Lunch/Brunch restaurant review
Overall: Can’t wait to try again
Ambiance: Quirky and Hip
After hearing rave after rave from fellow SLC foodies (and several failed attempts I may add), we finally managed to make it to the Tin Angel Cafe. The Tin Angel Cafe is perhaps one of Salt Lake’s worst kept culinary secrets. All the foodies I talk to are well aware of the restaurant, yet none of my friends who aren’t as equally obsessive seem to have heard of the place.
Despite wanting to try Tin Angel for dinner, an opportunity arose for lunch so we grabbed it. The first thing we noticed as we arrived was the outdoor patio seating. Nestled under a wood and metal awning, shaded from the setting sun, this would make a perfect location for a late summers meal. Unfortunately on this afternoon, the wind had different plans for us, so we headed indoors.
On entering the restaurant, we were greeted and seated at once by a happy smiling host. As we settled in, the Tin Angel’s tagline, “Gourmet Food…Rock n Roll Attitude,” started to become evident. After spending so much time in Salt Lake City, taking in this restaurant space and décor was an intriguing treat. Wendi’s first comment was, “This reminds me of Seattle.” I had to agree. The walls were lined with artwork, from who I presume are local artists. The dining space is split into various small areas, mainly a function of the old building’s layout. A very relaxed atmosphere pervaded the whole place. I ordered a glass of Pinot Noir and Wendi a Soy Latte as we sat back and perused the menu.
The focus of the food seemed to hit all the right buzzwords: seasonal, fresh, and local. The menu features a number of classic dishes, with more than a nod to Italy (chicken picatta and marsala, carpacio, gnocchi, risotto). To call the menu simple though would be both unfair and plain wrong. There is obviously a love for food going on in the kitchen at Tin Angel Cafe. Every item on the menu screams of freshness and quality. Local and organic produce are clearly paramount to the award winning head chef Jerry Liedtke.
We were both hard pressed to choose our lunches. Wendi was almost sold on a soup/salad combo, before our waitress suggested that day’s Brunch special (Spinach and Mushroom Omelette, $9):
Wendi had been craving a Brunchy items since we set out and this hit the spot. Whilst not the most exciting dish on the planet, it was perfectly executed and elicited a big thumbs up from Wendi. The omelette was served with a side of fried potatoes and onions. Wendi proclaimed the potatoes well seasoned and not too greasy.
After hearing lots of good things about the Breasola, I had to try the Breasola on Foccacia (Cured Beef Tenderloin, fresh Arugula, Shaved Parmesan, Roasted Tomato Tapenade, $9):
The sandwich was nothing short of a revelation. I am pretty sure my first words to Wendi after tasting were along the lines of “This is the best sandwich I have had in some time”. (Wendi’s note: Actually it was more along the lines of a deep sigh, some satisfied smacking of the lips, and “This sandwich is real real REAL good.”) Coming from me, that is a major thumbs up. You have to understand my obsession with sandwiches, I won’t go into depth today, but lets just say I like them… The beef, the tomato tapenade, the bread, the arugula, all came together perfectly. I noted the menu mentioned Carlucci’s bakery for the source of the bread. I will definitely have to investigate Carlucci’s further.
All the sandwiches come with a side of Terra Chips, Potato Salad, Green Salad, or a little soup for a small surcharge. I went for the potato salad and was treated to a lovely mound of home made goodness. Red potatoes married with crunchy onion and celery in creamy mayo/mustard-based dressing. I had to constantly bat Wendi away from my potato salad as she too agreed it was excellent.
Service was unapologetically relaxed throughout, in a good way I should add. I got the impression with a few visits you could get to know the staff quite well. Indeed, everyone from diners and staff alike seemed to be happy, comfortable, and having a a great time. As we departed, the same happily smiling hostess waved goodbye. I can imagine the laid-back vibe is further complemented by weekend music at Tin Angel. Live artists perform every week on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
I’m really looking forward to trying the Tin Angel Cafe for dinner sometime. The only problem is that every other Salt Laker who takes their dining seriously now seems to be in on the secret too. The last time we tried to call for reservations (extremely last minute on our part) on a Saturday evening, we were told we could have a table at 5PM “near the door for an hour at most”. When I do manage to reserve ahead of time, I can imagine the Tin Angel being a perfect summers hangout: the outdoor seating, fresh quality food, a bottle of wine, and some live music could combine perfectly to equal a great summer’s evening. Unfortunately, I think it’s going to be next to impossible to keep this relatively new Salt Lake City gem just between us.