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Restaurant Happenings - April 2006

Slickrock Cafe:
Moab’s Oasis for Food & Fun

By Deirdre O. Keating

The Slickrock Café
5 North Main
Moab UT 84532
(435) 259-8004

Slickrock CafeYou can’t walk by it without wanting to enter. Especially on a hot afternoon when the atrium sends a mist of cool air onto the sidewalk. Or when you see little groups gathered around tables, sipping yummy drinks with umbrellas in them. Or when your nose picks up a hint of the chipotle barbecue ribs. Next thing you know, you’re asking for a table and struggling to choose from the daily specials.

If the Slickrock Café, on the corner of Center and Main, doesn’t pull you in with its atmosphere alone, then its new manager, Bruce Begeman, will with his southern spirit of hospitality. Begeman has worked across the country, as a chef, manager, and as a consultant to restaurants such as Lonestar Steakhouse. Most recently, he comes to Moab after running a resort in Juneau, Alaska. His enthusiasm for serving up the best food and service is palpable. Along with Chef Emilio Martinez, he has revitalized Slickrock Café into the oasis Moab needs.

Owner Hans Fuegi gave the Slickrock Café its Caribbean and Latin flavors after a renovation in 2002. He opened up the historic building with unique front windows that retract to the ceiling and create a festive ambiance. Much of the menu is influenced by his extensive travels through Southern and Central America, as well as Asia. Even the décor is an eclectic mix of authentic finds, such as the Buddha that greets you in the Gear and Gift shop, coming to Moab from Vietnam.


Chef Emilio Martinez and
Front Manager Bruce Begeman

Last year Fuegi’s best find was Moab born-and-raised Emilio Martinez. He has added a southwestern spin to several dishes, increasing the offerings of the café. Begeman and Martinez make quite the pair; each loves to experiment with tempting dishes. They bounce ideas off each other, and you never know what they’ll come up with next. While we can’t predict tomorrow’s lunch or dinner specials, Martinez has hinted at creations featuring buffalo and ostrich in the weeks ahead.

The menu is as lively as the setting. Some of the biggest draws are the pasta dishes, such as Pirate’s Pesto, a linguine dish featuring sun-dried tomatoes and toasted pine nuts with a cilantro pesto. The St. Martin Pasta serves fettuccine with chicken, portabella and button mushrooms in a wine and cream sauce. Puerto Angel is a spicy penne offering made with shrimp, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, and onions, served in a spicy tomato sauce with tequila.

RECIPE OF THE MONTH
From Slickrock Café

Bread Pudding
With Bourbon Sauce

Makes 24 servings. Adjust for family size recipe.

Grease a large hotel baking pan.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
5 lbs Jiffy muffin mix
10 slices sour dough bread cut into ½ inch cubes
1 cup bourbon
½ cup vanilla extract
½ gallon whole milk
6 eggs
3 cups of sugar
2 lbs fresh blueberries

Mix well by hand. Add a small amount of milk if too dry. Mixture should be loose and wet. Drizzle the top with melted butter. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Let the middle set up, but do not overcook.

If the center is oily, cook a bit longer. Cut into 24 servings.

Bourbon Sauce
2 lbs melted butter
1 cup bourbon½ cup vanilla
8 cups powdered sugar
6 eggs
Heat in double broiler until smooth.

If pasta isn’t your thing, there are other temptations here, from burgers with seasoned steak fries or big plates of nachos, to fancier fare like the Maui Mahi plate. Everything is made fresh daily. The first thing Martinez decides each morning is which soup he wants to make, along side the Mama Yuki miso soup that is always available. Even the desserts are made on site, though you won’t find them on the menu. Begeman knows it will be much harder for you to resist when your waiter presents a delectable tray of cheesecake, sorbets, or bread pudding.

Vegetarians will find much to choose from as well. The mushroom wrap and tofu burrito stand out, but Martinez emphasizes that anything on the menu can be made to order. “We aim to please, and will do anything we can to accommodate you.”

“We won’t let you walk out of here unhappy,” ensures Begeman. The amplified attention to service is drawing in repeat visits from tourists and locals. The 20% local discount on Mondays through Thursdays helps as well. Midweek bar specials include an appetizer. They also serve local wines and both microbrews.

Dishes range from $8.75 for burgers to $16.75 for a steak plate. The Slickrock Café offers a kid’s menu, and an impressive breakfast menu with a full espresso bar as well as smoothies. The reggae music in the background adds to the lively, fun atmosphere that Begeman describes as a permanently “weekend state of mind.”

A meal at the Slickrock wouldn’t be complete without venturing into the gift shop. The Critter Gear collection is available only at the Slickrock gift shop or their web site (www.slickrockcafe.com).

Slickrock also offers an internet café – a traveler’s favorite kind of oasis! And if you explore the upper mezzanine, you’ll discover Accent Creations, which features jewelry designed and created by Olga Tatarovich. Listening to her stories and admiring her creations was one of the highlights of my most recent visit to Slickrock Café.

Begeman is enthused about meeting Moab’s people and visitors. “Please come in and introduce yourself,” he beckons. “We’re here creating the best food with the best service, and having fun doing it.” You’ll find that the fun is contagious at this oasis.

The Slickrock Café
5 North Main
(435) 259-8004
Open everyday from 8 am to 10 pm.
Call for take-out or reservations during busy weekends.

        

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