Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sandstone Café – St. George, Utah


The Sandstone Café is everything that a good restaurant should be. The food is excellent, the service is great, the prices are extremely reasonable, and the setting is comfortable. The menu covers breakfast, lunch, and dinner; they are open from 6:30 am until 1am. It is cafeteria style, where you select your food a la carte; pay for it and carry it to your table. It’s not fine dining, but the Sandstone is a seriously fine place to eat. It does have one other thing that makes it a bit unusual – the location.


The Sandstone Café is a hospital cafeteria.

Before you recoil in horror and disgust, bear with me. I admit that hospital food tends to have a terrible reputation – some of the worst food imaginable has been served in hospitals. It’s also not the kind of place that you would normally consider going to eat – I mean a hospital is not a social gathering place.

Sandstone Cafe on Urbanspoon
 
The difference here is that the food at the Sandstone is far better than any hospital food I have ever had (there is considerable experience in that area – much to compare it to). To say that the food is not bad for a hospital would be an insult - the food is extremely good. This café rivals most of the well-known restaurants that you might choose for a casual meal – the food is better than most.

We had been up all night, (my Dad was seriously ill) and by the time the café opened at 6:30 am, I was exhausted and so hungry that it wouldn’t have mattered what or where I ate. I had briefly considered driving to find a good place to eat, but we didn’t want to be too far away, so we elected to try the cafeteria. When I saw that the eggs, potatoes, pancakes and other items were being cooked fresh – no microwaving frozen packages – I had my first clue that this place was going to be better than expected. As I stood there, taking in the familiar aromas of various breakfast foods cooking, I tried to decide what to order. Everything looked and smelled perfect.

When I realized that the chef had real potato hash browns cooking – not a bag of frozen spuds - I knew I had to have some. They had fresh scrambled eggs with ham and onions, and my plate was quickly piled high with what I knew was going to be great food. The blueberry pancakes looked so good that I considered ordering them too, but I knew it would be too much.

Such a breakfast at most restaurants would easily run $20 or more for two people. At the Sandstone Café, our combined bill for two full breakfast plates (including biscuits, sausage, and coffee) came to $8. 72. Where can two people eat a full, hearty, well-cooked, fresh breakfast for that kind of money? Nowhere else that I know of.

Lunch at the Sandstone Café was just as good. The menu offered a variety of sandwiches and other items, but the pizza caught my eye. Just as with everything else at the café, the pizza had been cooked fresh – perfectly seasoned, a perfect blend of cheeses, with pepperoni and sausage. By then, I shouldn’t have been surprised at the quality of the food, but I kept reminding myself that I was eating in a hospital cafeteria – not a pizzeria or a gourmet restaurant, and the food was consistently great.

As I mentioned – prior visits to hospital cafeterias had ended predictably: terrible food and heartburn. Not so at the surprisingly excellent Sandstone Café at Dixie Regional Medical Center. I don’t wish a hospital stay on anyone, but who says you have to be visiting a patient to eat there? The hospital and restaurant staff likely don’t care one way or the other. For a low-priced meal of excellent quality food, this was one unexpected find. It might seem a little strange to go to a hospital to eat, but you won’t be disappointed in the food or the prices.

The Sandstone Café
Dixie Regional Medical Center
1380 S. Medical Center Dr.
St George, UT
(435) 251-2050

© 2013 Larry Manch

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