The dictionary says the word “proper” means suitable, fitting, right.
At Stratford Proper Cafe & Bistro, the third restaurant from the creators of Avenues Proper and Proper Burger Co. — this one on a quiet neighborhood street — we found several dishes were exactly what we wanted.
Like the southwestern Benedict ($12): poached eggs spilling yolk over cornbread combined with pico hollandaise. And the breakfast sausage omelet, the size of the plate, delivering a hefty portion of sausage, along with sautéed fennel and shallot, chunks of garlic and a pickled jalapeño relish ($10). And French toast ($9), thick-cut brioche slices drowning in butter and syrup.
Mainly, what we wanted was brunch — and that’s where Stratford Proper shines.
Served on the weekends until 2:30 p.m., brunch is comprehensive, with several dishes from the breakfast/lunch menu and some morsels from dinner. Plus, those massive and creative omelets (Funeral Potato, anyone?), and a tempting breakfast pizza ($13), made of ricotta cheese, prosciutto, arugula, basil hollandaise and a runny egg.
Brunch cocktails and a glass of orange juice cost the same, which is to say that Bloody Marys and mimosas come cheap at $3 a glass.
Will they soften the buzz of so many voices echoing around the galley dining space on the east side of the restaurant? I guess it depends on how much you imbibe.
The din is upbeat, like people having a good time at their neighborhood bar. But it’s no place to have an intimate conversation.
The restaurant is apparently working on muffling the noise, which an app on my phone measured to be about the sound of a freight train.
Lunchtime presented an altogether different vibe — folks in their 50s and 60s sipping wine, no hearing aid required. The lunch menu mainly features turkey, reuben, French dip, ham and cheese and vegetarian sandwiches ($10-$13), along with a portobello or bistro burger ($13).
While the house-made brioche bun was too much bread for the flavorful portobello burger (combined with pickled roasted peppers), that wasn’t true for the French dip sandwich ($12). The thick but soft bread stood up to the au jus and was filled with thick cuts of roast beef and melted white cheddar cheese.
Speaking of pickling, you’ll be in mind of the nursery rhyme about Peter Piper’s pickled peppers. Stratford is big on brining. You’ll find jalapeño relish, pickled peppers and pickled red onion liberally used in the dishes, plus there’s a House Pickles appetizer ($4), made of seasonal vegetables—recently cauliflower, peppers and butternut squash. These condiments pack a flavorful punch.
The dinner menu recently was revamped and has changed significantly since we went — which is a good thing. For instance, the fettuccine carbonara ($13) tasted more like buttered noodles than the rich, creamy dish we expected, and it’s now off the menu.
Remaining on the updated menu, though, is the the Bistro Burger ($13) — which was meh when we tried it, despite the caramelized onions, garlic aioli and choice of brie or white cheddar cheese. A fellow diner recommended his version: eliminate half the bun and add an egg or avocado ($1 each).
The Utah trout ($20) was the standout, served with pickled butternut squash (tastes like beets) and fingerling potatoes. Add the trout, for an extra $5, to the warm beet salad ($9) to make a great entree. The roasted beets, pickled red onion and purple kale boasts as much flavor as color.
Also disappearing quickly were the hush puppies ($8), which are still on the appetizer menu and are served with smoked grits and that jalapeño relish.
Because the restaurant is owned by a brewing company, the drink menu features lots of Proper Co.’s beers (bottled and draft), along with delicious-sounding mocktails ($5-$7), several cocktails ($8-$14), wine and spirits, with an emphasis on local makers.
Stratford Proper offers good service in a laid-back, neighborhood setting with casual but sophisticated food that mostly lives up to its name’s promise — especially at brunch.
Stratford Proper Cafe & Bistro • ★★ 1/2 (out of ★★★★) The third restaurant from the creators of Avenues Proper and Proper Burger Co. is a casual neighborhood spot that offers pub-style fare with many housemade touches, from breads and pastas to sauces and pickles.
Food • ★★ 1/2
Mood • ★★
Service • ★★
Entrée Price • $$-$$$
Noise • 4 bells
Location • 1588 E. Stratford Ave., Salt Lake City; 801-953-1262 or stratfordproper.com
Hours • Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; 5-10 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; 5-10 p.m.
Children’s menu • Yes
Liquor • Beer, wine, cocktails
Reservations • Yes
Takeout • Yes
Wheelchair access • Yes
Outdoor dining • Yes
On-site parking • Street parking
Credit cards • Yes