As the year draws to a close, it’s time to look back on the foods of 2017 that we can’t forget – the ones that oozed flavor and made us salivate.
Among our end-of-year favorites is a new way to eat an underrated vegetable, a bacon variant of a childhood favorite, a dish where American barbecue meets Thailand, and pizza worthy of fainting.
Here’s a look at the eight dishes we particularly enjoyed this year and hope to revisit in 2018 and beyond.
Table X Sweet Potato Cannelloni
$ 7 • Like many winter vegetables, the sweet potato is underrated. It took the playfulness of three young chefs at this innovative new restaurant to show the star potential of this root vegetable. There’s no pasta involved, so it’s all cannelloni, with a thin slice of sweet potato wrapped around a creamy, homemade farmhouse cheese (like everything). A garnish of chili pepper flakes and watercress added a bit of heat, while a dash of sesame seeds added a subtle but critical flavor. It was so simple, but so beyond simplicity. The Table X menu is constantly evolving, so it’s no longer on the menu, but I promise there will be something so inspiring.
• Table X, 1457 E. 3350 South, Millcreek; 385-528-3712 or tablexrestaurant.com
– Anne Wilson
PB&J at White Horse Spirits and Kitchen
$ 10 • Far from the expected childhood favorite of peanut butter and jelly, PB&J is pork belly and jam – and no pork lover will want to miss it. Thick slices of pan-seared Berkshire pork belly are topped with a sweet and tangy bourbon maple onion jam and served with slices of fresh green apple matches. Whip up the perfect bite on the crispy brioche and get ready to pass out in front of that pork.
• White Horse Spirits and Kitchen, 325 Main Street, Salt Lake City; 801-363-0137 or whitehorseslc.com
– Heather L. King
Red curry and soft shell crab at Fav Bistro
$ 18.95 • I associate soft-shell crab with the East Coast, so when it hit the menu at this quirky Thai-influenced bistro, I had to try it. Smart movement. A whole fried crab presided over a bowl of lightly spiced and veggie-sprinkled red curry sauce that formed a velvety covering for the basmati rice. It was exotic and delicious, and healthy to boot, just like most of Fav’s dishes. If you’ve never tried the soft shell crab, this would be the perfect opportunity.
• Fav Bistro, 1984 E. Murray Holladay Road, Holladay; 801-676-9300 or annystakeonthai.com/fav-bistro/
Thai yellow curry with brisket at 565 Firehouse
$ 12 • 565 Firehouse offers fusion barbecue at its best – blending smoked meats native to the southern United States and blending them with Southeast Asian flavors. Order the slightly spicy Thai yellow curry filled with tender forked carrot and potato chunks, then add perfectly smoked minced brisket with a wonderful ring of smoke. The whole thing is balanced with a fresh green salad dressed in an addictive garlic, cilantro and ranch dressing and lots of rice too.
• 565 Firehouse is at 565 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City; 801-268-3374 or 565firehouse.com
Minced chicken by the fire
$ 19 • Hash is just minced meat, often with other minced stuff. It’s a classic comfort food that got a 21st century makeover at this revamped Regent Street bar in the heart of Salt Lake City. This time the minced meat was chicken, spiced with onions and spicy cheese and made into a patty which was served over excellent mashed potatoes. A topped pancetta dispersion added fat and flavor, while the underused beans lent that weight that only legumes can provide. The kicker was a lemon-basil sauce that brought it all together and made it into a dish that could fortify anyone against a dark night, a raging blizzard, or a mundane hangover.
• Fireside on Regent, 126 S. Regent St .; 801-359-4011 or firesideonregent.com
$ 14 (lunch) and $ 20 (dinner) • Carmine owner Carmine Delli Bovi imports Caputo flour from Naples, Italy and has installed a wood-fired oven at the front of his restaurant in Cottonwood Heights to make thin-crust Neapolitan pizzas for guests. Its namesake creation is worth searching for just for the homemade bacon marmalade liberally layered on each slice for just the right amount of sweetness. Best of all, the spread is enhanced with the addition of fresh mozzarella, peppery arugula, Parmesan and cherry tomato halves. It’s $ 14 at lunch; $ 20 for dinner.
• Carmine’s, 6926 S. Promenade Drive, Cottonwood Heights; 801-921-9048 or carmines.restaurant
Lobster roll at Freshies Lobster Co.
$ 11 to $ 25 • Park City is such an unlikely place to find the best lobster roll in the world, but amazing food can be found in the strangest places. The owners of this little cafe in Prospector Square are from the East Coast and have extensive experience in sustainable lobster fishing. And they know what to do with the sweet and succulent meat of these crustaceans. Available in three sizes, the sandwiches consist of a roll of butter stuffed with pieces of lobster and are served with fries. You get the best of two worlds: the mountain and the ocean.
• Freshies, 1897 Prospector Ave., Park City; 435-631-9861 or freshieslobsterco.com/
Bondiolas with dark beer at The Eklektik
$ 17 • Downtown Salt Lake City boasted an art gallery, thrift store and multicultural restaurant filled with whimsy and wonder when The Eklektik opened in 2017, offering a menu showcasing dishes from Mexico, Europe and South America. Try the black beer bondiolas, a dish reminiscent of the Argentine countryside. Tender pork loin medallions are braised in dark beer and mustard and served with mushrooms and sautéed onions. A creamy white sauce adds richness alongside a simple side of rice.
• The Eklektik, 60 E. 800 South, Salt Lake City; 385-528-3675 or theeklektik.com