The South in the City of Salt

Squeezed in between two decimated buildings, across the street from Murphy’s Downtown is a tiny new restaurant well worth the wait. The Bayleaf Cafe was originally slated to open in fall 2008, they finally opened their door in early September 2009. I don’t know what happened in that extra year, but I’m sure happy they got it together an opened up.

This place is brought to Salt Lake City via Georgia. Everything from the decor to the menu screams the South to me. The cafe has a simple, clean elegance to it that makes their all night cafe tag line seem wrong. But it’s not, Downtown officially has an all night restaurant that isn’t Denny’s–count your blessings. The one TV on the back wall seems out of place with the ambiance and decor, but give their Downtown Salt Lake City location I can’t blame them for adding ESPN.

Although the wait staff is fairly new and inexperienced, they are helpful, friendly and happy to see you. The first visit I made was with Man-boy and we showed up buzzed. The waiter was chill and let us take our time ordering. At the waiter’s suggestion I ordered the fried pickles to stave off my greasy, midnight, drunken food craving.

The pickles were the perfect fix. The chef uses a thick, crisp pickled battered in a spicy flour mixture. The pickles are deep fried just long enough for the batter to crisp then served with a side of fry sauce.

Pure deliciousness! I like pickles, but I normally wouldn’t eat them without a hamburger. This appetizer I would happily eat as a meal, again.

And I did. The second visit I made to Bayleaf was with T. This time our waiter acted a little ADD. I’m not sure what was going on, but he seemed to have difficulty focusing on the waiting part of his job. He was exceptionally friendly and really sweet, just not waiter-ish.

Again, I ordered the fried pickles. Why explore the menu when you already know the best dish they serve, right? T had the hot wings to go with the football game on TV.

Once again, I loved the fried pickles and was completely happy with the dish. I have to try and make my own.
I couldn’t resist the hot wings though. They were spicier than I expected. This place is so Southern, they serve drinks out of Mason Jars and sweet tea unless unsweetened is specified. I expected the usual definition of hot from the South as in mild. Nope, these wings were hot. The sauce had great flavor and was served with a fantastic blue cheese dressing (I’m guessing Lighthouse) and messy. Just the way great wings should be.
So for providing two lovely experiences I have to give Bayleaf mad props. I will be back again, not that I’ll be venturing far from the fried pickles.

About kristamaesmith

I'm a writer living with my boyfriend in Salt Lake City, Utah where I cheer for the Jazz, walk my dog, and spend too much money in local restaurants. I work in marketing for higher education and blog about food, travel, television, and whatever shiny moment catches my fancy.
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