Pinon Market & Cafe
2095 E. 1300 South, Salt Lake City ; 801-582-4539
Friendly atmosphere, delicious pastries, fresh salads and sandwiches make this a nice stop for breakfast, lunch or an early dinner.
Hours: M-S, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
Reservations: Not accepted/necessary
Recommended Dishes: Caesar salad, house-baked breads, orzo salad, torta.
July 27, 2005
Pinon keeps growing with fresh approac
By Nancy Hobbs
In an ideal world, says Victoria Topham, she would get to spend all of her working hours baking. But as the perfectionist she is, and knowing she can't attend to every detail at her Pinon Market and Café alone, she makes adjustments to help ensure success. More often than not, Topham is at the stove cooking daily specials and made-to-order breakfasts, while others go to work following her detailed, tried-and-true recipes for muffins and cookies.
"It's easier to train a baker than a chef," says the gregarious entrepreneur, having worked her way up the chain by learning on the job in various kitchens over the years.
But baking always has been what she most enjoys, so much so that her days off from one early cooking job were spent volunteering as an apprentice under a highly regarded pastry chef at another restaurant.
The dedication paid off when she moved back to Utah with her husband and secured a job as pastry chef at Log Haven in Millcreek Canyon.
It wasn't long before she was itching for a place of her own, and found a spot at 1300 South and 2100 East to set her roots -- figuratively and literally -- with a small Pinon pine now planted out front, inching its way up as it helps the business mark almost 10 years in business.
Inside Pinon, the display case of colorful salads, layered tortas, pasta entrées and luscious desserts is the first thing to greet customers, always followed quickly by a friendly greeting from the young person working the counter or by Topham herself.
Besides four salads that diners can always count on -- fresh fruit, tarragon chicken, curry chicken and tuna -- there are always another five, perhaps with pasta or rice and seasonal produce, or a medley of marinated fresh vegetables, and often a classic Caesar that can be gussied up with grilled chicken or shrimp.
The concoctions aren't always Topham's creations. She likes to let her staff put their creative talents to work as well, so there's always something new.
In addition, there are several daily specials that might include grilled salmon and a freshly made relish, or teriyaki chicken with a sticky rice cake.
On a recent visit, Topham had made a delicious orzo salad with fresh white corn and a creamy dressing, as well as a torta stacked with fresh red peppers, zucchini and cheeses between a pastry crust.
Sandwiches also run the gamut, from ham and brie or rosemary roast beef to several vegetarian options, all on house-baked wheat, rye, sourdough or focaccia bread.
All this, and more, is available through Pinon's takeout platter and catering business, which seems to be a large and thriving part of her business.
As tempting as everything looks and sounds, visitors for Saturday brunch have even more to consider: quiche, breakfast burritos, omelets. All come with a nice blend of roasted sweet and russet potatoes and a generous side of fresh fruit, perhaps especially beautiful this time of year, but definitely a treat with cubes of melon, fresh berries and grapes.
As Pinon grows, Topham faces a dilemma, particularly with the increasing popularity of Saturday brunch. Her small kitchen is only big enough for her six-burner stove, and when a large group orders the daily specials, she can get behind, as happened on a recent weekend.
Topham is as aware of the delay as anyone, and after our table and an adjacent received our orders -- following complimentary muffins as an apology -- she personally came out and offered more apologies, coffee refills, homemade cookies for the visiting dogs and generally a gracious demeanor.
Everyone's reply was that the food was worth the wait, which wasn't that long when enjoying coffee, camaraderie and a cooling mist on the patio. All agreed we would undoubtedly be back.