2991 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City ; 801-466-1202
Citris Grill is a welcome, locally owned eatery in an area of mainly chain restaurants, with a menu offering salads, sandwiches and more.
Hours: M-S, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; Su, 8 a.m.-9 p.m.
Liquor: Full Service
Corkage: $ 6
Reservations: For large parties only
Recommended Dishes: Spinach and artichoke dip, barbecue burger, risotto cakes, turkey melt.
April 7, 2010
With fare and flare, Citris and Trio are a reliable duo
By Lesli J. Neilson
If there were an association for people who avoid chain restaurants, I would be a card-carrying member. Call me what you will -- a food snob, an elitist or worse -- but I find that the majority of food franchises serve uninspired, mediocre fare. Plus, I like my money to stay in Utah, thank you very much.
For those and many other reasons, I choose to eat at local mom-and-pop places, such as Citris Grill and Café Trio.
Citris Grill, in the Canyon Rim part of Millcreek Township, got its start in 2004. The place has lots going for it: a varied menu that offers "petite" or "hearty" portions, oodles of non-leaded and leaded libations -- including a nine-item martini menu and $2 drafts -- and a laid-back, friendly atmosphere where you can order breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.
For lunch, you can't go wrong with a cup of soup, salad or fries and a sourdough turkey melt ($8), packed with Swiss cheese, coleslaw and Russian dressing, or the Cobb salad ($6.50, $11), whose rows of crumbled Gorgonzola, bacon, chicken, hard-cooked egg, avocado and tomato made it look like a striped down comforter more than salad fixings for the bed of fresh romaine.
Or opt for one of eight personal or large pizzas ($6-$13), including the number eight with garlic, kalamata olives, red peppers, tomatoes, onions, feta and mozzarella.
When The Tribune last visited in 2004, the spinach and artichoke dip ($6, $11), in all its creamy goodness, was the appetizer to order. It still is, but also try the pepper-crusted risotto cakes with goat cheese and marinara ($5, $9). Steer clear of the crab wontons ($5, $10) -- the texture was chalky and the filling was tasteless -- as well as the cornmeal chili calamari and rock shrimp ($6, $11). The latter tasted "off."
As for main dishes, smoked Gouda and bacon embellished an already good burger ($9.50) with barbecue sauce, and a moist chicken breast ($14) with a citrus glaze paired well with artichoke hearts, tomatoes, potatoes and other nicely cooked vegetables.
Less successful were an unseasoned chicken breast atop ho-hum butternut squash fettuccine ($7, $13; add $4 for chicken), cilantro-lime fish tacos ($14) with bland black beans and overcooked Spanish rice, and the two measly, but zippy, buffalo shrimp that came alongside a medium-rare flatiron steak ($20). The kitchen should, however, bottle and sell its gorgonzola dipping sauce.
Of the six desserts (all $7), go for the chocolate brownie sundae or Key lime cheesecake.
Café Trio made its debut in Sugar House in 2002. Its model then and now is simple: offer great, reasonably priced food and wine. Entrées top out at $24.99, but the average price is about $16. Wine is offered in three tiers, $5.50 a glass/$20 a bottle; $6 a glass/$25 a bottle; or $7 a glass/$35 a bottle.
Overall, most of the dishes I sampled at a recent dinner were successful. Desserts (all $5.99) were the weakest part of the menu.
Next time I go with friends, I'll recommend, in this order: the Trio flatbread with olive tapenade, basil pesto and white bean puree ($7.99); gorgeous tomato soup ($4.99) made with Roma, canned and Seville roasted tomatoes; and the salad of vibrant roasted beets, arugula, shaved fennel and goat cheese with a bacon -- yes bacon -- vinaigrette ($8.99).
For the main course, we'll have the perfectly crafted, creamy, carbonara spaghettini with flecks of smoked bacon, fresh green peas, roasted onions and asiago cheese ($11.99); the braised short ribs in a red wine sauce with mascarpone-chive risotto and underappreciated parsnips ($24.99); and the flat-iron steak with mashed potatoes, house vegetables and Trio steak sauce ($22.99).
Oh, and we'll either dine inside Trio's smartly designed interior or in better weather, outside on Trio's inviting patio, served by the friendly waitstaff and soaking in what no chain restaurant could provide -- a neighborly atmosphere and well prepared food from a local.
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.
May 14, 2004
By Nancy Hobbs
It's always sad to see a good restaurant fold, but when an even better one takes its place, it's hard to keep mourning. Such is the case with Citris Grill, which moved into the Canyon Rim shopping strip three months ago, in the spot formerly occupied by Portofino. A quartet of owners, including Michael Crosland, chef at the excellent Boulevard restaurant in Holladay, opened the restaurant with an extensive menu highlighting "fresh" in everything and cleverly advertising itself as the new "neighborhood squeeze."
Crosland is largely responsible for the menu, explained co-owner Amanda Blank; she and the other owners manage and oversee most of the day-to-day details while Crosland keeps up his work at Boulevard. Daryl Gerber, who worked with Crosland there, as well as at Rivers before that, is the Citris Grill chef.
Citris Grill only accepts reservations for parties of eight or more, so when we showed up on a busy weekend night with fewer in our party, it was a short wait to be seated. Once at our table, we were promptly greeted by our server, who led us through the rest of an enjoyable evening, starting with several appetizers and the option of homemade sangria, a choice of several concoctions from the "martini" menu, wine by the 5-ounce glass or 2-ounce "taste," or bottomless soda drinks.
Hot wings with mango hot sauce weren't too "hot," but definitely had a lip-warming zing, and the crab wontons were especially good dipped in a tangy orange-tinged hot sauce. Best of all, however, was the creamy spinach and artichoke dip with hot, fresh homemade flour tortilla chips. Like almost everything except sandwiches on the lunch/dinner menu, the appetizers are offered in a "hearty" portion or a half-size/half-price "petite" portion -- a welcome option for those of us who want to sample many dishes, or who simply have smaller appetites.
By choosing the smaller portions, priced between $3.50 and $5, our foursome was able to sample several appetizers without breaking the bank. There are several I still want to try, including the cornmeal-roasted chili-crusted calamari, or risotto cakes with goat cheese and a tomato fondue.
Slow-roasted baby back ribs on the entree list sounded irresistible, and stood up well to that description. The petite portion, for $9, was a slab of at least a half dozen tender ribs, coated with a piquant, smoky chipotle sauce. They were topped with thin, crispy curls of yam that had been julienned and fried for a different and delicious preparation.
Even the side of coleslaw was worthy of mention, embellished with capers and a tangy, slightly sweet dressing.
The sauces and dressings can't be taken for granted here; they go a long way in complementing and enhancing each meal's flavors. For those who order the grilled rib-eye steak (one size only, priced at $19), there is a palette of three dipping sauces to work with: a mustard and herb aioli; a semi-sweet vinaigrette; and the same spicy chipotle barbecue sauce that finished the ribs. Roasted potatoes and summer squash were a nice, simple accompaniment.
Breakfast dishes likewise benefit from the addition of flavorful sauces. Of course, classic eggs Benedict wouldn't happen without hollandaise, and Citris Grill's is smooth, lemony and rich. The indulgent bananas Foster french toast is luscious with its buttery, brown sugar sauce.
The crunchy almond french toast with strawberries also was a big hit at our table, though the thinly sliced berries were sparse, especially considering their abundance at market this time of year.
Huevos rancheros are a personal weakness, and Citris Grill serves them up in classic style, with layers of tortilla, beans, cheese, eggs, salsa and guacamole. A list of "scrambles," three eggs with a variety of additions and a side of delicious hash browns, is the breakfast menu's pillar.
Citris Grill advertises its "Sangria Sundays" as starting early, with an 8 a.m. opening. But for anyone unfamiliar with Utah liquor laws, that might be a little misleading. The fruity sangrias and bubbly mimosas are a lovely addition to Sunday brunch -- if you dine at noon or later; earlier than that and you are out of luck, legally speaking. (Private clubs can start liquor service at 10 a.m.)
Whether dining at Citris Grill for breakfast, lunch or dinner, the biggest dilemma you face may be choosing just one item from the all-star lineup. With the option of half-size portions -- and prices -- maybe you don't have to. Instead, try a smaller salad and petite pizza or ribs -- it's your choice.