The Tin Angel Café
365 West 400 South
Salt Lake City, Utah
Lunch: Mon. - Sat. 11 am - 3 pm
Dinner: Mon. - Thurs. 5 pm - 9 pm, Fri. - Sat. 5 pm - 10 pm
Now starting their fifth year, The Tin Angel is Salt Lake’s best groovy dining experience for the sophisticated but subversive, a home to dishes with a progressive food attitude. The restaurant is set in a converted 19th Century house with a new enclosed dining room, which opens onto a patio in warm weather. Progressive and groovy restaurants are my favorite kind—in the ’80s, I worked at the best, forward-thinking, handmade food eatery in Logan: Center Street Restaurant, where I had the honor of washing dishes for the likes of Vincent Price and Ben Vereen. It was my introduction to the small, local café experience, with food that was unusual, made from scratch, and excellent.
The Tin Angel began with the ambition of a couple of young scenesters, Kestrel Liedke and her best friend Robin Fairchild, who dreamed about their project for years. Where to place their ambitions and how to present their particular artistic vision for scene and experience in Salt Lake became a reality when Kestrel married chef Jerry Liedtke. Jerry, having set up more than a few restaurants in town and out, and having worked in fine kitchens in Europe and at resorts, had a firm idea about menus and what makes a kitchen succeed. The women had the gumption to make it happen. Thus was born one of Salt Lake’s culinary no-brainers—The Tin Angel Café.
Part of what makes The Tin Angel great is its commitment to being a part of the city. Not that there isn’t anything here that can’t be found elsewhere, but there is nothing like it anywhere else, at least not here and now. It is firmly placed back in time, and in a different place. It is a homey-style space in a lived-in corner of Salt Lake bohemia. Positively Fourth Street Studios, once The Painted Word, and then, The Word, and before both of those Raunch Records, have all inhabited the red brick building next door. Before I was legal to drink in bars, I would walk from the University to The Word regularly for shows and coffee. Before that, when I was in high school, I would drive up with friends from Logan to buy records at Raunch. In my heart, this corner is a Soho, or Alphabet City, or Haight Ashbury to Salt Lake City. It has been bad and it has been good, and usually both at the same time.
The Tin Angel also has the great advantage of being located near one of the best places for procuring the freshest and highest quality in local produce. During the summertime, the Farmer’s Market is located right across the street, which only serves to make their mission to provide as much locally sourced and seasonal food more possible. Jerry’s cooking is somewhat autodidactic and intuitive, cooked on the fly with a surprising skill and finesse. He’s taken the right lessons away from the various kitchens he’s managed and worked in as a chef over the years. The cuisine is firmly based in great traditional cooking and spices. When an innovation occurs, it’s a little serif on a beautiful typeface. Different, but not indifferently applied. The food is priced appropriately for the high-quality, hand-selected nature of the ingredients, and the portions are European-sized and thoughtfully presented.