Evening dinner review
At this time of year I get so overloaded by the ridiculous amount of food at my office, in gifts, and at various events I’m barely able to think about eating out. It seems like weaving through the landmines of chocolates, cocktails, and candies is an Olympic sport, and forget about cooking. Most days grabbing a quick meal is all I can hope for. This year, however, I decided to set aside some time to finally try Forage.
On a recent Saturday night 4 of us decided to slap down the $85.00 per person to try their tasting menu (I considered that a Christmas present to myself). We did not choose to do the additional $45.00 per person for wine pairings, but really I didn’t mind. Let me first apologize a bit for the picture quality. It was fairly dark in the restaurant and my Photoshop skills are pretty meager. And let me also mention that the courses were coming so fast and furious that I probably don’t have the exact descriptions for most of the dishes. I’ll repeat what the menu said things were, but I’m probably getting some of it wrong. It was a heady meal.
For example, we started out with a little amuse-bouche and I can’t for the life of me remember what it was. I think it was a mushroom puree that they froze and then it liquefied when they fried it. Whatever it was, it was an unexpected combo, crunchy and liquid, and also very tasty. The next amuse was a real treat, soft scrambled eggs with maple syrup in the bottom. I’m not a maple syrup fan, and I thought this was delicious.
We were also served a wonderful rye bread – you can see in the picture I didn’t hold back on the fresh butter. I was pretty hungry by this point The first “real” course was arctic char sashimi style with exotic citrus. Although this dish had fairly subtle flavors, it was a good start to the rest of the meal.
Next was a lovely soup that came out without the broth and they poured it on table side. My only real complaint is that I felt they were pretty stingy with the broth and even with the small amount I got they ran out when they got to our fourth person and didn’t come back with more. But I digress. The soup was diver scallop (perfectly cooked), truffle broth (maybe that’s why they didn’t give us more?), truffled turnip relish, toasted rice, braised green onion, and soft quail egg. That egg was amazing.
Next came the “vegetable garden with herbs of the season.” The radish and beet were really flavorful, and we all agreed this was one of our favorite dishes. I, personally, could have done without the celery, but that was just me. Next was the “house-made farmer’s cheese in buckwheat pasta with smoked beet, dill, and preserved mushrooms.” I love pasta of all kinds, but this sort of left me flat. The foam was fun, but this dish didn’t have the punch of flavor I’d hoped for.
The entrée courses were next. We had beef striploin, with beef cheeks in savoy cabbage, and vadouvan potatoes; wild north American sturgeon, parsnip (I think), baby carrots and mustard cream;
Braised Colorado lamb, cauliflower puree, Meyer lemon marmalade, toasted buckwheat; smoked maple farms duck, tokyo turnips, roasted shiitake, and glazed chestnuts. These dishes were all very good, my favorite was the lamb though. I loved the Meyer lemon marmalade.
I have to say that at the end of all those tiny bites, I was beginning to get a little, well, bored. Everything sort of blended together, and I think that’s more an issue with the tasting menu than with the food. I’d go back anytime for that lamb though. This might also be a good place to mention that all the bringing and taking away of silverware and plates was distracting. The service was great, but I easily could have kept my silverware for a couple of courses. We were seated in a table in the corner so we constantly had someone scooting behind us or reaching past us to take things. Not really a complaint here, more of a comment. The dessert courses started with a wonderful cheddar cheese, apples, and crostini. The apples were preserved, or confitted, or infused (I can’t remember which exactly) and were delicious (as you can probably tell, I was full into food coma at this point). Next came the “amino ocumare chocolate pave, with pomegranate, hibiscus pudding, and cranberry sorbet.” Loved the sorbet and also the coffee they served with it in its own French press.
Next was poached local quince, preserved meyer lemon cake, quince flower yogurt, hazelnuts, and the second most amazing thing I had all night – the earl grey ice cream. I love tea, hate earl grey though (too bergamotty for me), but absolutely loved this ice cream. Finally, the best thing I ate all night, the cinnamon, or nutmeg, or some spice marshmallow with a light and perfectly sweet cookie.
As you can probably tell from this description, I’m not doing this meal justice. Sometimes, as a reviewer, you just have to stop worrying about getting all the details right and just eat. This was that meal for me. I can’t say I’d do the tasting menu again, but I would definitely go back for the maple eggs, the soup, the lamb, and both the earl grey ice cream and marshmallows. I bet you can guess what I asked Santa for.
370 E 900 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
(801) 708 7834
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday from 5.30p.m.
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11 thoughts on “Forage restaurant review”
Corrine, I’m so jealous. Something tells me there is a meal at Forage in my near future though. Do they by chance offer a vegetarian tasting menu? Do you think I could ask for 14 courses of Earl Grey ice cream? They have taken my two favorite things in life and combined them.
I think Forage is so unique for SLC and I am delighted they are doing so well. The food is so creative and always cooked perfectly. I have to comment on the review however. Forage pushes the pallet. The tasting menu constantly changes (even more frequently than Pago) so one will not be able to go back and try dishes enjoyed last time. The cooking is technically advanced, for example, last time I had smoked pasta, yes, smoked pasta! This was not the kind of italian grandmother pop you in the face with flavor pasta (although it was quite flavorful) but unique and inventive, yes! That’s why I say Forage pushes the pallet. A meal is an exploration in food, and sometimes combinations are unusual or even disagreeable (although I have throughly most everything I’ve had the three times I’ve eaten there). For example, I’m borderline with the amuse egg. I’ve seen people spit it out in their napkin and others praise its glory. It’s excellent food as its prepared perfectly, its just a challenging combination for my pallet. Therefore Forage is striving, in my humble opinion, for a Michelin star path. This is how stared restaurants present meals: creative, unique, inventive, beautiful, perfectly prepared and cooked, and service that matches the quality of the food. That’s the goal, and they are constantly tweaking every last detail to achieve it. This is why I give Bowman and Viet so much credit. If one eats their food with this in mind, one appreciates the amount of preparation time, level of skill, effort toward acquisition of top quality/unique ingredients, and hours of innovative thinking and cooking needed to prepare the dish. Really, these guys live, dream, and sweat for food! They are both truly passionate career chefs! I will say through that I agree with Corrine’s comment that the flavors tend to be subtle. The flavors are clean and delicate more often than in-your-face bold. Just their style, I think, which I prefer but others might disagree. Usually I try each ingredient by itself and then in combination with the others. I find different flavors and textures that way. As far as vegetarian options, I don’t believe they have a full vegetarian tasting menu (I’ve only eaten at one restaurant that did which was the French Laundry in Yountville) but I’d be willing to guess they can put together options that would treat a vegetarian very well. Not sure about vegan though. Sorry for the long review but I really think Forage taps at the essence of food and eating, which gets me so excited! No one works that hard on food for the money, its a passion for the owner/chefs, bottom line. Luckily they have the talent to match hence I count my lucky stars they decided to move to SLC!
Thanks Muncher. I think we might warn them of our unique (picky) tastes before we go. I’m not a strict veg by any means, just don’t eat any red meat. Stu is worse. He hates cheese. I’m sure people like us drive them crazy! I’m always worried about offending chefs who are practicing their art by asking for something different, but am starting to realize they just want us to enjoy our meal. God bless Thomas Keller and his vegetarian tasting menu! Vegetables he grew himself no less. With that said, trust me, when Thomas Keller offers me duck confit, I take it. Although I’ve only dined at Bouchon and am sure French Laundry is an experience on another lever entirely. Just a note, if you go to Vegas much, I cannot recommend Bar Charlie at the Palazzo enough. It’s just incredible. The way you spoke about Forage and their dedication to creativity and innovation makes me think you would really appreciate the Bar Charlie experience as much as we did.
Hi Wen, thanks for the recommendation on Bar Charlie. We are not in Vegas much, but next time we go we will make a point of visiting Bar Charlie. I love going places off recommendations from other happy diners. What did you order when you were there? I will be interested to hear how your special requests go over at Forage. I’m guessing the chefs will take the requests as a challenge rather than looking at them negatively as ‘too picky’, but plenty of forewarning would probably be wise. Please report back with your experience as we have friends with special dietary needs that like to eat out when they are in Salt Lake (specifically Jewish diets). Also, Forage offers a significant number of fish and shellfish dishes if you eat seafood. I do not remember seeing much cheese in the dishes so Stu should be safe. Please let us know how your experience goes. Thanks!
Wen & Muncher,
My husband and I were along with Corrinne for the dinner at forage. My husband is allergic to shellfish, so we just told them when we made the reservation (a couple weeks in advance) and they served nothing with shellfish in the tasting (although we did discover that he also has an allergy to mollusks-which include scallops!). My experience with other tasting menus in SF/Seattle that I have been to is that with advance notice, most chefs will accommodate allergies/restrictions.
Thanks for the info Danielle. That makes me feel better about calling them in advance. I think Stu has had some email contact with them too, so maybe we will just drop them a line or two.
Muncher, We had 14-courses with wine pairing (actually turned out to be cocktail, wine, beer, and sake pairing) at Bar Charlie. But, as we sat down, they warned us they were going to basically feed us and give us booze until we were stuffed and drunk and happy. That they did! The fourteen course thing sort of went out the window and I think we ended up with more like twenty courses including dessert. It was primarily sea food, but included a lamb and Kobe beef course. The dishes were extremely creative and very very intricate. It’s a very intimate space. I think it seats 14 or 16 people. It’s a bar set up serving a Kaiseki-type menu, so you get to watch Chef Hiro working his magic up close and personally. It’s a splurge. They do an 8 course menu as well. They also welcome people coming in and just having a cocktail and sampling a dish or two. It’s exquisite, really.
I’m going to see if Stu can scan the menu and put it here. Like I said though, the meal strayed slightly from what is written on the menu (in the best of possible ways). We had the best tuna ever and told the chef it was amazing, so we got an extra tuna course. Things like that. So, the scanned menu won’t do it justice, but you’ll get an idea. The service was insanely good too.
Actually I wrote a very long winded review for Chow last year, has pictures and all:
Oh yeah, Bar Charlie is where its at! I’m so glad you two had such a special experience there. The food looked truly extraordinary and the descriptions, as promised, were very interesting. I especially liked the hops listed with one of the courses. I also loved the pictures of the (I’m assuming) kobe steak meats. Wow, beautiful! I made it my New Years resolution to read through, and try to the best of my ability, to understand the 2008 Farm Bill and although, as tedious as it seems at time, hearing stories and seeing pictures like yours of truly artisanal and impassioned food keeps me reading and studying. Thanks again for sharing and happy eating!
We recently tried Forage and also really enjoyed the experience. I would recommend the 3 course selection. It was plenty of food plus they bring out small bites in between. The amuse-bouche that you mentioned might have been my favorite bite of the evening.
Thanks for your detailed post!