1624 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City ; 801-467-4000
A bustling Finn’s caters to the breakfast and lunch crowd with a Scandinavian-inspired menu.
Cuisine: Scandanavian, Cafe
Hours: Open daily, 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Recommended Dishes: Jule kake (Christmas cake) French toast, hash browns.
August 30, 2006
This time, casual Finn's fills niche for early-risers
By Lesli J. Neilson
The T-shirt on a young server said it all: Established 1952; Reestablished 2006. Yes, Finn's is back, after taking a 10-year break, but this time around the menu is breakfast and lunch.
Owners "Little" Finn Gurholt, son of the original owner, and Heidi Gurholt, a granddaughter, chose the no-dinner option to fill a much-needed neighborhood niche. Open daily from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., the restaurant accommodates early-risers, lunch crowds and Sunday brunchers alike.
Reminders of the owners' Scandinavian roots are found in dishes like jule kake (Christmas cake) French toast ($6.50), with four slices of raisin-studded toast accented with cardamom, citron and cinnamon and a scattering of sweet strawberry slices. Pyttipanna ($7.50) contains small pieces of tender beef, cubed potatoes, onions and carrots. The colorful lot is topped with a soft-poached egg. And capers punch up a three-egg Norsk omelet ($8.50) with bay shrimp and havarti cheese.
Deliciously crispy brown on the outside, tender on the inside, house-made hash browns and a choice of toast–sourdough, wheat, rye or French bread or English muffin come with many of the breakfast offerings.
Lacto-ovo vegetarians have more choices at breakfast than lunch–10 of the 15 menu items do not contain meat, including many omelets (of the egg-white variety: spinach, mozzarella, asparagus and carrots, $7.50, or pesto and tofu, $6.50, or the whole egg variety: cilantro and chive, $7.50, or asparagus, red and green bell peppers and mushrooms, $6.50).
A children's menu lists waffles, French toast or a little Viking plate with one egg, breakfast meat–sausage on a recent visit–and pancake (each $4) for breakfast or Norwegian vegetable soup with one beef-pork meatball or a little Swede plate with Swedish meatballs, potatoes and vegetables (each $5) for lunch.
The lunch menu is separated into open-faced–and closed-faced–sandwiches, salads, a soup and entrees. When I asked our server what the restaurant's signature dishes were, she proudly announced, "the Wiener schnitzel and fried chicken."
Expecting pork wienerschnitzel ($8.50) –- I've given up hoping for the traditional veal –- I was crestfallen to receive beef.
Apparently, beef was the choice of meat at the original Finn's. I just wish the menu described it a bit more in detail. The 5-ounce, 1/4-inch-thick tenderized cutlet was more reminiscent of chicken-fried steak. Mushroom au jus poured over top rendered the thin breading flimsy and made it unattractively turn up at the edges. Lemon in a form other than a slice would be more user-friendly.
Finn's fried chicken ($8) was crispier and consisted of two, 3-ounce boneless and breaded moist breasts sans tenderloins. A small crock of tart lingonberry jam was a nice counterbalance to the fried meat.
Both entrees came with mashed potatoes in need of salt –- I substituted my entree with those delicious hash browns –- though thin vibrantly green asparagus spears and two carrot chunks were crisp-tender.
Fresh fruit, a mix of grapes, in-season and sweet cantaloupe and pineapple on one visit, or a crisp romaine salad with cucumber slices and halved red pear grape and a choice of dressing also come with. Finn's "frozen" Roquefort dressing packs the right amount of blue cheese tang.
Curiously for this town, desserts are a bit of an afterthought at the updated Finn's. A slice of marzipan cake ($1.75) is about the only dessert option, unless you're willing to go for one of the breakfast-type pastries–croissants ($1.25), marzipan Danish croissant ($1.75), raspberry cream cheese Danish with marzipan custard ($1.25), chocolate éclairs ($1.75) or apple cream cheese Danish ($1.25).
Where Finn's is short on dessert, it is long on beverages. Fresh carrot, apple, cranberry, grapefruit, orange, tomato juices or Grete Finn's classic lemonade ($2.50 and $3.25); or any variety of smoothie ($3.50) can be ordered. I was very happy with my latte with a touch of creamy milky foam hiding great-tasting espresso ($3).
On each of my visits, the place was packed, inside and out. If you're lucky, and it's a nice day out, opt for an outside table. Large wooden umbrellas and subtle water misters affixed to the railing make dining al fresco on hot summer days downright pleasant. I cannot say the same about eating inside.
The restaurant's casual but modern décor uses a lot of blond wood–for the floor, tables and chairs. And though the wood kaleidoscope ceiling is a work of art in its own right, all the hard surfaces render the place noisy. Fabric-covered soundboards were added to the perimeter of the ceiling last Tuesday, which helps a bit, but I still found it difficult to have a conversation as of this weekend.
The young servers are numerous and accommodating but still getting the hang of things. The kitchen also has yet to hit its stride–we waited 20 and 25 minutes respectively for our food on two recent visits. Numerous refills on water and coffee helped pass the time on one visit.
But that doesn't seem to deter the masses who have discovered or rediscovered Finn's. That's just what the owners are counting on: As it cleverly says on Finn's Web site, "It's been 10 years, some of you must be really, really hungry." Oh, and don't forget to take an apple on your way out.
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.