Last night I hitched a ride with Herlo over to the Ubuntu Utah Feisty Release Party. It was held at the Orbit Cafe in downtown Salt Lake City.
I don't suppose I expected a whole lot of people there, and I'm not sure Christer or the Cafe expected quite that many either. I heard at some point that we had 32 people there. By my estimation, the room that they had us in was only meant to seat 28 people, so we were a little low on seating. I was glad to be among the first of the crowd, assuring that I would have a good seat.
I ended up seeing a lot of people that I knew online, but hadn't really met in person. We all stood up and introduced ourselves, making sure to tell people our IRC nick if we had one. It seems strange to me that knowing people only by names such as Sontek and LinuxAlien would not seem strange. I ended up sitting across from John Taber who, as it turns out, is an absolute delight to talk to.
This being 95% a food blog, I suppose I should talk about the food at the Orbit Cafe. Looking around the place, it seemed to me that it was meant to be more of a bar, which made it confusing to me that it would close at 9pm on a Saturday night. Almost half the menu was devoted to drinks, and when I saw the word Sobe, I decided that a Cranberry Grapefruit Elixir would be nice. A man came by to get our drink orders (I later decided that he was the bartender), and I asked if he had Cranberry Grapefruit Sobe. He told me yes and stood there looking at me. I asked if he could bring me one and he said, "oh, yeah, sure!" I expected him to bring back a bottle (which I would have preferred), but he brought me a mixer glass with ice and Sobe in it, and walked away. I took a sip, and then spent the next five minutes trying to flag him down again. Eventually a waitress stopped by and I asked her if they had any non-sugar free Sobe.
Here's a tip. If you want to try and figure out whether or not your drink is sugar free, take a sip. If it tastes absolutely disgusting and actually makes you wish for the end of Western civilization, if only for a short moment, then chances are it's sugar free.
The waitress called over to the bartender twice to ask if they had any non-sugar free Sobe before finally walking over and asking him. She returned and informed me that no, they didn't. Perhaps that was why he assumed that I wanted the vile version of the drink rather than the delicious one. Still, it would have been nice for the bartender to ask, "we only have sugar free, is that okay?" I ordered a lemonade instead. It tasted relatively artificial, but it also tasted like it had real sugar in it, so I was content.
I ordered a reuben, which came with soup, salad or fries. The soup of the day was lentil with ham, so I decided to give it a shot. When my food arrived, I tasted the soup and was reminded of something that I heard Anthony Bourdain say once: "I hate it like poison". It seemed to be designed to make me appreciate sugar free drinks. A couple of other people told me later of their dissatisfaction with the soup as well. As I was leaving later on, I saw fries on somebody else's plate, and I wished that I had ordered them instead.
I love a good reuben, and I was fearful that they had destroyed it as well. According to the menu description, the only deviation from the standard recipe was marbled rye, and to call it a deviation really is splitting hairs. The corned beef looked more like bacon, and was perhaps a little drier and chewier than usual. I'm no aficionado of sauerkraut, since a reuben is the only place I like it, but it tasted okay. The bread was harder than I'm used to, but tasty. When it came down to it, my only complaint about the sandwich was that all of the meat seemed to have found its way to one side, so my first half of the sandwich seemed a little sparse, and the second half had way too much.
Our waitress was friendly, and for that night, extremely overworked. The rest of the cafe seemed very empty for that time of night, and I don't think they were expecting all of us. The kitchen was probably overworked too, so I forgive them for the unbalanced sandwich which was probably made somewhat hurredly, but not for the soup, which was likely made hours in advance. The room that they had us in had a large TV suspected from the ceiling by the bar, and they let us put in Sneakers to watch during the party. Dan Akroyd, you are my hero.
The rest of the staff was friendly, other than the bartender, who seemed aloof. The rest of the food looked good, and judging by my sandwich, I'm sure that most of the menu is worthwhile. It seems unfair to me to call judgement on the place after only once visit, but I will say that despite my personal complaints, they seem like a good place to eat.
The rest of the party was a lot of fun. I'd guess that nearly a third of the people there had their computers out, though I heard frequent complaints about the wireless Internet access. It was nice to finally meet a lot of those people in person, and to network a little bit with them. I have heard rumor that Christer is thinking about holding future Ubuntu Utah meetings there, and I for one would be glad to go back. It's certainly a much friendlier environment than the Salt Lake City Library has ended up being, and the availability of food was a nice bonus. It makes me wish there was a private room at the Salt Lake Roasting Company. Their food has never failed to please me. I wonder if they allow people to reserve the upstairs area.