Baked Beans, Burger, Cole Slaw, Drink, Fried Chicken, Fried Mormon Funeral Potatoes, Garage, Jalapeno Dijion, Mac and Cheese, Neighborhood Bar, restaurant, Roadhouse, Salt Lake City, Southwestern Cobb Salad, Utah Ranch
I’m sure you have noticed the roadhouse/neighborhood bar at the edge of town, because there’s a row of trucks, motorcycles, and cars lined up on Beck Street that belong to businessmen, bikers and buddies who head down to their local “Cheers” to chill out. Once you set foot inside, you will notice that this isn’t your typical roadhouse: the interior is decorated with wooden walls, wooden tables, and metal décor that gives the Garage a contemporary feeling without making it feel cold. Somehow the industrial refinery that looms over the Garage, viewed from a spacious outdoor patio that over looks the giant oil refinery/holding tanks, all seems to work in the overall demeanor and aesthetic. No doubt one can avoid looking at the view and put all their attention into their comrades or whichever band is performing on stage.
All in all, the quality of the ingredients wasn’t particularly fresh, but is equivalent to every other bar that orders their goods from a vendor like Sysco, which is common when an establishment is offering up pub and comfort food. The items ordered were presented neatly. The actual dishes themselves were unique and tin like. I felt like I could have been camping, but this added to the uniqueness of the atmosphere: casual and clean in order to appeal to patrons from various socioeconomic strata of both Salt Lake City and Bountiful.
We were scoping out the appetizers and whaaaat?! They offer fried Mormon funeral potatoes?! What other restaurant has this on their menu?! And if another restaurant offers this item up, as a special or otherwise, who fries this Utah-go-to into balls?! How unique. No doubt the Garage ought to keep this on the menu, because this was the highlight to our meal. I am sure this could be a signature dish that people would go out of their way for, because it was such an interesting take: instead of mashing the potatoes, they created a kind of chopped hash that fried up nicely without any mushiness. The balls were very crunchy, tasty and I didn’t feel disgusting afterwards like I do with most fried food. Bravo! There were two different sauces served with these balls: Utah Ranch (fry sauce) and Ranch. Overall, we were split on which sauce was a better counterpart to the balls – way to go Garage for giving us this headache.
Once our dishes were cleared away, our polite and accommodating server brought the rest of our food out. I ordered the Garage burger, which was satisfying for a bar burger. It was cooked to a medium-rare, juicy enough, stacked with goodies, and offered a soft bun that matched the size of the burger with a side of my choice: french fries.. Yup … how could I turn down french fries?! What made the burger? A jalapeno dijion spread…and I am not a big fan of mustard.
One of my guests ordered the Southwestern Cobb salad. She omitted the bacon and ham, and instead ordered grilled chicken on top of it. The salad consisted of a spring leaf mix, canned corn, canned black beans, canned olives, and grilled chicken, with ranch on the side. She reported that in all honestly the salad tasted a bit, well, canned. The corn and beans had no spice or flavor, and who really is a big fan of canned olives or corn anyway?! The saving grace to the dish was the grilled chicken, which was wonderfully tender.
Another guest ordered the fried chicken with a side of cole slaw. The fried chicken was a bit toasty and 2 out of 3 pieces were a bit dry…this ain’t no Southern fried chicken I have ever had. Too bad the kitchen sent this out since the batter was too crispy! No way would we ever order this again. The redeeming quality to the dish? The cole slaw which was light and crunchy – not drowned out in dressing like most cole slaws are. Two thumbs up for the slaw, because my guest dug it.
We attempted to get a side of the mac and cheese… I mean, it’s a fall night and this comfort food just teased us on the menu. Since we couldn’t order it as a side, we just decided to order the entree. I have to admit that I think as an entree it just wouldn’t do it for me. The flavors of the mac were off, maybe because they tried to add a healthy twist and added green chilies (jalepenos?), tomatoes and zucchini. Ya know, some things zucchini just shouldn’t be apart of. Yeeeeeah – in fact, I wish they would forget all the other kitchen leftovers and stick to the penne noodles and cheese with a little addition of salt to it. However, if the Garage was trying to go for a Southwestern flavor, then I would suggest that they stick with the green chilies, because it added heat, and mix it up by adding appropriate veggies to it.
To accompany the mac and cheese we got an order of baked beans, which were a mixture of black and pinto beans. The beans had a hint of smokey flavor to them and could be perfect for any roadhouse entree. Although they looked house-made, they were not so awesome to order again.
To sum up, the niche of the Garage isn’t the food; although the Mormon fried funeral potatoes are fascinating to see on a menu, the food seemed to be an after thought at this joint. Yet, the service was nice. Our server gave us space and came around enough that we could ask for a few extra items. But, the overall impression that we all got is that the focus at the Garage is having various bands perform there: the band schedule is listed on their walls, their menu, and the first thing you see on their website. Unfortunately we left right before the band got there and missed out on the music. If you decide to go to the Garage you most likely are deciding that you are going for the atmosphere, to listen to some local music, or to have a drink.
Rating – I would be willing to return the next time I wanted to grab a drink with a group of friends.