Jan. 18, 2012
Cosmopolitan tastes flavor the menu at Park Citys Reefs
By Lesli J. Neilson
The Salt Lake Tribune
Park City The town of Park City doesnt get much more cosmopolitan than during the Sundance Film Festival, which gets under way Jan. 20 and runs through Jan. 29. Like clockwork, throngs of people will descend on the town for 10 days to watch movies and, at some point, those moviegoers will need to eat. Rather than going Japanese, Italian, Mexican or American, how about eating Middle Eastern-Mediterranean-European-Asian at Reefs Restaurant & Gallery?
Opened in 2005 in Kimball Junction with a Middle Eastern menu, Reefs relocated to Park Citys lower Main Street in 2008. The menu has since evolved to include all manner of cuisines, making it perhaps the quintessential cosmopolitan restaurant in Park City.
In tandem with the worldly menu crafted by Israeli-born Asi Yoked, the restaurants décor, with metal accents, dark wood, concrete floors and dramatic artwork, offers a vibe that feels more like New York City than Park City. That starkness acts as a sort of backdrop for the colorful and creative menu. And while the food had its hits and misses, theres no denying Yoked has talent.
Case in point: A salmon fillet ($22) is pan-seared and served atop an intriguing orange-red pool of reduced tomatoes, green Thai chiles, cilantro and cumin. Plump and sweet, golden-hued scallops ($22; $34) rest within a bold, sunflower-colored mustard-saffron sauce. Macadamia-crusted halibut ($35) gets bursts of color from baby carrots and caramelized figs.
Though each of these dishes were expertly executed, the salmon and scallop dishes felt like they were missing components, especially with those pricetags. Optional sides of the rice-and-lentil mixture mejadarra ($5) or curly french fries ($5.50) seem like add-ons that should be included in the entrée price.
The kitchen cooks its meat with the same gusto as its seafood. An 8-ounce filet mignon ($38) was prepared to a perfect medium-rare and accented with a unique dark cherry butter sauce while rosy and mouthwatering Colorado lamb rib chops ($29) arrived alongside a refreshing Moroccan carrot salad.
Two main dishes, however, could use slight adjustments. An order of lychee-curried lamb ($28) had cubes of not-yet-tender lamb resting in a kaffir lime-accented coconut sauce with bursts of sweetness from lychee nubs. And the ciabatta bread that sandwiched a patty of ground lamb and beef, Gruyère and sweet chili aioli (Reef burger, $22; not on the winter menu), fell apart after a couple of bites, making it a mess on the plate and in the fingers.
Appetizers and desserts both lean toward the Middle East. Its a good idea to start a meal by ordering the sampler plate ($15). Its comprised of chickpea-based hummus, eggplant-derived baba ghanouj, tzatziki garlic-cucumber dip, deep-fried garbanzo bean fritters (falafel) and puréed cauliflower. Using pita as a utensil, each excellent mezze lured us to try another, and another, until the plate was clean.
Desserts come in the form of basbousa ($8), a semolina-coconut cake thats been soaked in rose-water syrup, halva cookies ($7.50) made with the tahini, and chocolate cake ($9.50) with ice cream. While I loved the perfumey basbousa, my dining companions ate every bite of the moist chocolate cake. We all decided the halva cookies are an acquired taste.
As for drinks, the restaurant has a concise and well-appointed beer and wine menu. We were very happy with a bottle of 2009 Purato organic Nero dAvola wine ($49) to go with our filet mignon. On another visit, we enjoyed Moroccan beer (Casablanca, $5.50). Another treat to try is the restaurants cardamom coffee ($4.50). The small sake-sized cups are so cute, you have to be careful not to get too many refills of the strong beverage.
As Reefs is a family-run restaurant, the level of service isnt as high as at other restaurants of this price point. Though the staff was always professional, our water glasses didnt always get refilled, plates werent always removed prior to the arrival of subsequent courses and, on one midweek visit, we felt a bit chided for not having made a reservation. (Come Sundance, obviously reservations are a must.)
Reefs is a bit beguiling and perplexing at the same time. Surely it will be crazy-busy serving diners from all over the world during the film festival. That means you might want to wait until after the festival has passed through so you can thoroughly enjoy a bit of cosmopolitan dining in the quaint town of Park City.
Tribune's rating system
1 star Good
2 stars Very good
3 stars Excellent
4 stars Extraordinary
$ Entree under $10
$$$$ Above $25
1 bell Quiet (under 65 decibles)
2 bells Can talk easily (65-70)
3 bells Talking somewhat difficult (70-75)
4 bells Raised voices (75-80)
A bomb Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)
The Tribune covers the cost of all meals at reviewed restaurants. Star ratings are based on a minimum of two visits. Ratings are updated continually based on at least one revisit. There is no connection between reviews and advertising.