Yelp's Thirst Quencher at Co2 Cafe. Photo Courtesy of Yelp
I’m not much of a drinker, but I’ve always thought that there was something cool about wine tastings. The idea of pairing wine with food that enhances the overall eating experience appeals to me because, well, I’m a glutton. When I learned that Yelp! had teamed up with the local Co2 Café for a soda tasting, I high-fived my inner glutton and we both had an enjoyable evening.
Salt Lake’s chapter of Yelp! was on hand to provide music and giveaways that encouraged attendees to mingle with one another. Each guest was given a bingo sheet that required us to get initials from people who had tattoos, lived in Salt Lake, could sing the theme song to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, etc. It’s a tactic I’ve seen at many gatherings where guests need a bit of encouragement to socialize. Honestly, I was kind of impressed with my ability to recall obscure facts from ’80s pop culture as the evening progressed.
The Co2 Café opened last month at 323 S. Main St. with a menu that is heavy on finger foods and, of course, gourmet sodas that are brewed in-house. Their event featured a wide variety of these signature sodas, some of which were crafted from ideas that were conceived by attendees—the Hansicle, invented by a fan named Han, was the soda equivalent of an orange dreamsicle. In addition to the Hansicle, I tried Raspberry Hibiscus and the somewhat unfairly named Bitter Lemon. The beverages start with a house-made syrup that consists of fresh fruit and cane sugar. After a quick squirt of carbonated water and a few ice cubes, the drink was ready to rock.
Each soda that I sampled was a nice mixture of carbonation, sweetness and flavor. The cane sugar enhanced the syrup’s natural sweetness, which is something that I haven’t often experienced with other gourmet sodas—they usually end up tasting like Otter Pops. I particularly liked the Bitter Lemon soda, which I was expecting to be aggressively sour. The natural citrus of the lemon was offset by the sugar, which resulted in a flavor that was just the right ratio of tart and sweet. The event did feature an edible spread of funeral potato hush puppies, braised short rib sandwiches, and a dish called Salmon Byrek (pronounced boo-rek), which was made up of salmon baked inside pockets of phyllo dough. The hush puppies, or Funeral Balls as they were called, were my favorite of the three. It may have been the bacon pieces present in each bite, but these salty snacks were perfect for an evening of soda drinking. I thought the short rib sandwich was good, but the horseradish spread lacked that characteristic kick to the olfactory region that goes so well with braised meat. The Salmon Byrek was executed well—I love meat-stuffed bread—but the salmon was a bit overdone.
I would have liked to see more emphasis on pairing certain dishes with certain sodas—I think this would be an interesting addition to the café’s menu, and would have enhanced the overall experience. Nonetheless, I enjoyed myself and would encourage any fellow non-drinkers in the Salt Lake Area to swing by for some great homemade sodas.