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Home / Articles / Food / Restaurant Reviews /  Copper Canyon Grill House & Tavern
Restaurant Reviews

Copper Canyon Grill House & Tavern

Brown Out: Copper Canyon’s burgers and chops are “well-done”—and too little else is.

By Ted Scheffler
Posted // June 10,2009 -

The restaurant space in the Radisson hotel (formerly the Doubletree, Hilton, etc.) on South Temple has been home to so many different eateries, I’ve lost track of some of them. Most recently, Shula’s and High Rock Steakhouse came and went. Now, there’s another gleaming new restaurant in that location: Copper Canyon Grill House & Tavern.

Visually, Copper Canyon is a big improvement over its predecessors. Most impressive is the huge, square metal and glass front door, which rotates on a central pivot to open and close. It looks like something designed at MIT that should be on display at the Museum of Modern Art. Once inside, you’ll find the restaurant to be sleek and contemporary: a long, rectangular space with a glassed-in private club at one end and a private dining room at the other. The place is so new and clean you could eat off the floors.

Unfortunately, the color palette is a tad monotonous. Virtually everything at Copper Canyon—from stone walls to wood walls to the tables and chairs and floor—is either tan or brown or some variation of tan or brown. A splash of color here and there would be welcomed—flowers on the tables, perhaps?

During my three visits, Copper Canyon was virtually empty, making it feel like less of a “house” or “tavern” and more like a high-rent morgue. But even without a press of customers, service there is consistently lackadaisical, only a small step up from what you’d expect at a fast-food joint. Make no mistake, though—a glance at the Copper Canyon prices quickly confirms that this is no budget eatery. Burgers priced at $11 and $16 pepper the lunch menu, along with a dinnertime rib eye priced at $34. Even an order of chicken wings is $10. Apparently, in Copper Canyon, the recession will not be televised.

There also has to be a flavor-extraction machine in the kitchen. How else to explain the palate-numbing blandness of the vegan sauté ($15), which is a jumbosized bowl of bell peppers, yellow squash, broccoli, crimini mushrooms, almonds, canned Mandarin orange slices and a big hunk of flavorless seared tofu. The tofu never stood a chance; all of the sesame soy “jus” was pooled at the bottom of the bowl. The chef might want to consider putting the sauce on top of the food.

A bone-in airline chicken breast ($19)—described as “free-range poulet rouge”—was more interesting, served with good parsnip- and carrot-spiked mashed potatoes and natural jus. Still, it didn’t really hit any high notes, nor did it seem worthy of the $19 price.

During lunch with a colleague, our server—probably bored from lack of customers—simply wouldn’t stay away from our table. She reminded me of a puppy in need of affection. “Yes, everything is fine,” we assured her. “Yes, everything is still fine,” we reassured her. Halfway through lunch, she interrupted to ask, “Save any room for dessert?” Oh, how I love that phrase! Almost as much as I love, “I’ll be your server today.” Please go away, I wanted to say. But my friend—who probably had a better upbringing than I—said, “We don’t know. Let’s talk about dessert after we’ve finished our lunch, OK?”

Copper Canyon features an “After 5 slow-cooked meat & potatoes” special which is said to be “braised all day and priced to sell out.” Well, daylong braising didn’t prevent the bison shortribs ($18) from coming to our table lukewarm, barely. I’d ordered a Berkshire pork chop ($25) and thought it odd that our server didn’t ask how I wanted it cooked. (I would have requested medium-rare.) As we were attempting to finish a fairly dreadful appetizer trio of dried-out smoked Utah trout, Idaho sturgeon and Atlantic salmon ($14), the chef strolled by our table. So I asked her how she was cooking my pork chop. “Oh, people in Utah like their meat well-done,” she answered. “Not me,” I replied. When I told her I’d prefer my chop medium-rare, she said she’d pull it off the stove immediately. It came to our table—you guessed it—well-done. I would have complained to the chef or manager, but they were busy kibitzing with friends in a booth near the front door. You’d think they’d at least have chosen a table in the rear of the restaurant to loaf.

I’d been told by a Copper Canyon server that the Niman Ranch Angus cheddar burger ($11) was better than their $16 American Kobe burger, which is advertised on the menu as the “Best Burger in SLC.” So I ordered the Niman Ranch burger and was asked how I’d like my burger cooked. “Medium-rare,” I said, hopefully. I think you know how this story ends: The burger came to me well-done. In the cook’s defense, I’ll admit that it would have been nearly impossible to cook the quarter-inch thick burger (the same thickness as the tomato slice that came with it) any way but well-done. I never thought I’d taste anything so unsatisfying with the name Niman Ranch on it, but someone in the kitchen desecrated my burger, just as the chef had killed my pork chop a couple of nights before. I will say this: The burger buns at Copper Canyon Grill House & Tavern are excellent.

As I attempted, unsuccessfully, to gag down the remains of my murdered burger, the server asked, “Save room for dessert?” Strike three.

COPPER CANYON GRILL HOUSE & TAVERN
215 W. South Temple
801-521-7800

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Post a comment
REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // July 9,2009 at 08:49

I have to disagree with this article. My first time at Copper Canyon was a Saturday night with my girlfriends. I found the decor refreshing and modern. I loved the newness and sultry feel. It felt comforting and familiar. The woodwork is beautiful and the candles gave just the right glow. This is a great restaurant for a date. Maybe it is too modern and contemporary for the critic.

We were celebrating a birthday and were in a great mood. Our waitress was attentive and we enjoyed talking with her. We laughed so hard and really had a good time. She contributed a lot to the great time we were having.

All of the food was amazing! We shared an artichoke dip appetizer at the end of which each said to each other that we could lick the bowl! I ordered the Salmon which was on top of butternut squash wild rice. One of my friends ordered the Utah Trout and the other was the slow cooked meat & potatoes. The meat that night was Lamb(and was piping hot). My dish was delicious. I would order it again in a second. I also tried a bite from each of my friends and thought the combination of flavors well thought out and new. I was impressed! We then ordered the flourless chocolate cake and a bread pudding to share. Both were unspeakable great. The cake was so rich we couldn't finish it.

I was so impressed by this visit that I have been back several times. Each time trying something new. I've had the meatloaf sanfwhich, the french au ju, the kobe burger, and the breakfast buffet. The breakfast buffet spread is quite impressive including omeletes cooked to order!

I have recommended this restaurant to my family and even took visitors from out of town to this restaurant. Each of them raved about the atmosphere and food. Copper canyon, you did not let me down in the face of company. Some of my family members have now made a habit of going there for breakfast.

I guess it is the job of a food critic to be cynical and negative even trying to set people up for failure. (e.g. No one asks for a temperature on Pork in Utah.) I am a food lover and enjoy trying new restaurants. I would love to read reviews from normal people like me that just want to go out and have a good time with great atmosphere and food. I'm tired of reading reviews from jaded food critics who are impossible to please.

(I came across this review after eating at this restaurant multiple times and doing an internet search. I'm hoping people still see my comment although I realize it is coming in 1 month after this review. Normal people need to know what it is like from a normal person.)

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // July 9,2009 at 08:46

I have to disagree with this article. My first time at Copper Canyon was a Saturday night with my girlfriends. I found the decor refreshing and modern. I loved the newness and sultry feel. It felt comforting and familiar. The woodwork is beautiful and the candles gave just the right glow. This is a great restaurant for a date. Maybe it is too modern and contemporary for the critic.

We were celebrating a birthday and were in a great mood. Our waitress was attentive and we enjoyed talking with her. We laughed so hard and really had a good time. She contributed a lot to the great time we were having.

All of the food was amazing! We shared an artichoke dip appetizer at the end of which each said to each other that we could lick the bowl! I ordered the Salmon which was on top of butternut squash wild rice. One of my friends ordered the Utah Trout and the other was the slow cooked meat & potatoes. The meat that night was Lamb(and was piping hot). My dish was delicious. I would order it again in a second. I also tried a bite from each of my friends and thought the combination of flavors well thought out and new. I was impressed! We then ordered the flourless chocolate cake and a bread pudding to share. Both were unspeakable great. The cake was so rich we couldn't finish it.

I was so impressed by this visit that I have been back several times. Each time trying something new. I've had the meatloaf sanfwhich, the french au ju, the kobe burger, and the breakfast buffet. The breakfast buffet spread is quite impressive including omeletes cooked to order!

I have recommended this restaurant to my family and even took visitors from out of town to this restaurant. Each of them raved about the atmosphere and food. Copper canyon, you did not let me down in the face of company. Some of my family members have now made a habit of going there for breakfast.

I guess it is the job of a food critic to be cynical and negative even trying to set people up for failure. (e.g. No one asks for a temperature on Pork in Utah.) I am a food lover and enjoy trying new restaurants. I would love to read reviews from normal people like me that just want to go out and have a good time with great atmosphere and food. I'm tired of reading reviews from jaded food critics who are impossible to please.

(I came across this review after eating at this restaurant multiple times and doing an internet search. I'm hoping people still see my comment although I realize it is coming in 1 month after this review. Normal people need to know what it is like from a normal person.)

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // June 11,2009 at 10:47

HA! I knew it! The look of that place is dreadful, I said the same thing about needing some color in there. And the waiter uniforms do not say "High End" anything! I haven't eaten there more than once, so I can't elaborate on their food, but the look of the place a lone was enough to scare me away from this place and cowboys!

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // June 11,2009 at 10:39

after reading this review all i can say is OUCH!!!!!

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // June 11,2009 at 10:15

Reading? Who has time to read with all the blogging, Twittering, Facebooking, etc. going on?

 

Posted // June 15,2009 at 09:24 - I knew it, Ted! You've got a good mix going on there.

 

Posted // June 13,2009 at 15:40 - Okay, okay -- I confess. I've been reading Jim Harrison, Lester Bangs, Chuck Palahniuk and James Crumley of late. Oh, and an amazing new (to me) discovery: Amy Hempel.

 

Posted // June 12,2009 at 14:11 - Well Ted, that stinks. I take you for a reader and bet you are. I've yet to Twitter, but then, I don't own a cell phone. I really detest the name, "Twitter", in fact; sounds like a symptom of a tropical disease; sounds like explosive shits coupled with extreme fever. I used to "blog" a lot more but got bored. And there's no friggin' way I'll Facebook/Myspace. Get out of there, Ted, before there's no turning back!

 

 
 
 
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