Last Friday night I took a trip to Bountiful and hey, it was a blast! Moxi is a new wine bistro on what I call the “old highway.” I went there with my frequent dining partner Patti Ellis. The bistro is tucked into a small building where Patti has put together a palates studio, a spa/boutique and Moxi itself. The space is ultra contemporary with some Rocky Mountain touches and Moxi is open, engaging, and an oasis in what I think of as a sort of stuck-up town.
Wendy Lund is the owner/manager of Moxi. She has worked at many other restaurants including Takashi, were she was general manager for six years, and the Happy Sumo for two years. She, like many others in the business, decided it’s too much work to do for someone else — so she went out on her own.
Patti and I were served beautiful bruschettas with Southwest spiciness. With them, we had a glass of one of my new favorite wines, a Picpoul de Pinet from the Languedoc. It’s floral and crisp, light yet complex, and you need to try it. (You can get it at the new wine store on 300 W.) We also tried a salade frisee with lardons which I was hoping would be like the one I had in Brussels. The chef is still working on this dish, and I suggested he use curly endive to create the “puffy, fern-like” look the salad should have. He is currently using Napa cabbage, but it was tasty, nevertheless.
What I really loved was his presentation of the duck — thin slices of breast in an awesome molasses and brandy reduction. I brought a Fess Parker Ashley’s vineyard ’06 Pinot Noir, which paired nicely with the duck. We also had a great salmon dish which was fresh fish over scallops and topped with a creamy vodka sauce and tiny, red caviar. Nice!
The thing I enjoyed most about Moxi Bistro was how much fun it was! Our waiter was my cousin Morgan Maw, who also has worked at the Oyster Bar and the Metropolitan for far too many years. They were attentive and funny and several old friends were there who dropped by to chat.
In the background there was live music provided by singer and guitarist Jay Henderson, whose tunes added a very soft and nice ambiance. (I think a lot of places that have live music play it too loud so you can’t enjoy conversation — but then, I’m getting old.)
Our friend Joel, who actually was the builder of Moxi, ordered a cheese platter which we all picked at. It had a great stinky cheese from Finland I’ve never had before and some wonderful, true Roquefort which blew me away. The plate was complimented with shaved prosciutto and dry sausages — very nicely done and great with our Fess Parker wine.
Chef Bruno brought us out some wonderful pane cotta, which the French call “Pots de crème.” It was light and luscious with simple vanilla flavors, and just the right thing for dessert. Chef Bruno — Bruno is his last name — has worked at several trendy restaurants in Salt Lake City recently but has found his home at Moxi. He is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and we enjoyed visiting with him.
I’m not writing this piece as a review at this time. Patti and I thought a couple of the dishes were overly salted, and in a restaurant this new there are always kinks which need to be worked out. Moxi has only been open a few weeks and I think it would be unfair to really pick it apart right now. But I do think it’s very worthy of the support of our community. The clientele there is young, trendy and gay-friendly, and I felt like I was at the new “in” place. Who knew there could be an oasis of coolness in Bountiful?
To wrap up, I want to tell you about five new value wines people have been enjoying:
1) Picpoul de Pinet. This is a new white from the South of France, crisp floral and full-bodied and refreshing for summer. It costs around $12.
2) Medrano Malbec from Argentina has been on sale through April for $7 but drinks like a more expensive wine. It has nice balance and low tannins.
3) Quinta de Roriz Espadeiro Rose. This is a Peter Grisley wine from Portugal. It has a peachy, rosy color and is full of flavor with floral and apricot overtones. Gorgeous, crisp and clean and great for summer. It’s around $10.
4) Luzon, Spanish Monastrell from the Jumilla region. It’s delicious and smooth and only $10.
5) LAN Rioja Reserva. Last year this was on the list of the 100 best wines by spectator. The state still has plenty of it and it’s a big wine, but great with food. It opens up nicely and quickly and costs around $16.