Second acts: Two small downtown eateries open bigger Sugar House spots

Published February 22, 2013 10:41 am

Dining out • Two downtown eateries now in SugarHouse
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Ekamai Thai Curry and Bruges Waffles & Frites — both located in the redeveloping 300 South and 300 West block near Pioneer Park — are likely two of Salt Lake City's smallest restaurants.

But from these small beginnings have come bigger things. Both restaurants recently opened larger, second locations in Sugar House, allowing a new set of neighborhood diners to try these culturally diverse cuisines.

Ekamai Thai Curry • Located just north of Sugar House Park in a renovated bungalow, you'll find all the tastes that you love from the original here in a more traditional restaurant space. There's a broader menu as well as a well-paired wine and beer list.

Inside the old house, a fire burns, metal tables gleam, and many of the favorite dishes from the downtown location are still served at nearly the same quick pace.

I'm thrilled that my favorite soup, the Tom kha kai ($5 small, $11 large), is available anytime instead of just as a Thursday special, as it is downtown. Warm and comforting, this coconut chicken soup with lemongrass, lime leaf, mushrooms, tomato and roasted chile is a perfect combination of sweet and spicy. Fruity notes of lemongrass and lime leaf hit the palate at just the right intervals, while the chicken is juicy and generous and the mushrooms meaty.

The chicken drunken noodle is another downtown stand-by that's always available at the Sugar House restaurant ($12, choices also include beef, pork or tofu for $12, or seafood for $15). These flat rice noodles are a filling base to the egg and chile oil-infused vegetables. The portions are always generous, making for fine leftovers.

Traditional curries are also on the new menu. The nice kick in the yellow curry chicken ($12) offsets the potatoes and carrots, while less flavorful was the Massamun curry beef ($16).

Several new dishes make an appearance at the Sugar House space. A fried tofu salad ($8) with crisp greens and raw vegetables are dressed with a kicky house dressing. The stir-fried garlic-and0black pepper entrée with a choice of chicken, beef, pork, tofu ($12) or seafood ($15) celebrates these two simple flavors alongside steamed carrots, broccoli and mushrooms. I ordered the beef, which soaked up the star flavors, making for a juicy dish. The entree is served with either brown or white rice.

Many of Ekamai's offerings can be made vegetarian or vegan upon request, and those choices are clearly noted on the menu.

As always, the mango sticky rice ($5.49) or toasted coconut sticky rice ($6), each with just the right amount of sweetness, is a delicious end to dinner.

Bruges Waffles & Frites • To find the new Bruges, travel to 2300 South and Highland Drive. This location offers the same Belgian specialties as the original downtown store — including sausages, frites (fries) and waffles — but with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. There's also a Manneken Pis fountain — that is, peeing boy — celebrating owner Pierre Vandamme's home of Brussels, Belgium.

The menu isn't large, but what is offered is executed well. Liege waffles are the reason most people visit Bruges. The batter includes the coarse-grained pearl sugar more common in Scandinavian dishes, and is cooked in a hot iron to produce the crunchy, sweet exterior without all the interior fluffiness of a typical American waffle. Build your own waffle treat ($3.50) and add toppings such as crème fraiche ($1.25) or fruit ($1-$3). Or try one of the two pre-designed specials: the torpedo waffle ($5.50), stuffed with bars of Belgian chocolate; and the amazing waffle monster ($9) with fresh strawberries, vanilla bean ice cream and speculoos (cookie butter) spread.

Sausages are the primary savory choice, and come in a few varieties including the freakandel, a mixture of chicken, pork and beef, or the merguez (lamb) sausage on the machine gun sandwich ($9.25).

About that machine gun sandwich: It's the restaurant's most popular, and starts with a fresh baguette stuffed with two herby lamb sausages covered with frites and Andalouse sauce, made with red bell pepper and cayenne pepper. The sauce offers just enough kick to complement the fries, while not overpowering the sausages. It's messy, though: I wasn't able to handle this sandwich with my hands alone, so I resorted to using a fork and knife.

In addition to the Andalouse, there are 10 other house-made mayos for dipping. Choose from plain mayonnaise, aioli, greens, lemon pepper dill, Zensation, Brasil, fry sauce, curry, zango or samurai. There's a handy menu explaining all of your options on the cooler where you pick them up.

Through April, try the seasonal Flemish Stew ($6 or $9.89 with frites), featuring beer-braised beef and nicely caramelized onions. A hearty dish, the flavor of dark Belgium ale really stands out, which makes it unfortunate that you can't order one with your meal.

The crispy frites can be ordered a la carte in three sizes (small $3.24, medium $5.33 and large $8.34) or added to any entrée for a few dollars more. Each order comes with one complimentary mayo (large size with two) or you can purchase extras for 65 cents each.

Salt Lake Tribune restaurant reviewer Heather L. King blogs at http://www.examiner.com/lunch-in-salt-lake-city/heather-king. Send comments about this review to food@sltrib.com or post a response at facebook.com/nowsaltlake. —


Ekami Thai Sugar House

Food • HH

Mood • HH

Service • HH

Noise • bb

The new location of Ekamai Thai Curry serves fresh Thai soups, curries and noodle dishes out of a renovated bungalow just north of Sugar House Park.

Location • 1405 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City, UT, 801-906-0908

Online • http://www.ekamaithai.com

Hours • Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5-9:30 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5-10 p.m., Saturday 5-10 p.m., Sunday 5-9 p.m. Closed Mondays.

Children's menu • No

Prices • $-$$

Liquor • Yes

Corkage • $9

Reservations • Yes

Takeout • Yes

Wheelchair access • Yes

Outdoor dining • Yes

On-site parking • Yes

Credit cards • All major —


Bruges Waffles & Frites, Sugar House

Food • HH

Mood • HH

Service • HH

Noise • bb

Just like its first restaurant near Pioneer Park, this Belgian-themed restaurant offers Liege waffle treats, frites with housemade mayonnaise and savory sausage and stews.

Location • 2314 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City; 801-486-9999.

Online • http://www.brugeswaffles.com

Hours • Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., closed Sunday

Children's menu • No

Prices • $

Liquor • No

Reservations • No

Takeout • Yes

Wheelchair access • Yes

Outdoor dining • Yes

On-site parking • Yes

Credit cards • All major The rating System

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.

Overall rating •

H Good

HH Very good

HHH Excellent

HHHH Extraordinary

Entree price •

$ Less than $10

$$ $10-$18

$$$ $18-25

$$$$ More than $25

Restaurant noise •

b Quiet (under 65 decibels)

bb Can talk easily (65-70 decibels)

bbb Talking normally somewhat difficult (71-75 decibels)

bbbb Must raise voices (76-80 decibels)

m Too noisy for normal conversation (more than 80 decibels)