Dining out: Kneaders

Published: Friday, April 9 2004 12:00 a.m. MDT

Doing restaurant reviews is a ticklish business sometimes.

While professional and personal ethics compel me to be honest about the eateries I try, I can't help but feel a twinge of anxiety when I review a locally owned restaurant that is some family's livelihood.

But this past week, I was able to step completely out of this dilemma by choosing a lunch spot that seems impervious to my opinion.

On the recent weekday, a friend and I shepherded our kids into Kneaders on Fort Union Boulevard. The place was packed — no, it was beyond packed. Cars inched through the parking lot, jockeying for scarce empty spaces or lining up at Kneaders' drive-through window. We waited at least 10 minutes to order our food, and plenty of people came in behind us. And posters begging for more lunchtime workers adorned every door.

There's a sign high on one wall that says, "No Empty Chairs" and is flanked by five real, child-size chairs; unless you're lucky, they're the only ones you'll find immediately empty when you arrive at Kneaders during the lunch rush.

The employees were rushed practically off their feet, but they still managed to lay out an impressive spread. The sight of gleaming glass bakery cases flanked by trays of cookies and brownies, with bins of bread behind, is a lovely sight in any bakery, and Kneaders' bakers show off their wares to full advantage, with a sort of open but cozy French-country atmosphere.

Luckily for us, a table opened up just as we finished ordering. By the time we got the kids seated and slurping their sodas, our lunch had arrived.

Each of the kids had a Kneaders' kids' meal, a ham-and-cheese sandwich with a soda and sugar cookie. The deli-sliced ham was flavorful, and though I would have preferred cheddar or Swiss rather than the American cheese Kneaders provided, it was a hit with the kids. But the fresh-baked white bread, with its chewy crust, was the star.

I chose the sour-salty asiago bread for my own sandwich, a BLT with provolone cheese, sprouts and red onion. The bacon was perfectly cooked, and every other ingredient contributed something positive to the sandwich.

I also enjoyed my tortellini salad, tricolor pasta in a fresh and slightly spicy tomato sauce with tomatoes and thin-sliced onions.

The big surprise of my friend's turkey sandwich was that it was made of chunky, moist slices of real turkey. It came amply dressed with provolone, sprouts, tomatoes and avocado. She also had a green salad, a cup of fresh spring greens with sprouts, tomatoes and red onion.

We went wild when it came time for dessert. There may have been a few things we didn't try, but I'm not sure what they were. Nothing was disappointing, but I liked some things more than others. The highlights were the tender, chewy sugar cookies with lemony icing, the fresh and simple fruit tart, the intensely flavored Key lime pie, the triple-layer chocolate cake and the brownies, which come in regular, German-chocolate and marbled versions.

I also bought a loaf of Kneaders' ciabatta and was delighted to find a tender, bubbly texture inside its thick, crispy crust — in other words, everything ciabatta should be.

While we enjoyed our lunch, my daughter said repeatedly, "I know why everyone is here. To eat this yummy food." And I'm pretty sure she's right.

Soups and salads $2.39-$5.39; sandwiches $3.59-$6.39; combinations $5.99; kids' meal $2.49; bread $1.99-$4.99; desserts $1.09-$2.99.


Rating: ***

Where: 742 E. Fort Union Blvd., Midvale

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-10 p.m.; Closed Sunday.

Phone: 563-1991

Payment: Checks, credit cards

Reservations: None


Stacey Kratz is a free-lance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: skratz@desnews.com

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