What are your pre-conceived ideas about dining in Salt Lake City? Do you fear the food choices will be low quality, nothing but bad chain restaurants and fast food? Fortunately for those traveling here, this is not the case. The fine dining scene in Salt Lake is in a state of fluctuation and new, exceptional restaurants are popping up on the scene at a surprising rate. One such restaurant is Forage, run by Executive Chef Bowman Brown. The restaurant is tucked away in a little house in an unassuming, mostly residential neighborhood. Yet, Forage would not be out of place in the heart of New York City. The service is unobtrusive and attentive. The quality of the food and the level of creativity seen in the dishes is incredible.
Chef Brown has a clear vision of Forage’s purpose. In fact, the restaurants name alone tells you a lot about what Brown wants to achieve with his food. Forage serves a single set menu made up of ingredients from the wild, that have indeed been foraged, and from small farms and ranches. As you proceed through the fifteen course small plates menu you will clearly see there is a huge focus on connecting the dining experience to the land around us. This goal is seen, of course, in the choice of ingredients but also in the small details like the hand thrown dishes made by a local artisan and the simple clean presentations of the food.
Despite the simplicity of these ingredients, the final dishes prepared with these natural foods are innovative and technique centered. Foams, creamy vegetable purees, wood smoked meats, and fermented vegetables all have a place on the plates here. Each course is a contrast in flavors and textures. Yet, the courses as a whole are well designed to balance each other out. Combinations like crunchy tempura battered and fried dandelion or buttermilk dipped radishes contrast dishes like a sweet cicely ice which sings with a strong herb and star anise flavor.
One of the best dishes on the menu is the duck egg with spring garlic. The yolk of a ducks egg is placed in the center of an Asian styled ceramic bowl. It is cooked to perfection: solid, maintaing it’s shape but, has a perfect silky, creamy texture in the mouth. The egg is cradled in a little nest of aromatic wild greens, flowers and onion shoots. Hot savory broth is poured into your bowl by one of the courteous waitstaff right before you eat.
You may be traveling to Salt Lake for the skiing, hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities that the area is known for but, don’t forget to make time to try some of these great new restaurants. Especially Forage.