Monday, September 9, 2013

Avenues Proper and Publick House

There are few things nicer than leaving West Valley City, where my office has been temporarily relocated, and driving to the Avenues to eat good food and drink beer on a Friday lunch break.  So much so that I've indulged two weeks in a row at Avenues Proper and Publick House.  At this point I feel like I've tried enough of the menu to give you a pretty good feel for what you should  expect.

First, the patio is just great around lunchtime - plenty of shade and super comfortable seating make you want to carry a business lunch right into an early happy hour.  I would probably head back to Avenues Proper simply for the setting even if the food wasn't stellar.

The menu features some interesting 'Bites' worth trying if you're there.  The obvious choice is the duck fat popcorn, which is popcorn drizzled with duck fat and a bit of fennel pollen.  I wanted this to taste better than popcorn with butter sauce, but really it doesn't.  Still, for $3, it's worth a try and certainly not a bad way to pass a few minutes while you wait for your...

Red Oatmeal Ale on nitro!  This was really one of the best, if not the best, 3.2 beers that I have ever had in my life.  Truly worth a try - I have never before sampled a red oatmeal ale but it combines the smoothness of an oatmeal stout with bitter hops as found in a standard red ale.  Yum.

The house made chips at Avenues Proper are tasty.  They come with sandwiches, but you should probably get an extra order while you're waiting and drinking red oatmeal ale.

As for food, the winner on the menu seems to be AP Burger.  It isn't the best burger in SLC (tip of the hat to The Wild Grape, Pago and The Copper Onion), but it's pretty darn good and it IS the best bun on a burger in SLC.

The Chevre Chaud was lackluster - radish, mixed greens, fried goat cheese and balsamic.  The goat cheese, as the obvious star of the dish, needed a bit more help in order to transform a side salad into a main plate salad.

The only hot "sandwich" on the menu is the Welsh Rarebit.  It isn't a sandwich, it's gorgonzola, raw milk cheddar, bacon, tomato and onion served on something more like a crostini than a slice of bread. This wasn't a bad dish, but I wouldn't order it again.  It is hard to make something that tastes bad when Bacon is the centerpiece.  That being said, if you're feeling like you want a hot meal stick to the burger because cold sandwiches outshine the Welsh Rarebit.

Most of the cold sandwiches at Avenues Proper are somewhat plain - focusing on artisan bread and quality ingredients rather than exotic additions or flavors.  As a lunch option, I thought this style went really nicely as a compliment to the bites and beers available.  The roast beef sandwich was made with grain mustard, arugula, red onion, blue cheese and horseradish aioli.  The demi baguette was the best thing on the plate but the sandwich was overall good.

My favorite sandwich at Avenues Proper is the House Roasted Turkey.  Served on a ciabatta bun and topped with fontina and a healthy dose of grilled kale, this sandwich was the perfect mix of fresh ingredients that play nicely together without getting overcomplicated.  

The verdict? This is one of my favorite places to have a simple sandwich or burger accompanied by some of the best beer on tap in Salt Lake City.  Sit outside if the weather is good.  To date, I can only speak for the lunch offerings, but I would expect a significantly elevated level of creativity and execution at dinner given the prices being asked.  The vibe and drinks at Avenues Proper are enough to make me want to keep coming back, and I hope to report on the dinner menu before too long.

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