If you are even somewhat interested in food, you’ve probably heard the hype about the Mist Project, the limited time pop-up restaurant in Salt Lake City until the end of February. Chef Gavin Baker boasts an impressive resume of restaurants from around the world, most notably The Fat Duck in London (named the best restaurant in the world in 2005). He first conceived the idea for the Mist Project during Sundance in 2008 and revived it this year by featuring a different local chef each week. The project will then migrate to San Francisco for the summer.
|A light projector welcomes guests to the Mist Project.|
The Mist Project is a 16-course culinary adventure, or “multi-sensory meal” as it’s described on the website, for $150/person (plus 18% gratuity). Each night is limited to 36 guests and tickets must be purchased beforehand–although they sold out within a week of the first dinner. I was lucky enough to not only get tickets, but to convince Guy to go with me. (Thanks again, Guy, for joining me for such an amazing evening!) It’s located in the old Metropolitan restaurant, which provides the calm, modern decor that perfectly compliments the food. The courses varied from abstract to familiar, with plenty of surprises in every bite.
|Guide cards to The Mist Project journey.|
We arrived at our table to find a set of cards that would be our guide throughout the meal. They are interpretations of the Chef’s original sketches and proved very useful when we couldn’t remember what we were eating. We brought our own wine (they do not serve any there), which the wait staff took responsibility of pouring and decanting. There were 3 or 4 people waiting on us throughout the night, cheerful and eager to answer questions and explain the dishes. The whole evening was amazing and while I can’t remember all the details, I hope I can share enough to persuade you that the Mist Project is not just hype.
|#1: Bread wrapped in linen.|
|#2: Spoon/forks with corresponding amuse-bouches.|
|#3: Duck confit with feta, sweet potato & barley risotto; fois gras parfait; duck tea.|
|#4: Pork belly with umami garnish, candied bacon popcorn, barley gelato.|
|#5: Beets in every form topped with chlorophyll-honey bubbles.|
|#6: Tuna tartar, avocado puree, cous-cous and salmon roe.|
|#7: Scallop with mushroom foam and apple fluid gel.|
|#9: Lamb, sweet breads, yogurt sphere.|
|#10: Braised short ribs layered with potato mouse and chorizo crumble.|
|#11: Beef and can of beans on heated slab with edible coals, ash and broccoli.|
|#12: Frozen spiced apple granita with creamy meringue.|
|#13: Vanilla meringue, passion fruit inside a sugar sphere on cocoa butter.|
Course #13: Sunrise From My Plane Window. Clouds of soft vanilla meringue on a sky of blue cocoa butter spray and a hand-blown sugar sphere sun with a passion fruit mousse and lychee center. The sun had the physical properties of an egg, with the sugar shell and the gooey center. Whimsical, sweet and delicious.
|#14: Edible portrait with bubbling floral juice.|
Course #14: Palate Cleanser. A white chocolate photograph (that tasted like what was pictured) in a graham crumb biscuit frame with a shot of bubbling floral juice. The edible photograph featured the artwork of Adam Finkle that was on the walls (slightly visible on the wall beyond Guy).
|#15: Chocolate forest.|
Course #15: Edible Forest. Chocolate trees filled with cherry marscapone ice cream and a cherry covered with chocolate sauce table-side by the waiter, in a soil of chocolate cake, pistachio sponges, candied hazelnuts and a powdered sugar snow/pistachio dust. Chocolate cake is my favorite so this was above and beyond wonderful for me. Everything in this course was familiar but somehow chocolate was made interesting and new.
|#16: The finale was a chocolate log with bite-sized treats.|
Course #16: Mignardise. The journey ended with a chocolate aspen log on a soil of edible chocolate, assorted truffles, a miniature cookie, a cheese from Beehive Cheese Co. and a surprise that looked like a rock (bottom right-hand corner). The rock was hard as glass at first bite but morphed into a gummy-like candy once in my mouth.
At the end of the four-hour dinner we had experienced so many flavors, tried so many new things and been re-introduced to so many familiar tastes that it was almost overwhelming. Even with all the hype and anticipations, The Mist Project still exceeded my expectations. Everything–from the decor, to the waiters, to the food, to the presentations–was outstanding. Thank you, Gavin Baker and the Mist team, for not only sharing your passion with Salt Lake City, but for showing the culinary world that Salt Lake City is not to be overlooked. Oh, and please come back soon!