We’ll start with the show. After putting our two-year old to bed, we admit to snuggling up on the couch and watching TV. I know it’s not as mind expanding as reading or as useful as home improvement projects, but it’s a step up from hanging out on separate computers or one of us falling asleep while the other futzed around. We’re getting sick of CSI, (even with an episode all about GMOs and agribusiness), so we found a new show On Demand. It’s called 100 Mile Challenge, and it’s a reality show about six-plus families in British Columbia town that participate in a challenge to eat ONLY food produced within 100 miles of their town for 100 days. That includes spices, yeasts, leavening agents, and chocolate. Being the nerds we are, we have really liked watching the three episodes that have already aired. We’re reminded of our interest in eating more locally produced, sustainable food. There are a lot of reasons why we have those interests, but this isn’t the post about those.
Tonight we had a baby-sitter and our child did NOT get sick like last week and I’m feeling almost normal, so we went on a date. (You can hear cheering in the background.) We found a restaurant that touts “Farm to Table” and the menu looked promising. We managed to get reservations for 5:30, which was a great time considering my pathetic attempts at eating today had been foiled and I was starving.
The restaurant is called Pago. I am providing the link because it’s fair to get an idea of what our plans included. Upon arrival (mind you, Matt called to make the reservations only an hour prior), there was a lot of confusion as to whether or not we were on the “list”. This is a small restaurant with only 47 seats, so there wasn’t much room for us to stand during the 10 minutes spent waiting for clarification and seating. And it took 4 people to figure it out (which is probably 80% of the staff). Eventually they figured out their mistake and sat us at a table for 5 (clearly not set aside for us and right next to the door and bar) and we got a menu. The food looked lovely, albeit pretentious, and we finally settled on both getting the potato fennel soup and splitting the chicken and the halibut. We already felt like the black sheep of the restaurant, but we were willing to keep trying.
The soup was lovely and probably the reason I don’t try to make potato soup, because mine always tastes like really thin mashed potatoes. That’s not necessarily bad, but not lovely and velvety.
Then dinner came. I started in on the halibut and my second bite was cold. COLD? Yes, cold. The middle was raw, well, actually, most of it was raw. After 5 minutes of looking like I needed help (and mind you, we’re right next to the servers’ station, the bar, and the door), I finally got the bus boy’s attention and I asked if he could get our server for us, which he seemed to start doing, but apparently failed. I watched a three minute conversation between them and a few others with some laughing and jockeying, and our server continued doing what he was doing and the bus boy left. Finally, after another 5 minutes, I got the server’s attention, asked if the halibut was supposed to be cooked “rare” and he took it back for repair. A few minutes later, it was returned, still not fully cooked, but I was sort of over it by that point and pretty full from sharing Matt’s chicken. Upon return, the halibut couldn’t stand up to the flavors combined with it, and I’m not sure if it was the lack of thorough cooking (good halibut likes to be fully cooked) or if it was because the chef just reheated my piece of halibut (which no fish ever likes – twice baked potatoes are one thing, but twice baked fish?) or if the flavors just weren’t meant to be. I ate what I could because the potatoes and sauce were quite pleasant in their own right, and our plates were taken away.
It’s hard not to feel like we’d been shoved in a corner (“No one puts Baby in a corner”), but I think we had been. I had to ask what the soup and risottos of the day were after our server walked away from our table and he still seemed confused as to what they were, but I later overheard multiple other tables receive the whole rundown of ALL the specials, including what sounded like a lovely dover sole entree.
For our pains, we were given a complimentary dessert, which we ate and enjoyed upon returning home, but bananas are in no way and no how a local (or even feigned and attempted to hide them by looking like such – at least apples are in season here) food.
I have just one question: Why must local and sustainable eating in Salt Lake City be expensive and pretentious? The masses will never catch on that way, and I think that’s the only way it can really work, or maybe we ought to leave it to the high-minded, uber-cool to save the planet, our farms, and our communities. Perhaps if I’d worn a big scarf or skinny jeans or funky boots and looked like I didn’t care …