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Enticing views and entrees at Em's

By Lesli J. Neilson
The Salt Lake Tribune

With an outdoor patio that oversees the valley and looks particularly alluring for lunch, Sunday
brunch or dinner, 3-year-old Em's continues to successfully offer a refreshingly short, seasonal
Toast points (actually extra crisp baguette slices) with country pâté ($9) had me eagerly awaiting
chunky, but what arrived, a creamy, delicate, aspic-topped concoction made from duck, exceeded
any previous expectation. A sea scallop appetizer special ($10) consisted of two of the most
mahogany-colored scallops I have seen, served atop wilted spinach and drizzled with sesame
vinaigrette. Miraculously, the scallops were perfectly cooked on the inside, the centers just
reaching opaqueness.
Two tantalizing tamales ($7.50 with black beans for lunch, $7 as an appetizer at dinner) filled with
goat cheese and served with zippy chipotle-cream sauce have thankfully remained on the menu
since The Tribune's 2003 visit. The fluffiness of the corn-based masa harina made me giddy,
although personally, I would have liked a bit more tangy filling as a counterpoint to the sweetness
of the masa.
That giddiness stretched into the entrees. A Parmesan-encrusted halibut special ($22), resting on
seriously creamy mashed potatoes, was moist and flaky. Bold flavors also characterized other
dishes. Pungent blue cheese and caramelized onions dotted an in-vogue, medium-rare rib-eye
($21) while heavenly jalapeño jelly carried a plate of a rustic - read unfrenched - and barely pink
mini rack of lamb ($18). Sadly, the four chops came with a broken, undersalted, potato-shallot
custard. Sweet maple-mustard-bacon barbecue sauce and carrots overpowered a juicy, bone-in
pork chop ($18).
Sixteen of the 31 wines listed on the wine menu are available by the glass, making it easy to pair
wine with each course. Most bottles are in the $20 to $40 range. Cocktails and after-dinner
drinks also are available.
Service was unobtrusive, knowledgeable and attuned to our relaxed pace.
Dessert offerings include raspberry crème brulée ($5), chocolate pudding cake ($6), sour cream
poundcake ($6) and a chocolate chunk brownie with homemade ice cream ($6). Particularly
delicious was a tres leches cake with fresh strawberries special ($6).
Finding the restaurant can be a bit tricky; it is on Center Street in the renovated Center Street
Market. Seek it out: Em's deserves its loyal following.
In a nutshell: Charming space on Capitol Hill with a      
well-crafted, seasonally driven menu. Numerous            
wines by the glass encourage food pairings.
Where: 271 N. Center St., Salt Lake City;                      
Hours: Lunch, Tuesday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.;     
dinner, Wednesday to            Sunday, 5:30 to 9p.m.;    
brunch, Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Web site:
Prices: $$
Liquor: Full bar
Reservations: Recommended on weekends
Children's menu: No
Takeout: Yes
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Outdoor dining: Yes
On-site parking: Yes
Credit cards: All major except Discover