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SLC Tourney Journey | Breakfast With Coffee Edition at The Little American

Across from the grandeur of the Grand American Hotel on South Main Street in Downtown Salt Lake City sits the Little American Hotel, and within it, The Coffee Shop at the Little American. It’s a hotel restaurant, yes, but it boasts a full breakfast and lunch menu — and coffee. So off we embarked on our 10-minute-long walk to see if it lived up to its near-stellar online reviews.

Even in the shadow of its even more refined bigger hotel sibling, the Little American itself is a well-appointed hotel, with polished brass and glass doors, a roaring fireplace off the entryway, and rich wood-paneled walls that reminded me of the old-money backdrops from any episode of "Falcon Crest" or “Dynasty.” To add to that, the lobby gift shop appeared to be more of a spoiled brat’s toy store oasis, with high-end kiddo accoutrements to ever-so-temporarily soothe the whims of over-coddled indulgences.

But we trekked out for a bite, and of course for the coffee. There was a wait, but within minutes after putting our name in, we were summoned and seated. Meanwhile, the couches and upholstered highback chairs just outside began accumulating more diners-in-waiting.

The coffee shop had open seating at its classic diner-style counter, but those were spoken for by another party on its way. We were seated around the corner by a big bank of windows, with an outward window view of the Grand American. A quick scan of the menu and it was decided — steak and eggs for me and my daughter. Her, an iced tea. And me, of course, the coffee.

But after we ordered was when the wrinkles and seams began showing. Service was slow. Our table by the window suddenly seemed out of the loop of normal floor staff traffic, even though a service galley was a few booths away. And once we received our drinks, it became clear instantaneously that the coffee was, shall we say, over-hyped.

For a fancy-pants restaurant within a fancy-pants hotel, sharing lineage with an even fancier-pantsed sibling hotel, right in view, across the street — there was an expectation that “The Coffee Shop” would at least nail it when it came to the coffee. They did not. Watery. If I had to narrow it to a single word, watery would do it. There really was nothing remarkable about it. It tasted like the unremarkable, watery diner swill that I’ve had in the countless, unremarkable restaurants and diners throughout my life.

The food itself was reasonably decent. The steak was sizable for the 7 oz. cut that it was, with over-medium eggs that are hard to derail. The plate came also with something called “cottage-fried potatoes," which turned out to be thinly sliced potatoes, not quite boiled and not quite fried. The scant few that were well-fried tasted good, but the majority simply were cooked potato slices that tasted as plain as cooked potatoes sounds. So if this were a graded middle school quiz, the meal itself would rate a B. Not a B-, and certainly not a B+. Just a plain as day B that put in some work but didn’t knock it out of the park kind of B.

But like with the middle school grade book, a B paired with say, a D-, and well, sorry sweetie, you’ve got a C for an overall grade, like The Coffee Shop does with its disastrous coffee. And to add an insulting knee to the groin, the drinks were a la carte. So the $19 steak and eggs plate cost $24 with the coffee or iced tea. Two plates with the coffee and iced tea yielded over $60 with tax and tip.

Surprising, but apropos, The Coffee Shop at The Little American Hotel ekes by with 2 stars out of 5. And from one coffee nut to all the others, skip the coffee at this coffee shop altogether.

For more information on The Coffee Shop at The Little American, visit its webpage at: .

Jason James Barry is an award-winning essayist and journalist. His travel and restaurant reviews appear in and Great Pacific Review’s features section.


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