This is the Place
Dooners — Best Food in Riverton; Bascom Ranch — Not So Much
Restaurant: Dooners Fresh
Seasons Grille & Bascom Ranch Southwest Grille
I had been eagerly watching construction on this location for months. When it finally opened, sporting two restaurants in one location, I was both awed and disappointed.
Inside, the décor was just beautiful. Clearly, no expense was too much for this place, although the establishment was somewhere between fast food and a sit-down restaurant. The dark woods are beautiful, and the way it is laid out is great, channeling customers to the counter to order without disturbing those already seated and eating. Way more than you would expect from a place in a strip mall. The first time, I wanted to try the "new" thing: Dooners. And it was an exceptional experience. The next time, with Bascom Ranch, I was very disappointed. In short, this "two restaurants in one" as one of the owners proudly put it would be much better served with just the one.
You order at the counter, pay up front, standard fare. The first visit, I wanted to be "Doonerized" to coin their own term. And it was awesome. They let me taste three meat choices, all prepared with their special blend of more than 50 spices. Chicken was clearly the best (both the pork and steak overpowered the delicate blend of spices that really is amazing ... didn't get to sample the prime rib ... hmm). I ordered the Dooner Platter, with chicken, chips and salsa and sweet-potato fries as the sides. It was served on an aluminum pie tin (nothing special here, although it makes taking leftovers home easy, you just put on a plastic lid and crimp down the edges), with the meat, rice and salad separate. You assemble your own sandwich with the pocket bread. And, I must say, it's worthwhile. It was excellent. The pocket bread had more to it than a Greek pita, with more flavor to boot. Even the jalapeno ranch salad dressing was excellent (which I got a second serving of, because it was great on the sandwich, too). I had never had sweet-potato fries before. I was instructed to dip them in the honey butter, which I did, but I salted them first, before being told that was a Southern no-no. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the contrast with the salt and honey butter, so I would do it again. Portions were good, leaving me with that "life is good" feeling that accompanies a full stomach (I even took some home).
First words out of my mouth at that first bite: "Wow. This is awesome. Different. And really, really good."
Last words when finishing the meal: "This is absolutely the best food in Riverton."
The second visit was disappointing when I tried the Bascom Ranch fare. I got the Southwest Chicken Smothered Burrito and A Little Sorbetto. The chicken was the same as I had gotten in the Dooner Platter but, when coupled with black beans and rice, the beautiful medley of flavors were completely lost. The rice and beans took something great and muddied it up, leaving me with something that I could have gotten at Café Rio — but not as good.
So I thought that I'd try one of their Dooner Delights to try to regain my previous feeling of "life is good" from the first visit. They gave me a few samples of gelato and sorbetto (they make their own daily, although I was told to "look at it" to determine which was which) and I decided on the Lime Rickey. The flavor was very good, sharp lemon and raspberry blended. But the raspberry seeds were really at odds with the smoothness of the sorbetto (it's so smooth because there's a lot less air in it than ice cream). Worse, I got A Little size (they also have A Little More and A Lotto sizes ... clever names, too bad that was the best part) and was disappointed to see that the cost of A Little sorbetto was $2.89 before tax. At Mr. C's Gelato and Delicatezza in West Jordan, I got the same size for $2.11 including tax. And it was better.
The first visit, the husband and wife who own the place were both in attendance. Service was sharp and quick, and you got a good explanation of what the different food items were. Second visit, there was a high-school kid yelling back and forth to one of the employees behind the counter (very annoying), and the response to a question about a food item was, "I dunno" — with a tone that was a mix of equal parts "I don't know" and "I don't care." So management doesn't appear to be hiring the best help. Also on the second visit, the air conditioner didn't seem to be working, so they had the front doors propped open, which had your napkins flying on the ground unless you sat something on top of them to hold them down.
Most negative thing about the experience: Bascom Ranch. The place could fly on its own with Dooner's, the best food in Riverton.
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noun. Slang. A person who has an ardent or refined interest in food; a gourmet.