Big Al's Bites: Bistro 258

(Source: Angelica Sweet) Strawberry cheesecake is available at Bistro 258 by the slice. Whole cheesecakes must be requested in advance.
Filet Special
(Source: Angelica Sweet) Daily special: Bistro surf and turf, beef filet with prawns in an herbal garlic butter sauce

We are eaters. All of us. The human race has few activities more frequent than eating. The acclaimed philosopher Voltaire exclaimed that “nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.” Yet we eat every day, often without taking the time to enjoy the process. Days become weeks, which file into months of drab and purely functional eating.

And then without warning, a meal breaks through the culinary haze as the sun breaks through the iconic valley inversion. I found Bistro 258 three years ago as I was strolling down 25th, looking to kill time on a Saturday. My friend and I were gathering menus of the restaurant mecca street of Ogden when we came across the simple door of what is now my favorite restaurant in Utah. Josh and I walked into a restaurant that was simple, tasteful and distinctly American.

The walls are decorated with vibrant depictions of jazz musicians, vintage play bills and hollow-body guitars, offering the simple sophistication that appeals to the zeitgeist of the American spirit. I was pleasantly surprised by the expertise of our waiter, who showed a knowledge and savvy I had ignorantly missed in the past.

What followed was a redefining culinary experience. There are moments that come in life that change your expectations. One of these moments was when I met my wife, and realized that the girls I was dating were simply not going to work. I had similar feelings while dining at Bistro 258.

My meal started with a Manhattan clam chowder that was ornamented with a tomato-celery puree and sherry that elevated the soup past its humble nautical beginnings. The charming broth was laden with red potatoes, celery, whole clams and the unique ingredient of corn, a delightfully rustic addition.

When an appetizer is incredible, I get nervous. You see, often the appetizer is better than the entree, and your inflated expectations are popped by an average main course, leaving you satisfied but disappointed. I am happy to report that the entree blew the soup out of the water.

I had the orange chili chicken, a buxom chicken breast seasoned with an orange, pomegranate and chili pepper demi-glace, and cooked to tender perfection. I am not exaggerating when I say that this, along with about two other things on Bistro’s menu, are in the top 10 things I’ve ever eaten.

Our dessert was a unique dish, one available only at Bistro 258. “Fuzzy peaches” consist of peach halves breaded in tempura batter, and then flash-fried to a crisp on the outside, raw on the inside treat of a peach. The peaches are then paired with a sumptuous helping of vanilla bean ice cream and mango sorbet, tied together with a caramel sauce and a raspberry melba drizzle.

I walked out of Bistro 258 sure I would never have another meal that would exceed it. While I have had a few meals that matched it, I can honestly report that no meal has ever exceeded the quality and enjoyment of that surprising meal three years ago.

One of the important measures of a restaurant is not only the quality of the meal, but the consistency as well. I have been back many times, and I have never had anything I haven’t liked. For the clam chowder, their vegetable beef is equally formidable. For the orange chili chicken, the blackberry pork chop is incredibly delicious. I can’t decide which I like better.

If you are like me, you need a break from the mundane. Meals that flash by without any significance are to be expected, but should be broken up with meals that mean something. To break your streak, go to Bistro 258.