Meditrina: small plates and wine bar restaurant review

Evening dinner review

It was while reading through Anthony Bourdains “A Cook’s Tour” that I was thoroughly introduced to the authentic Tapas of Spain. By that, I mean the somewhat romantic notion described in the book of wandering from place to place, never sampling more than a small plate of the house speciality and glass of wine in each eatery/bar, before heading to the joint next door and executing the plan over again. The process is repeated until one is stuffed to the gills; and in the case of Bourdain’s jaunt, also decently inebriated. Both of which, seemed like an enjoyable way to spend an evening to me.

Here in the United States, the take on tapas is understandably different. The bar/restaurant hopping idea is obviously straight out the window. The Americanized experience focuses on the the small plate approach, featuring menu items more appreciable to local tastes. Here in Salt Lake City, it seems we can barely keep more than one or two small plate places in business at any one time. Panache and Zola are both only distant memories now. Martine and Cafe Madrid still carry the torch, but neither restaurant focuses singularly on tapas. You can imagine our delight then, when a month ago, we discovered Meditrina; whose tag line reads “small plates and wine bar”. It didn’t take us long to head on down there.

Meditrina is located in the former space of Mama’s Southern Plantation (roughly 1300 South and West Temple). On the particular snow-blanketed night that we visited, we were the only two visitors. To be fair, the weather was truly atrocious, and only our devotion to good food and wine made us venture out that night.

The interior of Meditrina is comfortable yet trendy in design. The now ubiquitous modern restaurant pairing of exposed brick walls and wooden flooring serves as the template for the ambiance. A large blackboard advertises the nightly specials, and hangs above a comfy sofa, that looks perfect for sharing a nice glass of wine or three. Artwork (presumably by local artists) hangs around the room, which is also littered (in a non kitschy way) with numerous tea lights. Despite being the only diners that evening, we felt instantly relaxed and at ease.

After being thanked for braving the weather by the hostess, we were handed our menus and given a run down of the specials. First up was the booze. For alcoholic pairings the menu features 16 wines by the glass, 24 selections by the bottle, and a pleasingly diverse 14 beers. If memory serves, I settled on a glass of the Trapiche Malbec ($8). I should note I won’t really be commenting at length on service during this meal. Although our server was nothing less than stellar, a proper comment would only be appropriate on a busier evening.

I can’t quite recall who ordered what during the meal, and that really isn’t the point. Half the fun of the small plates concept is choosing an array of food and stealing and sharing bites as the plates arrive. So in no particular order, here are the plates we tried.

Lollipop Lamb Chops ($10):

meditrina lollipop lamb chops

Three lovely frenched lamb chops were nestled atop a pile of garlic mashed potatoes. The lamb was not only cooked just right, but was also coated with a lip-smackingly rich smear of fresh herbs. The mash was pretty standard. A really great dish.

One of the several specials of the nights was the Ahi Tuna Poke Special ($forgotten!):

meditrina tuna poke

A popular feature of many contempoary sushi joint these days, this trendy concoction was as appetizing as any I have tried. Hearty morsels of Ahi tuna were packed into a martini glass, doused in a spicy yet light marinade, and topped with sesame seeds. Always a winner in my book. Wendi was a big fan of this one.

Crab Cakes ($9):

meditrina crab cakes

We both felt these were so-so. Not bad, not great, perhaps crab cakes are just getting a little tired now. Meditrina’s crab cakes were a fairly standard affair.

The Curry Lime Prawns ($10) intrigued us both:

meditrina curry lime prawns

The pricing was a stretch for three prawns and some rice, but the plate was delicious. The curry sauce brought everything together, and was not overly strong. Another excellent little plate.

An Antipasto Plate ($11) brought together cured meat, local Beehive Cheese Co. Barely Buzzed cheese, olives, and bread:

meditrina antipasto plate

A much more traditional Spanish dish was the Patatas Bravas ($5):

meditrina patatas bravas

I can’t say I have ever tried this dish before, but I don’t think you can ever go too wrong with spuds and spice! The traditional preparation of this dish is to deep fry I believe, but these potatoes seemed to perhaps par boiled and grilled? Whatever their creation, the result was delicious.

We had enough room left to let our waiter reel off the nights desserts. Even though I was fascinated by the idea of the wine-soaked Oreos he described, we both agreed to share a Pear Creme Brulee ($7):

meditrina pear creme brulee

In my opinion, the pear was a great addition, lending a hit of flavor and interest in what can be a somewhat tired dessert. We finished every last bite in what seemed like seconds. Indeed, my only gripe was that the serving was on the small side.

Overall, we both felt this was a very good meal. I should note that for a full dinner, those small plates will soon add up. Three plates per person would be respectable for dinner, and before wine that will probably set you back around $30. Dinner for two, with dessert and wine could easily top the $100 mark (as our meal did).

The only extra thing we could ask for would be the presence of some other diners. We both commented what a great lift some additional buzz and atmosphere would give to the dining space. I could happily see this place as a perfect after work drop in, for a glass of wine and snack, or equally as a romantic night spot.

Quite often one hears people say they don’t want to let the secret out about their favourite restaurant, for fear of the crowds taking over. In the case of Meditrina I have been espousing its charms to anyone who will listen. It remains to be seen whether SLC diners are prepared to embrace the idea, especially in the current economic climate. I for one, really hope they do.

Meditrina
1394 South West Temple, Salt Lake City, 84115, Utah
(801) 485 2055

Website: http://www.meditrinaslc.com/

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Ate here last night based on this and many other recent recommendations. The tapas were amazing. I love Spanish tapas, so I recommended to our group of 9 to try the “Patatas Bravas” since they are my favorites tapas I tried in Spain. They did not disappoint and we nearly fought over the last piece…

  2. I have to be honest, it really wasn’t very good. I differ from the review I just read. Here’s a review of what we had. LAMB LOLLIPOPS:
    I had to order the lamb lollipops 3 times and they still didn’t get it right. 1st ATTEMPT: they tasted like they had zero seasoning on them. I’m in no way an over-salter either. I just like meat to have some seasoning. I told the waiter he could just bring me some salt. No salt on the tables says to me that the chef is seasoning the food to such perfection, that there isn’t any need to put salt or pepper on the table. I love this when done right, but not in this case.
    2nd ATTEMPT I took a bite and it was overcooked and still flavorless. I was embarrassed to send them back a second time but I did. The chef came out after sending them back asking why I had done so. In fairness the other 2 pieces were cooked less, and I saw that she had cut into one of them to see the level of doneness. I pointed out the one I took a bite of which was overcooked, (you would think they’d be cooked the same) so she went back for a 3rd try. 3rd ATTEMPT: They were cooked fine the third time, but they still lacked seasoning, and the meat was chewy and sinewy. I didn’t have the heart to send them back again.
    CURRY LIME PRAWNS: We wanted to split an order of lime curry prawns and we asked the waiter how many were on the plate. The waiter assured us that there are 4 prawns that come with that order, so it’s perfect to share. When they came out there were only 3, which was a little awkward when splitting a plate with a friend. They were nice looking, seasoned okay, but rubbery in texture, I think steamed -?? My friend thought they needed more curry and more lime. We didn’t ask for our promised fourth prawn, didn’t finish the 3rd one either actually. CHEESE PLATTER: The waiter started walking off after setting down the cheese platter, I had to ask him to come back to describe what cheeses they were because the menu doesn’t state anything. I think it was pretty pedestrian variety. A tiny tiny portion of a nice creamy blue cheese, some parmesan and irish cheddar. The pear was nice. OLIVES The olives were good. CLAMS AND MUSSELS The clams and mussels were awesome actually. Savory tomato broth, very good, but the crostini were almost inedibly hard, the bread was nice, but not nearly enough bread to sop up that good broth. They brought our bill before we had to remind them that they had forgotten to bring us the second clams and mussels for 2 of my friends. MEAT PLATTER: They forgot to remove the casing on one of the meats on the meat plate so people were picking string out of their mouths. Otherwise good. The wine was good, short list for a wine bar everyone agreed. You need another NZ sauvignon blanc. Try Spy Valley? Maybe they are still building it up. I’ll try them again in 6 months if they are still around. If this were Top Chef, someone would be going home.

  3. Sorry to hear you had a bad experience Patrick. You really did seem to have the polar opposite of what we found. That’s a real shame as our meal accompanying service was great.

    I’ll have to venture back in due course to see how things are panning out.

  4. We really enjoyed our dinner last night at Meditrinas last night. We had the inside-out chicken satay, the flank steak/asparagus stack, the patatas bravas, brie cheese with mushrooms, and creme brulee with pear. Also, a great rioja/cabernet wine. Everything was delicious! Well seasoned, and beautiful presentation of each dish (especially the flank steak!) Prices seemed very reasonable compared with tapas restaurants we have enjoyed in the Chicago area. Only one other table was occupied this Wednesday evening. We hope more people discover this new restaurant so that it succeeds and we can enjoy it again in the future.

  5. Went to Meditrinas last night, and thought it was devine! Keep in mind that this is a wine bar, and the dishes are designed to compliment the wine. Our waiter was very helpful and knowledgeable concerning the wines and food.

  6. We enjoyed a stellar meal at Meditrina last Wednesday. The menu had a nice variety- there were hardly any plates described that we weren’t tempted to order. While not every table was busy there were enough other patrons to make us feel cosily social rather than desolate.
    The service was pleasantly good- the food delicious. In particular we enjoyed the divers’ scallops which were excellent enought to warrant an immediate reorder.
    We split 11 small plates between 4 people and enjoyed each and every bite of an effectively light but very satifying meal.
    We were planning our next visit during our dessert of roasted pear creme brulee -which is always the best endorsement possible.

  7. Food….not special….many items tasted of charred grill. Service…..very good. Prices….too high for the small amount served. No one in our party said they would go back. A suggestion: include a basket of really good bread to mop up the sauces. The bread that we did have was, at best, mediocre.

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