The Metropolitan restaurant's phone number spells out "foie gra," a shortened version of the French word for the goose and duck liver dish that is a favorite of gourmands. No surprise, then, that the restaurant has no plans to take the delicacy off its menu, despite a campaign by local animal rights activists.

Members of SHARK (Showing Animals Respect and Kindness) stood on the sidewalk outside the restaurant Saturday night handing out anti-foie gras literature. One protester wore a "body screen" that displayed an 11-minute DVD called "Delicacy of Despair: Behind the Closed Doors of the Foie Gras Industry."

Foie gras, which translates as "fatty liver," is produced by force-feeding ducks and geese by shoving hollow metal tubes down their throats, according to animal rights activists such as Colleen Hatfield of Taylorsville.

In early July, Hatfield sent letters to eight area restaurants she says include foie gras on their menus. One of the restaurants, La Caille in Sandy, has agreed to stop serving its $17.50 appetizer. Another has taken foie gras off its online menu, but Hatfield says she's not sure whether the dish is still being served. A third sent what appeared to be a form letter; the other five didn't respond.

"My expectation was they'd watch the video and be moved," says Hatfield about the high-end restaurants. "But maybe they said 'It's just another animal rights kook' and dropped it in the trash. I still choose to believe that no human being would watch the video and then write a check to support (foie gras)."

The Metropolitan, which serves a $20 foie gras with chocolate frangipane and peaches, considers the appetizer a legally produced foodstuff and feels it is entitled to serve it to its clientele, according to the restaurant's spokesperson, Lesley Christoph. "It's part of the French culinary tradition from which The Metropolitan draws its inspiration," she said.

The restaurant's view is that "no one is forced to buy it," Christoph added. "They take pride in preparing it in a creative, innovative way." Saturday night's protest comes during the restaurant's busiest week of the year, because of the Outdoor Retailer Tradeshow, she said.

Earlier in the week, animal rights supporter Hatfield held a press conference that was attended by only one reporter, a fact that Hatfield said "almost breaks my heart." What's disappointing, she said, is that the media is happy to cover violent animal rights protests, but when activists try a peaceful approach there's not much interest.

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Hatfield showed the "Delicacy of Despair" DVD, the footage of which was shot at one of the country's two foie gras factory farms by an undercover investigator, according to the video's producer.

It shows 3-month-old ducks and geese being force-fed, as well as fowl whose livers have become so enlarged and diseased that they are too fat and sick to move. In one section of footage, a rat bites at the back end of a sedentary goose. There are also close-ups of ducks and geese with sores, mangy feathers and infections.

Activists plan to protest Park City restaurants Grappa and Chenez next weekend.


E-mail: jarvik@desnews.com