What better way to introduce a new spring menu than throwing a party for serious Salt Lake City foodies and assorted hangers-on (that would be me)?---
You'll have to pardon the hijacking of this space typically dedicated to thoughtful, well-informed food news and criticism; City Weekly food guru Ted Scheffler's better half is one of the owners of Millcreek Canyon fine-dining staple Log Haven, precluding him from writing about the joint.
Lucky me, because that meant I got to join a few dozen fellow culinary guinea pigs in sampling some of chef Dave Jones' new seasonal creations. It was nice timing, too, considering the day-long snow and sleet storm that had all of us canyon travelers yearning for sunnier, warmer days.
Suffice to say, there is a lot to love on Jones' spring slate, especially for my fellow flesh eaters. A Juniper Smoked Bison Carpaccio was served as an amuse bouche, but on the regular menu it will be served as a full appetizer, available in a full portion or just a taste for a lower price. Bison isn't for everybody, but the meat was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Also high on my list for the evening were the Griled Rocky Mountain Elk Tenderloin, accompanied by parsnip potatoes, carrots and blackberries, as well as the Grilled Bison Bavette Steak served with a warm mushroom salad, fingerling potatoes and a rosemary-red wine aioli. The only letdown for me among the hearty meat dishes was the Cider Brined Smoked Pork Loin. I'm a pork fanatic, and while the the promise of barbecue spiced whiskey butter had me anxiously waiting for that particular dish to appear, it wasn't in the same league as the bison and elk.
Jones certainly has a way with seafood, too. The Fried Halibut Cheeks appetizer, simply prepared with a Uinta beer batter, was some of the tastiest halibut I've had in recent memory, and I'm a big fan of the ol' fish 'n' chips. Jones told me he had sauteed the halibut last year, but it just didn't come together as well as this delicious fried version.
The Rock Shrimp and House Pancetta entree worked well, too, thanks in no small part to the risotto with fresh English peas alongside. And in my book, you can't really go wrong adding pancetta to ANYTHING. The Tortilla Crusted Loch Duart Salmon didn't seem to have the all the flavor I was expecting considering it was served with fresh cheese and jalapeno dumplings, mango-cabbage slaw AND a guajillo-chiltomate.
The Big Eye Tuna Tartare appetizer just might have been the best dish of the night (much as I love me some bison). A little crunch from the miso-sesame tuile and vibrant flavors courtesy of the crushed avocado, pickled baby shitakes and seaweed salad all served the tuna without distracting from its own taste. As one friend at the table remarked, "I'd drive up here just for this." Me, too.
The various courses were all paired with wines ranging from Rieslings to Chardonnays to a couple of Cabernet Sauvigons. I won't even try to b.s. you into thinking I know a thing about vino except for how big a box I can fit in my backpack. But if you make the trip up to Log Haven this spring—or any season—they can help you find the right glass to go with your meal.