SLACKWATER PIZZERIA & PUB

ADDRESS: 1895 Washington Boulevard, Ogden, UT 84401

After we finished gorging on the dozen donuts that we had bought from Madbrook Donut Company, Tina and I decided to head out and attempt to walk off those donuts on the Ogden River Parkway. The trail itself spanned over 17 miles, but we only tackled a small stretch that we picked up near their apartment. It also gave me the opportunity to break out the DSLR camera I had brought with me to capture some of the beautiful outdoor scenery in that area.

By the time that we finished our walk, it was pretty much getting close to lunchtime. We decided to stick to a nearby spot that both Tina and Mike had been to before: Slackwater Pizzeria & Pub. Pizza and beer, no matter where I’ve gone, always seems to be a winning combination.

Slackwater is situated in a pretty good location right by the main highway running through the town of Ogden, where it also borders the Ogden River Parkway trail that Tina and I had been on earlier. The restaurant has both an indoor and outdoor seating area; since the weather was really nice, we opted to sit outdoors, where you could also partially hear/see the river. I’m not sure if there was some initial confusion on who would be covering our table, since it seemed like a little while before anyone stopped by. But once our waitress came over and welcomed us, the service was smooth after that.

Naturally, one of this place’s specialties was their variety of pizzas, complete with creative names and intriguing ingredient combinations. We were hungry enough though that we decided to start off with their smoked pork nachos and follow that up with some pizzas. In an effort to manage my gout, I went with a vegetarian option and ordered the Piper Pesto, which consisted of a pesto cream sauce, roasted garlic, a mix of cheese, tomatoes, and pine nuts. They went with the Italian Job, loaded up with pepperoni, salami, capicola ham, and some pepperoncinis.

One of the unfortunate things that rather slipped my mind was to get a flight of beers to sample while at Slackwater. I usually like to try the variety, rather than commit myself to a whole pint if I hadn’t tried something yet. It wasn’t before long that our nachos arrived to get things started. A plate of tortilla chips topped with some house-smoked shredded pork, smoked poblano and Anaheim chilis, diced tomatillos, cilantro, a three-cheese blend, chimichurri, and pico de gallo, these nachos certainly pack on the flavor as well as the heat. You definitely get the smoky flavors coming on from a combination of the ingredients, and I think the tortilla chips were actually finished with a light sprinkle of paprika as well that complimented everything. It was certainly a good way to get the tastebuds going.

The kitchen was on top of cranking out the pizzas, because we didn’t actually get to finish all the nachos before they arrived at the table. The pizzas themselves were actually a relatively good size (even for a personal portion), about the same diameter as a large dinner plate. The aromas started to creep up from the pizzas; I didn’t need any more convincing to dive in for the first bite. The crust came out just the way I like it: a slight crisp on the outside with a chewy inside. I think they had the roasted garlic oil brushed on the pizza before they dropped the pesto cream sauce on there, because the way those flavors layered up was really nice. Even though the pine nuts provided a texture contrast to the rest of the pizza, I was a little ambivalent on having them added on there as a topping from a taste perspective. I did like that the feta cheese provided that flavor contrast from the rest of the ingredients as well.

With a nice, casual atmosphere and a wide selection of things to eat & drink, Slackwater Pizzeria & Pub is a great place to hit up whether you’re looking for a quick weeknight meal or relaxing on the weekend. I’m a person that definitely appreciates some crazy combinations when it comes to food, and quite a few of the other pizza options that were on Slackwater’s menu really sounded fascinating (I’m looking at you, Taste of Thai or Tikka Masala). The next time I come out to visit, a pizza sampler (coupled with a high amount of resulting leftover pizza) should definitely be on the agenda.

Let’s now take a look at the Slackwater Pizzeria & Pub Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.

** Char-Tipped Smoked Pork Chili-Verde Nachos **
Shredded house-smoked pork, smoked poblano and Anaheim chilis, tomatillos, and cilantro over a plate of tortilla chips. Finished with a three-cheese blend, chimichurri, and pico de gallo.

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** Piper Pesto **
Pesto cream sauce and roasted garlic base, topped with a three-cheese blend, diced tomatoes, pine nuts, and feta cheese.

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** Italian Job **
Garlic infused olive oil and tomato sauce base with pepperoni, salami, capicola ham, and three-cheese blend, finished with pepperoncinis and a Parmesan herb vinaigrette drizzle.

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And finally, here are my rankings for Slackwater Pizzeria & Pub:

Food: 4.5 / 5

The plentiful selection of pizzas is sure to keep you occupied with eating through their menu for a while. On top of the wide range of options, the food tastes great as well.

Atmosphere: 4.25 / 5

The feel of the place is slightly different between the indoor and outdoor seating, but not by much. I found the outdoor seating to be pretty refreshing to enjoy the beautiful weather. They also set up live music and events inside the dining area as well.

Service: 4.25 / 5

Even though the initial waitstaff confusion led to us sitting around and waiting to put our drink orders in, after our waitress realized the issue, she made a point to periodically stop by and see how we were doing. The food also cranked out of the kitchen at a rapid pace as well.

Price: 4.25 / 5

The appetizer pricing might have been a little on the steep side, but I think that the pizza pricing wasn’t too bad, considering the larger quantity of ingredients that they were using to assemble their pizzas.

Overall:
17.25 / 20
(86%)

MADBROOK DONUT COMPANY

ADDRESS: 540 E 1700 S, Clearfield, UT 84015

No trip out to see my friends Mike and Tina is complete without finding something to quell our sweet tooth cravings. Saturday morning rolled around and I tagged along with Tina while she had an appointment at a local shop in downtown Ogden. On the way back to the apartment, we decided to take a slight detour and hit up Madbrook Donut Company to bring back some breakfast.

Once we walked into the shop, Tina did my already-waning diet no favors by saying that we were going to grab a dozen donuts. There was a glass display case situated right when you get into line, showing off all the fresh batches made that morning. When a type of donut in the display case ran out, there were mobile racks filled with trays of additional donuts, ready to swap out in a moment’s notice.

Featuring a mix of cake and yeast donuts, Madbrook certainly had quite a variety to choose from. Their signature style appeared to be the triangular shape of their yeast donuts, which was also represented on the store’s logo. Tina and I split up the selection duties: she loaded up the box with a half dozen original glazed and one maple glazed, while I finished it with a chocolate glazed, two blueberry cake, a sour cream cake, and a chocolate peanut butter cake. It certainly made for a very diverse sampler of the flavors Madbrook had to offer.

The ride back to the apartment was rough, since the smell of the donuts wafted its way around the inside of the car. Once we got back into the apartment though, everyone went to town. I took a knife out and starting cutting up some smaller pieces to sample; boy, were those original glazed donuts pretty spot-on. The inside texture was light and fluffy, exactly how you would want a yeast donut to be, with a thin layer of glaze on the outside that gave it just enough sweetness.

I switched over to sample one of the blueberry cake donuts and while it was still very flavorful, the cake texture certainly felt a little more dense. Now, I’m normally more of a cake donut type of guy, but in Madbrook’s case I think I preferred the delicate nature that they were able to execute the yeast donuts and turn them into little “pillows of sugar.” Experience definitely guided Tina’s choice of loading up the box with six of the original glazed donuts, and I’m definitely glad that she did. I think by the time that we had finished the first round of attack, only a little over half the donuts remained standing.

Whether you’re looking for a breakfast fix or happen to get a donut craving in the middle of the afternoon, you can’t go wrong with stopping by the Madbrook Donut Company. With such a wide variety of donuts to choose from, they’ll certainly have something to fit your mood. But don’t take just my word for it: Madbrook made it onto Food Network chef Alton Brown’s list as one of his 14 favorite donut shops in the country.

Let’s now take a look at the Madbrook Donut Company Donut Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended donuts.

** Chocolate glazed (top) **
** Chocolate peanut butter (top) **
** Original glazed (middle) **
** Blueberry (right) **
** Sour cream (middle right) **
** Maple glazed (bottom left) **

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And finally, here are my rankings for Madbrook Donut Company:

Food: 5 / 5

Those original glazed donuts are really the shining example of something so simple, but so good. With such a variety of donuts to choose from, you’ll be hard pressed to not find something that sounds delicious.

Atmosphere: 4.25 / 5

The storefront is a pretty open space, with high ceilings and a big floor footprint behind the counter. The display cases are consistently stocked with donuts, with the back-up racks kept nearby for quick tray swap-outs. There’s also an adjacent storefront space that looks like it was re-purposed to become a small dining area.

Service: 4.5 / 5

The shop staff were very welcoming and patient with us as we were looking around the display case making our decisions. With some donuts flying off the shelf, the racks got replaced quickly, helping expedite the line.

Price: 4.75 / 5

If I remember correctly, you could get each donut for about $1.50 or less. Given the consistent quality of all the donuts that we had, I don’t think that’s a price you can argue with.

Overall:
18.5 / 20
(93%)

THE REST

ADDRESS: 331 Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84111

A few weekends ago, I got the chance to visit my friends Mike and Tina out in the Salt Lake City area. It was certainly shocking to think that nine months had already gone by since the last time that I saw them, but great friendships always pick up right where they left off. This also marked my first visit to the state of Utah, so I didn’t really have any expectations on how things would be. With the Wasatch Mountains providing a constant scenic backdrop, I really enjoyed the area and was impressed at a rather vibrant food scene as well.

Mike and Tina told me that had been chilling out at a bar called Bodega in downtown Salt Lake City and at some point, the bartender asked them if they were there for the food or just for drinks. When they said they were interested in food, another bartender led them downstairs to this hidden dining area where you could order from a full-service kitchen and separate bar. Normally, the only way you can access the downstairs restaurant, called The Rest, is to make a reservation ahead of time. So not too long after I had set the weekend I was going to visit, Tina called to lock in our reservation at The Rest.

When you first walk into Bodega, with the bar on the left and standing floor space to fit maybe 20 – 25 people comfortably, you’d have no inkling that there was a restaurant deeper inside the building. But after checking in with someone at the back of bar, she led us through a door towards the restrooms, down a set of stairs, and through another door which served at the entrance to The Rest.

Quiet and dimly lit by various lantern fixtures around the room, the dining area had a serious speakeasy-esque vibe. Some taxidermy animal heads adorned the walls and vinyl lounge chairs were set up in a corner near the entrance. Seating options were either four-person booths or right at the bar, but we opted to go for the booth. Our waiter stopped by soon after we got settled to pass out some menus for us to look over.

You’ll be hard pressed to find out what kind of food The Rest offers, because they don’t publicize their menu, whether that be online or posted somewhere in Bodega. From how our waiter described the menu, it also sounded like there were a few seasonal dishes that they rotate out periodically. Since Mike and Tina had been to the place before, they had a few pointers about dishes to go for and what to avoid. In the end, we decided to start things off with a bread plate, while I got the fried chicken for an entrée and they both got the steak.

I can safely say that this was a very unique dining atmosphere that I hadn’t been to before. Even though the space started to fill up with more people as the night went on (it was a Friday night, after all), it never felt like the place was crowded. The bar served up an assortment of cocktails that each sounded like an intriguing combination. I’m not sure whether or not these drinks also mirrored what was served upstairs at Bodega.

It didn’t take long for our first plate of food to arrive, which was our bread appetizer. Slices of artisanal bread baked in-house, served on the side with some whipped garlic dill butter, this plate was enough to stave off our initial hunger. The bread was nice and soft, and the butter added a nice, savory flavor to compliment the natural taste of the bread. In the end, I think all the bread pieces were gone by the time that our entrées arrived.

My dish was plated rather elegantly, with the two fried chicken thighs crossed over a bed of pimento mac & cheese. I took my first bite out of the chicken and was impressed with how moist and tender the meat was. The breading, however, was a little on the soggy side, and pulled off the chicken rather easily. I think it could have been attributed to plating the chicken over the piping hot mac & cheese, and the rising steam kept flowing over the breading. As for the mac & cheese, I thought that it had great taste, with the pimento cheese imparting its signature savory and spicy flavor combination. The pasta was also cooked al dente and helped to provide a texture contrast between the pasta and cheese sauce.

If I had to name one thing that you should check out The Rest for, it would have to be the atmosphere. With that slight sense of exclusivity of where people upstairs in Bodega might or might not know the place even existed, it was certainly cool to get the chance to experience dining at The Rest. Funny enough, up in the bar area, there is a green neon sign hanging on the wall for “The Restrooms,” with only “The Rest” lit up. Some people might just chalk it up to a broken sign, but the people who’ve dined downstairs know what it’s really all about.

Let’s now take a look at The Rest Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.

** Bread Service **
Artisanal bread slices served with whipped garlic dill butter on the side.

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** Beer-battered Fried Chicken **
Beer-battered chicken thighs deep-fried and served over a bed of pimento mac & cheese.

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And finally, here are my rankings for The Rest:

Food: 4 / 5

Overall, the food had pretty good flavor and the menu selection was diverse enough to cater to what you might be in the mood for. We certainly felt pretty stuffed leaving the restaurant.

Atmosphere: 5 / 5

Not sure that I can really say anything more about how unique the feel is in this dining atmosphere. From the speakeasy nature of getting in to the lounge-y ambiance, it’s something you’d have to experience for yourself.

Service: 4.75 / 5

Our waiter, Matty, was very attentive to us throughout the entire meal, checking in to see how our food was and refilling our drinks. He was very personable as well as knowledgeable about both the food and drink menus when we asked for some recommendations.

Price: 3.5 / 5

It’s certainly no small chunk of change to dine here. You’ll be paying a bit of a premium for dining in downtown Salt Lake City as well as the unique atmosphere that The Rest offers. For the quality of the food though, I’m a little unsure if I’d be as willing to pay those higher prices.

Overall:
17.25 / 20
(86%)