The construction boom continues apace in downtown SLC with the notable recent openings of the Hyatt Regency and its rooftop restaurant Mar | Muntanya, Woodbine and The Local food halls, new dining and drink spots at The Gateway, countless individual restaurants and bars, and the renovation from top to bottom of the Hotel Monaco and its Bambara restaurant and The Vault lounge.
Another recent hotel launch – this time Le Meridien and Element Salt Lake City – brings us a couple of new options for dining and libations: Adelaide and Van Ryder. Van Ryder is Le Meridien’s swanky new rooftop bar which offers panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains. It’s a gorgeous spot for a craft cocktail, beer or glass of wine, and for watching the sun set, but be sure to bring your platinum card. A glass of Gruet Brut Rosé, for example, is priced at $19 per glass, while a bottle of the same bubbly at the wine store will run you $19.99 – a hefty markup, to say the least. But then, the views are worth the splurge.
Along with libations, Van Ryder has bar bites for guests to indulge in, ranging from Edamame Hummus ($13) and Tater Tot Poutine ($15), to “Lux” Sliders ($17), Shaved Brussels Flatbread ($17), and Pork Belly Bao Bun ($17). Looking for a creative cocktail? Try the Butch Cassidy, made with Amargo Chuncho bitters, Wahaka Mezcal, lime juice, cherry liqueur, Ancho Reyes, mole bitters, and smoked chile sea salt.
Meanwhile, down at street level is Adelaide – Le Meridien’s family-friendly restaurant and bar that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Adelaide is self-described as “an urban brasserie – French and New Orleans inspired with Cajun undertones.” But with the exception of a smattering of Cajun/Creole influences like maque choux here and andouille sofrito there, I didn’t see much that reminded me of New Orleans on the menu. That said, what is on the menu is surprisingly dialed-in given the short time Adelaide has been open. Everything – and I mean EVERYTHING we experienced at Adelaide was spot on.
Our dinner at Adelaide kicked off with a wonderful Warm Cauliflower Vichyssoise ($12). Not to nitpick, but isn’t “warm Vichyssoise” an oxymoron? Call it what you will, this Vichyssoise, featuring poached d’anjou pears, white truffle, and spiced pecans was sensational, and we also really liked the arugula salad ($13) alongside, featuring fire-roasted pepper vinaigrette, Agrumato lemon oil, apple and Marcona almonds.
Adelaide features a raw bar, and the menu offers both raw and wood-fired oysters. But if you want to go big, I recommend the Plateaux de Fruits de Mer ($84). It’s a shareable chilled seafood platter with Alaskan king crab legs, oysters on the half shell, Dungeness crab salad, citrus-poached shrimp, tuna crudo, Calabrian chili cocktail sauce, and irresistible Som Cordial Pineapple Szechuan Pepper mignonette to kick those oysters up a couple notches.
“Petite” menu items – aka appetizers – include Honey Roasted Squash with black sesame, chipotle-sriracha glaze, and pistachio crumbs ($15); Deviled Oysters & Pearls ($17), which is deviled eggs, tempura oysters, caviar and ravigote; and Dungeness Crab Cake Croquettes with roasted peppers, maque choux, and malt vinegar aioli ($19). I devoured most of our Beef Carpaccio ($22) – paper thin, tender raw beef slices with arugula tossed in a nuanced nuoc cham vinaigrette.
There is notable creativity going on in the Adelaide kitchen that can be attributed to their talented Executive Chef, Jacqualine Siao, who most recently headed up the kitchen at Park City’s Hyatt Centric. She’s got a star-studded vitae that includes the W Hotel in Aspen, among others spots she’s worked around the world, and there’s delicious evidence of her travels in the global influences of her cooking – with flavors ranging from Paris to the Philippines and Mexico to Shanghai.
She riffs on a classic Spanish dish – usually made with shrimp – with her Mushroom Al Ajillo ($16), a garlicky dish that she makes with fresh mushrooms, sweet peppers, blistered garlic, chili flakes, Chablis wine, and celeriac crema. It’s a wonderfully rich and satisfying appetizer that’s large enough to serve as an entree. Even Tuna Cudo ($18) – too often a pedestrian dish – is creatively reimagined by Chef Siao with a few ingredients that really make the crudo pop: Fresno chiles, starburst vinaigrette, and cucumber gratinee.
There’s an actual wood burning stove in the Adelaide kitchen and Chef Siao puts it to good use preparing the Wood + Fire items from the menu. They include a wood-fired Heritage Chicken ($34), as well as my wife’s favorite entree: Whole Branzino ($38), which was exactly that: a whole wood-fired branzino with scabeccio, chimichurri, and silky lemon and olive oil pommes puree. The branzino normally also comes with fregola, but since my wife is gluten-free, the kitchen served hers sans pasta.
There is plenty of wood-fired meat on the Adelaide menu as well, including Charbroiled Bison Sirloin ($58) with potato pave, bearnaise noisette, celeriac, and hen of the woods mushrooms; and an 18 oz. Niman Ranch Angus New York Strip ($82) accompanied by blistered shallots, aromatics, charred broccolini, green peppercorn demi, rosemary and fingerling potatoes. But the meaty highlight of my meal was Lacquered Short Ribs ($36) with whiskey glaze, leeks and onion soubise, horseradish gremolata, and Brussels sprouts. A hearty, heavenly dish.
There was a time when hotel restaurants weren’t typically held in very high regard, but eateries like Adelaide and others such as Spencer’s in the Hilton, RIME and La Stellina at St. Regis Deer Valley, The Lodge at Blue Sky’s Yuta restaurant, and the aforementioned Mar | Muntanya and Bambara have changed that equation. Along with excellent cuisine from Chef Siao and a very pleasant and inviting dining room ambiance, our server, Joe, helped to make our first look at Adelaide a very satisfying one. Le Meridien has definitely nailed the hospitality side of things. We’ll be back.
Photos by Ted Scheffler & Courtesy of Le Meridien
Culinary quote of the week: “Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.” – Anthony Bourdain
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.