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Dining at Bambara is worth the price

SHARE Dining at Bambara is worth the price

Dining out is it's own reward. It's a creative experience. And it's sometimes even a necessary one for one's own bodily comfort. One can merely eat, or be truly sustained.

Yes, this may be the esoteric side of the equation. So what? I'm in a philosophical mood today.

Besides, I don't feel enough of us enjoy the art offered up in the juicy, smelly dives and holes-in-the-wall all over town often enough.

Nor do we take pleasure in the finer spots, even if they do cost more money. Visit Bambara, as I did this week and you may see what I'm talking about. Especially if you have been culinarily challenged lately.

I reviewed Bambara earlier this year but my curiosity was piqued when I heard about a new chef in town. I waited a bit for his new menu to settle, and boy was it worth it.

Executive Chef Robert Barker is on the scene. He's been around the block. And though I loved Bambara quite enough as it was, I'm always open to the concept of a possible "better" when it comes to food.

Not only has the integrity of the Bamabara experience been retained (Chef Scott Blackerby was excellent), it is indeed, better for the change. That's due to a new sense of style in the pairings and details.

My husband Gary and I shared an evening of "duck and lamb" this week, swapping bites and sharing portions. A sort of mini-buffet.

Dinner started with a chevre and wild-mushroom strudel, shaped like a fat egg roll and paired with sweet-onion jam and balsamic syrup. Excellent beginning. Could have eaten 10 of those.

After the strudel, we shared a barely dressed pile of spinach and endive, accented with the ever-perfect Maytag bleu cheese, coarsely chopped bacon, and lightly candied pecans.

We tried the sauteed duck breast, with bourbon-mash sweet potatoes and baby carrots, with the plate lightly dressed with a dried cherry-port wine sauce. We also shared rack of lamb with whole-grain mustard sauce, with shiitake and asparagus relish, home fries, and yorkshire pudding. Both plates were equally lovely, since the meat was cooked exactly as requested (medium-rare), and accompanying dishes were matched well.

On the duck plate, I wished the sweet potatoes were a little less sweet, but the flavors were very good. On the whole, I was delighted. Some details were downright delightful. Home fries are paper-thin curly potato slices, and a mushroom-asparagus relish is really a not-too-saucy chopped warm salad, with large, savory-coated, distinct pieces. Very fun.

Bambara's dinner menu features several treats. Highlights are the Seared Rare Wagu Beef Carpaccio with pickled vegetables, wonton crisps and ponzu; field greens with pear, feta, tomato and spicy croutons; and from the entree section, pan-seared Maine scallops, celery-root puree and Pernod butter sauce.

Dessert for us were two fine choices: a peach-and-almond tart and a small chocolate cake-let, laced with a hint of orange.

Bambara did well in choosing Barker. My compliments. And for the record, while the Deseret News does foot the bill for my reviews, I do choose carefully and spend out of my own pocket fairly regularly.

To the reluctant, I say, order, pay graciously and enjoy each bite. This isn't just philosophy from the armchair, it's from the dining room, napkin in lap, fork in hand.

Prices for appetizers range from $4.50-$14, salads $6.50-$9.50, entrees $18-$26.


Bambara

**** 1/2 (out of five)

Hours: Monday-Friday, 7-10 a.m., 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., 5:30-10 p.m.; Saturday, 8-11 a.m., 5:30-10 p.m.; Sunday: Summer varies; winter 5:30-10 p.m. (Nov. 28-March 31)

Location: 202 S. Main St. (Hotel Monaco)

Phone: 363-5454

Fax: 363-5888

Payment: major credit cards, no checks

Reservations: recommended

Internet: www.kimptongroup.com/bambara.html


Stephanie Tanner-Brown is a free-lance writer and designer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-MAIL: stephanie@desnews.com