Dinner is Served 

Siegfried’s adds to its lunchtime base by opening up at night.

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Like most unrepentant food enthusiasts, I proudly err on the side of overindulging rather than risk missing out on a delightful dish. Sometimes you just have to pig out and count the calories later. Otherwise, how do you justify a pit stop at Bambara for nourishment on the way to Siegfried’s for dinner? This logic tends to fit a little more snugly in places like San Francisco, Paris or New Orleans, where it makes perfect sense to down a few Café du Monde beignets on your way to pick up a muffuletta at the Central Grocery, just before you inhale a couple dozen oysters at Felix’s and/or Acme, prior to lunch at Galatoire’s, in preparation for a multicourse dinner feast at Brigtsen’s. But hey, you can make this strategy work here at home, too.

nn

The truth is that I’d just planned to meet my wife at Club Bambara'the private Bambara bar in the Hotel Monaco'for a cocktail before strolling across 200 South to check out dinner at Siegfried’s Delicatessen. And yes, I just said dinner at Siegfried’s. You can now get a full-service, sit-down meal at the popular German deli on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

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“Would you like to take a look at the bar menu?” asked Ethan, one of Bambara’s top-notch and most amiable of bartenders. Knowing the largesse of a meal at Siegfried’s, I politely declined. After all, in restaurant criticism, discipline is key.

nn

“Well, maybe I’ll just take a peek to see what’s new,” I said to Ethan, still intending only to window-shop. “Hey, this is new, isn’t it?” I’d spotted a stuffed-piquillo-pepper appetizer on the Bambara bar menu'a fatal blow to my willpower. So damn the discipline'a little pepper or two couldn’t hurt. Bambara chef Robert Barker takes bright red piquillo peppers, stuffs them with crab meat, and serves the plump peppers with jalapeño corn tartar sauce and frisee, all topped with an outstanding sherry vinaigrette studded with crisp morsels of pancetta. Boy, that’s good'and also a good contrast to the type of dining experience offered at Siegfried’s.

nn

Bambara is all about fine dining. That means that even at the bar, you’ll be equipped with cloth napkins and fancy plates, and served by uniformed pros. Siegfried’s, on the other hand, is all about comfy, casual dining. True, the servers at Siegfried’s were attired in uniforms of a sort: Oktoberfest T-shirts with a cartoon of a lederhosen-clad fellow holding a beer and a brat. The tables at Siegfried’s are plastic, the napkins are paper and the overall dining experience there, while not fine, is still delightful.

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I’ve written in the past about Siegfried’s cafeteria-style lunches, which continue to be one of my favorite pastimes. But as I noted, Siegfried’s is now open for sit-down dinners three nights a week. I was surprised to find all but one table (lucky for us) filled at Siegfried’s on a Thursday night, mostly with families enjoying the hearty and economical fare there. At lunch, you can get a complete meal for around $7; at dinner you might have to spend $10. Siegfried’s remains one of the best bangs-for-the-buck in Salt Lake City.

nn

So we grabbed the empty table at the rear, sandwiched between a drink cooler and shelves of imported German sweets. The demarcation between Siegfried’s the store and Siegfried’s the restaurant is mostly implied. An elderly lady shopping for cookies kept banging me in the shoulder with her purse as I sipped a Bitburger beer and perused the menu. Both shopping and dining at Siegfried’s are done in close quarters, which lends the place a touch of cosmopolitan energy, like eating in Macy’s Cellar on 34th Street in New York City.

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Siegfried’s owner, a Lithuanian woman named Daiva Stankyavichyus, is most definitely a hands-on owner. She does everything. You’ve seen her behind the meat counter, serving up a vast array of charcuterie, and you’ve seen her run the cash register. She works the cafeteria line when she’s not helping customers in the store, dealing with vendors, doing paperwork or handling a dozen other restaurant-related tasks. At last Thursday’s dinner, she was our server.

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As my wife sipped Tortoise Creek Chardonnay ($4), I surreptitiously ordered an appetizer of smoked beef tongue ($5.99), which came with slices of dark German rye bread and horseradish. I didn’t let my honey know what I’d ordered until she’d tasted it, fearing that the notion of tongue'smoky or otherwise'might dampen her appetite. Well, we love the tongue: four large quarter-inch thick slices, enough to easily split eight ways for family dining.

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Since the guy at the table adjacent to ours scored the last available schweinshaxen (pork leg), I decided to opt for the goulash ($6.99) while the missus ordered rouladen ($10.99). Faster than you can say “schnell,” our entrees were placed before us. The goulash was a large bowl filled with tender chunks of braised beef and mushrooms in a sturdy brown sauce atop Siegfried’s sensational spaetzle. I couldn’t eat even half of the dish (which came also with bread and rolls), but it was even better the next day heated up for lunch. I found the beef rouladen'rolled braised beef stuffed with breadcrumbs, herbs and nuts'a little dry, although my wife thought it was tremendous. She was less happy that her side of spaetzle came bathed in brown gravy; she’d have preferred hers plain, although no one asked. The slice of German chocolate cake ($2.59) we split was absolutely the best German chocolate cake either of us had ever tasted.

nn

The entire bill for appetizers, entrees, booze and dessert? Well under $40. Maybe not “fine dining,” but dining that’s just fine.

nn

SIEGFRIED’S DELICATESSEN
20 W. 200 South
Lunch Monday-Saturday
Dinner Thursday-Saturday
355-3891

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