LOCATION: 239 500 E, Salt Lake City, UT 84102
It was day two of my Salt Lake City trip, and my friend Tina and I decided it was time to hit up the Sunday brunch scene in the city. During my previous trips out to the area, she had mentioned a few times about a spot called Rye, but the opportunity had never presented itself to stop by. That is, until now.
We rolled up to the place a little before 10:30 a.m., where there was already a small group of people outside waiting for a table. It was clearly a pretty busy morning, but we luckily managed to get seated right away at one of the two-person tables. Our waitress, Erika, stopped over at the table almost immediately to greet us and to bring some waters before talking to us about the brunch menu.
Aside from the usual breakfast options like egg scrambles, an egg & cheese sandwich, pancakes, or French toast, there were also a few interesting options intermixed into the menu as well. A salmon hash, a whiskey-infused waffle, or even a confit duck bowl probably wouldn’t immediately come to mind when you think of brunch. But the one item that kept drawing me in was their Asian-inspired Breakfast Bowl, stocked with braised pork belly, house kimchi, scallions, bonito flakes, nori, and a sous vide egg, all on top of some of white rice.
Tina also spoke very highly about a poppy seed lemon curd that she had tried during her last visit to Rye. It was served with the Brioche French Toast, so we decided to continue our trend of ordering entrées to split as appetizers.
Even though there was a wait and all the tables looked pretty much filled up, I didn’t get the sense that it was too crowded in the dining area. It’s pretty much comprised of one entire large space, with tables laid out both along the walls as well as in the middle area. Out in the back, closer to where the kitchen is, there was also a breakfast bar top setup for diners that were open to that option.
When our food got to the table, I was wondering if I should have ordered one of the more traditional breakfast options, because the Bacon Soft-Egg Scramble that Tina ordered looked really good. That’s not to say that my Breakfast Bowl looked bad, but my general first impression was that it seemed rather rice-heavy. I started trying to collect all of the ingredients together to get one comprehensive bite: pork belly, kimchi, scallions, egg, nori, and rice. I’m not one to usually eat kimchi in the morning, but I was pleasantly surprised with how well it worked with the other ingredients, especially the pork belly and egg. It also wasn’t too overpowering of a flavor to drown out everything else (which has been my previous experience with kimchi).
My suspicions of the dish being rice-heavy, however, did turn out to be true. It was a relatively larger bowl, and I think that adding some more pork belly would have helped provide more balance to the proportions. I tried to eat the pork belly with bites of rice, and by the time the pork was gone, I still had more than half of the rice left to go.
Tina did offer some of the egg scramble to try, and I happily obliged. The bacon, roasted cauliflower, spinach, potatoes, and melted Gruyere cheese just had a great blend of savory flavors that paired well with the eggs (which were cooked with some crème fraiche to provide some added fluff). Sampling some of the egg scramble definitely gave me a bit of eater’s remorse that I should have gone with another food option.
Between the French toast and the lemon curd, I think the lemon curd was the true star of that dish. There was enough of a tang to it that helped to contrast from the sweetness of the French toast with the maple syrup and powdered sugar. The French toast itself, however, I found to be rather dry. The brioche was cut into slices 1″ thick, and it seemed like the egg wash had only been lightly coated on the top surfaces of the bread before they got cooked. Between the thickness of the bread and light egg wash, I think that was what left the middle of each piece relatively dry.
I thought that all of the food we ordered had good flavor to it, but the execution on the French toast and the ingredient proportions of my Breakfast Bowl could have been improved, in my opinion. The brunch menu itself does offer a nice variety between the traditional breakfast fare as well as some lunchtime savory options. I did also enjoy the relatively relaxed vibe of the dining area as well. It’s easy to see why people line up for Rye’s Sunday brunch service; I’d be up for a return visit when I’m back in the area to give one of their other items a try.
Let’s now take a look at the Rye Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
And finally, here are my rankings for Rye:
Food: 4.25 / 5
I thought the food itself tasted good, with fresh-tasting ingredients and good-sized portions. The brunch menu offers a nice variety of things to fit what you might be in the mood for. I only had some minor observations on things I thought could make both the French toast and Breakfast Bowl dishes better.
Atmosphere: 4.25 / 5
The interior has a combination of a ski lodge feel (wooden panel ceiling with exposed supports) and “modern industrial” elements (exposed HVAC ducting and concrete floors). I did appreciate that even with the crowded dining space, there was still a relatively relaxed vibe, never getting too loud or anything like that.
Service: 4 / 5
Erika, our waitress, was pretty good about coming back to our table throughout the meal to check on the food and see how everything was going. She was also very open to helping answer some of the questions on the menu when we were initially ordering. Even with the capacity crowd, the kitchen staff did well keeping on top of things and I thought our food arrived in a timely fashion.
Price: 4.5 / 5
I expected some higher prices on the food given that the place was in the city itself, but was pleasantly surprised to find that they weren’t too bad. For the portions of food provided and the quality of the ingredients, I thought there was definitely good value for what you pay.