Friday, September 28, 2012

Plum Alley

Plum Alley has been on my to-try list for a while now.  I had a birthday a couple of weeks ago and the wife decided that we should go to dinner (despite the fact that she had already planned  a surprise whiskey and cheese tasting with some friends for the next night).  Since this was a last-minute thing, we wanted to hit a place with a patio so that we could bring our little one and she wouldn't cause any trouble (outdoor dining is a key to bringing toddlers along).  We decided to check out the Copper Onion patio, but on the way saw that Plum Alley now has outdoor seating.  Done.

The patio is a great space with a few seating configuration options.  I was initially impressed by how small the menu is (this is NOT a bad thing when done well) and by how well-chosen the beer list was.  The only thing we knew coming in was that we'd be trying the pork belly steam buns.  So, we ordered those as well as the sesame corn (sesame aoili and cilantro).

We thought we were ordering the corn for our daughter as an emergency back up item in case the rest of our meal wasn't to her taste, but it was the surprise of the evening.  All three of us fought for it - the charred kernels were a particularly nice touch.

It was a proud moment for me to see my daughter enjoy her first taste of pork belly.  May there be many more of these moments in our future.  The pork belly is sauced with cincalok glaze that would have the potential to overwhelm the flavor of the dish, but it was done well and restraint was the key to a balanced appetizer that I wouldn't ever come back without ordering again.

Green papaya salad came next and was really nice.  Fresh peppers added enough spice to keep it interesting and the papaya was really fresh.  This was a good cleanser between the heavy appetizers and the heavy entrees.

For entrees we ordered pad see ew.  It was great - really amazing flavor to the smoked pork that combined enough asian influence with a light enough sauce to allow the flavors of the meat to come out (something I feel like doesn't happen at your standard Thai joint).  Crisp brocoli rabe was key to rounding this dish out.  I'd do it again.

Our waiter had asked if I like spicy.  Usually, in Utah, spicy means something has pepper on it.  I love spicy food.  I wasn't worried.  So, duck curry.

The primary ingredient in this dish is meanness.  And some sort of heinous peppers that blew out my taste buds for the next two days.  I want to be clear - this dish was not well done.  The spice overwhelmed any flavors that might be hiding underneath the rivers of capsaicin.  We both tried the curry and came to the same conclusion - pain and no flavor.  It was so over the top that I wondered if they had knocked something into the curry accidentally.  Has anyone else tried this dish?  Did we just get unlucky or was what we experienced the intention?

I did my best to put that fire out with a Red Rock Elephino (one of the better double IPAs out there, in my opinion).

The Verdict?  I will go back to Plum Alley as it was a great environment with a mostly well crafted menu.  While I'm going to be gun shy for a while about anything demarcated as spicy from this kitchen, everything other than the curry was a delight - particularly the meats, which fused asian and continental in a way I've never experienced before.
Plum Alley on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Hello Mark,

    Sapa Sushi Bar & Asian Grill is having an exclusive event just for Salt Lake’s top food bloggers, and we would like to send you an official invitation. Please respond to this comment to with your mailing address so that we can send you your official invite and RSVP. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us:

    801-930-5354 or

    Thanks, and we look forward to hearing from you!

    -Adam White