This is the Place
Garlic, Garlic, Garlic! Garlic Lovers Delight
Restaurant: 'Bout Time Pub & Grub
'Bout Time is something of an enigma to me. It's a bar and grill, but it shifts from bar and grill to bar and grill as you shift from one location to another. The location at Jordan Landing is of the bar and grill variety. The menu is the same as at the other locations, but there is a marked difference in ambiance and clientele. The West Valley City location is more if a bar and grill, with a somewhat relaxed atmosphere, a lot of tables, seeming to be intended for more of an older clientele that wants to sit down, have a meal and a beer, watch a game on one of the many flat-screens TVs. The Jordan Landing location seems to be aimed at more of a college-age crowd, much louder, smaller tables and not a single booth that I saw, more TVs covering more wall landscape, and far more over the top in pretty much every area.
My first visit was to the West Valley City location, near the E Center. It used to be the Stockmen's Steakhouse (which was actually what I had intended to visit, only to find that it was gone). Rather than start over, I went inside to see that the transformation inside was complete: the somewhat elegant Stockmen's decor was gone, replaced by more plain tables, many flat-screen TVs on the walls, each playing a different sports channel, with music playing overhead, loud but not overly so, and the selection of music was stuff I liked, bands like Nickelback ranging back to some classic rock from the '80s. It was about 5 p.m. on a Saturday, and the place was busy, but not packed, most of the customers being in their thirties or forties, sitting and eating, enjoying conversation. The place was divided into two halves, with the addition of a long bar that reminded me a bit of the bar you bellied up to if you were in a Western movie. Pretty cool.
I was seated and given a menu with a varied selection, ranging from the B.A.B.B. (a ground-chuck burger between two grilled-cheese sandwiches with grilled onions) to hand-tossed pizza to a breakfast burrito (served anytime) to a Monte Cristo sandwich. When I was a kid, I used to get the Monte Cristo all the time, because it was sort of a trendy menu item up till I was about 10 years old. I was tempted to go for the Monte Cristo out of a sense of nostalgia, but my eye was drawn to the Club Sandwich. It was listed as having Ham, Turkey, Bacon, Tomato, Cheese and Garlic Mayo between three slices of Sourdough Toast. When the gentleman who seated us returned, I asked him which he recommended out of the Club and the Monte Cristo and he said the Garlic Mayo just makes the Club. I like a good Club Sandwich (too often, restaurants skip the Ham, which annoys me), so I went with his recommendation, with water to drink, because I was going to a movie later and was going to be drinking a gallon of soda later. It came with Fries, and that was good enough for me.
While waiting, the place started to fill more, little by little, and I was surprised to notice that, being a bar and grill, so many of the patrons were in their thirties and forties, particularly on the weekend. Most were dressed somewhat nicely (no holes in jeans or concert t-shirts). It was a nice-but-comfortable atmosphere, the bar not interfering with the dinner ambiance. (It was not as loud and chaotic as say, Buffalo Wild Wings). The wait felt about right when my sandwich arrived, not too long (which can be annoying), not too quick (which makes me wonder if my food was sitting in the back already prepared).
First words out of my mouth: "Wow. That's actually a lot of food."
My "plate" was a flat-bottom basket with a large sandwich covering most of it, skin-on fries that were actually seasoned, with a plastic souffle cup filled with what looked like a thick thousand-island dressing. I asked what it was, and was told that it was sauce for my fries. I then asked for what I always forget when I order a Club sandwich, a side of bleu-cheese dressing. He left and I looked at my plate, the smell of garlic making my mouth water. So I picked up a fry and dipped it in the sauce, then took a bite.
First words out of my mouth: "Wow! The menu didn't say they were garlic fries! Awesome!"
The bite gave me another killer garlic kick, right in the chops. So I ate the last of the fry and was puzzled, because the garlic didn't kick a second time. So I smelled the sauce and realized that it was what was laden with garlic. And it was amazing. I thought it had minced garlic mixed in, but there were no chunks that I could find, so maybe it was typical fry sauce with the juice from the minced garlic mixed in. Whatever it was, it was really good. Strong garlic, but not so much that it left you yearning for a breath mint. (Warning: that may not be the same thing your dinner companion might be thinking.) Not only that, but the skin-on fries were crispy, not so thick that they were steak fries (not my favorite) and cooked at a high enough temperature that they were not greasy. I was encouraged for the rest of my meal.
By that time, the gentleman returned with another souffle cup of bleu-cheese dressing. Just looking at it, I could see chunks of bleu cheese the size of the last digit of my finger, which usually means that it's made there on the premises. So I dipped my fork in it and tasted and, again, was blown away. I used to make my own bleu-cheese dressing that customers raved about, because I added a touch of garlic to the mix. If I didn't know any better, my secret had been stolen. It was excellent, nice flavors of bleu cheese, smooth and sexy, with an undertone of garlic that just made me smile.
So the sandwich was my next target. The bread was toasted pretty well, which let me know that the roof of my mouth would likely be abused by the end of the meal, but I could take it. Particularly if it was as good as it looked. The three layers were so thick that I had to practically unhinge my jaw to get it in, and I took the first bite. I know it's only a Club Sandwich, but that does not mean that it has to be boring. This most certainly was not. The Garlic Mayo gave me yet another hit of garlic that was a definite presence, but subtle enough not to be overpowering. The Ham was smoky and salty, the Turkey was a nice counter-balance to the Ham, the cheese and Garlic Mayo combination gave it a richness that was exceptional. Next bite, I dipped it into the bleu cheese and the added creaminess and richness made it a Sandwich cum Dessert. Just amazing.
As noted earlier, it was a large sandwich, and it took some effort to finish, but I did, although I had to take the fries home with me, because they were so good. Needless to say, I had achieved the life-is-good feeling that comes with a full stomach.
Last words out of my mouth: "'Bout Time is actually a good restaurant. Excellent!"
My second visit was at the Jordan Landing location, in the end slot in a mini strip nearest the movie theater. There was a low, metal fence around the outdoor eating area and the windows had more beer signs than other locations. There was a band playing in the plaza, which was cool, although it was too chilly and windy to sit outside and really enjoy it. (Hats off to the band, playing up a storm of rock classics with wind hitting them in their left ears.) When I walked up to the first door, it was locked and labeled to go to the South door. I looked over at the next door, which was on the West, not the South, but people walked in through it right then, so I followed suit, and was shocked by how different it was from the West Valley City location.
The first thing to hit me was the noise. One of the most uncomfortable places I have eaten is Buffalo Wild Wings. It's so loud, there are so many TVs, the people are yelling to top the noise, etc. Well, this place was a close second. I liked the music playing, in terms of selection, it was very similar to the other location, but there were so many flat-screen TVs on the walls that they might as well have been wall paper. The second thing to hit me was how dark it was inside. It was not the kind of place you wanted to go and have a conversation. The place was split in half, like the other location, but this had the bar in the center, shaped sort of like a J. No Western-movie feeling here. It was about 6:30 p.m. on a Friday, and the place was about three-quarters full of what looked like a pretty much college crowd. Weird, considering that the nearest college is the Jordan Campus of Salt Lake Community College, which is a commuter campus. Most appeared to be early twenties, maybe mid-twenties, most wearing jerseys for one team or another. No one greeted me, so I found a table (one fo the few in the place that would seat four, although the four chairs were bar stools). Not only that, when I sat, the table felt like it was going to fall over and I jumped back off my stool and looked underneath. There were a stack of cardboard coasters there, which had slipped out from under the metal disk holding it up. I nudged them back under with my toe, then sat again, please to find that I wasn't going to do a header on account of the bent table or uneven floor or whatever was happening.
On a table near us, there were two couples singing along with Nickelback while a woman hurried over to bring them shots. On another table, a group of six or eight had pushed three of the smaller tables together and were standing around it, rather than using the stools, drinking beers, laughing and shouting. Did I note how loud it was in there? Thus, the shouting. In order to hear each other, there was no other option.
Pretty quickly, a woman came over with menus. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly that happened, considering the chaos that reigned in the place, and she asked us what we wanted to drink. That is, I assume that was what she asked, because that was what she repeated after I said, "What?" I asked for a Dr. Pepper, but she said they had Pepsi products, plus other things, "like mixer stuff." I asked what kind of "mixer stuff" and she said, "You know, lemonade, juice ... mixer stuff." I asked, "Did you say lemonade?" She said she did. So I went with that. She was pleasant enough but, when covered in tattoos, from one wrist all the way to the other, including her chest and shoulders, it would be a good idea to have a better grasp of the menu if she wants to be taken seriously.
When she returned with the drinks (which took a bit longer than it should have), I asked her what she recommended out of the B.A.B.B. burger, the Breakfast Burrito and the Monte Carlo. At least, that was what I intended. When I said, "B.A.B.B.," she interrupted and said, "We sell a lot of that." When I said, "Breakfast Burrito," she interrupted and said, "We sell a lot of that." When I said, "Monte Cristo," she just stared at me, as if I had sprouted wings and she was afraid that I might sprout horns, as well. So I leaned closer, assuming that she could not hear me, and asked, "Have you not had the Monte Cristo?" She said, "I don't eat out much." Again, her response left me wondering where the disconnect might be. So I said, "I used to get Monte Cristos all the time when I was a kid. Kind of cool to see it on the menu again." She said, "Then you should get it." So I shook my head and ordered it, she smiled and scurried away with the menus.
While waiting, I looked around as the place continued to fill with more of the same crowd, and was surprised to see the group not using the stools pull them in and sit when their meals arrived. I had expected them to be eating appetizers, like most of the others there were doing, if they were eating at all. And I continued to wait. Then I waited a bit longer. Granted, the place was busy, but most of the patrons were not eating meals. Maybe half of them were just drinking, the table downing shots and singing was keeping their server busy bringing rounds, but why would that slow down the kitchen?
When finally my food arrived, it was on a flat-bottom basket, with a sandwich cut into four pieces (similar in size to the Club), battered and deep fried. The fries looked just like at the other location, as did the souffle cup of sauce for the fries. There was also a souffle cup of what was clearly raspberry preserves, judging from the number of seeds visible.
First words out of my mouth: "That's a beautiful Monte Cristo."
The sandwich really was beautiful, the batter had been thick and fried up flaky. It was also dusted with powdered sugar. I picked up one of the pieces and tried to dip it into the preserves, but it was a pretty solid scoop from the jar, so I couldn't get any on the sandwich. So I sat it back down and went to the fries. Like the other location, the sauce was amazing, and the fries were fried up just as well ... other than the limp, black one that was in the mix, which I didn't even want touching the rest of my food. I expected the server to come back and ask how things were, but she didn't, so I ate more fries. When she finally walked by, I called her to get her attention and asked for a fork. She left and returned with it, which I used to stir the preserves to break it down enough that I could dip my sandwich and finally got to take a bite.
First words out of my mouth after the first bite: "Oh, that's good."
The cheese was melty, but not so hot that it burned my mouth, the Ham was smoky, the Turkey giving it a nice balance, the batter was crunchy and had a nice flavor, slightly sweet, but not overly so, and the raspberry preserves provided a nice, sweet zing. It was almost like breakfast for dinner ... with a little dessert mixed in ... but it was really good. The only problem was, I ate so many fries before the sandwich, I ended up having to take home the last piece with the last of my fries. It's not often that I don't clean my plate, but I couldn't really enjoy the life-is-good feeling, because I just wanted to leave. It was so loud and chaotic, I was getting a headache.
Last words out of my mouth: "Good Monte Cristo, but maybe coming to this one for lunch would be better."
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