Saturday, May 16, 2009

La Caille

Have you ever been to a restaurant where you just think to yourself…”Is this a joke?” Having been to La Caille a few times, I must say that I’ve thought these exact words every time I’ve been. The restaurant sits atop a large 20-some-odd acre campus decorated with bush sculptures (topiaries) of swans and other animals amidst a setting of carriages and other frilly, almost fairy tale like fixtures. Honestly to me, it’s just a little weird. I’m sure there are people out there who love this kind of stuff and I’m sure this would be someone’s fairy tale wedding setting. Gag.

Speaking of gag – let’s talk a little about the food. Four of us went up for brunch at La Caille before an afternoon show. We pulled in for valet parking (no other parking available) and were then met with a seemingly pre-occupied hostess. We were seated promptly and then immediately greeted by a waitress wearing a costume of some sort. Glancing around you quickly noticed that all of the front of the house staff were wearing costumes. The guys had on these frilly white shirts with dark green or black knickers (short pants) and the women wore these green dresses that revealed much cleavage. After talking to people around town, apparently it is well known (which I didn’t know) that La Caille’s hiring code for the waitress staff is akin to the hiring practices of Hooters. Gag again.

The servers were happy enough though…in fact all of them were very pleasant people who made dining at La Caille quite nice…from a service standpoint. We began with an amuse bouche provided by the chef. When it came out I just started laughing a little. It was GINORMOUS. My impression of amuse bouche is that it’s supposed to be a taste – something to wet your appetite. When this came out it literally could have been my entire breakfast. Besides the sheer size, what made me laugh was the form it came in. It was a puff pastry swan. A SWAN. The swan was filled with pastry cream and berries. Basically it was an éclair. It was quite good - don’t get me wrong. It was just…how shall I say…a little ridiculous looking. Following the swan, we received what appeared to be a never-ending bowl of caramel croissants. The croissants were gooey and sticky – a kind of mix between a sticky bun and a standard croissant. They were really sweet, but they were delicious. They were also pretty petite so you could eat a little without feeling like a complete pig (which is how I was feeling after eating the entire swan). I began getting the feeling that when La Caille says they’re a luxury restaurant…luxury to them may translate into eating…a lot.

The touted breakfast specialty of La Caille lies within their benedict selection. At our table three of us ordered the benedict with beef filet while one ordered the sun-dried tomato benedict. Our order came out promptly which was nice. As it turned out the kitchen quickly got into the weeds (restaurant speak for getting behind on pushing out their orders). We noticed that after we were served our plates, table after table were launching verbal complaints about the wait for food. We felt a little lucky – until we started eating that is…and then we wanted to launch some complaints of our own. Amongst the filets ordered at our table, two specified medium and one specified medium rare. What we got was a hodge podge of meat cooked at different temperatures. The benedict filet plate consisted of two English muffins, atop which a small beef tenderloin filet was placed on each, which in turn was topped with a poached egg on each, which was then slathered with hollandaise sauce (technically it was a béarnaise - hollandaise with tarragon).

We found that the cooks had mixed up cooking temps on each filet on each plate. For example, I ordered my filet medium. When I cut into my first benedict, the cooking temperature of the meat was about medium rare…a little more pink than I was looking for since this was being served with egg and a rich sauce (I didn’t want all that blood in the steak to mix with the yolk and hollandaise). Then when I cut into the second filet, it was cooked even more rare. Unfortunately the two others at my table had similar problems. And when we heard complaints from other tables, these errors seemed to be rampant around the entire restaurant. Apparently the kitchen got our food out so fast they didn’t pay attention to the appropriate doneness we had requested. The one person who ordered the sun-dried tomato benedict had no complaints. Tasting his, I thought it was a reasonable attempt by the chef at something creative with benedict….but nothing mind blowing.

As I continued to analyze the benedicts I did notice some things that I really didn’t like.
One was that the hollandaise sauce was generally pretty bland. I think it could have used a little salt as well as some acid like lemon or vinegar to wake the taste up. The consistency was a little off too. Hollandaise should have a bright sheen, with a ribbon like consistency. The sauce here was mute in color and was a little thick. The biggest hollandaise faux pas I noticed though was that the plate temperature was so hot that the hollandaise congealed by the time it hit the table, so I saw coagulated egg on my plate and the sauce started to break…which is just gross. These may seem like nit-picky things to you but if I’m paying $37 for an eggs benedict (that is what this cost at La Caille) everything better damn be perfect. I also must disclose that I’m a little bit of a hollandaise snob. In my Skills class in culinary school the chef announced that I made the best hollandaise sauce in the class – not to toot my own horn – but it’s made me hyper critical of any hollandaise I taste…since the bar is set to surpassing expectations of my own sauce.

So how did we end the meal off? Well with dessert of course. I mean it’s 11 o’clock in the morning. Who couldn’t use a big old bar of vanilla ice cream wrapped in a crepe, decoratively covered with Hershey’s chocolate syrup? Sound weird? That’s exactly what we got – dessert is included with brunch. The crepe was kind of doughy, so I started just eating the ice cream. It was Haagen Daz vanilla so the ice cream itself was pretty good. But the combination of the swan, the caramel croissants, the benedicts, coffee, and orange juice…and then the ice cream crepe thing…it was all a bit much…and it all was starting to make me ill. It was just a weird assortment of things…being served by people in weird costumes in an old-worldly type environment straight out of some fantasy novel. Weird. That’s a good way to describe my experience at La Caille. Just plain weird.

La Caille ~ Sandy, Utah

9565 Wasatch Blvd.

Executive Chefs Matthew Anderson and Ryan Murray


La Caille on Urbanspoon