Big Al’s Bites: Plates and Palates

In the culinary world, dinner is a bit of a diva. She makes you wait till the end of the day for a grand appearance and insists you save your calories for her and her alone. She scoffs at all other meals that dare to encroach upon her prowess.While I believe that dinner is amazing, the other two meals of the day shouldn’t go unappreciated. Lunch is often the unsung hero of day-to-day eats, shoved down while working on a project, running to a class, or, infinitely worse, perhaps it’s skipped entirely.

(Source: Nina Christensen)  A Sumptuous Pear and Pecan Salad with Blue Cheese and Bacon

(Source: Nina Christensen)
A Sumptuous Pear and Pecan Salad with Blue Cheese and Bacon

Lunch deserves its rightful place in your culinary day. This week I want to tell you about one of my favorite advocates for lunch. I can’t take credit for finding this gem. That goes to my aunt for her suggestion for our Saturday lunch date. Plates and Palates is an unassuming spot off the 400 North exit in Bountiful. I never would have found this spot off looks alone, but, as I’ve found in my escapades, looks are frequently deceiving, for better or worse.

It is a rarity to find a restaurant that caters specifically to lunch. Most prestigious restaurants don’t open until the afternoon, and there’s been a surge of breakfast establishments across the country. Lunch establishments are lagging behind, but if we have more restaurants like Plates and Palates, that may soon change.

The strength of Plates and Palates comes with its tantalizing flavor combinations. Riding on the heels of the nation’s obsession with new American cuisine, Plates and Palates brings sophisticated twists to classic American dishes. I’ll start with my wife’s lunch. She (like all with a soul) loves a good Reuben. I’m happy to report that this Reuben was traditional, and good at it.

The meat was a prime corned beef laden with fresh sauerkraut and creamy Swiss cheese, all pressed between pieces of marbled rye bread. The only way this sandwich departed from expectation was that it was a panini. The grilled interpretation melted the Swiss into the herb mayo, engulfing the corned beef and sauerkraut. Needless to say, this was a welcome addition.

Aside the Reuben was a lemon tarragon pasta salad, a bowtie pasta with chicken, celery, green onion, almonds and grapes in a creamy lemon tarragon dressing. It was as good as it sounds, with the lemon and tarragon bouncing off the grape and almond for a truly unique sensation.

(Source: Nina Christensen) The Combo: Southwest Turkey Panini with Fire Roasted Tomato Soup

(Source: Nina Christensen)
The Combo: Southwest Turkey Panini with Fire Roasted Tomato Soup

As good as Kelsey’s meal was, mine was better. You see, while the Reuben was delicious, my Mediterranean panini reshaped my idea of what a panini should be — laden with Genoa salami, Black Forest ham, provolone, feta and adorned with an artichoke tapenade and roasted red pepper. These sensational ingredients were tied together with a cracked wheat bread bow and grilled to perfection. 

To say that this was good would be a tragic understatement. The artichoke tapenade played perfectly off the roasted red pepper, giving a proper sendoff to the Genoa salami and Black Forest ham. 

The crown jewel of the meal came as dessert. While dessert didn’t strike me as typical lunch fare, I have been converted to the idea that cheesecake is best enjoyed before 2 in the afternoon. We had the Meyer lemon poppyseed cheesecake. Go ahead and read that again: I said Meyer lemon poppyseed cheesecake. The incredible creaminess offset by the sweetness of the Meyer lemon and was the best possible conclusion to the meal.

(Source: Nina Christensen)  White Chocolate Orange Cheesecake, Garnished with Blueberries

(Source: Nina Christensen)
White Chocolate Orange Cheesecake, Garnished with Blueberries

I’ve been in love with lunch for a long time, and it’s refreshing to find a spot that loves it as much as I do. In defense of lunch, I rule in favor of Plates and Palates.

(Source: Nina Christensen) The Classic Crème Brulee, adorned with Raspberry.

(Source: Nina Christensen)
The Classic Crème Brulee, adorned with Raspberry.

 

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Posted by on February 9, 2014. Filed under Big Al's Bites, Columns, Food, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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