Dinner at Martine

The first thing you notice about Martine is the 19th century sandstone architecture, an inviting contrast to Salt Lake’s newest downtown renovations. Walking up the foot worn stairs of the historic building, you can sense this restaurant is special.

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Vaulted ceilings, huge windows and dark wood create a sophisticated ambiance. Fresh flowers and candlelight decorate each table. Martine is a restaurant that’s ideal for a special night out. The low lights and cozy atmosphere are a perfect setting to a wonderful meal with a special someone.

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Open since 1999, Martine is a local favorite. Chef and owner Tom Grant focuses on seasonal, local ingredients. His dishes are classic and sophisticated.

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We were graciously invited to try the new winter menu and we’d been looking forward to it for weeks! We hadn’t visited Martine in years, and frankly, the restaurant had dropped off our radar with the influx of new dining options in downtown Salt Lake City. We’re pleased to re-discover Martine.

The service was superb. Our server, Miko, knew the menu inside and out and was happy to share recommendations. I was especially impressed with her throughout knowledge of the long wine list (100+ bottles!).

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Our meal started with cocktails. The Nectar was a pleasant combination of Salt City Vodka ($10), Slide Ridge honey vinegar, vibrant orange blossom, a hint of mint, finished with a splash of soda.

Martine has always been popular for their tapas menu, and we eagerly indulged in a few different dishes. Grilled Oysters ($9) were served with a spicy chili mignonette – very tasty. The Wagu Beef Tartare ($13) was delectable with buttery, melt in your mouth beef served with crusty bread, chili oil and fresh greens.

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We both loved the Chanterelle Mushrooms ($12), a combination of savory mushrooms served with caramelized apples and melty taleggio cheese.

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We both ordered a bowl of the silky smooth Butternut Squash Soup ($8) for our next course. Topped with a drizzle of mascapone, the soup was rich and comforting with a hint of sweet spiciness, perfect for a chilly night.

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One of the nightly specials was Farro with Roasted Vegetables ($16).  It was a filling, gratifying dish with flavorful roasted beets, greens, mushrooms and okra. The farro was cooked perfectly, firm and a bit chewy (and awesome for lunch the next day). I was so impressed by Martine’s vegetarian dishes! This is one of the few American restaurants where you can order a substantial, filling vegetarian meal.

Dave ordered the Pan Roasted Pheasant Breast ($26) served with butter beans and andouille. It was rich and hearty – the sort of meal thats fit for a king. The low lights made it impossible to get a good picture, but trust us, it was impressive. Miko, our server, suggested the perfect glass to accompany the dish, a full-bodied pinot noir.

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For dessert, we opted to share the gingerbread cake topped with vanilla gelato ($7). Each bite of the frozen gelato melted over the warm gingerbread cake was heavenly. Accompanied by frothy cappuccinos, it was a perfect end to an unforgettable meal. If you haven’t been to Martine lately it’s time to visit.

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Fall into Current Fish & Oyster

photo 4When Dave and I were first dating in the mid 90’s we spent a lot of time exploring downtown Salt Lake City. Our favorite destinations were coffee shops, book stores and antique shops. We spent a lot of time wandering through the antique store at the corner of 3rd South and 279 East. Who knew that 20 years later our favorite restaurant would inhabit that space?

After a million dollar renovation, Current Fish & Oyster opened last spring. Expectations were high with both the LaSalle  and Mikel Trapp’s Trio Restaurant Group developing this new restaurant. With Chef Logan Crew behind the menu, the contemporary seafood restaurant quickly became a Salt Lake City favorite. “We extracted what we feel are the golden nuggets from each region in creating this menu,” said Chef Crew. “We are not trying to recreate the wheel here. We just want to offer our favorite classic American seafood preparations and add our contemporary spin on some new tastes with innovative dishes. Oysters are huge for us. We like to highlight regions and educate people about different profiles and pairings and watch with delight as our guests discover some new favorites.”

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The Grilled West Coast Oysters with a Grapefruit Spice oyster back

In the months since Current opened, they’ve expanded their hours, serving lunch and brunch on the weekends. Under Current, their crafty bar, opened next door. Their latest addition is an updated menu for fall and winter. “We now have a good feel for our diners’ preferences,” said Crew. “This is a great opportunity to really tailor our new fall and winter menu offerings to seasonal specialties and to what’s resonating with Salt Lake City’s tastes.”

Both Dave and I fell in love with Current Fish & Oyster while I was researching my review for SLUG Magazine. We enjoyed dinner and brunch, sampling a variety of dishes from each menu. We were recently invited to sample the new dinner menu and were beyond impressed.

photo 1(2)Of course we started our meal with drinks. Amy Eldredge has crafted an innovative and delightful cocktail menu. I opted for the Vesper, a sophisticated combination of vodka, gin and Lillet Blanc, a fancy French aperitif.

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Octopus a la Plancha

Whenever we dine at Current, it’s a fun opportunity to try something new.  Since we’d never eaten octopus, we opted for the Octopus a la Plancha ($16). Each bite was tender and juicy with a pleasantly mellow flavor. A creamy bean puree with bright, briny olives accentuated the tender octopus while a champagne sauce added a whisper of sweet and sour.

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Grilled Hawaiian Prawns

The Grilled Hawaiian Prawns ($25) served with hominy, Utah corn and a thick tomatillo sauce were earthy and satisfying. It was a good dish to share; we each had two shrimp and plenty of other good stuff.

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Oysters Casino

Since it’s ridiculous to NOT order oysters at Current, we opted for a new oyster dish. The Oysters Casino ($10) were delectable. Raw oyster goodness topped with pork-fried breadcrumbs topped with a dollop of  what tasted like good bbq sauce. Next time we’re ordering two plates.

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The special that night was unforgettable. Marlin was flown in that day and elegantly prepared with olive oil and thinly sliced shallots. The fish was barely grilled, letting the true flavor shine.

We’ve never enjoyed such a perfectly paced dinner! Splitting every dish, and only ordering one cocktail left us with room for cappuccinos and dessert.

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Two lovely cappuccinos

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Yuzu Posset

Desserts are popular at Current Fish & Oyster. Pastry chef Alexa Norlin makes crave-able and imaginative desserts. Her Yuzu Posset ($7) is the most popular dessert in town! It’s a tart, creamy custard dotted with rosemary jelly and dusted with a feather-light powdered olive oil. If you don’t like rich overtly sweet treats, this is the dessert for you!

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Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

Our other dessert was a new item. The Vanilla Bean Cheesecake ($7) was scrumptious. Served with chopped green apples, graham crumbs and caramel white chocolate gelato drizzled with warm caramel, this cheesecake was the ultimate fall dessert. Each carefully constructed bite was a caramel apple masterpiece with different flavors and textures.

Current Fish & Oyster is a comfortable, sophisticated restaurant with impressive food and drink. The service is spot-on – friendly and knowledgeable without hovering. The restaurant itself is gorgeous – both contemporary and rustic with high wooden ceilings and preserved brick walls.

Current is the perfect balance of comfy and fancy for us. The well executed menu, with interesting cocktail and dessert options is exactly what we crave.

Slow Food Utah’s 11th Annual Feast of Five Senses

Beautiful tablesettings set the mood for the meal.

Beautiful tablesettings set the mood for the meal.

When Slow Food Utah hosts a meal, you know you’re in for a treat. Their 11th annual fundraiser, Feast of Five Senses, was a showcase of Salt Lake’s finest chefs. Proceeds from the event, as well as the silent auction, fund their micro-grant program which supports farmers, food artisans and community and school gardens. Slow Food Utah is everything that’s good about our local food movement.

Chicken live pate from Tyler Stokes of Provisions with Scaia Corvina Rosso wine

Chicken liver pate with Scaia Corvina Rosso wine

The evening began with mingling, snacking and bidding on the silent auction. Our favorite bites included the organic chicken liver pate with smoked bacon, cider reduction, pickled fall vegetables atop toasted crostini from Tyler Stokes of Provisions. We both went back for a few of these. Bowman Brown of Forage had an impressive spread of tiny, delectable mushroom tarts served with small cups of earthy tea with a tiny bundle of forest plants (which was also adorable!).

So cute!! I adored this tiny soup from Bowman Brown of Forage

So cute!! I adored this tiny soup.

After a few hours of eating and chatting, it was time for dinner. The table settings were  dramatic, decorated with pumpkins, squash and pretty fall-colored flowers against a black table cloth.

“Our Family Table” was the theme of fundraiser. Gwen Davis, the head of Slow Food Utah, talked about the importance of community and sharing meals with friends and family.

The first course was a salad from Jennifer Gilroy from Porch (which we’ll be reviewing soon!). Combining flavors and textures, paired with a chardonnay, this salad was the perfect way to start the meal. The ranch dressing came in the form of panna cotta, made from Drake Farm goat’s milk which was totally fun to eat.

Jen Gilroy of Porch served this lovely fall salad with panna cotta dressing and crispy squash and heirloom tomato confit

The next course was made by Elisabeth LaFrond from Cafe BonAppetit at Westminster College, where the event was held. The tender raviolis stuffed with savory short rib were delicious, but I was really digging the smoky, blistered tomatoes that shared the plate. The tomatoes were a delight to pop in your mouth – smoky, flavorful and super juicy. A glass of Sierra Cantebria Riojo wine was the perfect accompaniment to this dish.

Braised short rib ravioli with blistered tomatoes and a wild mushroom demi glace

Braised short rib ravioli with blistered tomatoes and a wild mushroom demi glace

Last year, my favorite dish was created by Amber Billingsley from 3 Cups, an intermezzo of grape sorbet and a little square of sunflower brioche served in a tiny jar. This year she did it again with a winter squash gelato paired with quince sorbet topped with a dollop of marshmallow fluff and savory, candied pecans. Divine!
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Up next was meatloaf served family style from Logan Crew of Current Fish & Oyster. The presentation was gorgeous with colorful veggies and greens atop the old-fashioned meatloaf and mashed potatoes. La Valentina Spelt, a lush red wine, was served with the dish.
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A simple dish made from local pork and beef from Taylor farms, the meatloaf was flavorful, moist and utterly delectable. The accompanying vegetables and mashed potatoes were divine. Chef Crew is one of our favorites. His “simple” dishes  knock your socks off and this meatloaf was no exception.

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Since Dave had to wake up early (like at 2:30 am early) to work at the bakery, we had to sneak out a bit early. Unfortunately, we missed Romina Rasumussen’s dessert.

We were lucky enough to catch the Snail Awards, presented to members of the foodie community. Adam Kreisel, behind Chaia Cucina, was awarded as well as the lovely duo, Kasey and John Francis, from Amour Spreads.

The 11th Annual Feast of Five Senses was a wonderful evening, a testament to good food and good friends. We’re grateful that we were invited to be a part of the Family Table! It was a memorable experience, full of unforgettable food and wine, and most important, those who make the Slow Food scene in Utah so special.

The first taste of fall: Autumn Cider Festival & Tasting class on October 6

photo 2(3)Last week I was lucky enough to preview a fantastic fall event, the LaSalle and Trio Restaurant Groups inaugural Autumn Cider Festival. Beverage Director and all-around charming guy, Jim Santangelo has selected some of the finest hard ciders to be paired with each chef’s special fall creations – available from September 17 through the end of October. Participating restaurants include: Current Fish & Oyster, Under Current Bar, Fresco Italian Café, Café Trio Cottonwood, Café Trio Downtown, Oasis Café, Caffé Niche and Kyoto.

photo 3(2)I tried the special cider pairing for Current Fish & Oyster and was totally impressed! The Mint Stinger (that’s right, a mint-flavored apple cider!) from local favorite, The Hive Winery paired with a fresh oyster was a fun combination of flavors.

photo 3(1)I was so smitten, I took two photos of the tasty combination.

Along with the Autumn Cider Festival, there is a proper tasting class. I learned a lot at the preview. We tasted eight different ciders and I was surprised that each one was so unique. I was especially impressed with the Stella Artois Cidre – it was refreshing and flavorful.

photo 1(3)Santangelo and Under Current Bar’s general manager Amy Eldredge will offer a “Autumn Cider Tasting and Class” on Friday, October 6, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. at Under Current Bar. It’s totally reasonably priced – just $20 for cider pairings and $15 for food from Executive Chef Logen Crew. RSVPs are required and can be made by emailing events@currentfishandoyster.com. If you love fall flavors, it’s the ultimate drinky and learny experience.

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