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Cottonwood Heights • In many ways, Cottonwood Heights is a city searching for its food identity.
Sandwiched between Big and Little Cottonwood canyons, residents who live here have easy access to the mountains and enjoy views of the Salt Lake Valley.
But finding a good local restaurant that doesn't require a commute to downtown Salt Lake City has been elusive.
There are a few places that have survived such as Lone Star Taqueria, Porcupine Pub & Grille and Hog Wallow. But in general, local establishments are limited.
Enter Angel Café, which took over the original Cottonwood Heights Café location, now down the street on Highland Drive. If the name doesn't quite seem familiar, you might recognize it by its original moniker, Franck's Angel Café. The French-inspired breakfast and lunch café was opened by Chef Franck Peissel, formerly of Franck's and L'Avenue.
Peissel departed several months ago, so his name was dropped. The establishment has become Angel Café and lives under the watch of Angel Kosovich.
Angel Café's originally tight menu, featuring French stalwarts such as croque madame, elegant pastries and exquisite quiche, has now morphed into "fusion" fare with a smattering of French holdouts and specials that are hit or miss if they are available at all.
What hasn't changed at Angel Café are the lines as neighbors flock to the local establishment within walking distance from their homes. While weekdays are less busy, Saturday and Sunday regularly result in a wait to get a seat either inside surrounded by eclectic décor or out on the front porch patio area.
Since the departure of the star chef, food quality and consistency at Angel Café have been unpredictable, but breakfast options typically satisfy. Omelets ($9-$11) stuffed with cheese, vegetables or meat are served with hash browns or potatoes au gratin. On a sweeter note, l'orange pancakes ($10) and brioche French toast ($11) impress with their beautiful presentation of fresh fruit and whipped cream.
Based on more than a dozen visits to Angel Café since it opened in November 2015, there is plenty of potential in individual dishes such as the crab and salmon salad sandwich ($14) served with a choice of fries or green salad. The sandwich is layered with a generous portion of seafood salad and fresh slices of crunchy cucumber on a ciabatta bun.
What diners sometimes find frustrating is that many favorite dishes don't regularly appear on the menu, so each visit is a guessing game.
Take the fried Brussels sprouts special ($5.50), one of the best appetizers I've had crispy fried, generously studded with bacon and drizzled with balsamic. Who knows if or when it will be served again.
Conversely, the Korean japchae noodle ($11) entrée special, delivered with a fist-sized hunk of soft tofu, was bitter and confusing.
Standard menu items, like the aforementioned daily croque madame ($13) are similarly confusing. One day, I was served the classic ham and cheese topped with heavenly béchamel; but on a different occasion the daily offering was a disappointing concoction of flavorless pork, mushrooms and spinach.
Many customers initially discovered Angel Café because of the desserts and pastries available for takeout. The visually appealing sweets delighted the tastebuds and continue to be a draw to residents. Recent offerings include Key lime tarts ($6.50) garnished with fresh mint that included touches of edible sparkles and a creative pancake crème brûlée ($6) with a berry coulis sauce.
Aside from the food at Angel Café, a skeleton crew of employees means that tasks beyond basic customer service and food preparation are seemingly neglected. The result is a less-than-sparkling dining room and a slower overall pace of service.
With a more cohesive menu and some improved staffing, Angel Café could easily improve its food consistency and quality.
The real question will be whether its Cottonwood Heights neighbors will continue to be supportive in the meantime.
Heather L. King also writes for http://www.theutahreview.com and can be found on social media @slclunches
Food • HH
Mood • Hhj
Service • HH
Noise • bb
Cottonwood Heights residents are flocking to this neighborhood café serving French and fusion breakfast and lunch fare.
Location • 2577 E. Bengal Blvd., Cottonwood Heights, ; 801-542-0797
Hours • Open Tuesday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Children's menu • Yes
Prices • $-$$
Liquor • No
Reservations • No
Takeout • Yes
Wheelchair access • Yes
Outdoor dining • Yes
On-site parking • Yes
Credit cards • Yes