From the very beginning, Hotel Utah established a reputation for dining excellence. It was a place to dress up, enjoy an evening of dinner and dancing, mingle with the upper crust, enjoy spectacular views, as well as consume what many considered the finest food in Salt Lake City.
Over the years, the names of the restaurants changed: The Starlite Gardens of 1936, gave way to the Sky Room of the '60s, and became The Roof of modern times. The Grill Room in the basement became the Coffee Shop and then Crossroads Restaurant. But there was always an emphasis on good food.
A Deseret News photo spread in 1948 noted that the kitchen's staff of 89 prepared food for approximately 4,000 people each day. And it also noted that the hotel used 1,500 to 3,000 pounds of meat daily. "Only choice grades are used, and it must be aged five weeks at 38 degrees."
A sampling of menus from the 1940s and '50s, show what dining was like in that era:
Among the choices at the Starlite Gardens on Aug. 30, 1948, were: Steamed Finnan Haddie, Fresh Shrimp Sauce and Broiled Parisienne Potatoes, $3; Fresh Lobster & Crabmeat in Newburg Sauce, Melba Toast, $3.50; Tenderloin or New York Sirloin Steak, $4.50; Lamb Chops, From the Broiler, $3.75. Each entree came with a choice of one of nine appetizers, a choice of potatoes and vegetables, a Pulled Lettuce and Tomato Salad, and a choice of dessert and beverage. Among the 14 dessert choices were Cherry Pie, Coconut Layer Cake, Raspberry Bavarian Pudding, Creme De Menthe Sunday, Assorted Preserved Fruit with Pound Cake, Egg Nog Ice Cream and Liederkranz, Camembert or Roquefort Cheese and Roasted Crackers.
On July 16, 1950, the Starlite Restaurant was offering: Cold Chinook Salmon Steak, Cucumbers in Sour Cream, Mayonnaise, $2.85; Young Froglegs Saute with Mushrooms in Casserole, $3.25; Hotel Utah's Pride — Special Cut of Prime Ribs of Prize Beef, Au Jus, $3.75; Broiled Sweetbreads, Hotel Utah, $3. Again, the entree came with a choice of appetizer and vegetables, a salad and a choice of dessert and beverage, but only four dessert options were listed.
On Feb. 5, 1950, in the Coffee Shop, you could have the daily special, Baked Stuffed Pork Chop, Spiced Apple, for $1.50; Broiled Whole Western Lobster Tail for $1.90; Filet Mignon, from Denver Stock Show Steers, for $2.50; or the day's "treat" — Roast Young Pheasant on Wild Rice, Under Glass, Currant Jelly, for $2. Each entree came with appetizer, two side dishes, dessert and beverage of choice.
On Nov. 5, 1952, among the Coffee Shop's offerings were Fresh Cracked Crab, Broiled or on Ice, French Fried Potatoes, $1.90; Filets of Fresh Sole and Deep Sea Scallops, Tartar Sauce, $1.95; Chef's Special Cubed Steak, Mushroom Sauce, $2.15; Young Calf's Liver Saute, Bacon, French Fried Onion Rings, $2.15. If you didn't want the full meal, you could also get a Caesar Salad Bowl for $1.25, or Six Eastern Oysters or Clams on the Half Shell for $1.
The hotel was also famous for its special holiday dinners for youngsters, which came with a souvenir menu in the shape of a bear, lion, or for Easter, a bunny.
A 1950 Easter breakfast offered kids a choice of Creamed Flaked Tuna on Toast, Tommy Tucker; Scrambled Eggs with Link Sausage, Humpty Dumpty; or Jelly Omelette, Cinderella. It came with an Easter Fruit Cup or Orange Juice, Easter Bunny Rolls and milk or hot chocolate, all for $1. Dinner was a choice of Roast Leg of Lamb, Little Bo Peep; Baked Sugar Cured Ham, Porky Pig or Fried Young Chicken, Little Red Riding Hood. Also included were Jellied Rainbow Fruit Salad, Seven Dwarfs; and Buttered Peas, Jack Horner. Dinner, a choice of appetizer and dessert, cost $1.25.
A banquet menu for a Sons of the Utah Pioneers luncheon on Oct. 14, 1953, shows what a special event meal could be: Grandma's Special Surprise Cocktail, Rocky Mountain Soup, Laramie Chicken, Spuds and Gravy, Hot Biscuits with Dixie Sorghum or Deseret Honey, Western Punkin' Pie, and Brigham Tea, Milk, Orange or Buttermilk to drink.