Butter. Need I Say More?

And who really knows butter better than the French.

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In downtown Salt Lake City there is a small French bakery/ cafe called Les Madeleines. On the outset Les Madeleines has all the hallmarks of a French bakery located in the United States: it’s in a re-gentrified downtown neighborhood, it has hip and minimalist styling, their items come in expensive looking and clever boxes, and the menu prices make gas pump prices look reasonable.

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Unlike most of these types of establishments though the food is actually delicious. That being the case we rarely seem to get out of this place without having spent over $100. We’re hooked. If you’re going and want to have the quintessential Les Madeleines experience order yourself a Kouing Aman. Don’t worry about how you pronounce it. Unlike an actual cafe in France these attendants are all very nice and speak English like natives of the good ol’ US of A. You know what you’ve just ordered is good because unless you’ve per-ordered, although nice they may be, the attendants will only sell you up to four of these delectable pastries in one day.

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Do not order a Kouing Aman to-go and then leave the premisses because once you’ve discovered this buttery bit of heaven with your taste buds you’ll want at least one more so stay close by. With a crunchy and caramelized outside and rich and soft inside these pastries defy description. Les Madeleines offers a nice breakfast and lunch menu and honestly everything I’ve ordered has been wonderful. Meal portions are small but that just leaves more room for dessert. We are particularly fond of the carrot cake cookie sandwiches and also their bread pudding. Take your paycheck and enjoy!

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The Soup Kitchen: Not for the Homeless (exclusively)

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Some restaurants you go to wearing a tux. Some restaurants you go to with a dollar in change in your pocket to order off the dollar menu while wearing your best sweat pants. This, is neither of those types of restaurant. This establishment is one of those work-a-day, comfort food, “we would have cleaned the floor, but we were too busy making the delicious soup you’re enjoying” kind of place. I’ve been coming to The Soup Kitchen for several years and it’s always been consistently enjoyable. They offer a full menu of sandwiches and burgers (which I’ve never had), but the shining star is their soup…..and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Ordering soup at most restaurants that a person will normally find themselves at will quickly reveal that the soup is more of an afterthought on the menu or a convenient way for the restaurant to dispose of leftover ingredients. If you love a good soup (and honestly who doesn’t) this is usually a disappointing realization. While the soups at the The Soup Kitchen don’t fall into the “exotic” or “out of this world” category, they are delicious and comfortable with all the ingredients you’d expect and all done to perfection. The flavors are enjoyable, the soup is the right temperature and you’d be hard-pressed to find a watery anything dumped in a warming pot from a can.

I enjoyed the always good tomato soup which has a creamy consistency and is rich and flavorful, not watery and salty like a canned tomato soup. In fact, if you’ve never had anything but canned tomato soup do yourself a favor, join the upper echelons of the human race and try some scratch made tomato soup. It may change your life. Megan had the cheese and broccoli soup which she found delicious with judiciously cooked vegetables that allowed for soup with texture and the right pairing of flavors which you don’t often get in a cheese and broccoli soup. Most often you’re left with something that resembles a bowl of nacho cheese sauce with green bits of decimated broccoli leftovers. Not so at The Soup Kitchen.

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The atmosphere at the restaurant is plain with highly trafficked surfaces and furnishings, minimal decoration, and some single speaker radio playing a local station coming from somewhere in the kitchen. Megan will take issue with me on this point, but I feel this speaks to the owner’s commitment to their top priority which is making good food. Instead of spending time creating a gimmicky brand which many small eateries do instead of spending any time worrying about how their food tastes.

The bread sticks they serve here also deserve a mention. They offer a variety of three types of bread sticks with your meal; garlic, plain, and cheese. I’ve personally never had warm bread sticks here. They are usually pretty cold and I’ve always assumed this was on purpose (in fact, I still don’t know that it’s not). I have always counted this as point of genius to the proprietors. When the soup is served, it is slightly too hot to ingest. I enjoy my bread sticks by dipping them in my soup. The cold bread sticks are warmed by the hot soup and the hot soup is slightly cooled by the cold bread sticks. By the time I’m done with my bread sticks the soup is usually the perfect temperature.

The Soup Kitchen is located in the Sugar House neighborhood of Salt Lake City.