OGDEN It has long been interesting to me that Ogden has a wealth of good homegrown restaurants.
I don't know if it's because, unlike its neighbors to the south, Ogden has not been able to attract the chain restaurants that tend to fill the medium-price, medium-upscale niche in other cities. Maybe it's because of the town's invigorating diversity or because a lot of enterprising people live there.
Whatever the reason, people who don't usually visit Ogden might be pleasantly surprised at the culinary treasures to be found there, one of which is the Union Grill.
Tucked inside the historic Union Station, the Grill retains vestiges of its train-depot past, like the curvy, beautiful benches in the foyer and the riveted girders holding up the ceiling. The space has been jazzed up in a spiffy urban fashion with deep purple and golden paint and art-glass panels that break up the space without sacrificing light and openness.
But the food is the best thing about Union Grill. I've never had anything there that I didn't like, including on the recent weeknight when we stopped by for dinner.
We began with a pair of fantastic starters on a recent weeknight, the baked brie with fresh fruit and the steamed vegetable plate. The dish of melted brie was rich and savory, fantastic with the accompanying focaccia bread and generously portioned, fresh melon, grapes, strawberries, oranges and apples.
The veggies were fresh and varied, with everything from sliced summer squash and carrots to button mushrooms and new red potatoes, and had herbed melted butter for dipping and shredded Parmesan for sprinkling. We all had a good time picking favorites off the two plates, nearly finishing both but still feeling hungry.
For dinner, the children went the noodle route, with one daughter opting for the light, creamy noodles in Alfredo sauce from the kids' menu and the other two sharing the myzithra pasta, one of my favorites. It's simple linguini noodles tossed with melted butter and shredded myzithra cheese but satisfying.
My husband had one of the grill specialties, the balsamic glazed pork chop. This good-size boneless chop was well-seared and juicy, coated with a dark, aromatic balsamic reduction that was fruity without being sweet. There was a small, and appreciated, cup of the reduction for dipping. He had his chop with the "dirty rice," a Southern-style red rice with sausage, and mixed veggies.
I had the Chicken Diane, a pretty dish of sliced well-grilled chicken, tender portobello mushrooms, fresh cooked spinach, snow peas, tomatoes and sliced green onions in garlic Chardonnay broth over linguini. The care taken at Union Grill with each aspect of preparation, from grilling the meat to seasoning the sauce, really shines in this dish. The garlic flavors in the sauce are mellowed and sweetened by the Chardonnay, enhancing the many other flavors without taking over.
For dessert, we chose the chocolate chip cookie sundae and the tiramisu. The sundae was simple but, again, well prepared, consisting of a huge crispy-outside, chewy-inside cookie topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate and caramel sauce and sliced almonds. My husband and kids devoured it while I devoted my attention to the tiramisu. It's a little different from what you'll find at other restaurants more fluffy and less purely creamy, for one thing but it's good, reminding me of a mix between traditional tiramisu and its British cousin, trifle.Appetizers $4-$8, soups and salads $3-$8, sandwiches $6-$8, grill specialties $10-$19, pastas $8-$15, kids' meals $3-$7, desserts $4-$5.
Stacey Kratz is a free-lance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org