I suppose it was a combination of things that attracted us to the little stationary trolley car near the water tower in Trolley Square - the nostalgia of the setting, talk about a light-rail system for the Wasatch Front, and, of course, frequent pangs of hunger.
In the past, while taking the UTA trolley trips with family or visiting friends, we had seen the little trolley, but it often seemed to be closed. However on this particular spring afternoon, the door was open. We stepped up on the platform and peered into the small interior to see the lone chef, waiter and busboy presiding over the tiny kitchen in the rear. He also acted as maitre d', seating us at one of the small tables. It probably seats no more than 12 to 15 customers.The petite eatery is called the Trolley Square Crepes, and it serves several luncheon-size crepes, as well as croissant sandwiches, a homemade soup of the day and a Chicago-style hot dog with the works. Prices are moderate, averaging around $4. The hot dog costs $1.95. Several dessert crepes cost $2.50; two homemade bundt cakes, cinnamon and double chocolate, round out the modest but engaging bill of fare.
We sampled one of the regularly offered entree crepes, chicken a la reine ($4.50), served with rice pilaf. Literally a la reine means "in the style of the queen." Its preparation is characterized by small pieces of chicken served with mushrooms, and occasionally truffles, in a cream sauce. While Trolley Crepes' version lacks the truffles and could have used a bit more seasoning, perhaps a dash of white pepper or sherry in the sauce, it was a pleasant dish.
Other entrees include beef and seafood special crepes du jour. Some of these include beef Bourguignonne, beef Stroganoff, shrimp morengo, halibut Newburg, beef and broccoli, among others.
We also tried a combination plate of a bowl of soup and half croissant sandwich ($4.95). The smoked turkey was very good and the creamy New England clam chowder was one of the better versions we have tried. Not only was it devoid of any of the gooey roux too often found in these inland climes, but it had generous chunks of potatoes and clams.
Other croissant sandwiches include beef and cheddar and ham and Swiss with French mayonnaise. All sandwiches are served with potato chips and pickle slice.
Since we enjoyed peering into the small kitchen in the rear of the trolley to watch our chef, we also ordered the bananas Foster, consisting of a sliced banana seared with brown sugar, butter, pecans and poured over a crepe filled with French vanilla ice cream.
Fresh ground coffees are also a specialty. The particular blend from Costa Rica we sipped was especially satisfying with our dessert. Other beverages include herbal teas, milk, lemonade, soft drinks, apple cider, hot chocolate and mineral water.
Outside of the street vendors in New York City, it is hard to find one-person restaurant operations these days. Trolley Square Crepes and its solo chef-conductor Michael Harper have been in operation for 3 1/2 years. While its fare is definitely more civilized than its cousins in Gotham, it still has a comparable jauntiness.
Trolley Square Crepes, Trolley Square, 602 E. Fifth South, 322-3839. Open for lunch and dinner, from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Accepts check with guarantee card; no credit cards. Trolley Car may be reserved for private parties.
-IN LAST WEEK'S COLUMN on Maxi's at the Red Lion hotel, complete descriptions of two of the menu items were inadvertantly left out. The prawns were sauteed in a white wine sauce rather than a white sauce and the seafood appetizer was rolled in a black bean crepe.