Food and shopping malls go hand-in-hand, like grease and food, or shopping malls and stores that only sell one thing and it’s something you don’t want. After a long day of being annoyed by 1,000-percent mark-ups and incompetent 15-year-olds masquerading as sales clerks, nothing “hits the spot” like a visit to the food court and a steaming plate of bland something-or-other (from the chain of “Bland Something-Or-Other” restaurants).
Not that there’s really any good reason to go to University Mall, but if you happen to have been dragged there by dogs or banshees, you’ll be glad to know the food situation has recently improved, insofar as most of the food court places have moved out, leaving shoppers ample space to sit and eat the sack lunches they brought from home. All that remains are The Corndog Factory, whose name conjures an appetizing picture of sweat-shop employees manufacturing corndogs in assembly-line fashion; and Zorba’s, which serves Greek food and which used to be owned, I happen to know, by an Iranian family (’cause who makes better Greek food than the Iranians?).
Yes, my friends, Taco Taster (not Taco Bell, not even Taco Time; Taco TASTER) is gone, as is Sandwich Loft. (What was the idea there? That food sounds better if you think it came from somebody’s attic?)
Elsewhere at the mall, though, two new food emporia have appeared. First is The View, a cafe inside ZCMI. Despite being housed in the world’s most overpriced department store (motto: “Brigham Young Said We Should Make Our Own Clothes. Also, He Said We Should Buy Them Here”), The View is quite reasonable and serves enormous homemade-style sandwiches, none of which appears to have come from someone’s attic. The name “The View” refers not to the TV talk show featuring Barbara Walters and her cadre of gossiping harridans, but to the fact that the cafe is on the top floor and therefore boasts a “view.” (The view is of the mall parking lot.)
The other big event is the arrival of a Brazilian restaurant called Rodizio Grill. Brazil is a South American country that produces great food despite spending a total of 11 months of every year celebrating drunkenly in the streets. They take two weeks off for Mother’s Day, for example, and are currently still celebrating New Year’s Eve 1972. The native language of Brazil is not Brazilian, dummy, but Portuguese (or, as we call it in the United States, Spanish).
Rodizio is — get this — an all-you-can-eat meat buffet. Surely this is the greatest idea in the history of food, and it’s made even better by the fact that legions of Meat Guys BRING THE MEAT TO YOUR TABLE! Yes! Not only do you get all you want, but people even bring it to you! If you asked, they would probably chew it for you, too. (Note to self: Ask.) It’s a never-ending meat parade, all kinds of meat, huge slabs of meat, sliced up right at your table with large, deadly knives that will no doubt poke out more than their share of eyeballs before they’re through. There’s so much meat that they give you a wooden voodoo doll to put on your table: Turned green side up, it tells the meat guys to keep the meat coming. Turned red side up, it means you want to reduce the onslaught of meat for fear of dying a slow, meaty death.
I’m told there are other restaurants like this, but I can tell you without hesitation and without having been to them that they suck.
Rodizio is also very good for people on the Atkins Diet, which is where you can have all the protein and fat you want, but no carbohydrates. (This makes Rodizio the ONLY restaurant you can eat at while on this diet, by the way.) I was an Atkins follower briefly, but I stopped after I almost passed out in the shower due to starvation and doughnut-withdrawal. It was an effective diet, I guess; in four days’ time I lost 1 pound, my equilibrium, and my will to live.
Still, though my diet no longer required such a strict regimen of flesh, I went to Rodizio on New Year’s Day as part of my resolution not to pass out in the shower anymore. I went again two days later, too, and I would consider just moving in. Maybe I could live upstairs, in the Meat Loft.
There's a Rodizio Grill in Salt Lake City, too, where I ate with some friends before attending the Bob Dylan/Paul Simon concert in 1999. I wasn't terribly impressed (with the restaurant; the concert was great). So when my research assistant/consultant/fashion adviser Josh suggested Rodizio on New Year's Day, instead of our planned visit to Panda Express, I was hesitant. Imagine my meaty surprise, then, when it turned out to be a thick slab of heaven on Earth.
The reason we know Zorba's was once owned by an Iranian family is that the family in question is that of our friend Ary, who was also in the Garrens Comedy Troupe for like five minutes.
I really did go on the Atkins diet for four days, ending on New Year's Eve at a New Year's Eve party. I was all set to resist the many goods offered at the party, but the aforementioned near-death experience in the shower convinced me otherwise. I'd rather be conscious and fat than unconscious and thin, or something like that.