written by: Mary Brown Malouf
That’s right—Tolstoy got it wrong. McDonald’s got it right. Hamburgers are happy meals, without the capital letters and trademark, as every mother who’s taken a deep breath of appreciation of the silence that ensues when their kids’ mouths are stuffed with burgers and fries knows.
Colton Soelberg, co-founder and chef of several of Utah’s notable restaurants—Communal and Pizzeria 712—is the father of four and when a chef’s career and parenting started to overwhelm, he solved his problem with hamburgers. “Now I can work until 5 p.m. And then go home,” he says from behind the counter at Chom burger, his new burger venture in Provo. It looks pretty much like most restaurants look these days: A line forms past the posted menu, you give your order to the server/cashier, take a number and wait to be called. (But the chalkboard Star Wars mural that covers one wall is breathtakingly detailed and wonderful and I hope plans are in place to preserve it forever.)
Soelberg is a specialist when it comes to elevating the seemingly ordinary—family dining became craft cuisine at Communal and pizza was elevated to haute at Pizzeria 712. That doesn’t mean that the burgers at Chomburger are fancy, like the foie gras-topped extravaganza-burgers we’ve seen at Burgers & Bourbon. Chomburgers are still just hamburgers and they don’t aspire to be more. But the potato buns are made by a Provo bakery, the beef comes from Wasatch Meats, the buns are well-toasted and the beef is still pink. My bacon-cheeseburger was excellent. My dining amigo’s green chile-guacamole burger was not as good; there was just too much slippery stuff piled on for one bun and patty to handle and the chiles weren’t hot enough. Still, the taste was good. Fries are fresh and milkshakes are made with ice cream from Rockwell Creamery just around the corner, which uses a base (according to Soelberg) from world-famous Reed’s Dairy in Idaho, flavored with local honey and other ingredients. This is premium ice cream, with a higher percentage of butterfat than most.
Soelberg wants Chom to be a great middle-of-the-road burger—moderately priced, made with good quality and sustainably-as-possible-sourced local ingredients. He calls it “accessible”—and has plans for replicating the restaurant. Maybe he’ll open one in Salt Lake City. Watch out, Tonyburger.
P.S. No, I don’t know what chom means.
45 W. 300 North, Provo, 385-241-7499
See more inside our 2017 July/August Issue.