HUB & SPOKE DINER
ADDRESS: 1291 1100 E, Salt Lake City, UT 84105
Saturday morning rolled around during my Utah visit to see my friends Mike and Tina, and we decided to venture out to hit up some brunch. They told me about their two go-to spots for brunch in the city, RYE and Hub & Spoke Diner, and left it up to me to choose which place we would hit up that morning. I took a quick look at both of the menus, and Hub & Spoke’s hearty American breakfast options were really speaking to me. So off we went to get our brunch on.
The restaurant itself is located in the midst of a neighborhood in a shared office building, with a small parking lot that was filled up by the time that we got there due to the brunch rush. We didn’t get lucky enough to snag a spot as diners were leaving, so we ended up parking just up the street a little bit. We got there just before 11:30 a.m. and they were quoting us for a 45-minute wait to get seated.
It’s almost tough to describe exactly what the theme is for the interior décor, but a phrase that might capture it is “industrial modern with retro elements,” if that even makes any sense. The use of a lot of rectangular drops on the ceiling as well as glass (lighting fixtures, large windows) gives it the modern element, while a finished concrete floor and metallic tables and chairs with wood accents brings out the industrial feel. There were also places to sit at the counter, with barstools and mini lamps that reminded me of a 60’s diner. I can safely say I haven’t seen those decorative styles mixed together before, but I was a fan of the end result.
It hadn’t felt like 45 minutes went by, but time passed quickly and our names were being called for seating before we knew it. Having done some of my research back at the apartment, I kind of already knew what I was going to order. I was in the mood for something filling, and the Country Fried Steak & Eggs sounded like it would do just the trick. But we also decided to tack on two plates of appetizers: the Stuffed French Toast and house-made fruit Pop Tarts.
There had been only one other restaurant I’ve been to that did their own in-house pop tarts, and that was Ted’s Bulletin back in Washington, D.C. So when our waitress dropped off the plate of pop tarts and they looked like those Smucker’s Uncrustables, I was slightly disappointed. They were served with a side of raspberry jam, but that came in two small sealed packets that I’m not sure were supposed to be plated that way. They were pretty difficult to open, and we spent probably half a minute on them before some marginal success. That jam would have been better served in a mini bowl next to the Pop Tarts; I think it might have just been lazy plating, to be honest.
As for the pop tarts themselves, we were told that the seasonal fruit filling was peach, but the pastry was pretty dense, leaving a minimal amount of filling inside. It didn’t help that the flavor of the pastry was a little bland, and the raspberry jam was too tart to really help add to the overall flavor. The pop tarts would have been helped by a sweet flavor of some kind, whether that came from the jam or even a sugar-coating finish on the outside of the pastry. Not a great first food impression.
Thankfully, the stuffed French toast arrived while we were picking away at the pop tarts, and the presentation alone was already miles ahead of where the pop tarts were. Slices of French baguette had blueberry cream cheese spread in between, dipped into egg wash, and then cooked on a flat-top, finished with a dusting of powdered sugar. Drop a little bit of butter on top and drizzle the maple syrup over the slices, and you’re ready to go. I liked that it was a mix of different sweet flavors (blueberry cream cheese, powdered sugar, maple syrup) and the egg giving just a bit of savory flavor at the end.
The kitchen must have been working pretty quick, because it was just as we finished our last bites of the French toast that our main dishes arrived at the table. The country fried steak looked like serious business, smothered with their country gravy and the two over easy eggs I ordered sitting right on top with some shredded white cheddar cheese. I equipped myself with the upgraded knife that came with the plate and got right to work on the food.
After a few bites of the fried steak, the question popped into my head if they had left the steak in the fryer for slightly too long. The breading had a slightly burnt flavor to it, and the steak was a little bit chewy as well, giving my jaw muscles an extra workout. I thought that the country gravy, however, was really well done and provided that right balance of savory and black pepper flavors that complimented the steak and potatoes.
From the food perspective, the meal was a little bit of a mild roller coaster. The pop tarts started things off on a rather flat note, while the stuffed French toast brought the meal to the top of the climb. Inconsistencies with the country fried steak dipped things back down a little bit, but nowhere near the level of the pop tarts. Mike even commented that it had been an off day for the restaurant, since their previous visits have gone better. If this had been my first impression, however, and I also waited 45 minutes in line prior to the meal, I’d question if this was the best option for my weekend brunch.
Let’s now take a look at the Hub & Spoke Diner Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
And finally, here are my rankings for Hub & Spoke Diner:
Food: 3.25 / 5
Although my favorite dish was probably the stuffed French toast, inconsistencies with the pop tarts and country fried steak detracted from the enjoyment of the overall meal.
Atmosphere: 4.5 / 5
I think the “industrial modern with retro elements” theme really brought an interesting dining atmosphere to the place. A combination on paper that might sound kind of strange, but the restaurant was able to pull it off. Table spacing was also done pretty nicely to give you comfortable room from the diners next to you.
Service: 3.5 / 5
Our waitress was pretty friendly to us during our meal, but it’s really difficult to overlook those sauce packets served with the pop tarts. That basically said to me, “throw it on a plate and get it out of the kitchen.”
Price: 4.25 / 5
I thought that the pricing of everything was pretty good, since the portions you get for the main dishes are pretty sizable.