Thursday, December 17, 2009
Market Street Broiler
I once worked for a chef who demanded that our salads be plated on ice cold plates, preferably served with an ice cold fork. This tradition stems from an old food serving practice seldom followed in today's restaurants - serve hot food on hot plates, cold food on cold plates. When my side salad came to the table I immediately touched the plate and felt chills jolting up my spine...the plate was ice cold. The salad was a simple plate of mixed greens, a few cherry tomatoes, and cucumber slices. It made me smile...dinner at the Market Street Broiler tonight was going to be a flashback to old school.
When I opened the menu, I was reminded about the gamut of classic dishes the Broiler serves such as clam chowder, shrimp cocktail, and seafood Louie. These dishes have definitely stood the test of time and for whatever reason - I equate these old school classics with decadence; they give me a kind of Great Gatsby feeling and I'm not quite sure why. What's also nice about the Broiler though is that in addition to these many classics, they also offer some modern interpretations such as an Asian style salad with Ahi tuna which really balances out their classic approach quite nicely. As the kitchen proclaims itself a seafood specialist, ordering the seafood at the Broiler is a safe bet. So on this night, my dining companion and I decided to try out the early bird special which includes seafood or steak (we chose halibut as our fish), a starch (boiled, herbed potatoes, rice, or french fries), salad or soup to start, and dessert for $18.99 - a great value if you're in to dine before 7pm (this concept in and of itself is also old school - not many restaurants do such a thing anymore).
We also decided to try out the fresh catch of the day, the teriyaki glazed steelhead. Steelhead is in the trout family but its consistency and flavor is more similar to that of salmon. The fish on both plates were cooked perfectly. We requested a light breading on the halibut and it had a nice, crisp exterior with a very tender, flaky flesh. In contrast, the steelhead was glazed in a slightly sweet teriyaki sauce without being too cloyingly sweet. The steelhead was broiled to a perfect medium giving it a silky, smooth texture, which was balanced nicely with crunchy green beans and herbed rice pilaf. The dish composure wasn't fancy or modern at all - it was your basic dish: protein-starch-veg at a ratio of about 50%:25%:25% respectively (an old school ratio used for portioning food). The plating on the salmon was also quite basic. The food wasn't placed on the plate to be a modern work of art, plated in a way that makes you think a lot about it...it wasn't extraordinary looking by any means - it was just food on a plate simply meant to be eaten and enjoyed. And that it was.
For dessert, we sampled their sabayon. Sabayon is a classic french custard-like sauce made with white wine (the Italian version is similarly tagged Zabaglione; when each is pronounced they actually sound more similar then they are spelled). At Market Street, they top off a small scoop of vanilla ice cream with their sabayon and top everything off with fresh berries and mint. The sabayon gave the ice cream a nice creaminess with an added depth of flavor from the white wine; the berries added a tart but sweet finish. It was really nice - not too overlwhelmingly sweet. Our evening was a hit, confirming the experiences I've had at the Broiler over and over for the past 10 years.
Gastronomy, the company that runs all of the Market Street restaurants, focuses their menu on heavy surf and turf options - an old school delight for sure. With fresh seafood delivered daily, Gastronomy's restaurants offer a regular menu of different seafood as described above but they also cater to heavy meat eaters as well. Their variety and quality of steaks is outstanding and their rack of ribs offers an excellent finger-licking-good option. I've been known to devour a whole rack of ribs with only a Hefeweizen in hand to wash it down. The ribs are that good. Their full service bar also offers a large variety of mixed drinks, wines, and beer - and the restaurant decor lends itself to either a fancy dinner or a casual night out. The nautical theme around the restaurant isn't subtle as portholes and ship-style carpentry adorn everywhere. The upstairs is even shaped to look like you're eating on a ship of some sort. Although it sounds campy, it really isn't. The style maintains a modern, yet truly elegant feel...which really sums up my evaluation of the Broiler: unassuming but good food, great service, and a wonderful environment. The Broiler offers classics that take you back to when cold salad plates and basic three-part plating were in vogue, yet it still remains both modern and elegant enough to feel like I'm not actually eating through a cheesy recreation of the Love Boat. It's classy...in an old school sort of way.
Market Street Broiler ~ Salt Lake City, Utah
260 South 1300 East
Chef Hans Cluff