Saturday, October 3, 2009


People always lament about how Utah is light years behind in terms of modern, cutting-edge cuisine. Being raised in and having eaten my way through the San Francisco bay area as well as having had the opportunity to take food-inspired vacations in New York and Philadelphia – I must say that I generally agree with this statement. Don’t get me wrong…I really think there are many great restaurants in Utah doing some great food. But sometimes I feel like it’s “monkey see, monkey do”. I think we have been lacking a strong, modern sexiness in the Salt Lake culinary scene – a place on the cutting edge that takes our palates someplace they’ve never been before. Now enter Forage, the latest of a number of new, up-and-coming restaurants in Salt Lake City.

In an old converted house, Forage sports a modern, sleek décor. Like many of the new restaurants in town, Forage is on the smaller side – its small living room offers the only seating for dining in. The menu is impossibly simple: you either get a three course meal or you do a tasting of the entire menu. Like the décor, the menu is also very sleek with little description so you have lots left to the imagination when ordering. On our first night to Forage we had just rode a 50-mile bike ride in Park City (The Summit Challenge) and we were starving. Although we probably could have done the whole tasting menu the waiter was quick to point out that it does take up to 3-4 hours to complete. We didn’t really feel like sticking around that long so we each decided to go with the three -course option.

With each three-course meal you also receive a number of amuse bouche. These tiny starters were amazing. Not only did they taste great but they were also beautiful works of art. Our first amuse was a deep-fried garlic tomato croquette. These wondrous bites of tomato exploded in your mouth with a single bite. When I asked how the croquettes were prepared, I was told they were a mix of tomato and garlic bound together by gelatin and then deep-fried. (This is what I mean by cutting edge and modern). We then received three more amuse before the start of our three-course dinner: 1) a beautifully presented brown-shelled egg filled with a sweet custard finished with a sherry vinaigrette…really reminiscient of crème brulee, 2) a little shot glass filled with a delicious, cool summer vegetable gazpacho, and 3) a single spoonful of a raw fish (tuna if I recall?) preparation topped with chive. All were wonderful little tastes, each bursting with flavor, getting our palates ready for the main event.

First course arrives and we enjoyed the summer squash risotto and the vegetable garden plate. The risotto is actually “risotto” (risotto in quotation marks). It doesn’t contain any rice (as traditional Italian risotto does) and so the term “risotto” here is only used in the sense of how risotto is made but the main ingredient is squash chopped into pieces that resemble rice. The “risotto” was a nice al dente paired with a savory tomato and garlic compote. The vegetable garden salad was less of a salad than a nicely composed plate of summer vegetables – but this was also fresh, crisp, seasonal, and delightful. These dishes provided a lovely “start” to the evening (“start” in quotation marks since we actually had already eaten 4 amuse bouche).

Our entrées came next. We dived into the beef strip loin and the roast Colorado lamb. The waiter said the beef was cooked sous vide, a cooking technique using a water bath originally designed for use in research laboratory settings. The cooking technique yielded beef that was tender and succulent; it was complemented nicely with a savory tomato confit and a potato puree - a neat take on a classic meat and potatoes dish. The roast Colorado lamb was equally as pleasant served with eggplant and cucumber alongside a chick pea “gnocchi”. Gnocchi is an Italian potato dumpling but the Forage chefs have crafted a similar dumpling made of chick peas – and this “gnocchi” is just as good with a wonderfully nutty taste. The chick pea “gnocchi” and the smoked paprika definitely gave the lamb dish a delicious Moroccan slant.

Desserts topped off our meal with a rose infused cake and a frozen chocolate terrine. The rose cake offered a delicious, but not too sweet, end to the meal. It was served with peaches and a yogurt sorbet to round out with a little sweetness and tartness. The frozen chocolate and extra virgin olive oil terrine was truly an extravagant dish served with a plum sauce and chocolate, lemon cake. These were not your typical desserts by any stretch of the imagination, but the charm of a place like Forage is that it challenges its diners to go outside their comfort zones in taking a true food adventure.

In describing the meals we had here, I know I’ve probably misspoken about some of the ingredients and/or preparations used here, likely not doing them total justice. The plates are, how shall we say, a little complicated and I didn’t feel like taking copious notes at each course (especially given we had just gone on that exhausting bike ride). I really just wanted to sit back and be amazed. And amazed is truly the right word to describe my experience. Forage definitely warrants your own investigation. What I can say is that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by your experience at Forage. I guarantee it will be an adventure for your palate, taking your taste buds somewhere they’ve never been before.

Forage ~ Salt Lake City, Utah

370 East 900 South

Chefs Viet Pham and Bowman Brown


Forage on Urbanspoon