By Matthew Andrus and Joshua Jones
Photos by Jen Seals
Like an Adonis with a svelte stomach and smart smile, Avenues Proper & Publick House is hard not to fall in love with immediately. Matt fell for the beer, while I loved the concept of a modern, beautiful neighborhood pub. After becoming intimate with this Adonis however, the facade wore a bit thin: the restaurant has been impeccably, but not thoroughly thought out.
With its smart layout, casual patio, and lovely bar, the owners of Avenues Proper have renovated an old grocery store into Utah’s smallest craft brewery. No trip should ignore the ever-changing selection of house beers, which are an eclectic collection of styles from the neglected to the archaic. From the delicious Poor Rob–a Rye Saison with spruce–to the Hopspital, (an homage to LDS Hospital nearby) an American Session IPA made with ‘wet’ hops that smells like floral marijuana–there are big, unusual flavors you won’t find anywhere else in Utah. But the most unusual beer is Gose the Gozerian, a Leipziger Gose with a lemon and salt flavor on the front end which is either loved or hated in equal measure.
For the record, Matt (the straight reviewer here) loved it, but he’s a fan of something unfamiliar and salty in his mouth. Josh preferred the namesake, Proper beer, a traditional and light English Golden Ale. The $1 samples are a great way to test out anything new or unfamiliar.
Wine and cocktails are also available, and the Orange Whip was particularly delightful on a Sunday morning with Espolon Reposado, High West Double Rye, orange juice, hopped grapefruit bitters and whipped egg white.
Three dining experiences each had some bumps. At lunch, Matt’s preferred Wild Boar Sloppy Joe was out, but the Spicy Chicken Sandwich, featuring a house-made chicken sausage on a potato bun was both adequately spicy with a Sriracha sauce and cooling with coleslaw and aioli. Chicken and Waffles with the same sausage was the best Josh has ever had: served with a sunny-side-up egg, Belgium waffle, and thyme-infused maple syrup. Unfortunately, the Fish Sticks eschew the traditional beer batter for drier buttermilk breaded crust which resulted in a dry product but was saved a little by a very good house-made tartar sauce. The Welsh Rarebit, a variation on poutine should soon be pout-ine out to pasture.
A dinner that started out nice took a turn when the server ignored and then simply disappeared, leaving empty glasses in front of us, no one was happy. Fortunately, the food that evening was satisfying. A Veggie Burger, featuring a black bean and sweet potato patty with a spicy ghost pepper cheese was flavorful. A trio of appetizers were each delicious: Pork Belly with beer jam, Lamb Meatballs with tomato sauce, and the cheese plate with brandied cherries all had delightful pops of flavor that were presented with creativity and sophistication.
Brunch brought some high notes and low notes: a lack of simple menu items made the server embarrassed which led to another disappearance. The biscuit sandwich wasn’t available, which also excluded the biscuits and jam, and avocados where also MIA. that morning. Luckily both the Italian Scramble and House Smoked Salmon were excellent, though the kitchen seemed to be running low on Bubble and Squeak (pan fried mix of potato, cabbage and onion) that appeared on both items. A true winner was the Veggie Hash featuring perfectly seasoned and broiled summer squash, potatoes, tomato jam, eggs and zucchini pickles. It was a lovely dish to look at and to eat!
Keeping menu items in stock and glasses filled was a continual problem for us at Avenues Proper, but the food we did get was wonderful, and the beer superb. “The emperor has no clothes” is not the right metaphor, but this beautiful restaurant needs to iron out some of the kinks to be the Adonis it truly can be.
Avenues Proper Restaurant & Publick House
376 8th Ave., Salt Lake City