Evening restaurant review
Often lauded as one of SLC’s premier dining locations we have been meaning to go to the Metropolitan for some time.
We arrived early on in the evening and were greeted by the Maître de and hostess. We had the choice to start off at their bar area which looks out through the floor to ceiling glass frontage to the main street. We chose to go straight to our table eager to start. The restaurant is surprisingly big and this evening was also half empty; although that may have been related to the Utah Jazz game down the road.
Inside the restaurant the design is a little strange. The design would probably be called modern urban in some circles, I prefer to call it haphazard. Certain areas featured dark woods, others exposed concrete walls, some areas featured drapes and others were dappled with gentle images projected onto the wall. We also felt the tables were too close together, putting you in earshot of your neighbour’s table.
The menu features both a tasting option and the more standard ala carte. Our waiter introduced himself and we decided to go for the ala carte. Mainly because the tasting menu didn’t particularly excite either of us that night. As is normal when we try a restaurant for the first time we try to sample as much as we can. This expedition was no exception so we kicked off with a bottle of Gypsy Dancer Pinot Noir ($88). We had this on our wedding day so it seemed a fun choice.
After some brief explanations of the menu options we picked our meal and the food started to flow. First up was the amuse bouche. A small strawberry with creme fraiche served on a little spoon upon a massive plate – hence the overly saturated picture below:
Certainly missing something, this was mostly forgettable. Wendi suggested something a little acidic (balsamic perhaps). This was a dissapointing start. Even though I can appreciate the amouse bouche is something the kitchen can prepare in advance and throw out quickly and easily, it’s still meant to get the taste buds going and showcase the chef. Strawberry on a spoon just says lazy to me. It would have been nice to start the meal in a more positive light.
Next up our appetizers, Wendi chose the ‘Wild salmon three ways’ ($12). This I believe was smoked salmon, gravlax (cured) and a salmon tartare. It came with a stack of crispy bread, capers, creme fraiche and minced red onion:
Wendi found the tartare particularly pleasing and I too was quite impressed. Dressed simply in a little lemon juice, it was fresh and vibrant. The smoked and cured salmon were fine but a little bland and overly similar to each other.
I opted for the crab cakes ($12) served with an ‘old bay’ aioli:
I personally thought these were excellent, certainly as good as I have had anywhere else. I didn’t feel the aioli added much to the dish and after a brief swap of plates to taste each others food we swapped back both agreeing our own choices were the best.
I felt the portion sizes were very fair for a higher end restaurant, we both certainly knew we had eaten when the appetizer plates were cleared.
Next up the entrees. Wendi chose the Scallops served on a butternut squash puree, with chinese cinnamon and swiss chard ($29):
As you would expect the scallops were of the highest quality, melt in your mouth soft. The puree was particularly enjoyable; neither of us expected the cinnamon to really bring the puree to life as it did. Coupled with the scallops Wendi proclaimed the dish excellent.
I chose one of the specials of the night. A 16 ounce New York Strip topped with giant praws ($40). The dish was served with a bearnaise sauce, buttery sauce and heavy red reduction type sauce. My notes are a little sketchy over what this was precisely (I blame the red wine!).
I am not normally a fan of the New York strip cut. I find them overly fatty and tough. This however was the polar opposite to the norm. Juicy, flavourful and cooked perfectly even though in retrospect I recall I wasn’t asked for the temperature when I ordered. I recall the beef being some form of USDA prime aged beef. As with the beef in Spencers you can certainly taste the difference.
The prawns were probably a little out of place, the flavour of the beef overpowering their subtlety. Whatever the red reduction actually was, it was a nice rich match. I possibly recall juniper being bandied about as a flavour.
Carelessly we ordered a side of roasted fingerling potatoes ($7) just in case the mains where teeny tiny. When your menu has a list of optional sides and the waiter seems to recommend them, you would think that would be a good choice. After a pound of cow and three big lumps of crab they certainly aren’t. Probably for the best anyway, the potatoes were a little hard and under seasoned. No need for sides on any future trips, that’s for sure.
As mentioned earlier, before we came we had already mentally comitted on trying everything start to Finish. Even though our bodies were certainly failing at this point we summoned the stength for a final course. Sidestepping the surely fatal heavy and rich chocolate cake, we opted for the Citrus Meyer Lemon bomb ($9) served with orange sauce and grapefruit rosemary granite:
The dessert was a biscuit base topped with a lemon curdy/custardy centre underneath a mass of lemony candy floss. Surrounded by a really vibrant mix of orange and grapefruit. Light, refreshing and a perfect end which we just about managed to tuck away. While we ate dessert I had our waiter recommend a dessert wine and Wendi had a coffee.
A mention should go to the service at this point. I have little to no knowledge on dessert wines but wanted to give them a whirl. I explained this to our waiter and with no pretension or difficulty he happily obliged and recommend what I thought was a great match for the dessert, really offsetting the tart citrusy flavours. Service was prompt, friendly and informative throughout the meal.
And that brought us to the end of our meal. One slight issue was the closeness of the tables I touched on earlier. I would think it pretty obvious we were enjoying a romantic evening together. So when half way through our main course and four loud ‘guys’ were seated inches away from us (with the restaurant 70% empty) we weren’t exactly appreciative. Poor judgement there I am afraid.
It was really only the slight problems that prevented the overall experience being excellent. A confused ambience, poor amuse bouche, some not so perfect executions of dishes, poor seating etc. all conspired to just so slighty take the edge off what should be a luxuriously perfect meal at this price point.
And yes, as per my previous reviews I do feel cost does allow one to be so picky. The total bill for two with tax and tip was a little over $310. That’s a fair old amount of money and only a little shy of a meal I had in Picasso (Las Vegas) which was flawless start to finish. We both concluded we would definitely eat here again. Hopefully next time they figure out the seating a bit better!