Food Crush: The ‘Utah Scone’

This month’s food crush might ruffle some feathers. So I ask that all those who believe that a scone is ONLY the English-style, crumbly biscuit-type tea bread…go ahead and turn the page. And since I’m talking about truancy, I invite all the children in the room to leave. Stay in school. 

When I was attending Davis High School, our tried and true spot to “sluff” or “slough” school (AKA “ditch” for all the non-Utahns) was Sill’s Cafe in Layton. Opened and family-run since the 1950s, it was in a ramshackle building that saw generations of farmhands, railroad men, families and staff come and go. What stayed the same was the menu. Breakfast all day long. The wafting scent of coffee and hash browns on the way through the door. And the sure bet of a safe place to roost away from prying eyes when we escaped campus. Even if the local police were sitting and having lunch at the counter, it was a safe zone where we could all coexist. They would nod. We would nod. And even though we all knew we were supposed to be in school, we’d mind our own business.

The best thing at Sill’s Cafe was (and still is) its version of the Utah scone. For those not in the know, a scone here in the Beehive State would likely be called “fry bread” elsewhere. A fluffy, yeasted dough goes into the fryer and comes out to be served piping hot with powdered sugar or whipped honey butter, sometimes both. The closest thing I’ve found in my travels would be New Orleans beignets. But beignets are small and powdered to the point that they are impossible to eat without ending up a snowy, sticky mess. 

The Utah scone at Sill’s Cafe is easily the size of a plate. Fried to golden brown, the edges curl up slightly to make a raft for the ice cream scoop of honey butter plopped in the center, right as it comes out of the fryer. By the time the scone makes it to the table, the butter is melting into every crevice. Sill’s skips the powdered sugar, which, to my mind, is just fine. It is sweet enough with just the house-made honey butter. The best part, which teenage Lydia and grown-up Lydia agree on, is the price. When I was in high school, the scones were $1.05, and today, they are just $3 each. The approved method of eating a Sill’s scone is to tear off a chunk, dunk it in melting butter, devour it while trying not to burn your mouth, take a sip of coffee and repeat. 

Sill’s has since moved from the location I remember from my high school days due to a freeway off-ramp expansion. But the old-school diner ambiance moved with them. Expect to wait if you arrive later than 6:30 am on a Saturday. Breakfast is “served anytime you wish,” but no substitutions, thank you. Look for the classic breakfasts named after the cafe’s regular customers. Like “Dale’s breakfast,” named after Dale May, a Layton police officer: two slices of bacon, one egg, hash browns, and a scone. Or “Boss’s Breakfast,” Kim Sill’s daily order when he ran the restaurant from 1985 to 1993: four slices of bacon, two scrambled eggs with cheese, hash browns, and a scone. Or you can get “Kendal’s Breakfast,” with two slices of French toast, one egg, and two sausage links. Whatever you get, be sure to get a Utah scone.  

If You Go:

Sill’s Cafe
335 E. Gentile St., Layton
801-544-7435
@sillcafe


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Lydia Martinez
Lydia Martinezhttp://www.saltlakemgazine.com
Lydia Martinez is a freelance food, travel, and culture writer. She has written for Salt Lake Magazine, Suitcase Foodist, and Utah Stories. She is a reluctantly stationary nomad who mostly travels to eat great food. She is a sucker for anything made with lots of butter and has been known to stay in bed until someone brings her coffee. Do you have food news? Send tips to lydia@saltlakemagazine.com

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