Carnegie’s Public House – I could no doubt write a sassy, epic diatribe about the conveyor belt of failure that has beset this Peery Hotel space in recent years. But I won’t. I am above that kind of thing. Well, o.k. I’m not, but I feel as though it’s shooting fish in a tin can with a an AK47 at this point.
From a brief and ill-advised flirtation with steam punk through to the abject disaster that was Virdene’s Gourmet Burger House and onto the most recent collapse of Oak Wood – this mighht be the most jinxed restaurant space in town. Given the age of the historic property I can only surmise there to be an embittered ghost or ghoul, a former slighted chef perhaps, gleefully wreaking havoc against patties and pizza alike.
Because this property *should* be a hands down success. It possesses a list of charms that would seem impossible to screw up. Located in the heart of the city and blessed with lanky windows that blanket the dining room with natural light – the restaurant is large enough to swing several quite large cats. There’s parking, there’s a hotel on top, there’s a full liquor license for crying out loud.
At any rate, my hope’s for Carnegie’s were anything but statuesque. Color me shocked then, that on a recent passing whim, I enjoyed a more than satisfactory dinner. In the context of what had gone before, this is something of a minor miracle. It’s as if the Ghostbusters got called in and the ghastly ectoplasmic past has been tamed with lasers and nuclear containment.
The restaurant still has a whiff of an overt obsession with the thematic. It isn’t entirely clear whom Carnegie might be: if he is real or – my hope – the now vanquished spirit. The more prosaic likelihood is that he’s nothing more than a stand in prop to impart unnecessary flavor and history (note: do correct me!). Regardless, the menu offers a safe list of American confort food classics with European drizzles for good measure. Open all day, you’ll find plates such as chicken alfredo sitting happily alongside beef bourguignon and burgers and breakfast all day – nothing will curl a toe.
What I did chomp my way through though was light years ahead of previous incarnations. Candied bacon from a bar menu was, well, bacon. Impossible to go wrong in most hands of course, and thankfully for the first time in as long as I can remember in this spot, as it should be.
A en evening dinner’s special entree of roast chicken was pitch perfect, crisp skin shielding fork tender-twirlingly tender meat. And a baba lager/potato crusted cod fish and chips was devoured right down to the last chip dipped in the jalapeno remoulade. All in all, solid not spectacular, and that’s plenty fine.
Hopefully the goblins and gremlins remain locked up and this one might manage to stay the course.
110 Broadway, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Fat Jack’s – Or – Fat Jack’s Burger Emporium to give the full and correct moniker – is now the anchor restaurant in the renovated Shilo Inn – now living life as a Holiday Inn Express. Burgers, burgers and more burgers are the order of the day, and again we have an eponymous namesake who I suspect is more flight of fancy than fact.
The build your own burger concept that was so popular way back when makes a return at Fat Jack’s. This time around, it comes coupled with a more contemporary sensibility to sourcing, the business promising highlights such as:
“Fresh Niman Ranch all natural, humanely raised, hormone free beef and free-range chicken.
From our all natural Niman Ranch beef and house cured pastrami to our local artisan cheeses and GMO free produce, everything we do is natural, wholesome and local”.
If you decide to go your own way, Jack’s offers eight free toppings, six cheeses priced a buck each, 14 premium toppings another dollar a pop and fifteen or so sauces – each free. Yes, part of me wanted to ask for one of each, hey they’re free… There’s a range of pre-ordained burgers with preset configurations plus a smattering of regular apps from wings through fried pickles. Salads, sandwiches and the odd entree round out choices.
I’ll confess to some user error during my recent brief lunch visit. The menu requires a little more study than I’d initially thought, again my bad. In search of something simple to get a feel for patty prowess, I ordered the the ‘Classic Burger’ from the pre-ordained options. This $7.19 burger comes as quite literally a patty and two buns unless you dive into the build your own concept. Said burger has no side dish either I might add – you’ll need to pony up another $2.99-$4.99.
Catching my ineptitude, our quite friendly waitress gently guided me along, with me optimistically countering with something along the lines of, “I’d just like a classic burger with all the regular trimmings, lettuce, onion etc”. She was happy to oblige – sadly the kitchen wasn’t as eager to impress. Ingredients are nothing without careful treatment and my ode to Americana was a dry and listless concoction that wavered between medium and medium well. Temperature requests were neither asked nor given, again, my usual starter approach when taking in a new burger joint. I’m unsure as whether to mourn more for my seven dollars or the Niman Ranch beef that suffered that day.
On a brighter note, the side of fried pickles ordered up as a side certainly perked my mood up, as did a pint of cutthroat on draft from a rather extensive beer and wine menu.
As first customers through the door for an early lunch, perhaps the caffeine was still kicking in for the kitchen team, who knows; certainly I can’t offer a substantive review based on one lackluster (hence the ‘first look’) burger bungle. I’ll pop back in a few months time and see if creating some form of pastrami and spam laden monster is the key. Oh, and ordering all fifteen sauces.
206 S W Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
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 Uinta Cutthroat, alliteration and the use of too many big words I don’t understand. I ate all the pies.