Ogden Restaurant Week returns

Thursday , April 10, 2014 - 5:18 PM

Standard-Examiner Correspondent, Valerie Phillips

Ogden Restaurant Week was such a big hit last year that it’s back for a return engagement.

The April 11-20 event showcases the city’s local, independent restaurants by offering two-course lunches for $8 and three-course dinners for $15.

“This is a chance to find new restaurants, try ones you’ve never been to before, and support your locals,” said Steve Ballard, owner of Sonora Grill and this year’s Restaurant Week chairman. “Often, people have only so much money they can spend on dining, so they aren’t as adventurous. This makes it very affordable.”

According to restaurateurs, large numbers took the opportunity to break out of their usual restaurant rut, discover new eateries, or get reacquainted with familiar ones.

“It was a huge success last year for all the participating restaurants,” said Angelica Sweet, manager of Bistro 258. “We thought it would start off strong and then slow down by the end of the week. But we were consistently busy throughout the entire week. We discovered a strong following within the community that would try out a new restaurant each night.”

Alex Montanez, owner of Rovali’s Ristorante, also saw a big increase in customer traffic.

“About 30 percent or more were brand new to our little slice of Italy,” he said. “We had people from Salt Lake City or the Brigham City area, and even Logan. The best part was the enthusiasm of our guests. Everyone seemed to be very excited about trying all of the participating restaurants.”

This is MovieGrille’s first year participating.

“I decided to join Restaurant Week because we love to give back to the community,” said Alan Jackman, co-founder of the combination theater/restaurant that opened in 2013. “Restaurant Week is an opportunity for people on a tight budget to experience what Ogden restaurants have to offer. And being one who has done a lot of traveling, I feel that some people do not know what Ogden really has to offer.”

Other restaurants offering specials are Hearth on 25th, Tona Sushi Bar and Grill, Roosters Brewing Company, MacCool’s Public House, Union Grill, Slackwater Pizzeria and Pub, Prairie Schooner, Bangkok Garden, Brixton’s, the Garden Grill and Lounge, Lucky Slice, MovieGrille and Two-Bit Street Café.

Hosting a Restaurant Week makes a statement about the quality of the city’s local, independently owned restaurants. Many major cities such as New York, Boston, Seattle, Chicago, San Diego and New Orleans have a Restaurant Week with dining deals. About 10 years ago, Salt Lake City’s downtown restaurants organized their annual Dine O’Round that takes place every September.

In the case of the Ogden event, each restaurant will offer a special Restaurant Week menu with several different choices of entrees, appetizers and dessert. (The regular menu will also be available, at regular prices.)The courses, if purchased separately off the regular menu, would cost quite a bit more than the $8 price for lunch and the $15 dinner price.

“A lot of the time when people go to a restaurant, they never try a dessert or an appetizer because of the cost,” said Ballard. “But during Restaurant Week you might find out your favorite tiramisu is at Rovali’s and you didn’t know that before.”

“At Sonora Grill, $8 will buy lunch customers a choice of chile verde, a tostada salad, chicken enchiladas, grilled shrimp tacos, or the restaurant’s top-selling carnitas tacos. They can be paired with either an appetizer or dessert. Appetizer choices are beef taquitos, cheese bean dip, or made-to-order guacamole. Dessert choices are sopapillas, chocolate mousse, or coconut flan.

Ballard is especially proud of the popular chile verde.

“It is a signature dish, and the way we cook it makes all the difference in the world,” he said.

The pork shoulder is trimmed and braised until golden brown.

“Then we build the sauce with 17 different ingredients, then re-introduce the pork back into it. You end up with very tender pork, instead of pork being tough from being boiled for a long time.”

MovieGrille’s daily specials will include customer favorites such as the fresh turkey sandwich with house-made pesto cream sauce, the barbecued chicken pizza, deep-fried mac ‘n’cheese bites, and goat cheese and pear salad. Montanez said Rovali’s is offering signature menu items that define the restaurant’s flavors and taste. For lunch, you can get lasagna, (with meat or veggie sauce) with a Caesar or house salad; or the Italian half sandwich with a choice of soup or salad.Dinner entrée choices are fettuccine with chicken or broccoli, spaghetti with Mama’s Giant Meatball or Italian sausage, or lasagna. They come with a Caesar or house salad; and a dessert choice of house-made cheesecake, brownies, cream puffs, or chocolate chip cookies.

Bistro 258’s menu includes an appetizer choice of house salad, soup du jour, artichoke dip or shrimp cheesecake with crostini. Lunch entrees are a dual slider plate with sweet potato fries, a vegetarian mac ‘n’ cheese cavatappi, blackened turkey Cobb salad, or a focaccia grilled cheese sandwich. Dinner entrees include roasted USDA Choice beef medallions; Parmesan-crusted tilapia, chicken stuffed crepes or the mac ‘n’ cheese cavatappi. The meal is polished off with a dessert of focaccia French toast, crème brulee cheesecake, flourless chocolate torte or vanilla Haagen-Dazs ice cream.

“Three courses for $15 is a steal of a deal for our restaurant,” said Shana Hubbard, of Hearth on 25th.

Her $15 fixed-price dinner menu includes a first course choice of truffle fries, cup of soup or a pear and goat cheese salad; second course choices of house-made pasta, bacon-wrapped shoulder of beef, grilled red Utah trout, or chicken artichoke pesto hearth bread. Dessert is a choice of tiramisu, house-made gelato or cheesecake. Hearth will also offer a five-course dinner for $40.

All participating restaurant menus are listed at www.ogdenrestaurantweek.com. To build the excitement, prizes such as restaurant gift certificates are being given away on the Ogden Restaurant Week Facebook page.

Some tips for enjoyingRestaurant Week:

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