Holy moly. In two weekends, we've sampled two local places that floored us with the quality of the food we consumed. Granted, neither of them is exactly budget-friendly, but it's so worth it. So without more introductions, I'll move on to the reviews.
The first place we tried was Madeline's, a steakhouse located at 1133 W. Jordan River Pkwy. in South Jordan. We'd driven by it a few times on the way to Shauna's brother's house and kept on saying "we need to try that." Well, when every other steakhouse in a 5-mile radius reports a wait of at least an hour and one of them says "meh, maybe 10 minutes," the choice is sort of made for you.
The restaurant was quiet (but not because of a lack of business) and we were seated immediately. The servers were attentive and friendly, and the food. OH, the good, good food. We opened up with some stuffed mushroom caps that were as tasty as the ones we had made for New Year's (if you were lucky enough to sample some of those). The salads had very fresh greens that went well beyond iceberg and the chili I had is, without a doubt, some of the best I've ever eaten.
The steaks were as good as anything you'd get from Black Angus, Outback, or maybe even Carver's. And (this is the most important part) the creme brulee got the coveted Shauna Seal of Approval, a stamp of approval only ever given out once before. I'd say we rate this a 4.75 out of 5. The only thing that could have been better was the strawberry lemonade which Shauna promptly sent back. According to her, it tasted like they used strawberry jam mixed in with the lemonade, something that seemed bizarrely out-of-place for a restaurant of that caliber.
This weekend, we went to a delayed Valentine's dinner. We weren't feeling up to going the weekend before and my mom was in town the weekend after. (I don't care who you are, having your mom play third wheel on a date is just weird.) I'd heard a lot of buzz about Tuscany, a little Italian place nestled on the south end of Holladay at 2832 E. 6200 S. right next to the freeway ramp, so I made reservations for us. It sort of started off on the wrong foot. I'd made a reservation for 8 and we weren't seated until almost 8:20. Even though the restaurant is huge, it was also commensurately busy.
Things improved drastically from there. We started off with a polenta appetizer with mushrooms and a Madeira wine reduction that was stellar. The salads that followed were no less impressive. I highly recommend you go for the pear salad. It was a mix of bitter greens, pears, pine nuts, Gorgonzola cheese and a smooth vinaigrette dressing whose flavor changed slightly with each bite I took. The entrees, though, were show-stealing. I went with a calamari steak served with julienne vegetables while Shauna went with a maple-brined pork chop with mashed potatoes. Both dishes were excellent, though it was difficult to choose just one item from the plethora of tantalizing main courses.
We even managed room for some dessert. I opted for the special of the day, orange chocolate chip cheesecake with a shortbread crust. Shauna couldn't resist trying their creme brulee as well. And you know what? It too earned the Seal of Approval. Two great creme brulees in two weekends after almost two years of disappointments? What are the odds?
The key to enjoying food at this restaurant is the relaxed atmosphere. The lighting has been done in such a way that it's a soft glow without being too dark and there's a good amount of time left between each course to enjoy and digest your food. We didn't get out of the restaurant until after 10:45, nearly two and a half hours after we started. It's the truly Italian way to dine. We also got a great service surprise at the end of the meal. One of the desserts was free since they didn't make our reservation on time! Score!
This is a definite 5 out of 5 dining experience, ranking right up there with Rodizio and The Melting Pot. Neither of us had a speck of pasta yet we enjoyed some wonderful Italian cooking. Go there. NOW.