“What kind of food does Faustina serve then?” asked Wendi when I suggested we try the place for dinner. “Er, I dunno, um, new fangled, american-y stuff with chicken, fish, beef and stuff” was my rather poor description. I’m still not sure what the official style would be called (suggestions welcome!), for a host of restaurants that offer similar varied menus (think trio, epic, em’s). I suppose they are New-American with a fine dining slant, these places are up scale, yet casual. At any rate, we were both intrigued enough by Faustina’s on-line menu to give the place a try.
Entering from the rear of the restaurant we first noted the outdoor dining section. The weather was a little overcast and it was getting quite windy. So, when asked where we would like to be seated, we chose indoors, joking with our waitress about falling branches from the outdoor trees. The patio did, however, look like a great spot to enjoy a meal on a more temperate evening.
As you enter the restaurant, you are greeted by a large sweeping bar seating area. This leads onto the main dining space where the table and banquette seating is thankfully well spaced and very comfortable. The space is modern and clean, and also much larger than I had thought on my previous drives by in the past.
The front of the building has large floor to ceiling windows that lend some entertaining views of 3rd south. The restaurant was only half full at 7 p.m. on the Saturday we visited, so we had our pick of table. We chose a perfect table for two which afforded great views of both the impressive wall art and the oncoming storm brewing outside:
After we were seated, our friendly waitress came over and took our wine order. The wine list is modest but perfectly serviceable. We chose the Elk Cove Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($57). The DABC have this listed at $25.99. The two times mark up is pretty standard for Salt Lake. Shortly after our wine selection, a free complimentary plate of bread with oil and vinegar was delivered to the table:
The typical bread/oil/vinegar combo was amped up a little with the light herbed bread and an enjoyable basil and garlic-infused oil. I didn’t bother with the vinegar as the flavoured oil was such a happy change from the norm. The bread was also a nice change from commonly served warmed and sliced roll. It’s at times like this, when I know the rest of the meal should be fun. So much detail shown so early on in such basic items, I approve!
We both found the menu very appealing and after some debate chose the Antipasto Plate ($10.55) to share as our appetizer:
The plate featured a generous serving of three different cured meats, marinated olives, a little cheese, grilled asparagus and some crostini. This was one of the better antipasto plates I have sampled in SLC. All three of the cured meats were excellent. The marinated olives also matched the heights of the meat, juicy and bursting with flavour. Although given only a sparing amount, Wendi proclaimed the cheese to also be first rate. The crostini were pleasingly oily. Our least favourite item was the cold and limp grilled asparagus. That might be more of a personal thing though, we have both been slowly turning away from asparagus of late.
For her entree Wendi selected the Asiago Crusted Scallops (Angel Hair Pasta, Tomato Saffron Broth, Sweet Peas, Arugula, Basil, $23.50):
Her first comments were along the lines of “hmmm, wonderfully cooked scallops”. She did find the Asiago cheese to be an odd topping for the light flavours of the dish though. Still, the cheese was minimal enough that it did not overpower. The tomato saffron broth was delicate and flavourful.
Torn between a few items, I was obliged to select the Chefs Special simply because of the vast number of ingredients (Beef Tenderloin Medallion over Mashed Potato, Roma Tomatoes, Pink Peppercorn Sauce, Shiitake Chips in tandem with Grilled Jumbo Prawns, Zucchini, White Bean Puree, Tomato Saffron Sauce, Arugula Citrus Salad, $32.00):
My initial thoughts were, “surf and turf, but a bit more fancy”, and also “how in the heck can all these flavours work on the plate at once”. The presentation of the plate was good, especially the rectangular plate used. To start with, my beef ordered medium was wonderful. Beautifully tender, big flavour and cooked exactly as I had asked. The accompanying rich sauce and shiitake chips worked well with the powerful beef. The mashed potatoes were also decent enough too. On it’s own, this would have been fine.
The other side of the plate was a much lighter affair. I didn’t care at all for the grilled prawns, they were stringy and a little chewy. The mix of flavours also seemed a tad unfocused and I detected a really strong bacon flavour which wasn’t listed as one of the myriad of ingredients. As I suspected reading the menu, the rich beef section of the plate didn’t work at all with this lighter side of the plate. In summation an odd dish. Some of the elements were great, some not so, and as a whole they didn’t really gel for me. It was certainly fun to try though. My hunch is that this gets ordered A LOT.
We finished of the meal with the Banana Custard ($7.75):
A rather odd looking dessert. We were intrigued by the menu’s description of “banana shingles”, these turned out to be slices of carmelized banana. The shingles were laid over a custard of banana. A quite unusual texture to be sure, almost like a slightly heavier banana mousse. My guess was blended up bananas, cream, and gelatin to hold it together? Whatever it was, it was topped with a caramel sauce and plated with a side of cinnamon ice cream. The ice cream was served on a base of candied walnuts. It was all very delicious and lasted about as long as it took to finish our coffee ($1.95).
Our waitress was attentive and friendly throughout the meal. She seemed to have very good knowledge of the menu, and was there when we needed her, and wasn’t when we didn’t. That’s just what we like, and she certainly helped us have a very enjoyable meal. I’m still not sure what type of cuisine one would call Faustina, but for want of a term in the future, I will settle on “pretty damn good if you ask me”.
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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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