnip-like cabbage) and apple.

Forage tasting menu trout

Course #5 :: Trout with cabbage, preserved elderberries and dill.

Forage tasting menu sunchokes black walnuts

Course #6 :: Sunchoke puree with black walnuts.

Forage tasting menu lamb belly lamb loin pumpkin puree

Course #7 :: Lamb belly and lamb loin with pumpkin puree and elderberry vinegar.

Forage tasting menu pin mousse lime coconut

Course #8 :: Pine and lime mousse and woodruff (a strongly-scented plant).

Forage tasting menu baked apples acorns

Course #9 :: Baked apples with acorns.

Forage pistachio curd with lemon

Course #10 :: Pistachios and lemon curd.

The last and final course was a plate of chocolate truffles, camouflaged as rocks and disguised on a plate of real rocks.  (Pictured below.)  It was one last shock to our eyes and taste buds.  As the night ended, all of my senses were satisfyingly overwhelmed and my belly was pleasantly full.  The whole table was on a high after experiencing so much wonderfulness.

Forage chocolate truffles rocks
Chocolate truffles disguised as rocks.

Forage is not your everyday restaurant, and with food like this, it shouldn’t be.  While dining there is quite an investment–of both time and money–that doesn’t mean you have to wait for a special occasion to go there.  All you need is the willingness to try new and unexpected foods and the desire for a great night.


Forage on Urbanspoon

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1 Comment

  • I just watched Viet Pham on Iron Chef last night! I couldn’t stop marveling at his genius creations. I’m definitely trying this place out if I ever make it to SLC!

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