You gotta be a "grill" to post a shingle and crank up the burners these days. In the past few months, we've seen a bevy of "grill"-tagged newcomers hit town.
Perhaps the original grill of this current flock is Blind Dog Grill, which opened last fall in the refurbished Prospector Square (site of the former Ziehm restaurant).Blind Dog Grill is a nonsmoking private club, with a casual bar right up front. The color scheme softens into earth tones of mustard, cinnamon and cream, all wrapped around cozy booths. It's a homey feel, a generously cushioned comfort zone.
Cheerful servers (it was the first night back after spring vacation) offer ample amounts of information as well as attentive service. (We were also the only customers for well over an hour. Maybe neighbors were unaware of the re-opening.)
The menu brings a chuckle as the selection descriptions include jokes or unknown ingredients. And eating is another adventure.
It begins with a giant crabcake ($8.79), made with fresh Delaware crab. (The owners are former Easterners with seaside connections to proper fishermen). Topped with a undistinguished sauce Louis and nestled amid leeks and "jacktar" potatoes (a family name of this mashed specialty), these cakes could use a little punch of color or texture. But the specialty crab flavors sing out.
Gazpacho, the house soup of the day, offers a rich tomato puree base with only a nip of zip, a rather gentle version of the zesty summer soup.
Each entree arrives with a signature Blind Dog salad ($6.89, or included with an entree), a combination of crisp baby spinach, sparingly garnished with Gorgonzola, bits of bacon and an anonymous "family secret" vinaigrette. The neighboring skinny dog salad, sans any bacon or cheese, must really disappear into a flavorless closet. But the Caesar ($6.89) offers the need for Altoids, a clue that more robust flavor abounds in another dressing.
A red and vidalia onion confit dresses a heady filet of grilled halibut ($19.95), a moist cut of fish over another batch of mashed potatoes, this time blended with arugula. The Pepita and Dijon-crusted pork chop ($21.39), an absolutely enormous whack of pig, that is bone dry and lacks any of the described seasonings, is a disappointment. But its accompaniment, sweet potatoes and pablanos, features a crispy crust and loads of interesting taste.
Chappie, one of the owners, tags the Southern fried chicken ($16.79) with his name, and rightfully so. Someone in the family should take credit for this crisp/tender breast slab, with black bean salad and salsa as sides.
Pure perfection exists, however, with the chocolate bread pudding ($6.95), a blend of challah and subtle chocolate overtones, lightly sauced with creme anglaise. Even those who are not bread-pudding fans in our group succumbed.
A trusty mixed berry cobbler ($5.95) is paired with house-made vanilla bean ice cream. The ice cream also accompanies a collection of buttery rich all-tune favorite cookies: peanut butter, chocolate chip and oatmeal.
Blind Dog Grill, 1781 Sidewinder Grill, Park City, 1-435-655-0800. Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Rating: ***