Along with the proliferation of fast-food places (where customers are buying time and very little taste), recent trends also indicate the number of "family-style cafeteria" eateries is increasing. In a time of economic uncertainty, quantity soothes the anxious appetite. When in doubt, eat more and eat it quickly.
But we were reassured that high standards do exist in the marketplace after our luncheon visit to Cuisine Unlimited, primarily a catering company. Most of us don't travel in the corporate circles where catering, another growing part of the restaurant industry, is the norm. So when Maxine Turner, Cuisine Unlimited president, and executive chef Clare Nelson opened an outlet for the public, we were excited about a visit.Open only for breakfast and lunch, the fare is elegant, carefully crafted and delectable. From the simple rich chopped liver on marble rye bread to the complex shrimp lavosh sandwich roll, complete with the subtleties of capers, tiny sweet peas, and golden bits of corn blended into the cream cheese filling, each of the sandwiches we tried had touches that were worth savoring.
Even the mundane receives special treatment. The turkey sandwich ($4.25 for a whole; $3 for a half) is roast turkey breast sliced on a choice of breads, layered with thinly sliced Bermuda onion, sprouts and dressed with a mild blend of mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and horseradish.
Other sandwiches include roast beef, ham, egg salad, pastrami and corned beef and are served with chips, a sour crisp dill and mild black olives. Several bagel sandwiches are also available, including lox.
We were drawn to some of the specialties in the deli case. The Stephano, a rolled sandwich of Italian meats and cheeses, resembled a cool, sophisticated pizza in taste. A pepperoni sausage torta was appetizing. The bubema, a spinach and cheese pastry, was also good. Each was around $3.50.
Other specialties included a five-cheese soup and a tasty salad of pieces of Granny Smith apples, Bermuda onions, cabbage, orange and grapefruit sections tossed with an understated dressing.
Even the desserts, again from the simple but delicious chocolate chip cookie to the more complex brandy cherry coffee cake, display the kind of attention to detail that will appeal to any palate.
Cuisine Unlimited describes itself as a "New York-style deli." While the color scheme and decor resembles Balducci's in Greenwich Village, the small interior nestled in the suburban Woodlands office complex is a far cry from any Manhattan eatery, be it Zabars or the State Deli.
Yet the elements of the basic tastes such as the chopped liver and the sophisticated creations from the kitchen transport eager customers beyond the mainstream of Utah's dining out scene. And with a little imagination, customers could find themselves not far from the lower East Side.
Rating: * * * * 1/2
CUISINE UNLIMITED, 4041 S. 700 East. 268-2332. Open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Saturday hours in the spring.) Accepts major credit cards and check with guarantee card. Extensive catering services.