I've been watching those "Training Table: A Utah Original" television ads and thinking about the first time I had a Training Table burger.
It was with my sister, Jennie, who is a big fan of the bleu bacon burger and bought one for me at the Ogden restaurant. I loved the combination of bleu cheese, bacon and tomato on a big, beefy burger. That was the first of many enjoyable trips to the Training Table.
But I haven't been there for a few years. We moved from Ogden, and it wasn't until recently that I realized there was still a Training Table conveniently close by, as is the case in many parts of the Salt Lake Valley. So we headed over to the State Street restaurant, hoping to duplicate tasty meals of visits past.
The State Street location reminded me right away of the Ogden store, with its comfortingly timeless, pubby interior, featuring vintage sports photos and memorabilia. I also like the way each restaurant's open dining room is divided into lots of smaller, intimate spaces for more comfortable dining.
Let me say right away that, for me, the main reason to visit The Training Table is fries dipped in the "Ultimate Dipping Sauce." It's just a riff on good ol' Utah fry sauce, but deliciously distinct. I've always loved how it arrives at the table, a ramekin of dark, smoky hickory sauce with a big dollop of mayo in the middle. Customers are free to mix it up as little or as much as they like. I like it mixed, but with a few pockets of mayo and sauce left in.
To go with our sauce, we got a full-size order of cheese fries. Training Table's cheese fries are simple but competently prepared, your standard decent-quality skin-on fries with tons of Cheddar melted on top. We also had the onion rings, which were disappointing, being both overcooked and too heavily breaded for the thin, stringy onions inside.
For our meals, our daughters chose from The Training Table's well-appointed kids' menu, ordering a cheeseburger and grilled ham-and-cheese sandwiches, which come with fries and a drink. My husband chose from among the 18 burgers on offer, selecting one of his favorites, the chili burger.
There was nothing wrong with the burger portion, a thick, well-seared beef patty. The chili topping, however, was a bit thin and more blandly flavored than I remember Training Table's chili in the past.
I had one of my favorites from the sandwich menu, the grilled cheese. I'd always enjoyed this sandwich at the Ogden Training Table because it featured sourdough bread and several different kinds of cheese.
Well, the sourdough is there at the State Street store, but the variety of cheeses is, sadly, replaced by plain old American. Having said that, however, it was a nicely made grilled cheese, with a crisp, buttery outside and hot, melted interior. I also had a dinner salad, a simple but fresh presentation of mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots.
Being stuffed with cheese fries and sandwiches, we skipped dessert, but it's a small menu, anyway, consisting of vanilla ice cream, a root beer float and a brownie. I think I'd rather spend the money on an extra order of fries with, of course, a little more hickory dipping sauce.Burgers $4.65-$6.25, sandwiches $3.75-$6.50, platters and wraps $5.75-$6.95, salads $2.25-$7.25, soups and chili $2.25-$5.25, sides $1.99-$3.95, kids' meals $3.25-$3.99, desserts $1.99-$2.49
Rating: ** 1/2
Where: 6957 S. State (other locations in Sugar House, downtown Salt Lake City, Provo, Holladay, Layton, Sandy, Ogden and West Valley)
Hours: Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Payment: Checks, credit cards accepted
Phone: 566-1911Web: www.thetrainingtable.com
Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org