of the MONTH - October 2007
May We All Have
Desert Bistro in Our Futures
By Annabelle Numaguchi
Karl and Michelle Kelley
Since it opened in 2001,
the Desert Bistro has become the place where my family celebrates
events. When I think back to all the special moments I have
spent in this fabulous restaurant, I can recount the consequential
moments of the last six years of my life in the meals I’ve
I come from a family who loves to eat, drink and, despite
already being in Utah, be merry. Meals were always important
when I was growing up, which is a tradition I am passing
on to my children. Spending a few hours at the table, conversing
between courses, waxing on about the flavors of the food
and basking in the magic created through company and cuisine
is a sacred rite.
Whenever The Grandparents, from my husband’s side or
mine, are visiting us we make a family pilgrimage to the
Desert Bistro. This has become such an accepted custom with
both sets that we no longer discuss where we’re going,
just when. Since our parents fly in from faraway, Washington,
D.C. and Tokyo, we want to celebrate their visits. I mention
where they live to also indicate that these people we are
related to live in meccas of great restaurants, so when the
Desert Bistro is counted among their favorites, this says
The Desert Bistro offers all the elements that make a night
out special. This place is the realization of a dream shared
by Michelle and Karl Kelley, a couple who spent years working
in elegant restaurants, before opening their own. They are
genuinely warm, fascinating people, and they infuse their
establishment with these qualities. Karl is an accomplished
chef, whose creativity and passion can be seen in the menu
and food he creates. Michelle runs the restaurant and makes
the desserts and fresh bread, which is so delicious that
tempts me into filling up before my meal arrives.
Annabelle and Gen Numaguchi
They have a loyal, experienced wait staff, which translates
into flawless service. Without exception, we have always
been cared for with a combination of warmth and crispness
that puts everyone at the table at ease, knowing the evening
and meal will unfold at the correct pace without hitches.
The menu is truly tantalizing, and making a choice between
my favorite dishes is only eased by knowing that everyone
at my table will share. My choice and contribution usually
rotates between the Gorgonzola-encrusted beef tenderloin,
the duck breast with wild mushrooms and any of the beautifully
prepared game meats Karl specializes in.
I can almost predict what other members in my family will
order, too, which expands the variety of sampling at our
table. For example, I can count on my mother to order the
Pistachio-encrusted lamb or one of the fish specials. My
sister-in-law loves to take advantage of Karl’s penchant
for cooking with chiles, protecting her food from the rest
of us. My family usually adds a “make-it-mild” request
at the end of our orders, simply enjoying the smokiness the
peppers imbue to Karl’s exquisite sauces.
This strategy of sharing
also leaves room for Michelle’s fabulous deserts.
When I call for a reservation, I make sure she keeps aside my favorite, the vanilla
pot de creme. Karl shares my passion for them and if there’s
only one left, I want to be sure to claim it.
It seems appropriate that the Desert Bistro is located at the historic Grand
Old Ranch House. Another family a hundred years ago must have celebrated their
milestones on the same premises, albeit different circumstances, where we now
Annabelle and her Family
at Desert Bistro
My father has a particular
soft spot for the Bistro’s location because
the patio offers such a Wish-You-Were-Here view of the sun setting over the Portal,
setting the rocks and the sky aglow. I think my father’s idea of perfection
is lolling over a good meal al fresco with people he enjoys on a pleasant summer
evening since whenever I picture him on the Bistro’s patio, he’s
wearing a satisfied smile that the Buddha would envy.
If you have something special coming up worth celebrating,
consider taking advantage of this first class restaurant.
If you don’t have any milestones approaching,
dining at the Desert Bistro is a celebration in itself. A
cool Fall evening, a healthy appetite and a tantalizing menu
is truly the stuff that dreams, and eventually memories,
are made out of. May we all have a little Desert Bistro in
The Desert Bistro is located at the Historic Ranch House at the Moab Springs
Ranch on 1266 N. Highway 191, and can be reached at 259-0756, reservations accepted.
They open nightly at 5:30p.m. Entree prices range from $16 to $32.
The Desert Bistro
Crusted Mahi Mahi
served over a watermelon fennel
bundle of chilled asparagus
6 to 8 oz. Mahi Mahi
1/4 cup pistachios, ground
1/4 seedless watermelon, chopped or diced
½ bulb of fennel, julienned
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 Tbsp. Adobo sauce (cans of chipotle peppers from
2 Tbsp. Lime juice
1 Tbsp. Cilantro, diced
Skinless side pressed into pistachios. Heat canola
oil in a saute pan and brown nut-side of fish.
Put in greased pie tin, nut-side up. Bake at 450
degrees until fish is to desirable doneness.
Cube or dice watermelon. Cut the cucumber in half,
seed it and julienne both the cucumber and the
fennel. Mix together in bowl and let set for fifteen
minutes at room temperature (which allows watermelon
to bleed into the bottom of bowl). Take juice out
of bowl and put in a second bowl. Add lime juice,
adobo sauce and whip it all together with canola
oil to dressing consistency. Mix dressing with
watermelon salad and cilantro and toss together.
Form a bulb of salad onto a big dinner bowl, lay
fish on top of the salad. Garnish with lime wheel.
Add asparagus bundle.
For the asparagus bundle:
6 spears of asparagus
Blanch them until shiny, green
and tender. Take a soaked corn husk and tie asparagus
into bundle. In separate bowl, toss bundle in with
the vinaigrette. Shake to extract excess liquid
and place on plate.
2 Tbsp dry sherry
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp adobo sauce
2 Tbsp. Chopped cilantro
1/4 cup Canola oil
salt and pepper to taste and