Left Fork Grill, Market Street Grill University, Takashi | Restaurant Reviews | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Eat & Drink » Restaurant Reviews

Left Fork Grill, Market Street Grill University, Takashi

Celebrating another year’s passing at a trio of fine restaurants



Once you’ve reached the half-century mark, one’s birthdays become less a matter of joyous celebration and more a sinister reminder that you’re another year older and deeper in debt. The instinct, then, on B-day morn is to slither back under the covers with a bottle of Jameson and refuse to acknowledge the further passing of time.

But self-pity gets tedious. And I remind myself: Despite an increasing number of inexplicable aches and pains, I can still lift a fork. A high-calorie birthday binge might just help blur the line between young and old. And when it comes to feeding at the trough, I can still pig out with the best of them.

Breakfast: Any excuse to visit Jeff Masten’s Left Fork Grill is a good one, but a birthday breakfast is a great one. Normally, I’d have headed straight for Left Fork’s superb eggs Benedict. But, knowing that I had a high-cholesterol lunch planned for later, I reigned in my desires and ordered French toast, which came with two perfectly scrambled eggs and a duo of Masten’s excellent homemade breakfast sausage patties. I also snuck a few bites of my wife’s tasty egg-white veggie omelet. By the way, Left Fork Grill is now open for dinner until 9 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday.

Lunch: Since I had a light breakfast— hey, remember, I am a professional—it seemed prudent to bulk up at lunchtime. No sense risking getting weak and wobbly prior to dinner. And it occurred to me that I hadn’t sunk my teeth into a Market Street steak in eons. Yes, I know that the Market Street Grill restaurants are synonymous with seafood. But I’ll let the cat out of the bag: They also serve exceptionally good steaks. So, I enlisted a couple of colleagues/ friends to help me knife my way through a mountain of Market Street meat.

It’s not easy to find a thick, juicy bone-in filet mignon in this town, but Market Street Grill University has ’em. And, Lord, are they ever packed with flavor! I rarely order the filet cut in restaurants because it’s typically bland (too lean, no marbling, etc.). But the bone in this jumbo-sized filet helps protect the meat from the high heat and imparts added flavor. The filet itself is huge: A 2-inch thick hunk of ridiculously tender beef, seasoned perfectly. I’ve often taken note of the steak seasoning at Market Street, which I always thought was spot-on, but could never quite figure out. I knew it was more than just salt and pepper. It turns out that it’s not such a mystery: The chefs at Market Street restaurants simply use Montreal Grill seasoning (from McCormick) on their steaks—the same stuff you can buy at the supermarket or at the Market Street fish markets. They finish the steaks off with a conservative drizzle of garlic butter, and that’s it.

It’s probably a tie for the most decadent steak at Market Street: the aforementioned bone-in filet or the USDA Prime New York strip steak. Both are extremely satisfying. But the best bargain on the menu is the steak “sandwich,” which is a 12-ounce New York steak served atop a slice of grilled garlic bread. I’m told that Market Street used to serve the same steak as an entrée for $32. Once they started calling it a sandwich, they had to drop the price (to $23.99). By the way, you don’t have to pay extra for sides when you order a steak at Market Street. Steaks come with a salad or clam chowder and a choice of starch.

Dinner: After such a heavy lunch, birthday dinner at Takashi restaurant seemed wise. There, I could just nibble on a couple of pieces of nigiri and maybe enjoy a light bowl of miso. Well, that’s easier said than done. When seated in front of my favorite sushi chef, Takashi Gibo, the tendency is to dine with abandon, which I did—and quite successfully, in fact. (I am a professional.)

I’ve learned at any sushi bar—but especially Takashi—to put myself in the chef’s hands saying, essentially, “feed me.” It’s called omakase in Japan, or, to “entrust” oneself to the chef. I’ve been entrusting myself to Takashi for years, and he has yet to disappoint. At times, he’s expanded the boundaries of what I thought I was willing to eat. Monkfish liver comes to mind.

Dinner began with an amuse of New Zealand salmon mousse, followed by a spectacular array of five, single-bite teasers on a thin, rectangular plate: tai (sea bream) with yuzu-tomatillo sauce; tako (Japanese octopus) with mozuku seaweed; a kumamoto oyster; ankimo with miso; and salmon tataki with jalapeño sauce. Wow. But we were just getting started.

As we watched Takashi work his magic, the word “precision” kept popping into my head: artistic precision. Bluefin tuna topped with a bone-marrow meringue was as creative and delicious as anything I’ve eaten in years, and was followed by a torched (literally) sablefish nigiri. Kurobuta pork belly with spicy miso was simply sensational. Komada (gizzard shad); kanpachi (amberjack); toro gunkan with caviar, truffle oil and yuzu—I was one happy birthday boy! The finishing Takashi touch: green-tea panna cotta, which helped to remind me why Takashi is my favorite Utah restaurant—the sort of place you want to celebrate a special day.

Left Fork Grill
68 W. 3900 South

Market Street Grill University
260 S. 1300 East

18 W. Market St.

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