Tin Roof Grill | Restaurant Reviews | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Eat & Drink » Restaurant Reviews

Tin Roof Grill

Let’s be kind and call Tin Roof Grill’s menu eclectic.



Readers of this column frequently ask how I choose restaurants to review. Unfortunately, I don’t have much to say to them. It’s not a very scientific or structured process, although one thing is certain: The more a PR/marketing person pesters me about visiting his or her great new restaurant, the less I am inclined to do so.

In general, though, I follow in the time-tested footsteps of critics before me and gravitate, naturally, toward the new and noteworthy. But not always. Sometimes I like to revisit an oldie-but-goodie to see how it’s holding up—especially if there’s been a significant chef, owner or menu change, or maybe a remodel, such as the recent overhaul of Ruth’s Diner.

I preface this review of Tin Roof Grill in Sandy with these remarks because Tin Roof is the type of place that causes me to lose sleep at night: Should I review it? Should I leave it alone? Am I adding any significance to the local food-and-restaurant “conversation” by writing about Tin Roof Grill, or am I just clogging up the communication arteries?

I probably dine in more restaurants that you don’t hear about than those you do. Because often, I discover that a particular eatery—either good or bad—just isn’t that interesting to write or read about. And especially when it comes to small mom & pop joints; if they suck, what’s the point in spreading the news? They don’t have publicists telling me to come and review their business. So, for example, if I had loathed the food and service at Joni’s Deli, which I reviewed a few weeks ago [“Jason, Jimmy & Joni,” May 21, City Weekly], you simply wouldn’t have heard about it. Why bother? But I loved the little place, so I shared my enthusiasm with readers.

So I’m on the fence about Tin Roof Grill. I’d love to be able to share my enthusiasm for this one-off restaurant; I see a lot of potential here. But when all is said and done, there just seems to be something missing from the place. And, frankly, I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. I think it has to do with the word unfocused.

The décor, for example, is a mix of leftover leather banquets, tables and high-backed leather chairs from the previous tenants (Little Italy), along with some snazzy new flat-screen TVs at the bar and some color splashes on the walls. The dining space is more open and airy than before but still lacks coherence.

But then, so does the menu, which ranges from crab cakes and pot stickers to barbecue chicken wings, fettuccine Alfredo, pad Thai and a garlic cheddar burger. I suppose I could be generous and call the menu eclectic. But to me, it just seems confused. Or like perhaps these are the dishes the chef is capable of executing, so he put them all on the menu.

When I learned that Tin Roof Grill owners include the former owners of Salt Lake Pizza & Pasta and Fiddler’s Elbow, along with a third front-of-the-house partner, it started to make sense. Although there’s a lot to like about both SLP&P and Fiddler’s, I’ve always found their menus to be unfocused and over-ambitious, as well.

On the bright side, I suppose you could honestly say there’s something for everyone at Tin Roof Grill. There are a dozen or so “small plates/tapas” items to choose from. The Spanish tortilla ($4.29) appeared at our table so quickly it had to have been pre-cooked and reheated. It was a generously sized egg, onion and Yukon Gold potato frittata, which came with a generic-tasting spicy tomato sauce (from a jar, I suspect) and garlic aioli. Unfortunately, I couldn’t detect any Yukon Gold spuds in my Spanish tortilla or much in the way of onion, which made for a big, bland-tasting, under-seasoned omelet on my plate. Crab cakes ($9.99), supposedly made with lump crab meat, were equally disappointing. I couldn’t find a single lump of crab anywhere in the trio of deep-fried cakes, which were spiked with minced cilantro and jalapeño, and served with an almost tasteless chile lime aioli.

A much better tapa than either of those were the Asian-style lettuce wraps ($8.99)—minced chicken seasoned with Asian spices and, according to the menu, served with “ice cold lettuce cups.” In fact, the tasty minced chicken was served, oddly, with cold (not ice cold) ribs of romaine lettuce.

Pesto linguine ($9.99 plus a $2.99 surcharge for shrimp) was slightly overcooked pasta with an oily pesto sauce—too few nuts and too much EVOO, I think. “Pizza” at Tin Roof Grill is actually flatbread with topping. The white bean and steak pizza ($7.49) is very good, and has the potential to be great: white bean purée and thin, tender slices of grilled steak with fresh basil, diced red onion and tomato. However, the kitchen was stingy with the bean purée, as if they suspect people in Sandy don’t really want pizza with bean purée instead of pizza sauce. And I’m sorry, but the Margherita pizza ($7.89) is not a Margherita pizza. At Tin Roof, it’s a nicely crispy piece of flatbread with a too-sharp and tangy house cheese blend, sprinkled with fresh diced, but under-ripe, tomatoes and fresh basil. A Margherita pizza made without San Marzano tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella is not a Margherita.

Having said all that, Tin Roof Grill is still a unique, locally owned dining option in an area known for its fast-food and chain restaurants. That’s why I reviewed it.

9284 S. 700 East