Wednesday, December 2, 2009


The tapas - or small plate - trend began in the U.S. some twenty-some odd years ago. This style of eating, largely based off of Spanish tradition, has been transformed over many years to incorporate influences not only from traditional Spanish dishes but from food all over the world. For some reason, Salt Lake City has not seen a huge interest from local chefs and restaurateurs venturing into the small plate concept. In the last several years Salt Lake has only seen a sparse number of tapas places...some coming and going so quietly you'd never know they were ever open. Late 2009 has since seen the introduction of a few new tapas bars...marking some truly exciting additions to our local culinary scene. Meditrina is located in a quiet residential area of Salt Lake City. The space is highlighted by an outside patio for dining in warm weather and marked by a quaint interior dining room with lots of charm. The chefs have put together a menu of many small plates, some taken directly from traditional Spanish tapas while others are fused with multiple international influences.

The patatas bravas are a traditional Spanish tapa which are fried and served with a spicy sauce. Meditrina puts their own spin on this classic by grilling the potatoes, accompanying them with a spicy tomato aioli and sweet caramelized onions. The dish emits a nice heat from a scant amount of chili sauce and the potatoes serve as a great canvass for this sweet-heat sensation. Mushrooms and brie, served with crostini are the most popular tapa at Meditrina - and it's no wonder why. Mushrooms sauteed in the chef's secret sauce (when I asked her about the contents of the sauce, she said she could tell me but then would have to kill me) had a really sweet, deep flavor which nicely complemented the woody flavor of the mushrooms. To be honest, the taste of the brie in the dish was a little overpowered by the strong flavor of the mushrooms but the gooey cheese was a welcome addition to the overall texture of the dish.

The Asian-marinated flank steak had a nice sweet flavor with accents of ginger. The steak itself was grilled perfectly medium rare with a juicy, tender texture and the meat had a slightly smoky scent. The steak paired nicely with the Chinese broccoli which offered texture, taste, and a nice contrast of color. The stalks of the broccoli were nice and firm while the tops were soft - the broccoli had a nice bitter bite to it...a great foil to the sweetness of the steak. I didn't even need the garlic mashed potatoes it was served alongside - the stars to me were the steak and broccoli.

The chefs also offered a dish which they were testing for future menu placement. They came up with a bacon and panko crusted pork tenderloin. The pork had a nice crust and was very flavorful, served with two garnishes - carmelized okra and a butter bean, turnip, and corn puree. Unfortunately the okra didn't work for me. When okra is cooked for a long time, it develops this (excuse me) snotty consistency and it just grossed me out. However, the corn puree was absolutely wonderful with a hummus like texture, very sweet and delicious. We ended our night with Meditrina's drunken oreos - oreo cookies drenched in red wine served under creamy vanilla ice cream over which a port reduction is poured. Crunchy, gooey, creamy, and chocolately all in a few small cookies. Very unique and really good - a great way to end an evening of many small plates.

To be honest, I'm a hearty eater. I love to eat my entree, savoring my food, and I usually horde it all to my attendance at tapas bars is not so frequent. But I do think it's nice every once and again to eat many smaller plates and get a taste of something different in two or three dishes. A variety of tapas offers many different options for the varied tastes around any given table. I also love the idea of sharing food with others and talking about what you've just eaten. The tapas atmosphere is perfect for that....and the atmosphere at Meditrina really does facilitate good food, sharing, and conversation...over many small plates. At Meditrina, good things do indeed come in small packages.

Meditrina ~ Salt Lake City, Utah
1394 South West Temple
Chef/co-owner: Amy Britt
Chef/co-owner: Jennifer Gilroy

Meditrina on Urbanspoon

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