This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The premise of Aubergine & Company in the trendy Sugar House neighborhood on Highland Drive is promising healthy food prepared fresh. Good fats, natural sweeteners and no frying are the primary tenets.
Like the plethora of fast-casual eateries that have sprung up in Utah County and spread across the state and country, Aubergine operates on the now-familiar model involving an employee building your meal in front of you from a variety of starting models or customizing your own. Breaking trend, Aubergine has upped the game on interior design with warm woods, intriguing light fixtures and a classier environment than its counterparts.
Breakfasts feature smoothies and açai bowls, while lunch and dinner advertise Mediterranean sandwiches and salads. Those with food allergies and dietary restrictions can rejoice, too. Menu items are marked as gluten-free, vegan and dairy-free where applicable.
With so many options to choose from and the ability to pick five toppings and a protein on the savory selections, it's advisable to peruse Aubergine's website for a more organized understanding of the available choices before standing in line.
Do not, however, take the next logical step and use the online ordering system that is promoted there. Not only did a co-worker and I waste our time sifting through the seemingly endless ingredients and pre-paying, when I arrived to pick up our lunch order at the scheduled time 30 minutes later, the teenager behind the counter was dumbfounded when I said I was there to pick up a to-go order placed online. Some scurrying to check an empty refrigerator and consultation with three additional employees resulted in a rude reply that they hadn't received any notification of my order despite me having an email confirmation, receipt and text message from them in the same length of time.
As I was the only customer in the restaurant at this point, our orders were made immediately but without my direct oversight at the line because they had printed out the order to prepare. Unfortunately, we discovered that neither of the orders were correct when I returned to the office.
The customized wild salmon salad ($12.45) was prepared as a sandwich on a whole-wheat pita that resembled a bland pancake baked with sesame seeds. The salmon was meaty and moist, pairing well with crunchy red and green peppers, Kalamata olives and one of the best versions of baba ghanoush I've come across.
The other order was a combo meal ($11.95), including a piping hot but relatively bland cup of broccoli and cauliflower soup and what was supposed to be a build-your-own sandwich. We discovered that not only was the sandwich a salad, but only two of the seven items chosen were included. Gritty, baked falafel balls replaced what should have been chicken (which we paid extra for), and only the garlicky hummus and grilled broccoli and cauliflower were as expected. Even the requested tzatziki was mistakenly replaced with tahini dressing.
An additional visit to try everything missed on the first order was more successful and yielded up a tangy carrot salad and a hearty quinoa and lentil mixture, but the regular back-and-forth pointing at ingredients led me to understand that those behind the line are mostly dealing with foods that are foreign and perhaps even unrecognizable to them.
Hoping to discover that the poor customer service was merely caused by a lack of communication, I returned for a leisurely weekend breakfast (served from 8 to 10:30 each morning) with friends. And leisurely it was. With one customer in line ahead of us and one behind, we surveyed the expansive breakfast menu boards filled with açai and superfood bowls and smoothies and placed our orders of a cacao boost bowl ($7.95), a bowl of multigrain oatmeal ($4.75) and a Fiji green smoothie ($5.49).
Twenty minutes later and even before the gentleman in front of us got his two pieces of avocado toast we received lukewarm and gluey oatmeal along with our other items and headed outside to people watch on a Saturday morning while we searched for coffee (they don't serve that or soda).
Covering the rubbery oatmeal and quinoa mixture were plenty of fresh berries and bananas that were salvaged for a morning fruit serving. Better was the banana-forward smoothie, filled with blended pineapple, banana, kale, spinach, almond milk, agave and chia seeds.
Thankfully, the cacao boost bowl was not only beautifully presented with granola, pineapple, shredded coconut and blueberries (artfully arranged on top), but it was sweet without cloying notes and filling from a smooth blend of cacao fruit, banana and almond butter.
Finally, a surprisingly large dessert and pastry case surrounds the register and each item is housemade with natural sweeteners, agave, honey, maple syrup and/or dates.
With the Sugar House location being the company's third in Utah, I would have expected that operational bugs would have been smoothed out by now. I'm left to ponder if the inexcusable errors occurring at every visit can be overcome by the quality of the food once it arrives.
Heather L. King also writes for http://www.slclunches.com and can be found on social media @slclunches.
Aubergine & Company
Food • HH
Mood • HHH
Service • H
Noise • bb
Aubergine & Company features healthful breakfast, lunch and dinner items prepared with fresh ingredients, good fats and natural sweeteners in a hip and happening location in Sugar House.
Location • 2122 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City; 801-487-4321
Online • http://www.aubergineandcompany.com
Hours • Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; closed Sunday.
Children's menu • Yes
Prices • $-$$
Liquor • No
Reservations • No
Takeout • Yes
Wheelchair access • Yes
Outdoor dining • Yes
On-site parking • Yes
Credit cards • Yes