Photo: Helen Leeson
376 E. 8th Ave
Salt Lake City
Lunch: Tue. – Sat. 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Dinner: Tue. – Sun. 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Sunday Brunch: 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Late Night: Fri. & Sat. 10 p.m. – Midnight
Bites Available All Day
I’ve always hurt for that olde-worldy town pub feel in Utah—dimly lit and warm, complete with woodworked furnishings that welcome all walks of life to casually learn about the nearby company—where I can drink something from a house keg and enjoy the finest classic beer food known to man. The ascending Avenues have bolstered Avenues Proper, letting in some natural light, but the concept of a laidback place to sit back and watch the world spin is starting to carry itself out of the Berger Straße and onto the Bonneville benches.
Catching the Proper on a late afternoon/evening proves to be a smart choice, as you walk in to be greeted by the house attendant and gentle malty breezes, which make their way from a glass-walled restaurant centerpiece encapsulating one brewmaster wrapping up his day among a humble collection of steel bells, whistles and fermentation tanks. Seating options include heading east to the bar for a Proper Pint ($5) and Pale Ale Potato Chips ($3) with colleagues, or following your host west to the dining room for a higher-end but casual eating experience (though meals are offered on both sides). The bar in question quarters off into a more secluded side of the establishment. Lights turned low make the mood homey, while a half-circle plywood booth and tall, round pub tables set a backdrop which assuages the severe steel beams and cinder walls holding up the building.
On a tight budget, lunch and dinner here supersede the regularly affordable meal, but that’s not to say these flavors won’t inspire the palate. They’ll take it up a step or two for your next special occasion. This is an open space designed for just enough privacy to enjoy your party, accented by the elegant lavender drop lighting, outside patio view and the choice ambiance of air plants. For dinner, start with an order of crisp Pommes Frites, cut thin, with a beer aioli ($5)—a hint of sour from the ale and boldness from raw garlic—with a pint of Proper’s Oatmeal Irish Red ($5) to manage the grease.
Naturally, one of mankind’s overpowering human urges is sucking down a good creamy head whenever it’s in close proximity—Proper’s Red Ale satisfies every time. The secret is all in the nitro gas used for this particular beer when poured off the tap. Light enough for summer drinking, but upheld in color for its style, the Red starts off hoppy at first, maintaining a bit of chew from the oats throughout and finishes with clean profiles of grain on the way down. This is a perfect ale to drink with starters as you move your way into some pub favorites like the House Sausage Sandwich ($14). This is a truly unique take on the acclaimed euro Curry Wurst. A lamb sausage, sharp with accents of fennel, is set on a soft baguette and topped with crisp and refreshing cucumber tzatziki, goat cheese and red onions. All textures and flavors are merged into the one and only sandwich worthy enough to put a gyro to shame—and then some. In between bites and beer sips, a side of fried curry garbanzo beans sit on the side to revolutionize the definition of what a French fry can be. Dipping sauces would have been appreciated, as these poppers became a little too dry to savor alone. Nonetheless, it’s the best meal in the house.
Plate two could only be the pan-fried Rye Gnocchi ($16) comingled with chanterelle mushrooms, kale and turnips in a cauliflower cream sauce. The natural veggie sugars fuse these ingredients into wedlock, courtesy of said pan, caramelized and sweetened to utter celestial beauty. The heat toasts the gnocci, enriching the best taste qualities of rye and rejoins the vegetables to contrast while the cream sauce brings it all home. On the plate, the dish works great and lovingly accompanies the Proper Hopspital IPA ($5), named after the LDS Hospital down the road. Call it golden clear and tropically hoppy—it finishes with a bit of citrus (I’d say orange).
Per a strong recommendation from our waiter, the Roast Chicken Breast ($19) came next, with a glass of the one and only Avenues Proper Beer ($5), an English Golden Ale. I’ve never been an advocate for chicken plates when going out—they tend to lean on the “safe” side for those who would have otherwise chosen more adventurously, but I’ll say, it was enjoyable! Fingerling potatoes, kale and small bits of chicken confit make up the bed where this crisp-skinned breast lays under a cloud of pea sprouts. The complement is a rim of reduction glaze made from chicken stock added into the drippings from the first cooking process. The fact that all these microbrews comply with Utah DABC (Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control) percentages makes for some lighter booze, but the Golden Ale will remain a summer favorite—light carbonation, slightly boggy in clarity and quick to drink under desert heat, no wheat.
Celebrating their one-year anniversary, Avenues Proper hosted their first annual Beer Pairing Dinner on April 27, showcasing an exclusive menu refined by home-brewed spirits. With 2015 around the corner, reservations for these one-of-a-kind nights are highly anticipated. To cut some time off the prolonged wait, it’d be wise to set sights on the northern hills of Salt Lake before thirst rises and the sun sets.