As we haven’t been anywhere new this week, I thought I would write a quick follow on two past reviews, Mazza and Thai Lotus. The newest Mazza location at 9th and 9th continues to be a very popular spot, seemingly beating the curse of the former restaurants in this space.
See here for our first review of Mazza. On our most recent visit, we were happy to be seated at once, despite it being the middle of dinner service, in such a popular eatery. We began by sharing an order of Baba Ganooj ($6.00):
A good example of this roasted eggplant dish. I personally enjoy slightly bolder flavours, so would have liked to see a little more garlic and lemon for extra zip and zing. Warmed pita is served on the side, wrapped in a white cloth to add a touch of class. Indeed the whole restaurant oozes touches of style.
For my main course I ordered a glass of Beaujolais ($5.50) to wash down one of my favourites, Lamb and Rice Dolaas ($18.00):
The first time I ordered this dish years ago, I remember being so floored with the delicate flavours, I was compelled to tell our waiter to complement the chef. I don’t think I have ever uttered those cliched words before; the several glasses of Lebanese wine had a hand in the matter for sure. I digress, point being, this is a superb dish. I’ll let the menu description do the talking:
“Traditionally this dish is made with the lamb’s rib (Dolaa). However, we prefer the shoulder part for its leaner cut and more delicious flavor. We braise the shoulder in a mixture of 9 different spices then cook the rice in the lamb broth. The dish is then garnished with fried pine nuts and almonds and served with a side of cucumber-yogurt sauce. Incredibly rich!”
I guess this would be the Middle eastern equivalent of the Indian rice dish Biryani, but for me it’s so much better. The light seasoning with hints of cinnamon (and allspice?) works so well with the tender lamb, I could eat it all day, every day. Delicious.
Wendi mixed an order of Falafel ($6.50) with a Lebanese Salad (4.00):
Being a big falafel fan, Wendi was happy to report Mazza’s version an excellnt rendition of this ground chickpea and tahini classic. Neither of us are still quite sure what makes the salad Lebanese. At a guess it’s the dressing, but it is essentially a fresh, crispy green salad.
Service at Mazza remains fast, efficient and friendly. While I personally don’t rate Mazza as highly as some other locals (who wax lyrical), it’s still a very solid and capable restaurant. Definitely worth your time and money.
As a sidenote, if you are craving something sweet after your meal (at the 9th and 9th location), skip dessert and walk a few seconds Eastwards. You will end up at Italian Ice Cafe, who serve up a variety of Gelato flavours at decent prices. We find that makes for a nice change of pace and flavour too.
912 East 900 South, Salt Lake City, 84105
Our second follow-up is on Thai Lotus. See here for our first review of Thai Lotus. Our most recent visit was fairly late on a Saturday evening, and the restaurant was buzzing. A wait of no more than 5 minutes was all it took for us to be seated though. We ordered a bottle of wine from the small but ultra-reasonable list, nothing more than $20-$30 for all bottles. There was some mix-up however with the wrong wine coming out. This was handled with heapings of charm and profuse apologies by the eager staff.
The Barbecued Chicken ($6.95) caught our eye for a shared appetizer:
As you can see from the picture, a very generous serving for the price. The chicken came with two sauces, a satay and also a sweeter one. The chicken was deliciously moist, with lovely crispy blackened skin. This was a welcome change of pace from the standard skewered chicken satay’s of many a Thai eatery. I’d definitely order this one again.
Wendi went for the Red Curry Scallops ($11.95):
We aren’t overly sure if the correct dish actually made it to our table, we both had a quick taste and looked at one another puzzled. Wendi mentioned it tasted more like a black pepper preparation, than red curry. Regardless of what the dish actually was, Wendi was quite happy with the taste and after the wine mix-up, we figured it was easier to just dig in.
I went with the Crab Fried Rice ($9.95):
A mammoth portion of fried rice at a pocket friendly price. The sweetness of the Krab mixed nicely with the smokiness of the fried rice. Again, another dish really hard to beat for a miserly ten bucks. I don’t think I made it more than half way through this plate of food. Wendi attempted to assist me in conquering the plate, but we both plenty came home with plenty for lunch the next day.
Thai Lotus is serves up some great Thai food at really unbeatable prices. It just seems their service can be a bit hit and miss, so do be aware if you visit. Even on our first meal last year, I recall acquiring the bill to be tortuously slow. That said even when mistakes do occur, the staff are just so friendly and eager to please, it’s hard not to just go with the flow. Heck, even with the odd mishap, it might just be my favourite Thai place right now.
212 E 500 S, Salt Lake City, 84111
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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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