Dining out: Carvers

Published: Friday, May 26 2006 12:00 a.m. MDT

My husband's birthday was this past week, and whenever that auspicious date rolls around, there's no question what he'll be having for dinner: steak.
Well, once in a while we'll do a cookout at home with one of his other favorites, bratwurst. But if we go out, he's aiming for something beefy. So it was that last Saturday night we drove down to Sandy's "Utah Auto Mall" to try Carvers, a quite good steak-and-chop restaurant situated weirdly in the middle of a bunch of car dealerships.
When we made our reservation, my husband asked if Carvers is welcoming to kids. Turns out it is — there's a good kids' menu, and the efficient servers handled our brood with aplomb. But I don't think I'd take the kids again, at least until they're a bit older.
Carvers — with its lofty ceiling, rustic-elegant vibe and well-designed lighting that dims your view across the room but allows plenty of illumination for quiet conversation at your table — is really a getaway for grown-ups.
We started with the grilled Brie, a fat little round of warm, buttery cheese that we spread onto the accompanying baguette crackers and topped with earthy roasted garlic or sweet-and-intense red-pepper relish. Even the kids liked this sophisticated but accessible starter.
The hubby and I had salads, his a fresh Caesar with crisp greens and smooth dressing that made me wish there had been handmade croutons on top instead of the out-of-the-box kind. I had the spinach salad, a simple presentation of well-washed baby-spinach leaves, lightly dressed and topped with dried cranberries, chopped almonds and red-skinned apples.
While the kids munched on chicken strips and fries, I had a pork chop that was absolutely excellent. Thick and very juicy, with a just-sweet cider-maple glaze and an "apple chutney" that was a blend of sauteed thin-sliced apples and onions, it was so good that I found myself stripping tiny bits of meat from the bone with my knife to prolong the eating experience. With the chop, and nicely balancing its sweet and meaty flavors, was a substantial pile of tangy, creamy au gratin potatoes.
Then there was my husband's "Carvers-cut" filet mignon. This larger-than-usual portion arrived enticingly heart-shaped, well-seared and oozing delicious juices. It was fork-tender and as good a filet as I've tried in at least a year. It was very lightly seasoned, as good meat should be, so that its natural charms could shine through. It came next to a pile of fluffy garlic-infused mashed potatoes that needed no gravy.
For dessert, we ordered junior-size slices of mud pie for the kids, a slightly different interpretation that included a hard, toffee-tasting cookie crust and rocky-road ice cream, complete with minimarshmallows. My husband completed his usual favorite meal with a brownie sundae featuring a warm Ghirardelli brownie and quickly-melting vanilla ice cream.
I tried the dessert special, the wonderful raspberry bread pudding. Lighter than many bread puddings with its spongy, melting texture and barely sweet raspberry puree, it was a refreshing finish to a hearty, excellent meal.
Appetizers $4.50-$10.95, sides $3-$5.50, entrees $18.99-$31, combinations $9.99-$18.99, kids' meals $6-$8.50, desserts $6.

Rating: ***
Where: 10720 Holiday Park Dr., Sandy
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 5-10 p.m.;
Sunday, 5-9 p.m.
Payment: No checks; major credit cards accepted
Reservations: Accepted
Phone: 572-5177

Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News.

E-mail: skratz@desnews.com

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