The Gluten-Free Gourmand
Pago is a small, and somewhat trendy, restaurant in the 9th-and-9th neighborhood in Salt Lake City. It is one of the few restaurants in Salt Lake City that boasts a farm-to-table motto, which means that they strive to use as many ingredients from our local farms as possible. I’ve also heard it called a “low carbon diet” as well, though I don’t prefer that term. Pago opened in Salt Lake about 2 years ago and we’ve been meaning to try it since, but never really got around to it. It wasn’t until a friend Kelli, and fellow food blogger (check out her blog post of our recent outing at Pago here), raved about it that we really took it seriously. So, the hubby and I decided to check out the brunch menu along with our seasoned Pago veteran Kelli.
Upon entering Pago, I was reminded of a really awesome little place we ate at in Brooklyn called Vinegar Hill House which shares the farm-to-table motto. The décor is somewhat reminiscent of an old European country-side bistro with a modern flair – old brick walls and dark heavy wood tables mixed with modern art and track lighting. It’s quite beautiful, but also quite small as I mentioned before. I felt that the interior atmosphere made it more suited for a romantic dinner or a meal with close friends to catch up. There is also a small patio seating area, which is also quite limited, but probably better suited for a large group prone to chatting loudly. Also, because of the small size you may want to consider reservations, especially for dinner or for a large group. Brunch was not nearly as busy, but I have witnessed long lines outside later in the evening. I hear that the Morgan Valley Lamb that they’re known for offering causes most of the buzz. We will have to test this and go for dinner sometime (soon!).
Our first trip to Pago, the hubby ordered the Chicken Hash ($14) with a side of a single Eggs Benedict ($6) and I had the Croque Madame ($9). Our friend also ordered the Chicken Hash. Hands down, the hash won this round. It was extremely rich, yet not one ingredient over-powered the dish – impressive since the dish boasts pancetta, goat cheese, and mascarpone in the mix with the pulled chicken and sundried tomatoes. Coming in at a close second was the Eggs Benedict. You would expect this to be a mediocre dish, since it’s so common, but it’s the citrus hollandaise that elevates this one. The Croque Madame did not disappoint, however, it seemed to be missing something. Usually Croque Madame is basically a Croque Monsieur (a ham and cheese grilled sandwich) with an egg on top, but at Pago they further differentiated it by removing the ham. They also added a delicious béchamel sauce.
So we went back the next week, when I decided to check out the Croque Monsieur ($11) which turned out to be the Madame sans the egg, avec bacon and ham. The flavors of the thick bacon and the ham really did it for me for this dish, so I’m going on the record – Croque Monsieur > Croque Madame. The hubby ordered the Pleasant Creek Ranch Steak & Eggs ($16) this time around which was a bit of a disappointment for him. While the steak was cooked a perfect medium-rare and the accompanying potatoes were delicious, the steak itself was a bit flavorless. With some dishes, less is more with seasoning and you can allow the freshness of the ingredients carry it, this was not such a dish.
Of course, we didn’t miss out on the mimosas ($3) on either visit. They were perfect.
The Pago brunch menu definitely has inspired us to return, soon, to check them out for dinner. I’ve heard fantastic things about the Moroccan Fried Chicken, the Pleasant Creek Ranch Truffle Burger, and any of their Morgan Valley Lamb dishes. The thing is, we’d better hurry up. Being a farm-to-table restaurant, their menu changes seasonally. One thing that seems to be constant, though, is the fantastic service, great food, and fantastic wine list. We unfortunately didn’t get a chance to peruse during our brunches here, but I believe that the list is available for all meals.