Saturday, July 28, 2007

Provo, Orem and Salt Lake City, Utah

I spent a week in the Provo, Utah area and I have to share about this interesting area. I found one commonality among the vast majority of the businesses there. The staff seems friendly, if not eager, to do their jobs and do them quite well. A strong work ethic and positive attitude dominates the general public and those working to serve it. Waiters and waitresses were friendly, store clerks were pleasant and helpful. Stopping in at a local bakery, Kneaders, one night 10 minutes to close I found the typical teenage staff working, except they didn't treat me like I was in the way, but rather a welcome customer. Kneaders, by the way, makes some fantastic cookies, pastries, croissants and muffin tops. I will be spending a bit of extra time at the gym making up for my excessive enjoyment of their delectable goodies. The area itself is beautiful and the drier climate a pleasant change from the normal 70% humidity of my home in Arkansas.

While I was in Utah for the week, I visited a few other noteworthy restaurants. A few were something worth writing home about, as bakery I already mentioned. One afternoon for lunch I made the trip up to Park City, about an hour drive, and stopped in at Zoom. Despite it's attempt to appear gourmet and swanky, the macaroni and cheese was the best dish on the menu; using a blend of Havarti and White Cheddar, I'd rank it in my top 5 of mac & cheese dishes around. The bacon used in their dishes was also exceptional, but overall it was overpriced for a just so-so meal.

After nearly a year long hiatus, I finally had the opportunity to return to one of my favorites of all time, Ruth's Chris. Their location in Salt Lake City did not leave any room for disappointment. The restaurant itself is fascinating in its design. The feel is though it is a place to be seen, with a long, slightly stair-stepped room, accented with archways and a look of that classic elegance that you don't see in restaurants anymore. Oh yes, and the food was excellent as always. I did sample a different desert, their bread pudding. I think I have decided to stick with what I know is always fabulous, the creme brulee. The bread pudding wasn't bad, but the whiskey in the sauce was a bit overpowering. Besides, as the waiter told a table of Ruth's Chris newbies at the next table, "We have other dishes, but really it's all about the steak." Well said indeed.

An interesting find was a chain that it turns out isn't all that far off from my own hometown, Mimi's Cafe. The variety on the menu alone makes it an excellent choice for families or groups. My husband tried the chicken fried steak, and we both agreed it was some of the best we've had, and ordinarily I do not like chicken fried steak. I will definitely put this on my list of places as I travel as a safe bet when I'm not feeling particularly adventurous.

Wingers is another good local chain, featuring their own in-house wing sauce. I'm not a huge wing fan, but their diner car type restaurants have a level of kitsch that makes them fun. The large menu can satisfy the wing fans and those who aren't into wings as well.

Probably one of the more pleasant surprises was the Megaplex Theater at Sandy, Utah. If the theaters in my area were this great, I'd go at least once a week, even to see the movies I'd normally catch on a movie channel later. Set up similar to what I've seen in Las Vegas, the inside is like that of a city walk. It has multiple restaurants like a small food court, including a deli, ice cream shop, pretzel shop, soda fountain style diner and of course the requisite popcorn and sodas. The food at the diner was good, and not as overpriced as I would have expected. Also their option to purchase tickets online is wonderful; buy the tickets from the comfort of home, or in my case the hotel room, at the theater walk up to a kiosk, feed it my credit card and there's the tickets. No lines. For some screens they also offer reserved seating, making a crowded or likely to sell out movie more pleasant. I know I'll get a good seat without having to get their an hour in advance, or more. Catching a movie on the Imax doesn't hurt things either; the insanely huge screen and clarity is something to see. Throw in some 3D action and the extra cost is money really well spent.

The Courtyard by Marriott in Provo, Utah is a clean, nice hotel with a very friendly staff, of course. My room included hi-speed internet access that was reliable and most notably, it was very very quiet. Very quiet. I've come to appreciate that in hotels, many find it not a worthwhile investment to add a bit of sound deadening to the walls and doorway areas. I rarely heard a peep in the hallway.

Overall the area is beautiful, the people are friendly and it's simply put a nice place to visit.


Aaron said...

I haven't been to Utah yet in my travels. I do want to get out there though. thanks for the info especially about the demeanor and personalities of the waitstaff - very underrated! I found you while looking on the Blogger's Choice Awards site where you are up for Best Travel Blog. I gave you a vote!

Lorrie said...

The people and their friendly nature is definitely underrated in that area. It's a worthwhile place to add to your list of places to visit.

Thanks for the vote!