From the city center at the Peery Hotel to suburbia at Foothill Village, The Pub group has expanded and contracted. Closing the cozy Peery Pub diner in the historic hotel meant opening a new spot in the congested Foothill neighborhood.
Since its summer of '93 shingle-hanging, the Red Butte Cafe, a tidy Southwestern-emphasis eatery, weathered construction on Foothill Boulevard, a two-year reinforcement of the surrounding concrete parking lot, including the steady buzz of jack hammers to accompany its patio dining; the arrival and departure of other dining spots; and a relentless battle for parking stalls to accommodate guests. With the endurance of a camel crossing a parched desert, the Red Butte survived, and recently doubled its seating capacity to facilitate a steady stream of customers.A Southwestern motif lines the tailored booths, while subtle copper-toned tiles cover the walls in a kind of desert chic mode. A paper, diamondback snake cleverly crawls out from the sagebrush on the menu.
For diners inexperienced in the peppery and pungent ingredients involved in Southwestern cooking, questions do arise. Unusual menu items like celery root mash, eggplant ragout or ingredients like pepitas, jicama or differences in chile pepper heat generate queries readily resolved by the staff.
Sandwiches come grilled or cold on a choice of sourdough, wheat, rye or cheese and onion buns. Stuffings include Smoked Turkey, Fontina and Tomato ($6.75) or Southwest Chicken with Onion, Poblano Pepper and Jack Cheese ($6.95).
Salad creations include creative ingredient combinations like Grilled Red Trout with Lentils, Green Beans and Pine Nuts ($7.95) or Lime-Pepper Marinated Chicken with a Spicy Citrus Vinaigrette, tomato, guacamole, jicama, and corn and black bean salsa ($6.95).
Unusual combinations continue in the special entrees like Red Chile-Cinnamon Chicken with Tamarind Sauce accompanied by a nippy Cashew-Cumin Couscous and a robust Fennel, Tomato and Eggplant Ragout ($10.50) or a pungent Grilled Smoked Salmon with Roasted Corn and Pepper Bisque ($13.50).
Serving a plate of dessert ($2.95) at the Red Butte hearkens back to the early days when the Upper Crust hawked a wealth of desserts that melted all resistance. Five or six varieties of cheesecake (like White Chocolate Raspberry), Orange Chocolate Moussecake or the most popular, creamy Chocolate Caramel Turtle Cake.
With the current construction projects completed (except for the leak in the upstairs restaurant's ice machine creating a mini-waterfall below), it's a good time to explore the peppery cuisines of the old Southwest or simply grab a sandwich or salad at the Red Butte Cafe.