Evening dinner review
Our first visit to the Tin Angel Cafe was way back in April, when we popped in to sample a quick lunch. For our previous review please see the bottom of the page. Based on that meal, we had subsequently tried many times to return for dinner. Sadly all of our attempts were spur of the moment ideas, typically schemed up at the last minute on a weekend evening. As a result, we had always been thwarted by the bustling crowds. Tin Angel definitely requires a reservation for dinner on weekends, as the indoor dining space (a converted pioneer house) itself is fairly small and intimate.
A couple of weeks ago, as we drove past, we spotted a few empty tables out on the patio. The weather was just about comfortable, so we chanced our hand and stopped by to see if we could snag a table. As chance would have it, the tables were free and we jumped at the opportunity to try Tin Angel’s dinner menu.
To quickly recap the original review, Tin Angel Cafe focuses on a seasonal new-American (I know, I don’t like the phrase either, but it’s suitably apt) menu, with as many nods to locally sourced products as possible. The decor is quirky, hip and reminiscent of any number of neighbourhood eateries in cities like Seattle and San Francisco.
I started the meal with a glass of a fruit-laden Tempranillo ($7), from the relatively small (but perfectly functional) wine selection. I did note the odd patron bringing in their own wine, so corkage is an option, although I do not know the cost. I wouldn’t expect it to be too much.
We decided to share the Breasola Carpaccio as our appetizer (served with Fresh Arugula, Shaved Parmesan, and drizzled with Lemon, Olive Oil, Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper, $9):
Breasola is an air-dried and salted beef, harder in texture to a regular carpaccio of beef. I had previously tried this during our last lunch as part of a sandwich. At night, this deep red hued beef is served as an appetizer in it’s own right, and quite delicious it was. The serving was not messed around with and was prepared simply with arugula and a little salt.
Wendi chose one of the specials of the night, the Halibut:
The Halibut came with a side of couscous, seasonal veggies and a tomato-based sauce. The fish was cooked well, essential with the delicate nature of this very mild fish. The accompanying tomato sauce was light enough as to not overpower.
It’s not often one raves about a side of vegetables, but one of Wendi’s statements during the meal epitomized the whole ethos and endeavour of the Tin Angel Cafe. After biting into the green beans she declared “wow, that might be the best green bean I have ever tasted”. High praise indeed from a lapsed vegi of nearly 10 years. It was clear to both of us that the effort to source local and top quality organic produce was evident in all aspects of the meal.
I chose the Achiote Pork Loin ($24 Garlic and Achiote Marinated Pork Loin with White Polenta Cake, a Roasted Green Pepper Mojo and Seasonal Baby Vegetables):
This was one of those dishes that took me completely by surprise. It looked pleasant enough on the menu, but I quickly found one of the most enjoyable dishes I have eaten in a long while. The pork was perfectly cooked, loaded with juice, demanding I finish every last mouthful. The achiote rub on the exterior accented the meat very well, adding a touch of heat and depth to the overall flavour. This was elevated all the more by the delicious green pepper mojo (for which the good folks at Tin Angel assure me a recipe will be finding its way here soon!). The polenta cake was a welcome change of pace too, where one would normally expect to see some form of potato in it’s place.
By now, the sun had gone down and weather had started to change, the patio dining decision was looking like an increasingly brave (or foolish) idea. We started to debate leaving for warmer climes. After such a great meal though, dessert beckoned and we just couldn’t say no. We decided to ignore the dropping temperatures for one last plate. Ever on the quest for the World’s Best Bread Pudding, Wendi jumped at the chance to try the Tin Angel Cafe version ($6):
Tin Angel offers a variety of bread puddings, and the menu states to ask about the pudding of the day. If memory serves, ours was cranberry bread pudding topped with a berry sauce and a little vanilla ice cream. The pudding itself was wonderfully moist, not overly sweet, and was given top marks by Wendi.
Tin Angel Cafe gave us one of the best meals we have had in downtown Salt Lake City for many months. The restaurant is a great addition to the SLC dining scene, in fact, Tin Angel is exactly what Salt Lake needs. The next time I get a jibe about Utah’s culinary heights being nothing more than green jello, I can confidently counter with Tin Angel Cafe as an example. This little gem of a restaurant could happily exist in any major metropolitan city in the United States.