De­lec­ta­ble Dining

Keep­ing a Pos­i­tive Spin on Food Re­views

Serve Daily - - NEWS - By Kaye Nel­son

Somepeo­ple have asked why I’m not neg­a­tive in my food re­views and say I don’t give an ac­cu­rate pic­ture of a res­tau­rant’s fare if I don’t find some fault. I dis­agree. There is enough neg­a­tiv­ity in the world to­day. When I re­view a res­tau­rant I fo­cus on the good, just like I do in life. I be­lieve there is more good than bad in the world. I be­lieve you can find hap­pi­ness and good­ness in many places. Por­tray­ing what is wrong with food, peo­ple, politi­cians, taxes, what­ever, starts a process of con­ta­gious neg­a­tiv­ity and com­plain­ing.

I like Chris Baird’s premise for this news­pa­per – he chal­lenges read­ers to con­tin­u­ally lift and help oth­ers. You can’t do that by point­ing out the bad. Hence, I have given you the good as I’ve re­viewed restau­rants over the past two years.

In the past six months we’ve eaten at some tasty places from Springville to San­taquin. The food scene in south Utah Val­ley is thriv­ing and invit­ing. Some restau­rants have weath­ered hard times and stayed put for many years; oth­ers are fairly new but hop­ing for longevity.

In Fe­bru­ary we found Fat Jacks to be worth the drive to Payson from any­where in the val­ley.

Once you’ve tasted Fat Jack’s cheeses­tix the mem­ory takes up res­i­dence in your brain. The thick, soft dough is heaped with cheese that comes out hot and melty and the Western Stix are topped with ba­con, toma­toes, onions and green pep­pers. I will prob­a­bly sleep walk to Payson some­time in search of those cheeses­tix.

“It’s like a burst of fla­vors in your mouth!” ex­claimed Jera Parker, bit­ing into the Western kind. They are re­ally just a sim­ple pizza with­out the sauce. But the chefs do some­thing mag­i­cal in the kitchen that makes a mem­o­rable taste from bite one. There were no leftovers of those. Nada.

March found us right next door to Fat Jacks at Dal­ton’s in Payson - de­light­ful fine dining with­out the sticker shock.

One of our sides was mashed sweet pota­toes. Get them.

“I could eat a whole plate of these sweet pota­toes,” Julie re­marked. They tasted like Thanks­giv­ing sweet potato casse­role – creamy with a crunchy, sweet top­ping.

We asked our server Zach sev­eral times if dishes had but­ter or cream. His re­sponse was al­ways, “whole­some good­ness and love.” We didn’t push it. Some­times it’s best not to know.

In April we vis­ited Joe Ban­di­dos in Springville. It’s been around for years and it’s easy to un­der­stand why.

Stacy, our server, told us the most pop­u­lar item is “El Ban­dido” – a soft, flaky flour tortilla “blan­keted” with lay­ers of good­ness and broiled un­der cheeses. John Ben­nion opted for this dish. He was pleased with ev­ery as­pect from the bot­tom to the top.

“The flour tortilla un­der­neath is flaky and de­li­cious, I’m sure it’s home­made,” he said. He added that the shred­ded beef was tasty and ten­der. I agree, I sneaked a bite and it was fla­vor­ful and moist.

The HuHot in Span­ish Fork in May was food and fun rolled into one mem­o­rable dining ex­pe­ri­ence.

The cook­ing part is sheer min­utes of entertainment. The large flat grill ac­com­mo­dates many din­ners and the chefs keep or­ders straight, hand­ing out steam­ing bowls of hot de­li­cious­ness very quickly. How hot? HuHot!

“Watch­ing them cook it makes you an­tic­i­pate it more,” Rona Jur­gens said. Jera Parker agreed. “It’s part of the ex­pe­ri­ence,” she said. “You stand there sali­vat­ing, wait­ing for the end of the cook­ing process.” Af­ter try­ing her first com­bi­na­tion she hap­pily noted, “the fla­vors blend and burst all at once.”

In June read­ers got a run­down of places for cold, creamy good­ness from Springville to San­taquin. They are plen­ti­ful, es­pe­cially in the summer.

With food truck roundups hit­ting the lo­cal scene we wanted to share our ob­ser­va­tions of the Span­ish Fork roundup.

Dave Allen owns Dawgs & More. We or­dered the Mesquite Chicken Veg­gie and the Av­o­cado Mango Salsa Dawg. I’ve drooled in my sleep re­mem­ber­ing both.

Karla Ben­nion was lucky enough to taste the chicken un-sand­wich in a cup.

“It has a nice blend of chicken and coleslaw,” Karla said. “And a few hot pep­pers in it!”

We each tried a bite but I fin­ished it off when oth­ers weren’t look­ing. And I’d do it again. Our other choice was just as lip smack­ing.

“Mango and av­o­cado should be friends more of­ten,” John said. In­deed. Those fla­vors meld to­gether over the all- meat dog on a soft yet crusty bun.

I love to eat. I love to write. So writ­ing res­tau­rant re­views for the past few years has been lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively ful­fill­ing. Sadly, I need to move on and hand over res­tau­rant re­views for Serve Daily to some­one else. Let Chris Baird know if you are in­ter­ested in writ­ing food re­views – it’s a pretty sweet deal.

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