My son and I had the pleasure of dining at the Painted Pony in Southern Utah recently before a lovely night out at Tuacahn. I have to say that the experience was exquisite. From the ambiance and service to the food and company, it was all wonderful! When we arrived, Kim, the hostess, greeted us with a cheerful smile and welcome. She showed us to our table and gave us a little more history about our special seat in the house. The table we would be dining at is the most requested both for the view as well as for the one of a kind artwork on the table itself. You can see it in more detail below. Once at our table, we were presented with menus by our very kind server, Ryan. He immediately explained their procedures for allergies and those with celiac disease. They are very cautious and use separate, clean pans and utensils for preparation of gluten-free food. Since the fryer is not dedicated gluten-free, they separately pan fry things like the patatas bravas that you will hear more about below. I just love that most of the menu items are gluten-free naturally or can easily be adjusted to be gluten-free. The head chef is actually a co-owner with his wife and they take great pride in not only providing the best food but also providing safe food for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. As I spoke with Nicki, one of the owners, I learned that she and her husband actually started the now greatly frequented, farmers market in Ancestor Square. They wanted to support local farmers and have the freshest ingredients in their restaurant so thought this would be a great way to do that. Little did they know at the time, their aspirations for culinary excellence would benefit the community as locals and farmers met weekly and supported one another. I personally have attended this farmers market and love it!
Ok, back to dinner…My little one started off the night with a cold peach Italian soda and absolutely loved it. We both thought it was an excellent choice for the hot summer night. I always enjoy water from pewter cups so decided to stick with just that. We began our culinary journey with the house recommended french onion soup served in a large yellow onion on top of rock salt. Oh. My. Goodness. I am so glad we took the recommendation to try it because it was delicious. The soup was so full of flavor after simmering for many hours. While it is traditionally served with cheese and a crouton on top, I thought the soup itself was so lovely that I didn’t miss either (I decided to leave the cheese off even though it is gluten-free just to keep my tummy a bit happier). My son really enjoyed the gluten-free bread that was served to us and kept nibbling on it while waiting for our entrees. We complimented our soup with two more starters, the spinach salad and the steamed mussels. The spinach salad was unique in that it wasn’t sweet as spinach salads are traditionally. I personally like more of a savory salad so was pleased to see this. I thought the mustard vinaigrette, deviled egg, fresh green beans and beets were perfect accompaniments to the spinach. My only suggestion would have been to have the middle of the deviled egg piped to order rather than prepped ahead of time. I think it would have been a bit creamier that way. I really loved the beet puree on the plate to dip the salad in and thought it was a nice touch on top of the already chopped beet. The steamed mussels were perfection and seasoned just right. My little guy loves when we make “mermaid soup” at home (ciopinno with mussels) so thought it was great to have them while dining out as well.
Dinner was nothing less than an extraordinary culinary experience. I dream of the bacon wrapped duck that we enjoyed. Three pieces arrive on top of pureed celery root with an apple stuffing and cider reduction. Every bite was rich and blissful. This entree in now in my top 5 favorite things I have ever eaten list. I highly recommend it. In addition to the bacon wrapped duck, we also enjoyed the proscuitto wrapped free-range chicken. The pesto stuffing was my favorite part. I thought it gave it even more depth in flavor. The flash roasted tomato basil sauce married perfectly with the protein as well as the pesto stuffing. We subbed patatas bravas where the lemon risotto croquettes traditionally are and thought they fit in very nicely. I especially liked the spicy aoli & smoked paprika on each potato. Everything about both entrees screamed fresh and delicate in flavor while also being generous in portion sizes. Based on dinner alone, this would no doubt be my favorite restaurant in St. George, Utah. We closed the meal with one more very tasty dish, dessert! The white chocolate cheesecake tower was presented with fresh blueberries and a sweet raspberry sauce. The walnut lace cookies that are typically served with this dessert contain gluten so we were advised to leave them off. I should note that they were not missed. Each and every bite of this dessert was decadence and smooth. It was not overly sweet and had those lovely notes of traditional cheesecake. While not a large dessert, it can easily be shared because of how satisfying to the sweet tooth each bite was.
As you can see, I just adored our dining experience at the Painted Pony. I absolutely recommend it as a delicious and safe place to dine for those with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance. Visit them on the web or on Facebook and learn more about this lovely restaurant and the people behind it below. Also, be sure to check out their sister restaurant, George’s Corner, next time you are in town.
About The Pony
2015 marks the Painted Pony’s fourteenth anniversary year and over a decade of fine dining in St. George and southern Utah. Owned by husband and wife team Randall Richards and Nicki Pace, the Painted Pony’s menu and atmosphere celebrate the mix of classic dining favorites and culinary creativity that come together in Contemporary American dining.
As Executive Chef, Richards has guided the Painted Pony for most of its lifespan, leaving Springdale, Utah’s popular Bit and Spur restaurant in 2001 to run the kitchen. He and Pace purchased the restaurant in 2004, and the two have crafted the Painted Pony to reflect their appreciation of the natural environment and the organic, high-quality foods therein.
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The Painted Pony’s menu changes seasonally, driven by Richard’s ingredient-first philosophy and incorporates elements from local growers, organic meat producers as well as from his own one acre garden that he cultivates for the restaurant.
To further that endeavor, Nicki established and manages a weekly farmers market in the restaurant’s shared courtyard that runs each year from May to October. The market was created to help local growers connect with a greater market by bringing them together centrally with the broader community. The farmers market is now in its eighth year and draws growers from more than fifty miles away.
As the restaurant enters its 14th anniversary year, it celebrates achieving creative and quality hallmarks and to staying true to its goal of creating Contemporary American cuisine with fresh, locally grown ingredients. The numerous awards lining its walls reflect this accomplishment: “Best Restaurant in Southern Utah” by Salt Lake Magazine, Utah’s leading lifestyle publication, the Distinguished Restaurants of North America’s (DiRoNa) Award of Excellence, Wine Spectator Magazine’s Award of Excellence, an Excellent rating from Zagat Survey and much more.
*I was provided with this meal for review purposes however this does not sway my opinions. These are my opinions and mine alone. I was not required to write a positive review. Also, I take no responsibility for others dining experience. Please always be proactive in asking questions when dining out to keep yourself safe.