So. This is my third review of Bambara in the last 12 months. I will hold my hands up and confess, it is one of my favourite restaurants here in Salt Lake City. That said, I haven’t managed to go there as often as I would have liked since chef Dave Jones took the helm earlier in the year. When some out-of-state friends asked for “somewhere good for dinner” during a recent visit, I suggested Bambara. A few quick glances at the menu were all it took to get these seasoned diners to sign up.
I will skip the service and décor comments, you can read more on those in our initial review of Bambara here. Suffice to say, service is still friendly, professional and courteous. I’m happy to report that the only thing to have changed is the menu.
This particular meal started with the Achiote-Masa Crusted Calamari (Manchego, Lime Jalapeno Aioli), $11.50:
The calamari is a new addition to the menu I believe. We all found the Calamari decent enough, the masa crusting was appetizingly light and the squid not in the slightest chewy. Nothing exceptional, but certainly well executed standard.
One of the long standing menu items not to change under the new rein is Bambara’s signature Blue Cheese House Cut Potato Chips, $7.50:
While a little sedate for me personally, everyone else seemed very happy with the chips. I think its the blue cheese that made everyone so happy, it does strange things to people.
One of my dining companions went with the Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna (Bamboo Rice Cake, Shiitake Mushroom Salad, Blonde Miso) $29.50:
His smiling face from the arrival of the plate, right up to its departure from the table, told me he really enjoyed this dish. I even stole a bite for myself, great quality tuna, lightly seared to perfection. The accompanying rice cake created a few perplexed looks, but in the end, it too was wolfed down.
My other two guests both selected the mouth wateringly described Citrus Brined Salmon Creek Pork Chop (Wilted Greens, Grits, Grilled Stonefruit, Candied Walnuts, Cherry Balsamic Syrup), $24.50:
Our waiter Jake was very keen to recommend this dish. Indeed, I would have probably have ordered this myself, but for the sake of a more interesting review, I chose otherwise. The pork was undoubtedly the star of our four entrees. There is nothing as bad as overcooked pork chops in my book, so it was with much happiness that both diners found their chops expertly cooked and not the least bit dry. The accompanying stone fruit was also well received by both diners. A great entree.
The “pork chopp’ers” also decided to share a side order of Au Gratin Potatoes ($4.50):
The potatoes proved to be another big hit with the table, although slightly too much food alongside the large servings of pork. I personally have never bothered with the Bambara side dishes, knowing that the entrees are typically perfectly balanced and portioned.
For a little variety I chose the Cedar Planked Adobo Salmon (Grilled Nopalitos, Prickly Pear Sauce, White Bean-Corn Salsa, Queso Fresco, Tortilla Straws), $26.50:
While the Salmon was cooked well, I didn’t feel the cedar planking gave the fish *that* much extra flavour. When I offered a bite to a dining companion, he summed it up best with “I’m from the Pacific North West, I have had Salmon any way you can imagine, there is not much you can do that I haven’t tasted already. Salmon is salmon”. The grilled cactus was also a little odd. It had a slightly tough texture and a taste that only required a few bites before I lost interest. The “tortilla straws” were a nice twist, adding some crunch to the dish. Overall, the salmon was pleasant enough, but it didn’t set my world alight, not something I would order again.
In the final analysis my three guests were more than happy with their Bambara experience. I was happy to see that on the whole the new menu is working well, yet still retaining a few of the old classics (Prawn Fettuccini for one). I just need to ensure it doesn’t take me another six months to return to Bambara next time.
Hi, I’m Stuart, nice to meet you! I’m the founder, writer and wrangler at Gastronomic SLC and The Utah Review; I’m also a former restaurant critic of more than five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune. I’ve worked extensively with other local publications from Utah Stories through to Salt Lake Magazine and Visit Salt Lake. I’m a multiple-award winning journalist and have covered the Utah dining scene for more than a decade. I’m largely fueled by a critical obsession with rice, alliteration and the use of too many big words I don’t understand. What they’re saying about me: “Not inaccurate”, “I thought he was older”, “I don’t share his feelings”.
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