Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Grand America Hotel: Garden Cafe

I walked into the Grand America hotel for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and while I will give you that it is the most luxurious hotel in Salt Lake City, the decor and general vibe do make me throw up in my mouth just a bit.  Thankfully, that is all changing, at least in the Garden Cafe restaurant.  While the green marble remains on the walls, they have clearly signaled their intent to create a worthy dining experience by bringing on Chef Tom Call (whom I've been touting since before he even moved to Salt Lake) as Chef de Cuisine.  When Chef Tom called up a coworker and said he'd like to cook for us at the Grand America, we quickly cleared our calendars, found babysitters and prepared for genius.

We started out with 'Chips and Dip' - house cured salmon roe, creme fraiche pana cotta and fingerling potato.  This was a fun starter course and got everyone ready for the meal.

Next course was a seared hamachi and number 1 ahi with smoked sea salt, avocado puree and Japanese citrus.

Third, we got an heirloom tomato bisque with microgreens and pecorino basil creme.

Tom knows Italian, so he threw in an extra course last minute to get our take on a potential addition to the permanent menu at the Grand America.  This was a wild shrimp ravioli in pressed leeks and lemongrass.

The final seafood course was an Idaho trout with compressed celery and onion with yellow curry and greek yogurt garnish.

I failed to snap a shot of the intermezzo course, a lemon chamomile sorbet that was perfect for the moment.  Next, the crown jewel of the meal was without question the meat course: a prime New York strip with truffled spinach, Boulanger potatoes, cabernet reduction and a mustard chip.

The cheese course that followed was candied figs, house made lavash and what has become one of my favorite cheeses in the world: Timpanogos Peak.

With coffee, pastry chef Jeffrey de Leon prepared several treats for us.  First, a platter of small bites that included a root beer marshmallow.

And second, we enjoyed the main dessert - a stawberry pistachio semifreddo with French meringue and fresh strawberry.

I would also be remiss not to mention that the Director of Restaurants, Kasey Dubler, played Sommelier for us and paired up each course with a fine selection from the massive cellars at The Grand America.  Absolutely reach out to him next time you stop by.

The verdict?  Forget everything you've heard in years past, The Grand America hotel is getting quite serious in their intent to provide a first rate restaurant.  A meal with Chef Tom Call is one of the better ways to spend your dining dollars in SLC.  While I'm still not sure about the gold-leaf furniture that crowds the hotel, I have heard that the restaurant will be undergoing a full renovation, after which the decor will match the skill that is recently on display at the Garden Cafe.  Highly recommend.

Garden Cafe on Urbanspoon


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    Matt Levine

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