Restaurant Review: Southern-inspired Charm at Adelaide | Restaurant Reviews | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Restaurant Review: Southern-inspired Charm at Adelaide

Chef Jacqueline Siao brings a full spectrum of flavor to the table.


  • Adelaide

I know the post-All-Star-Game discourse between Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal left many locals in a tizzy, but I'm not going to comment on that; if you're bored when you travel, it's your own damn fault. What did stick with me, however, was Shaq's comment about only eating room service.

As I've been visiting more hotel restaurants, I realized that they've got a pretty important job to do. If a high-profile guest visits our city and doesn't have the wherewithal to sniff out a good local restaurant—perhaps by snagging a free alt-weekly and reading the dining column by its dashing and tasteful food writer—the hotel restaurant becomes an ambassador for Utah's entire culinary identity. With that said, I'd like to talk about Adelaide (131 S. 300 West, 801-658-4600, within the new downtown SLC dual-pad space that includes hotels Le Méridien and Element.

When considering a hotel restaurant, you've got to take into account the hotel itself. A hip-but-accessible space like Le Méridien and Element requires a hip-but-accessible restaurant. Under the direction of Chef Jacqueline Siao, that is exactly what Adelaide has set out to do. Before assuming her role as executive chef at Adelaide, Chef Siao spent time overseeing food and beverage for the Hyatt Centric in Park City as well as W in Aspen, Colo. and the Lodge/Spruce Peak in Stowe, Vt. "Every place has its own personality," Siao says over a Zoom call. "But I think Adelaide might be my favorite of all of them."

Siao's approach with Adelaide comes from an affection for New Orleans by way of French Canada and the West Indies. "The name Adelaide comes from a socialite in New Orleans," Siao say. "Each menu item was heavily influenced by her as a person and by New Orleans itself. When you walk in, we want you to feel like you're going to New Orleans."

Located just left of the reception desk at Le Méridien, Adelaide succeeds at transporting the diner into Chef Siao's wonderland of sophisticated, Southern-inspired dining. The fun thing about Adelaide's menu is that it lends itself to a culinary journey. You want a seafood-centric dinner? Start off with the Dungeness crab cake croquettes ($19) and move promptly into the bounty that is simply known as plateaux de fruits de mer ($84), which combines citrus-poached shrimp, oysters on the half shell, Alaskan king crab legs and tuna crudo. Feeling more vegetarian? Check out the warm cauliflower vichyssoise ($12) with its white truffle and poached d'anjou pears and wrap up with the honey roasted squash ($15).

As far as the journey that my wife and I took with Adelaide, we just listened to our hearts. Though the immense fruits de mer platter was appealing, we decided to mix up some starters and entrees. To begin, we tried the tuna crudo ($18) and the mushroom al ajillo—two diametrically opposed dishes on the flavor spectrum, but my wife and I are all about eating dangerously. The tuna crudo is a lovely way to kick things off—it's a plate of thinly sliced tuna topped with a citrusy starburst vinaigrette, along with some cucumber gratinee and a few slivers of Fresno chili for a spicy kick. This starter simply wakes up your palate and gets it psyched for the upcoming meal.

Where the crudo celebrates the vibrant, sharp and acidic, the mushroom al ajillo is all about warmth, richness and depth. It's the celery root crema that really ties the savory mushrooms and blistered garlic together; this eats like pot roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, so don't let its modestly arboreal presentation fool you.

For entrees, we leaned into the savory richness that the mushrooms kicked off for us and got the Sea and Grits ($28) and the lacquered short ribs ($36). I think the latter slightly edged out the former; it's a decadent cut of short rib that gets its signature "lacquer" from an hours-long cooking process that results in a savory delight that melts in your mouth. I opted to add a side of andouille mac and cheese ($9), which is exactly what you'd expect from a Southern-inspired menu—gooey, cheesy and filled with buttery love.

The Sea and Grits is a take on the classic shrimp and grits that sees our familiar crustaceans fried to a golden brown and served on top of grits made with Beehive cheddar. Conceptually, I'm here for the dish—fried shrimp that you can dip into some cheesy grits is an excellent idea. While I thought the shrimp batter needed a bit more seasoning to liven things up, I remain impressed with this fresh take on a classic.

After visiting a few hotel restaurants since 2023 began, I'm quite confident that they can rep for Utah's culinary scene, and Adelaide is no exception. Even if some former NBA star is in town and doesn't take advantage of our own unique dining culture, they can at least get something local and delicious from spots like Adelaide.