Events recap: SLC POP, Pago

SLC POP

I’ve written about SLC POP a few times, but after winning tickets at an event in downtown SLC a couple months back, I finally got the opportunity to check out this unique SLC concept first hand. The dinner (Saturday July 6th) was the first of a recent trio – the next coming up on July 27th and August 3rd.

If the name SLC POP is new to you, let’s start with some background. As the name suggests, SLC POP started life as an ephemeral pop up restaurant – blinking briefly in and out of existence at random locations around town. Keen to bring their modernist cuisine to the streets of SLC on a more routine basis, the team turned to the Kickstarter platform to raise $3000 at the latter end of 2012. The successful fund raiser raised nearly double the original goal, finishing at a tad over $5000. The result allowed the creation of Nata Gallery – a modest mixed use space that now serves as a full time home to SLC POP and an art gallery for local artists too.

As you might expect from an operation touting modernist cuisine, a dinner at SLC POP differs greatly from a traditional restaurant experience. There’s no set menu and dishes change often (and its BYOB too folks). The emphasis is on technique, flavors, and re-imagining how food is thought of. For example two dishes from my recent dinner: a 45 second ‘ISI’ bread and a flavor combination of peaches, portabella and cacao. Its an approach to food that some will find too precious and alien, it’s not going to be to everyone’s tastes for sure. That said those with an interest in cuisine and technique will no doubt have fun. If the names Achatz, Andres and Blumenthal mean anything to you, then you might spy a few recognizable techniques and finishing touches. Dishes from the evening meal I sampled included (left to right, top to bottom):

* Beet-root float with urfa biber cream
* Spinach summer cone with potato-egg salad mousse, roasted cherry tomatoes
* Smoke jar: green figs, saffron honey and bee pollen
* Colander of farmer’s veggies with ISI “corn” bread and carrot top pesto
* Peas, caramelized white chocolate and boar belly
* Sri Lankan cashew curry over daikon “rice”
* Watermelon and herb tasting: smoked EVOO, vanilla white balsamic, red wine reduction
* Elk-jalapeno steamed bun slider with Japanese snacks
* Peaches and portabella with East Vancouver cocoa beans and Southern grit cake
* Rhubarb-hibiscus granita with blackberry and Thai basil
* Beet cereal with perilla milk
* Chocolate-honey comb, cherries, pomegranate molasses, brown butter and foie powder

(click images for larger versions)

beet root float spinach summer cone

smoke jar farmers veg and isi bread

peas and boar cashew curry with daikon

watermelon elk slider

peaches and portabella rhubarb hibiscus granita

beet cereal chocolate honeycomb

Bastille Day at Pago

If you walked past Pago’s patio on the evening of July 14th, you’d be forgiven for thinking you spotted a slice of Strasbourg unfolding on our scorching streets. Both the outside and inside the restaurant were packed to capacity for the first of the Summer Sommelier series. Held quite timely on Bastille Day, the dinner was focused on cuisine and wine from the Alsace region of France.

Of particular note – the unique wines of Audrey and Christian Binner – a husband and wife duo who proudly eschew more modern industrialized wine making processes. In the words of Pago sommelier Evan Lewandowski, “bottling wines with shockingly little added or taken away”. Suffices to say, diners got to sample several truly unique and intriguing wines, with limited availability not just in Utah but the whole of the Unites States.

The excellent food of Pago/Finca chef Phelix Gardner couldn’t have been better, and with the hospitality of owner Scott Evans and beverage expertise of the affable and charming Lewandowski – it was the perfect trifecta. These chaps have something rather pretty special simmering right now at Pago, so stay tuned for future events. The menu for the evening:

Canapes:
Terrine des Poules: foie gras, local poultry, tart crisp, tasting of local cherries
Tarte Flambée: garlic scapes, house bacon, crème fraiche

Starter
Fleischnacka: Morgan Valley lamb, chanterelle, cherry tomato, savory
Bouchées à la Reine: rabbit, basil, house chorizo, local honeycomb

Entree:
Choucroute Garnie et Abricot Trois Fois: Sugarhouse farms bone in pork roast, fresh sausage, belly, new potato, apricot
Knepfle + sage and lemon späetzle, house smoked king salmon, zucchini, crème fraiche

Dessert
La Fôret Noir: Amano chocolate, Utah cherries, sweet cream, house griottes

(click pictures for larger images)

pago outside pago evan and scott

pago fleischnacka pago bouchées à la reine

pago knepfle pago choucroute garnie

pago la foret noir pago baguette

Disclosure: my attendance at this event was comped by the restaurant

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