We had planned to eat at home, but it was one of the first cool gray days last week, and I just couldn't face the stove. Or the grill. Or even the blender. So we jumped in the car and drove downtown. The sign has been tantalizing me for months—Bistro 222 to open at 222 S. Main Street. Now it was open (for eight days) and, ready or not, here we came.
The first thing you know about B222 (because it's the main thing they've publicized) is that it's aiming to be a LEED certified restaurant. Technically, that can mean lots things; as I understand it, there are many levels to LEEd certification. The general take-away: This is a place that wants to thought of as energy-efficient and sustainable. So don't get the wrong impression from all those glass walls. Instead, read the quote from the owner here.
The glass walls are supposed to meld indoors with outdoors and give the diner a view of the street scene.
Let's hope there is one—this is, after all, SLC, a city that still tends to roll up and die after dark.
But 222 is a sleek and pleasant place to eat, whether there are any passersby or not. Service was exceptional—both because manager Miles Broadhead (formerly of ZY) recognized us and because only a few tables were taken. Spying on them to try to get an unbiased view of service (I fully realize the futility of this), I'd say they seemed happy.
Chef Michael Jewell is from California, and his menu, though well within Utah's comfort zone, has lots of touches that signify kitchen creativity.
Like, beet gnocchi. The little red dumplings were dressed in brown butter and came with roasted halved brussels sprouts, bits of feta, mushrooms and pecans. We declined this dish which was urged on us by our server—we split a ribeye—but was brought to the table, gratis, because everyone was so excited about it. With reason, as it turns out. The beets in the dough made the gnocchi slightly sweet and gave them that distinctively earthy aftertaste.
The steak came sliced for two, was rubbed with miso, and served with more brussels sprouts and incredibly rich gratin potatoes. Not at all adventurous food, but that was the mood du jour for us.
Next time, maybe we'll try the sea bass with romesco sauce and fennel, or the chicken on a cauliflower-ricotta puree.
And for sure we want to try lunch—probably not the express version, designed for the Goldman-Sachs minions who only get 15 minutes at noon to bolt and run (they, or you, could also grab a ready-to-go sandwich), but the full deal: pizza from the wood-fired oven, or pork belly lettuce cups, or pork belly “BLT.”
More independently owned downtown restaurants are what this city needs to become a lively interesting place, like City Creek was supposed to help create. So 222 is good news, and so is Alamexo, which Matthew Lake is putting in to replace ZY, and so, maybe is Ryan Lowder's rumored new place. Go check these places out.