Dining out: Johanna's Kitchen

Published: Friday, July 2 2004 12:00 a.m. MDT

One of the most frequent comments I get from people who know I'm a restaurant reviewer is, "I can't believe you've never reviewed (insert name of their favorite restaurant here)."

It's probably second only to, "Can I go with you?"

I've heard that first comment several times about Johanna's Kitchen, a fixture of the Sandy area. And because it's on State Street, I've driven by the place tons of times.

But, until last week, I'd never gone in. Now that I have, I plan to go back.

Johanna's Kitchen serves traditional American food in a homey, old-fashioned setting. You might call it comfort food, or diner food, or greasy-spoon food. It's got a huge menu, including bakery items and pies. There are a lot of those places around, but not many of them have been in business 33 years. Johanna's must be doing something right.

Several somethings, actually, starting with our appetizer, the sticky Philadelphia potatoes. They're a riff on potato skins, with the same mixture of skin-on potatoes, cheese, bacon and sour cream.

But in this case, the potatoes are big, meaty wedges instead of scooped-out husks. They're smothered in cheese and topped with a generous sprinkling of bacon chunks. Not bacon bits, mind you, but nice chunky pieces of freshly grilled bacon. There's sour cream on the side. The only thing keeping me from appetizer heaven was the absence of green onion or chive, but that's just a quibble.

Our dinners were tasty, too. I consulted my mental list of diner favorites and ordered Johanna's western omelette. I got the three-egg version, but you can order a two-egg omelette, as well. Either way, you'll get a fluffy, carefully cooked omelette bursting with fillings.

I liked that my ham, tomato, pepper and onions were cooked into the omelette rather than resting on top, and there was just enough cheese to add zip without overpowering the other flavors. The whole thing tasted fresh and satisfying. It came with a flavorful pile of shredded hash browns and one of Johanna's famous scones (the crisp-outside, tender-inside fry bread kind, not the biscuit-like tea shop kind), complete with honey butter.

My husband had another of my "comfort-food" favorites, the hot turkey sandwich. It's the standard presentation: sliced turkey, chunky mashed spuds and gravy, minus the stuffing but with a cup of cranberry jelly. The bread is nicely toasted, the turkey is lean and the gravy is well seasoned.

There's a long and varied kids' menu at Johanna's, and our kids enjoyed their mac-and-cheese, popcorn chicken and cheeseburger.

For dessert, we had pie. I didn't think much of the strawberry pie, which was overly sweet and reminded me of strawberry preserves livened up with a few fresh berries, but it had a great, flaky crust. I enjoyed the coconut cream pie much more. Appetizers $5.49-$5.99, soup and salad $2.29-$8.99, sandwiches and burgers $3.99-$6.49, kids' meals $2.99-$3.69, dinners $6.99-$13.99, weekend prime rib dinners $16.99, breakfast $1.59-$10.99, desserts $1.99-$4.49, bakery items 99 cents-$10.99


Rating: ** 1/2

Where: 9725 S. State, Sandy

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 6 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 6 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m.-8 p.m.

Payment: No checks accepted

Reservations: Encouraged for groups

Phone: 566-1762

Web: www.johannaskitchen.com


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

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