Saturday, June 30, 2012

What's The Best Sandwich In Logan?

I got a shout-out this week from SLCFoodie, a great blog covering food in the Greater Salt Lake City area. She tweeted asking for people's favorite sandwiches in SLC. My response and others' were included as part of her write-up on a little sandwich place called Picnic. Check it out! I guess I'm not all that original, because someone else named my exact same fave sandwich and place. You'll have to click through to find out exactly what strange-sounding sandwich it is, though.

I just had to sneak a Logan recommendation in there too, and suggested the Ara's at Logan's Heroes. Don't you love the atmosphere, sandwiches, and especially the proprietor at Logan's Heroes? I think it's such a great example of a true local place.


P.S. What's your favorite sandwich in Logan or Cache Valley? What's something you seek out to eat in Salt Lake because we don't have it up here? I crave the lemon rice from Greek Souvlaki, or all the Greek dips at Aristo's.

Are you on Twitter? Follow me @LisaBakerHeaton for more Logan stuff I can't fit on the blog.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Herm's Inn - Logan, Utah - Restaurant Review

At the special request of my husband, who could think of no better Father's Day gift than being able to go to a restaurant on a Sunday, we hit up Herm's Inn for lunch on Father's Day. Herm's is one of the newest restaurants in Logan, and features a diner or roadhouse-style menu. It's located at the far east end of Canyon Road, right before the road enters Logan Canyon and approaches First Dam. The breakfast-and-lunch spot is housed in an old service station that sat abandoned for more than 60 years before being bought and renovated by successful local businessman Jim Laub of Cache Valley Electric.

And renovated it was! Just take a look at the "before" photo and compare it to my photo, above.

Photo copyright 2007, Heinz J. Mahler. Used by permission.

The architect and interior designer behind the project was acclaimed Bountiful, Utah designer Robert McArthur of Robert McArthur Studios. He's worked on some great projects, including gorgeous homes, a few LDS temples, and the Cache Valley Electric corporate headquarters. If you're interested in learning more about the renovation process and seeing tons of beautiful professional photos of the construction process and interior and exterior details, click here for posts about the Herm's Inn project on Robert's blog. In addition to being renovated, the building was expanded significantly. ADA-compliant restrooms were added, as well as a second dining room that features huge windows that open up for an indoor-outdoor feel. New footings were poured and the basement was made usable as reception and meeting space.

If I understand correctly, the renovated building was leased to a couple of restaurateurs hand-picked by Jim Laub. Ryan Bird and Heather Santi, who own and manage Herm's Inn, are also involved with Salt Lake City's popular breakfast and lunch spot, Eggs In The City.

New restaurants in Logan always have a lot of buzz around them when they open, but Herm's location, building, and players combined to create more than just buzz -- almost a deafening roar. The question on my mind was, would Herm's Inn live up to the hype? Read on for my verdict. First, the details.

Herm's Inn
1435 E. Canyon Road, Logan, Utah 84321

Hours: Monday-Sunday 7am-2pm
Price range: $3 - $15

Take-out Available: Yes
Delivery Available: No
Year Opened: 2012
FYI: Free Wifi. Reception and meeting space available. Please note that the parking lot is small. Be courteous to the neighbors and park in the overflow lot down the street.

Quick Review of Herm's Inn - Logan, Utah

The at Herm's Inn menu seemed pedestrian at first, and featured typical breakfast and lunch fare: omelets, pancakes, burgers, salads. The casually-dressed waitstaff was friendly and proficient but harried on a busy Father's Day Sunday, and we waited nearly 40 minutes for our food. We were getting worried that Herm's Inn was all buzz and no honey, and that we would be leaving disappointed and writing off the hot new eatery housed in a cool old gas station. But then our food arrived. From the first bite, all our fears and frustrations were erased. A juicy burger on an airy house-made bun. A Cobb salad filled with chunks of tender grilled chicken. A pile of can't-miss fried potatoes. Macaroni and cheese I wanted to steal from my two-year-old. Diner food, elevated. Thank you, Herm's Inn. Drink prices are steep at $3.00, but refills are included. The rest of the menu is at an excellent value point considering the quality ingredients and generous portions. The restaurant is young, and I expect they will continue to work out service and staffing kinks to make wait times more reasonable. I'll definitely be back for more.

Full Review of Herm's Inn

We arrived a little after noon on Father's Day. It was clear we weren't the only people in town who thought Dad might like lunch at Herm's. There were several parties waiting for tables. The weather was fine and porte-cochere provided plenty of shade, so we settled in for a wait and enjoyed looking at the details of the renovated gas station.

Eventually we were seated by a friendly young hostess. We were given what I would say was the worst table in the house, but in our circumstance it was the best table in the house and I think they gave it to us out of compassion for us and our fellow diners. We were seated between the kitchen and the busy bar area, conveniently near an overflowing garbage can. High noise, high traffic. Why would I say this was the perfect table? We were dining with out four-year-old, two-year-old, and sixth-month-old stroller-bound baby. We were far enough from other diners that we couldn't bother them. The noisy kitchen covered the sounds of our children's hungry cries, and we used that garbage can a few times throughout the meal.

The building is strikingly designed, and it seems no expense was spared. Tables were custom-made in a    French industrial style, Tolix chairs sit at all the tables, and custom exposed-bulb light fixtures point to the profession of building owner Jim Laub of Cache Valley Electric. The booths even have their own electric outlets so people can plug in and enjoy the free Wi-Fi in the restaurant. Clever art covers the walls: among other things a cardboard deer head, caricatures of eminent Loganites of days gone by, and an upside-down sign that says "Easy" (as in eggs over-easy). It's easy to feel hip and cool when you're dining at Herm's.

But then we were given our menus and that feeling of hipness ended. Everything listed seemed like completely typical diner fare, at prices a dollar or two above typical diner prices. (With the exception of beverages, which were steeply priced at $3 each.) Biscuits and gravy, pancakes, omelettes, eggs benedict, and french toast were some of the selections on the breakfast side of the menu. The lunch items included burgers, sandwiches, salads, and macaroni and cheese. Nothing seemed all that interesting. When our waiter came to take our order we announced our selections: a burger for me, with cheese and bacon, a Cobb salad for Tyson, and kids' meals with macaroni and cheese and a quesadilla for our boys.

That's when the waiting began, though not the anticipation. We weren't in anticipation because our selections seemed so boring. The only thing that really caught my eye were a few variations on Eggs Benedict like the Macho Benny - poached eggs on a corn tortilla with chorizo, black beans, avocado, and chile verde. There was also a Macaroni & Cheese of the day, but that day's version was jalapeno, so I looked elsewhere.

Tyson noted that it was really difficult to tell the employees from the customers. It did add a nice, laid-back feel to the place, but everyone was dressed very casually. The best way to distinguish employees from customers was by observing who walked behind the counter. And we had plenty of time to observe. The minutes ticked by. Our waiter checked back on us often, and refilled our drinks, but the wait time stretched and stretched until it had been almost 40 minutes since we'd ordered, and nearly an hour since we'd arrived at the restaurant. Our little natives were definitely getting restless. They dug all the ice out of their drinks. They each got to eat a packet of jam. They started to cry. One went under the table and refused to get back in his seat. We began to seriously doubt our choice of restaurant.

A man who wasn't our server approached our table and apologized profusely for the wait. He explained that several of the kitchen workers were new and the restaurant was so busy that day. We asked for some potato chips for our children (potato chips were to accompany their meals), which he promptly brought on a large plate. That's when things started looking up.

That's the guy who brought us our potato chips. Turns out he's owner/manager Ryan Bird. You really should check out his mustache.

After the potato chips it wasn't too long before our food arrived. It definitely looked more appetizing than I was expecting. My photos don't do the food justice, but here are our plates.

Cobb Salad with Cheese Toast

Burger and Home Fries


Macaroni & Cheese

Seeing the oozing, perfectly-melted cheese on my burger, the thick-cut bacon, and the fresh tomato and lettuce, I began to reconsider my apprehension. One bite erased all my fears. This. This was food worth waiting for! My burger was beefy and juicy. The bacon had just the right amount of crisp, just the right amount of tender. The soft, house-made bun gave easily at my bite. Then I tried the potatoes. Heaven! Gently charred and expertly seasoned, the potatoes actually managed to grab my attention from the burger. I was enjoying my food so much I found myself facing my favorite food-related dilemma: whether to hoard or whether to share. The food is so good you want to keep it to yourself, but it's so good you also want others to experience the joy of its goodness.

Tyson didn't want any of my burger, but he did let me have a bite of his salad, which included a generous amount of chicken he described as, "Real. Really good grilled chicken. Like, done right," and perfect proportions of greens, tomatoes, hard-cooked egg, bacon, avocado, and blue cheese. Somehow even the quesadilla was better than other quesadillas. And the macaroni & cheese. Oh, the mac & cheese! It was sharp and mild and gooey and saucy all at once. In fact, when I started writing this review several days ago I still had a tiny cup of leftovers in my fridge. This picture made me run and warm it up the second I saw it. Yes, I stole my two-year-old's leftovers.

Perhaps I was really hungry (I was). Perhaps I am being overly rhapsodic (yeah, maybe I am). But that food seemed so good! A closer reading of the menu revealed a few clues I missed the first time. Clues that I would like what I was going to be served. The words house-made recur again and again. House-made biscuits, house-made sausage, house-made buns, house-made syrup. Local ingredients, like the cheese that graced my burger, are used whenever possible. Thought and care went into this food and this menu.

Come to think of it, thought and care went into this building. Thought and care went into the preservation and enhancement of the past. Thought and care went into the idea that Logan's one little special neighborhood, "the island", could support a restaurant. I thought the food was going to be boring, but after tasting it I don't know if I care to ever eat fancy food again. Welcome to Logan, Herm's Inn.


Here are a few other blogs and articles about Herm's Inn: - Herald Journal article - Blog posts from the architect with lots of photos - Fun photos of artwork, etc. - Beautiful wedding inspiration shoot at Herm's - Journalistic-style story about Herm's - Blog post about Herm's Inn - Historical info from Herm's daughter


P.S.: I don't think I'm the only one who noticed Herm's has a decidedly hipster thing going on.
Check out what I found when I did a Google image search for Herm's. Hipster mermaid meme doesn't like Herm's?!?!

So, have you been to Herm's? What was your take? And, was this review way too long to read?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Street Eats - Logan's First Food Truck; Hamilton's Changes

Just some quick tidbits of restaurant news...

Street Eats Utah by Culinary Concepts Catering - Today's Location & Menu

Did you know that Logan has its first official food truck? Food trucks are one of the biggest culinary trends right now, and we're in the game! We have been blessed with some taco trucks for a few years. They stake out their spots and always serve out of the same location. But the Street Eats food truck is a true MOBILE restaurant, frequently changing locations throughout Logan and Cache Valley.

The Street Eats food truck is a project of Culinary Concepts, one of Logan's best caterers. I still remember fondly a meal I ate at their Smithfield restaurant Blue Sage in 2003. They closed the restaurant to focus full-time on catering, and I have enjoyed many of their catered meals over the years. I'm so glad I can eat executive chef John Simpson's food more often now through Street Eats. I got to sample Street Eats' offerings when I had their Spicy Vietnamese Pork Wrap at Summerfest. Here's what I said about it then: " I ordered a Spicy Vietnamese Pork Wrap from Culinary Concepts, which was thinly-sliced pork surrounded by lime-scented carrots and other veggies, as well as herbs and a savory sauce. I added some Sriracha hot sauce, one of my favorite condiments, for the perfect finishing touch. Boy it was a mighty fine sandwich! Probably the freshest, "cleanest" fair food I have ever tasted. It was reasonably priced (as far as fair food goes, which is a notoriously expensive) at $5." Fresh, healthy, flavorful, and priced right!

Street Eats will be at ThermoFisher today from 10:30am to 1pm. The address is 1655 South Hyclone Drive, Logan, Utah. Like Street Eats Utah on Facebook for updates and daily locations. Also, follow me on Twitter (@lisabakerheaton) for location updates. Street Eats doesn't seem to have a Twitter account that I can find, so I will try to tweet the locations when I am aware of them.

Here's the Street Eats menu:

Hamilton's Steak & Seafood Closing

It's hard to follow the happy news of a new dining experience in Cache Valley with the sad news of a restaurant closing, but I have received word that Hamilton's Steak & Seafood, one of Logan's few fine dining restaurants, will close this Saturday, June 30, 2012.

The restaurant, which opened in 2004 and is located in a dramatic lodge-style building at 2427 North Main Street, will reopen soon with new owners, a new name, and a new concept and menu. The new owners are reported to be current owner Justin Hamilton's original partners in his other restaurant, Cafe Sabor (located on Center Street and 600 West in Logan).

I am interested to see what the new restaurant and menu will be, but I am saddened to lose Hamilton's. Some people say that it is too expensive, or that it has gone downhill, but that hasn't been my experience. I've always had good or great meals there at a good value point, especially at lunch. Many friends have been involved with the restaurant over the years. I'm going to try to make it over there for a meal before the closing. Thanks for the memories (and the raw oyster shooters), Hamilton's! Best wishes to Justin Hamilton in any new endeavors.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How It's Made: Food Factory Tours in Logan & Cache Valley

Note: This post started out as Part 1 of a series of kid-friendly activities for a day trip to Logan with young kids. That's why it includes some references and recommendations that apply to children. However, I realized it is applicable to anyone who visits Cache Valley, and also to residents who are looking for things to do.


Cache Valley and Logan are rich with food-making heritage, and many of our food production businesses offer tours and learning opportunities for visitors. Little chefs, engineers, and scientists will enjoy watching how some of their favorite foods are made...or at least they'll enjoy the samples! From cheese to honey to ice cream to, well, cheese again, you'll find a tasty way to start your Cache Valley day.

Gossner Foods Factory via

Gossner Foods Factory & Store - The Gossner Foods factory produces dairy products and has a large onsite store featuring homemade ice cream, UHT (shelf-stable) flavored milk, cheese curd (including flavored versions), and great deals on many varieties of cheese. There is no factory tour, but a large window into the production area allows the public to take a look at the cheese-making process. A generous sample table is filled with lots of cheeses and cheese curd in different flavors, plus samples of their UHT milk, in flavors like Vanilla, Root Beer, Mango, and Strawberry. The phrase "shelf-stable milk" might sound a little iffy at first, but it's actually really good -- and kids love it. Don't miss the smoked or garlic-flavored squeaky cheese curds!
Where: 1051 North 1000 West, Logan, Utah 84321, 435-752-9365,
When: Monday-Saturday 8am-7pm
Cost: Free entry and samples. Items available for purchase.

Aggie Ice Cream & True Blue Aggie CheeseEnjoying a cone of Aggie Ice Cream on the steps of Utah state University's Nutrition & Food Science Building is a Logan tradition. You can visit the Aggie Ice Cream store any time during the year, but on a few select days you can also tour the dairy production plant and watch how the ice cream is made. One summer tour date already passed on June 23, but additional tours will be held on July 14 and August 11. The tour consists of watching a short DVD, touring the production plant, and eating ice cream. You can also learn about how True Blue Aggie Cheese is made. A free learning experience is offered Monday-Thursday at 1:30pm may 29-August 16, 2012. Tour consists of a 10-minute DVD and a sampling of cheeses. The Aggie Ice Cream store offers True Blue Aggie Cheese, drinks and snacks, and sandwiches made to order.
Where: USU Nutrition & Food Science Building, 750 North 1200 East, Logan, Utah 84322; 435-797-2109 or toll free 1-888-586-2735, Free parking for customers is available at the southwest corner of the building.
When: Tour dates are June 23, July 14 and Aug. 11. Tours are about 45 minutes and start at noon, 1, 2, 3 and 4pm. True Blue Aggie Cheese learning experience is offered Monday-Thursday at 1:30pm and take about 15 minutes. Regular summer business hours for the store are Monday-Friday 9am-10pm, Saturday 10am-10pm, closed Sunday
Cost: Ice cream tour is $3 per person, which includes a scoop of ice cream. True Blue Aggie Cheese tour is free, and includes samples.

Honeycomb Sampler from Cox Honeyland

Cox Honeyland & Gifts - The Cox family has been making honey in Cache Valley since 1929. Well, actually, it's the bees who make the honey, but the Cox family harvests it and transforms it into an array of products, including creamed honeys, flavored honeys, and honeybutter. These products and more are available at the Cox Honeyland gift store in south Logan. You can also take a self-paced tour of the honey farm, where you'll observe bees coming and going from a glass observation hive, watch a video presentation, view a bee nursery, and take a look at the manufacturing facility.
Where: 1780 South Hwy 89/91, Logan, Utah 84321, 435-752-3234,
When: Store hours are Monday-Friday 10am-5:30pm, Saturday 10am-4:30pm
Cost: Entry is free, items available for purchase

Crumb Brothers building via

Crumb Brothers Artisan Bread & Cafe - This artisan bakery is a favorite on the farmers market circuit and supplies bread to some of the most popular and delicious restaurants in Salt Lake City, but they save some of the best for their hometown fans. Crumb Brothers operates out of a dramatic and artfully-designed building on the west side of Logan, all soaring ceilings and exposed beams. Windows provide a glimpse into the production area, which can be toured Monday-Thursday at 9:30am. In addition to Crumb Brothers' own breads, pastries, and sandwiches, the retail store features a nice selection of local Utah food products. Don't miss the Milbury & Hodge Ginger Preserves from Torrey, Utah. A table in the corner is always graced by samples of bread and spreads or dips, but the tiny tastes will just leave you wanting more. If you need to sate your appetite, allow me to personally vouch for the Salami & Cheese sandwich or the Lemon Scones. Mmmmmm!
Where: 291 South 300 West, Logan, Utah 84321, 435-792-6063,
When: Tours are offered Monday-Thursday at 9:30am. Store hours are Monday-Friday 7am-2pm, Saturday 8am-2pm, closed Sunday
Cost: Entry and tour are free, items available for purchase

Rockhill Creamery farmstand via

Rockhill Creamery - Six brown Swiss cows furnish all the milk that becomes artisan cheese at this micro-dairy in Richmond. Rockhill Creamery produces 200 pounds of cheese per week in varieties such as Desert Red Feta and Snow Canyon Edam. You might remember I purchased a couple of their cheeses during my recent visit to the Cache Valley Gardeners' Market. You can sample the offerings for the day at the farmstand. The historic farm also hosts Richmond's Saturday farmers' market, the Richmond Harvest Market. Tours of the working farm are offered by appointment only, Monday thru Thursday. Call for an appointment.
Where: 563 South State Street, Richmond, Utah, 84333, 435-258-1278,
When: The Rockhill Creamery farmstand is open Saturdays, 10am-2pm, June through October. The Richmond Harvest Market is occurs onsite on Saturdays from 10am-1pm. Tours are offered Monday-Thursday by appointment only.
Cost: Entry and tour are free, items available for purchase


Many other regionally and nationally-known foods are produced in Cache Valley, including FatBoy ice cream sandwiches and Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies. These factories don't provide tours, but do have onsite outlet stores where products can be purchased, sometimes at a great discount.

Casper's Ice Cream Factory & Malt Shop - Makers of the FatBoy and Casco ice cream treats. The factory includes a retail malt shop and product sales. 11805 North 200 East, Richmond, Utah, 84333, 435-258-5219, Open Monday-Thursday noon-9pm, Friday-Saturday noon-10pm. Open one hour later during summer.

Pepperidge Farm Factory & Thrift Store - The Richmond production facility of this national cookie and cracker brand owned by the Campbell Soup Company is not open to the public, but it includes an outlet store that sells factory seconds. Believe me, a misaligned Mint Milano cookie tastes just as good as a perfectly formed one, and your kids won't be able to find a thing wrong with the Goldfish Crackers. Available products vary day to day. 1027 East 11600 North, Richmond, Utah, 84333, 435-258-3618

Whew! That's quite a list. Parts 2 and 3 of a kid-friendly day trip to follow.


Which one of these factories would you most like to visit? Which have you already been to? Are there any that I've missed? I'd be very interested in taking the Crumb Brothers tour and I also hope to make it out to Rockhill Creamery sometime soon.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Calendars Of Events and Things To Do in Logan & Cache Valley

You'll notice I have a tab above that says "Event Calendar". I hope to add a calendar of my own in the future, but in the meantime I have added links to other calendars that list Cache Valley and Logan events. None of these calendars are comprehensive, but they are helpful. In addition to these links, the print edition of the Herald Journal, particularly the Cache Magazine that comes in Friday's paper, lists many local events.

The local event on my family's docket tonight is the Star Spangled Rodeo in Hyrum, Utah. The event is sponsored by the Hyrum Saddle Club and uses Hyrum City's rodeo grounds, which were refurbished in the past year. Hope we have fun, and that a bull doesn't kick manure in my slushy (that happened to me one year, true story!).

Here are the links that now appear on the calendar page:

Kids All Around Cache Valley Calendar  - Calendar and blog of kid-friendly things to do in Cache Valley

NothingToDoInLogan?com Activity Calendar - Activity calendar for Cache Valley

Cache Valley Daily Community Calendar - User-submitted Cache Valley events

Cache Valley Visitors Bureau Calendar of Events

Logan Library Community Events Calendar

Utah State University has three calendars on their website, none of which is comprehensive:

USU Arts & Entertainment Calendar

USU Student Calendar (ASUSU)

USU Events Calendar (This one will bring up a past date. Click the "Events Calendar" link to bring it to present date.)

I'll admit that after seeing how many calendars are available and how each one is not comprehensive, I'm questioning my ability to create a helpful calendar that adds anything of value. I will put that idea on the back burner while I work on other content and daily posts on Lisa Loves Logan.

Be back on Monday with that post about how to have a great day trip to Logan Cache Valley with young kids. Also coming next week are reviews of our recent visit to Herm's Inn and La Tormenta. See you then!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Restaurants In Logan and Cache Valley, Utah - The BIG List!

I've added a list of Logan and Cache Valley restaurants to the page link in the top menu (conveniently named "Logan & Cache Valley Restaurants"). I'll be refining it and adding more information, but it is still a great resource for now.

Also, I updated a number of items on my Black Pearl review, including the addition of photos, the menu, and a website link. Oh! And I found out the 50% Off Sushi Rolls deal (with a couple exclusions) is available during all business hours until the new management decides to stop running the promotion, not just at weekday lunch like I said before. Go get yourself a yummy Aloha Roll (spicy tuna, mango, jalapeno, wasabi & mango sauce) for just $4! Click on my review for more details.


P.S.: What is your favorite restaurant in Cache Valley? What is one restaurant you haven't tried yet, but would like to? If you don't know your answers off the top of your head, take a look at the restaurant list to spark some ideas!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Willows Golf Park - Providence, Utah

I'm working on a great post about visiting Logan and Cache Valley with young kids, but it's not ready yet so here is info about Willows Golf Park miniature golf course, one of the many kid-friendly places in Cache Valley. My family and I played a round there last Monday.

Willows Golf Park
220 N. Spring Creek Parkway
Providence, UT 84332

Hours: Monday - Thursday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday - Saturday 10 a.m. to midnight, closed Sunday
Prices: Age 13 and up, $6; Ages 4 - 12, $4; Children 3 and under, free
FYI: Cash or check only. Credit/debit cards not accepted. The course can accommodate strollers as but might present some difficulty for wheelchairs.


The Willows Golf Park is an 18-hole miniature golf course in Providence, Utah, a community which adjoins Logan to the south. The Willows is one of three miniature golf places I can think of in Logan. They all have their virtues, and some of Willows' are its friendly employees, well-kept and shady course, and relaxing atmosphere. Prices can add up for a large family, but 2 for 1 coupons for return visits ease some of the sting. The place can be crowded on weekend nights, but the course design and mature landscaping afford some privacy from the other groups on the course. Late hours (open until midnight Fridays and Saturdays) make it popular with college students from Utah State University, but it's also a great family destination, especially during the day when it is much less crowded.

Sawyer, Tyson, and Beck enjoy complimentary popsicles at the Willows Golf Park in Providence, Utah


When we arrived at Willows Golf Park on a Monday afternoon there were only a couple of other cars in the parking lot. We proceeded through some nice sitting areas featuring chimineas and brightly-painted benches and were greeted at the cabin-like pay shack by a friendly woman. She took our cash payment, assisted us in choosing the right size of clubs for our small children, gave us our score cards, and advised us that one of the holes was having new turf installed, so we would have to skip that one. She told us we could play the course twice, then looked at our children (ages 2 and 4) and added, "If you can handle it!" We definitely couldn't have handled it, but it was a nice offer!

Players proceed through 18 holes in a well-landscaped course that affords quite a bit of privacy from players ahead and behind one's own group. The course does not have novelty holes like miniature windmills and dragons who eat golf balls. Instead it features more standard golf course features like water hazards, "sand" traps, and gently sloping greens. Most holes are par 3. I may or may not have scored 8 on one of those.
The day we visited the fountains and "streams" were turned off, with the water in the large pond standing stagnant. In our case this was a good thing, because our toddler quickly lost interest in putting and took up playing in the water. More of it would have meant more trouble! Perhaps the water was off due to the workers applying new carpet in the park.

No outing with kids is complete without a visit to the restrooms. Willows Golf Park's restrooms, housed in another rustic cabin-like building, are clean and well-functioning.

When we finished our round and returned our clubs, the woman at the desk gave our kids popsicles and handed us a card good for 2 for 1 golf on a return visit. This has been my experience on previous visits as well.

Willows Golf Park is a great outing for families, groups of friends, awkward first dates, and good dates too!


P.S.: How competitive do you feel when you go MINIATURE golfing? I'll admit I want to win. Tyson beat me by 8 shots in this game after I got off to a rough start. Anyone have any great miniature golfing stories? Logan briefly had a glow-in-the-dark indoor miniature golf course that brought a whole new level of awkwardness to a miniature golf first date.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Black Pearl China Bistro & Sushi Bar, Logan, Utah - Restaurant Review

Update 6/21/2012: I've just gotten some new info about the Black Pearl Asian Bistro & Sushi in North Logan, Utah. First, "Black Pearl Asian Bistro & Sushi" is the new name on the menu I picked up today, a change from Black Pearl China Bistro & Sushi Bar (which still appears on the signs). Second, Black Pearl has a website featuring their menu at and I've also included pics of the menu below. Third, the "50% Off All Sushi Rolls" special is actually available all day every day until further notice. Fourth, delivery is available. Fifth, the restaurant is only open for dinner on Sunday. Read on for the full original review.

We were pleasantly surprised by a couple of recent visits to the Black Pearl restaurant in North Logan. We had enjoyed the restaurant on our first and second visit when it opened in 2007, but then we had several mediocre and bad experiences that caused us to vow never to return.

Word of new management and the announcement of a half-price sushi special enticed us to try the place again, three years after our last visit. We went for lunch with Tyson's dad and ate a lot of decent-to-good sushi that was definitely a great value. We returned last week for lunch with our kids, and I have reviewed that visit below.

Black Pearl Asian Bistro & Sushi
2095 N. Main Street, Ste. C, North Logan, Utah 84341

Hours: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Friday 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Saturday 12 noon-10:30 p.m., Sunday 4 p.m.-9 p.m.
Price range: $3 - $15
Lunch combo: $5.95 - $8.95 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Specials: Black Pearl currently offers a 1/2 price deal on all sushi rolls (excluding Seafood Nanudo and Sweet Heart Maki) during all business hours.

Take-out Available: Yes
Delivery Available: Yes
Year Opened: 2007 

Quick Reveiw of Black Pearl - Logan, Utah

At last the curse of the Black Pearl appears to be broken. After a few years of declining food quality and service, the Black Pearl has been revived and refined by new management. Chinese, Japanese, and Thai cuisine share the menu, with completely satisfactory and sometimes downright delicious results. Service can be hit or miss, as turnover in the waitstaff seems to be high. Lunch specials starting at $5.95 are a great bang for your buck and include soup, main course, rice, dumplings, and fried wantons. Sushi rolls are fresh and well-prepared, if a bit unimaginative. Here's to hoping it's smooth sailing for the Black Pearl from now on.


Full Review of Black Pearl - Logan, Utah

Location & Ambiance

The Black Pearl China Bistro & Sushi Bar occupies a couple of units of a nondescript strip mall set back on the west side of Main Street in North Logan. The bland stucco exterior gives way to a strikingly-designed modern dining room with soaring ceilings, bamboo accents, and a rich and sedate color scheme of tans and blacks. This is one of the better looking restaurants in Logan, especially at this price point.  Seating is mostly booths, with a couple of tables that can be pushed together to serve larger groups. Customers may also sit at the sushi bar along the back wall. The dining room and restrooms are clean and in good condition. Subdued lighting and interesting accents like a huge, curved "bamboo" wall give the restaurant a sophisticated ambiance.


The menu includes Chinese selections, sushi and a few other Japanese items, and even a few Thai dishes. Most multi-cuisine restaurants fail at at least one (if not all) of their cuisines, but on a recent visit Black Pearl delivered at least competent and sometimes excellent selections from all three cuisines. When we arrived our friendly waitress promptly placed a plate of fried wonton strips on our table and took our drink orders. Litlle snacks like this are such a boon when one is dining with children! We started with a bowl of edamame, or salted green soybeans in the pod, because my kids love them. I believe they were $3. For our main selections we chose two lunch combo boxes and two sushi rolls, to be shared among all of us. The lunch boxes come with choice of soup, main course selected from a list of about 15 choices, side of fried rice, two fried cream cheese wontons, and two potstickers/dumplings, all for just $5.95 (add two or three dollars for shrimp selections). We chose honey walnut chicken and Thai yellow curry chicken. Our sushi roll choices were the Aloha Roll, which includes mango and a sweet sauce, and another more basic roll I can't remember the name of. They were both 1/2 off because of a weekday lunch special. The raw fish tasted clean and fresh, and the rolls were cohesive and well made. Our adventurous four-year-old son gobbled up just as many pieces as his parents did.

Soup selections include miso, hot & sour, wonton, and egg drop. We ordered one wonton soup and one egg drop soup, which arrived steaming hot and perfectly adequate in taste and portion. Soon after, the lunch boxes arrived, mounded with heaping portions of food. The huge pile of honey walnut chicken (traditional American-Chinese preparation with a mayonnaise-based sauce) was piping hot and tasty, with tons of chunks of battered and fried white chicken meat kissed by a glaze of the sweet, white sauce and dotted generously with candied walnuts. For me, though, the star of the show was the Thai curry. Chunks of chicken, loads of green beans and other veggies, and plenty of Thai basil swam in a complex and spicy yellow curry sauce. I only wish I had remembered to ask for white rice rather than fried rice to accompany the curry. I can't be certain the curry base didn't come from a container (there are some good prepared curry pastes out there), but even if it did, it was prepared properly and included a bounty of fresh ingredients. The dumplings and wantons were also good.

Coke and coke products are available in addition to jasmine tea, domestic and imported beers (including Tsing Tao and Sapporo), wines by the glass, and sake.


Throughout our meal our server demonstrated the perfect combination of attentiveness and respect for our pace and our situation. She was kind to our children and always kept our glasses full. She cleared dishes promptly and checked back at appropriate times. We were happy to tip her generously and only wish she could stay long term at the Black Pearl. Unfortunately that would be the exception to the rule. Wait staff seems to have a high turnover rate at Black Pearl.

The Black Pearl is an ideal place for a date, an outing with friends or family, a business lunch, or even a solo lunch at the sushi bar. Well-behaved children are welcomed, but the menu and restaurant are not designed with kids in mind. I'm so glad to see the Black Pearl get back on track. I may be ready to crown it Logan's best Chinese restaurant!


P.S.: What has your experience been at Black Pearl? What other Chinese restaurants do you like in Logan and Cache Valley? Do you think most Chinese food kind of all tastes the same, especially at the take-out focused places? Well, did you know that all Chinese food tastes the same on the East Coast, too, but it tastes the same in a DIFFERENT way than it does here? True story!

Click image for larger version of menu

Click the image to open a large, readable version of the menu

Click the image to open a large, readable version of the menu

Miniature Cherries? Yes, please! - Cache Valley Gardeners' Market Haul (June 16, 2012, Logan, Utah)

Looky what I got at the Cache Valley Gardeners' Market, our local farmers market here in Logan!

My Gardeners' Market selections. Prices and details included below.

We hit the Cache Valley Gardeners' Market at Merlin Olsen Central Park in Logan a little after 10 a.m. on Saturday morning. Several stands were offering fresh greens, herbs, and berries, as well as flowers and gardening starts. Cheeses, breads, salsas, honeys, and jams were also in abundance in addition to craft items like jewelry, decor, and soaps. Since it was Pollinator Day there were a few booths with information and displays about pollinators, mostly bees. My boys loved watching the bees in glass hive boxes and admiring the mounted bee specimens. I was amazed by the variety of bees, from tiny ant-size bees to very large ones. Beekeeping clothing was available to try on, and there was a plexiglass box one could put one's hand into, full of buzzing bees that were supposed to be of a "kind, fuzzy" variety. I didn't test it out.

I picked up some purple basil for $1, a huge bunch of beet greens for $1, and a container of miniature sour cherries for $3. I expressed my affinity for sour cherries in my other Gardeners' Market post, and wished some would be available in the coming weeks. I had never before seen this tiny, bush-grown type, which I couldn't resist. Tiny = cute + sour cherries = taste good = = must buy. They look like overgrown salmon roe and have the tiniest little pits. My two-year-old completely ignored the pits and just stuffed the baby cherries in his mouth by the handful, so I couldn't let him have them. Did you know eating (especially chewing) cherry pits and apple seeds can cause poisoning? (See article here: Yes, Apple Seeds and Cherry Pits are Poisonous)

My last take-home purchase was cheese from local dairy Rockhill Creamery. Their booth offered tiny samples of six or eight varieties of cheese, to be selected with toothpicks. My toddler got his hand on the toothpicks and soon it was like a game of miniature pick-up sticks up in there. Arg! I bought a small wedge of Snow Canyon Edam for $6 and a small wedge of Peppercorn Gouda for $4.50. We ate some of the Edam with slices of Braeburn apples yesterday. Delish!

One of the best parts of the Gardeners' Market is running into friends and acquaintances who are out enjoying Saturday morning at the market. I was able to meet some friends of my husband's and I ran into a dear college roommate whom I had been meaning to reconnect with since moving back to town. She was picking up her CSA half-share from Appenzell Farm. We set up a lunch date for later this week. Yay!

Just as we were about to choose items for lunch I got a text from my sister. She lives in Salt Lake City but had been camping in Logan Canyon with friends the night before. I knew the Gardeners' Market had been a weekly tradition for her and her husband when they lived in Logan, so I invited them to meet us for lunch. I had a $6 combo plate of vegetarian Ethiopian food, which was served with several pieces of a sour, spongy bread called injera. The rest of the adults had Mexican tacos, tamales, and tortas. We got a chicken and rice bowl from Pauni catering for the kids, but my husband ended up eating most of it because the boys couldn't be tempted away from the playground to come and eat. Other available prepared food options included a crepe station and a booth that served ebelskivers and Swedish pancakes topped with berries and whipped cream. I would have been greatly tempted if I hadn't been more in the mood for a savory lunch. My sister was disappointed the pupusa stand wasn't there, as that is her fave. Maybe later in the summer?

The Gardeners' Market is such a great Cache Valley and Logan, Utah event. I hope to make it a Saturday tradition throughout this summer and fall. Can't wait for the corn and tomatoes!

FYI, a few other communities in Cache Valley also have farmers' markets. I know Richmond and Paradise both do, and possibly also Providence. I will look into these and post more info at a later date.


P.S.: Did you hit the market? What did you buy? What do you like to do on Saturday mornings? Is it your cleaning day, or is it a fun day? Do you like to make a big breakfast at home, or go out, or just eat like a weekday? I love to go to yard sales on Saturdays and I also love going out for breakfast or brunch, though we don't do it too often.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Summerfest Arts Faire Recap - Logan, Utah

We made it out to Summerfest on Friday for lunch and shopping. We spent about three hours at the fair, during our two-year-old's naptime, so in the end he had a meltdown before we were able to look at about 25% of the booths. I wonder what we missed, but we did see a lot and have fun! Check out my photos (yes, my child thinks he's a pirate), then read on to learn more about what we saw and to find out what I chose to eat at the fair.

We parked a couple of blocks north of the fair and upon our arrival at Tabernacle Square we made a lap around the food vendor area to assess our options. I ordered a Spicy Vietnamese Pork Wrap from Culinary Concepts, which was thinly-sliced pork surrounded by lime-scented carrots and other veggies, as well as herbs and a savory sauce. I added some Sriracha hot sauce, one of my favorite condiments, for the perfect finishing touch. Boy it was a mighty fine sandwich! Probably the freshest, "cleanest" fair food I have ever tasted. It was reasonably priced (as far as fair food goes, which is a notoriously expensive) at $5. The Korean Spicy BBQ Beef Taco I had anticipated based on the information on the Summerfest website was not on the menu,  but I was very happy with my choice.

Tyson chose a Gyro, which he said was good. It looked filling. Choosing food for our boys proved to be difficult. I think they would have eaten corn dogs, but they cost $5 apiece! Ouch! My kids like to eat healthy foods at home, but the wraps and sandwiches at Culinary Concepts were the only healthy items available, and my son turned down that option and asked for peanut butter and jelly. The only PB&J available was at the Navajo taco stand, so it was made on fry bread. We bought one for $3.00, as well as a fry bread "pizza" (ordered with cheese and sauce only) for $3.25. I don't know if I could have given them anything messier! A substantial disk of fried bread, slathered with jelly and a huge amount of chunky peanut butter. The bread was right out of the fryer, and was very hot when the toppings were applied, so the jelly and peanut butter melted and ran everywhere. It wasn't much to look at, but it tasted great! Completely decadent and something you know you shouldn't eat often, but worth having in the moment. My older son loved it and managed it pretty well once I tore pieces of and folded them so the jelly and peanut butter stayed where they  were meant to. The pizza wasn't as good, but you really can't go wrong with fry bread. Because I ate a significant portion of the fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I forwent my beloved mini donuts. Don't doubt I will get some at the Cache County Fair in August!

After lunch we browsed the artists' booths and took a breather in a statue area on the west side of the Tabernacle. One of my favorite booths was that of glass artist Nikki Root. She created decorative stained-glass pieces using vintage bottles, vases, plates, etc. I also liked the work of an artist who did very detailed scenes in wood inlay. And of course we loved visiting Tyson's cousin Josh's booth, where we bought a few pieces.

Anyone else head to Summerfest? What did you eat? What did you buy?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Cache Valley Gardeners' Market (Ongoing) - June 16, 2012 - Logan, Utah

What: Cache Valley Gardeners' Market, featuring fresh local produce and other food items, artisans, prepared foods, and live music
Where: Southwest corner of Merlin Olsen Park, at the intersection of 100 South and 200 East, Logan, Utah
When: Saturdays, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., May 12 - October 20, 2012
Cost: Admission is free. Items available for purchase.
FYI: Parking is available in the neighborhoods surrounding the market. Consider biking, walking, or riding a bus to the market. The musical act on June 16 is Hot Flashes. June 16 is also a special event day, Pollinator Day, and will feature presentations and booths about pollinators (bees, birds, bats).
More: Visit the Cache Valley Gardeners' Market website, and like the Market on Facebook

Strawberries, lettuces, and many other delicious foods are now in season! Stop by the Cache Valley Gardeners' Market to pick up the makings for a delicious meal.

The Gardeners' Market is one of my favorite Cache Valley traditions. It has been happening for 20 years now, but I hear it has grown a lot since I was last able to visit in 2009. (I moved out of state for a few years.) I am excited to see the changes, so I hope I can make it tomorrow. A leisurely stroll through the shady market is the perfect Saturday morning. Park between the Market and Tabernacle Square and you can easily walk to Summerfest, too.

See you there!


P.S.: What is your favorite thing to buy at a farmers' market? Personally I can't stay away from arugula and fresh herbs. I also hope someone will have sour pie cherries at the market this year (maybe in a week or two?). I love to eat them out of hand, so they never even make it into jam or pie around here!

Valley-Wide Open House Day - Saturday June 16, 2012 - Cache Valley, Utah

What: Valley-Wide Open House, featuring over 100 open houses throughout Cache Valley
When: Saturday, June 16, 2012. NORTH Valley Tour 10 a.m. - noon; SOUTH Valley Tour 1 p.m. - 3 p.m.
Cost: Free
FYI: Boundary for North and South tours is 400 North in Logan.
More: Catalogs of all the properties on the tour are available here.

Are you thinking about buying a home or selling a home? Maybe you just love to see what other homes look like inside? Are you looking for a real estate agent? Thinking of building a home? Then tomorrow is your day! Over 100 homes in Cache Valley will be open to view tomorrow, June 16, as part of the the Cache-Rich Association of Realtors Valley-Wide Open House.

In the morning is the South Valley Tour, which covers all areas of the valley south of 400 North in Logan, including properties in Hyrum, Logan, Millville, Nibley, Providence, Wellsville, and Young Ward . These homes will be open from 10 a.m. to noon. Homes from 400 North to Franklin, ID will be open from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. that afternoon, including properties in Benson, Cove, Hyde Park,Franklin, Lewiston, Logan, North Logan, Richmond and Smithfield.

It appears that Amalga, Avon, Clarkston, College Ward, Mendon, Newton, Paradise, Petersboro, River Heights, and Trenton don't have any properties on the tour this year, but with over 100 homes available to view, there is still much to see and learn. Agents will be on hand to answer questions, and it will be a great chance to meet and evaluate agents if you are in need of the service of a Realtor.

A few properties on the tour are on my Saved Properties list at, so I'll be checking them out tomorrow. I hope to hit some garage sales and the Cache Valley Gardeners' Market, too, so it should be a busy and fun Cache Valley day. Luckily we were able to visit Summerfest today, so we won't be trying to pack that in tomorrow as well.

Have a fun weekend!


P.S. - Do you ever crash open houses even when you're not really house hunting? Any good stories?
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