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Restaurant Happenings - October 2005

Center Café
60 North 100 West Moab UT 84532

Center Café:
A Fine Menu and Caring Service

At the bottom of the Center Café’s menu in fine print it says, “ The use of cellular telephones in the dining room interferes with the kitchen’s ability to properly prepare risotto.” This is in keeping with the philosophy of Zee and Paul McCarroll, the chef/owners.

They want dining out to be a relaxed, pleasant experience with service by caring staff, and food made from scratch using the finest ingredients. The McCarroll’s use sustainable industry food sources as much as possible, grow their own herbs and buy fresh produce from the local farmers. They like to consider their patrons guests rather than customers.

Zee and Paul met at a culinary school in Portland, Oregon in 1990. They have complimentary tastes and goals and have gone from working for others at Pack Creek, Eddie Mc Stiff’s, and Dos Amigos to now owning the Center Café. The original Center Café was on Center Street. But in August 2001, they moved into their new, larger home at 60 N. 100 West Street. Now there is outdoor dining, fireplaces, and a warm first class atmosphere with plenty of room.

The Center Café has several outstanding offerings. The main dining room and outdoor patio have two types of menus from which guests can choose. The “globally inspired” main menu features favorite standbys such as Pan Roasted Lamb Loin with roasted garlic flan, balsamic port wine reduction or Lumpmeat Crab Cakes with tomato coulis, citrus crème fraiche. A soup du jour and interesting salads are available. Other menu items include a fish, steak, or pork dish presented in a very special way. And, of course, the Fresh Chanterelle Mushroom Risotto (for which the phone must not ring.)

For those wanting something a bit simpler, the Center Café has a “Bistro Menu.” The word “bistro” or “quick” may have originated with the Russian Cossacks who occupied Paris in 1815. The Center Café’s Bistro Menu is shaped in the “spirit of Spanish Tapas, Greek Mezze and Italian Antipasto.”

This menu offers a changing selection of dishes to share with your table or to take out. Here you can find items such as Zee’s Mom’s Meatloaf; Steamed Clams, or Ginger Chicken Wontons.

As you would expect in a place of fine dining, the dessert menu is also intriguing. Imagine these delights: a Pick Me Up Platter of tiramisu, espresso pot du crème, and chocolate mousse in chocolate-hazelnut cup or Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee, or Huckleberry and Peach Crostada with buttermilk ice cream. And if that’s not enough, you can try homemade sorbet, chocolate moulton cake, or cheese and fruit.

The Center Café has a small market section which opens at 3 pm. Here you can find gourmet cheeses from around the world, olives, oils, and homemade breads – the makings of a great evening picnic.

All meals, large or small, can be accompanied by a selection of fine wines by the bottle or glass. The Café is situated on an old homestead property, and a root cellar under the small house in back serves as part of the wine cellar.


Center Café

Butternut Squash & Apple Soup
Serves 12 (may be halved)

1 # Bacon diced
2 Shallots diced
2 Onions diced
15 # Butternut squash
1 # Butter
2 C Brown Sugar
10 Apples, peeled and sliced
2 oz. Butter
16 oz Maple Syrup
1 qt. Chicken Stock - heated
1 qt. Heavy Cream + ½ gal milk
½ C Worcestershire Sauce
½ C Dijon Mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste
Tabasco Sauce to taste

In large sauté pan, render fat from bacon: add onions, shallots and cook until soft; reserve. On sheet pan with parchment paper, pour mix of 1 # butter melted and 2 C brown sugar onto split open and cleaned squash. Roast until tender. Saute apples in 2 oz butter until golden brown; Cook 2 -3 min. longer. Place squash, apples, onions, bacon, chicken stock, cream, and milk into a large stockpot. Stir well under low heat. Add Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard and seasonings, along with Tabasco. In small batches, puree in blender until smooth, finish with Tabasco infused crème fraiche.

The Center Café is presently serving dinner only, but Zee and Paul plan to stay open during the winter, except for a small break around Christmastime. They will serve both lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday. As Zee says, “Many tourists come through Moab going from Arizona to the ski resorts of Colorado and Utah. They want first class dining.” Another motive for the winter opening is to encourage locals to come in for lunch or dinner on cold wintry days, to get some delicious soup, and to visit with friends in front of a roaring fire. The warm wood décor lends itself to a cozy feel. Zee will make her favorite winter-warmer, chicken and dumplings and other comfort foods.

The Center Café is happy to be part of the Moab Community. It was the mountain biking and the scenery that brought Zee and Paul to Moab in the early ‘90’s. They support many local events, host artists’ photos and painting on their walls, and feature live musicians. Currently, the photos of Cliff Crutchfield adorn the walls, and the easy listening jazz guitar and sax of Carl and Gen are featured. In September the Center Café sponsored a well-attended Cajun Night. The proceeds went to help the Katrina hurricane survivors.
October evenings and beyond will be a great time to dine in comfort and style while Zee and Paul McCarroll create their often changing menus of delicious meals.

The Center Café is located at 60 North 100 West and opens nightly at 5:30pm. (Seasonal hours will change in November.) They may be reached at 259-4295.

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