One of my favorite places to visit for special occasions or take out-of-town guests is Grand America. Their Afternoon Tea service, Sunday brunches or a stroll through the manicured gardens followed by a stop at La Bonne Vie all transport me to a place far from downtown Salt Lake City.
In fact, my husband and I celebrated our wedding breakfast here and we return for our anniversary brunch each year. It’s magical and a truly hidden gem in our dining landscape.
I was recently treated to a preview of the Garden Café’s new spring menu presented by Grand America’s Chef de Cuisine Tom Call, Executive Sous Chef Fernando Soberanis and Executive Chef and Director of Culinary Operations Phillip Yates. (Please note that the dishes photographed were tasting-size portions and do not represent regular menu portions.)
First, join me for a culinary tour through the Garden Café’s menu and then if you love what you see (and you’re a woman) join me for Ladies Who Lunch SLC which will be held on the patio at the Garden Cafe (weather permitting) on June 27, 2013. Otherwise, visit the Grand America’s Garden Café to experience some of Utah’s most exquisite dishes.
We started the tasting with the Ahi tuna tartare ($12) with Asian pear, mint, puffed rice and preserved lemon vinaigrette served with semolina crisps. The tuna tower is one of my favorite dishes here and this take on it offered both sweet fruit and refreshing mint notes that finished with a divine preserved lemon vinaigrette.
The mushroom bisque ($6) was the day’s soup special and as fungi are one of my favorites, I couldn’t resist a quick spoonful of this creamy, earthy bisque.
We next moved onto the salad course with a taste of the grilled shrimp Louis ($13) with caper salsa verde. Filling but at the same time light and spring-like, the greens were crisp while the shrimp were warm and smoky.
The special pasta offering was perhaps my favorite dish. Fresh-made spinach agnolotti were paired with cherry tomatoes, white wine and chili for a beautiful balance of color and flavor. And don’t forget the juicy shrimp too.
Perfectly seared Maine scallops ($27 dinner) were delivered with a brown rice and Spanish chorizo risotto-esque base and a brush of fresh basil. The presentation was truly stunning along with the flavors.
While seafood is usually my first request, Garden Café doesn’t overlook red meat offerings on their dinner menu. Prime New York strip ($29 dinner) was placed over truffled spinach, boulangere potatoes and finished with a tangy red wine jus.
A breathtaking array of desserts—lovingly prepared by Executive Pastry Chef Jeffrey de Leon—included a maple mousse with walnut sponge cake, perhaps the most amazing mascarpone ice cream I’ve ever eaten, candied walnuts and agave nectar. The chocolate cream-filled beignets paired with chocolate ice cream and beautifully pooled caramel sauce ran a close second.
Selections of housemade ice creams and sorbets in all the flavors of the rainbow were delightful and the coconut sorbet was the perfect close to a stellar dining experience.
All of this elegant food nearly made me overlook the fact that we were seated next to some NBA basketball player and coach. It’s a common sight here and it was nice to see that not one fan interrupted their meal (or mine) to ask for an autograph and we could all enjoy the afternoon light streaming in through the windows in peace. Yet another reason that I adore the Grand America.