Keeping a Positive Spin on Food Reviews
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.