So, Salt Lake just keeps getting cooler, my friends. I think that for any big city, having a super secret, delicious cocktail-serving, underground bar or restaurant is important. Last year, while in D.C. for work, we scouted out such a place – looking for an inconspicuous unmarked door, making sure to get the knock right, and presenting ourselves with the correct lingo. We got in and it was fabulous. And while I am sure that there are a plethora of D.C. locals who know about the “secret” door – we still felt like we were a part of some elite club, where paying $14 for drinks was totally acceptable.
Bodega is has some of these similar aspects, but some differences. When you see Bodega from the outside, it looks simple: little market on one side, with a very small bar on the other. For many passers by, this is all Bodega appears to be. There is absolutely no hint of anything more. However, Bodega has a pretty killer secret. And shhhh, don’t tell them that I told you – Bodega is actually the facade for an wonderful, unique, and quirky restaurant underground, called The Rest. They will not tell you about it, they will not point you to it. Only those who specifically request to visit The Rest will get access. Upon your request, you will be given a key (we had a reservation, so our key had our name on it, which was pretty awesome) and then you show yourself to the basement while feeling super awesome you made the cool kids club.
And, it is pretty fantastic. I don’t want to completely ruin your Bodega experience – so I am going to leave the details of decor and ambiance of The Rest off the table. Part of the fun is experiencing it for yourself – like the secret it is supposed to be. BUT, I do want to talk about the food and cocktails, because they were pretty fantastic.
I went with a group of girlfriends, and we started off with some pretty great signature cocktails. The Rest’s cocktails are reminiscent of speakeasy cocktails (similar to those at Bar X) – handmade and delicious with unique concoctions of flavors including fresh essences such as cucumber, lime, eggs whites, bitters, absinthe, chartreuse, etc. All cocktails are priced at $11 and each cocktail that we tried was worth the cash. The table favorite was a delicious and light bevvy called The Loophole (rye, St. Germain, lime, honey, and lavender bitters).
For food we ordered several different items and shared: warm olives, pickled onion rings, Shepard’s pie, bacon and eggs, trout, and for desert – the beignets. Here is the breakdown. The pickled onion rings might very well have been the BEST and most flavorful onion rings I have ever had. Why I have never had a an onion ring where they thought to pickle the onion until now??! Brilliant. The batter was wonderful – not too thick, with the perfect amount of chewiness. The dipping sauce had just a hint of a kick, and all around, they were my favorite thing we ordered. Who would have thought!
The warm olives were a nice snack with the cocktails as we waited for other menu items to arrive, and we also were served jalapeno corn bread with sweet butter, which was great. These starters were delightful.
The Shepard’s pie was fun and different too. It was made with lamb and had quite a bit of mint incorporated as well. A few people at the table found it a little dry, but I thought the flavor was great and quite surprising each time I took a bite. The mint leaves certainly made this dish intriguing.
The Rest’s Bacon and Eggs were also a favorite of mine – although it didn’t do too much for some of the girls at the table. The eggs were deviled, but with great flavor, and the bacon was delicious pork belly. Let me repeat: PORK BELLY BACON! Everyone agreed the pork belly bacon was outstanding, but not everyone was sold on the deviled eggs. For me however, I enjoyed both – but it is hard for me to not like any egg put in front of me.
The trout was our favorite dish (and feel free to ask why I didn’t snap a photo AFTER we opened up the lovely tin foil swan – because that was not awesome on my part). The trout was cooked perfectly, was deliciously flaky, and was garnished with house-made croutons, which added great texture and flavor as well. The croutons added another unique aspect – which all of The Rest’s dishes seemed to share.
We finished our meal with the beignets – the only dessert on the menu. And honestly, there doesn’t need to be any other dessert available because these fluffy pillows of pastry heaven were amazing. Super light and filled with a small amount of berry compote, these delicious devils made everyone smile. They also came with a side of creme that brought the dish together. They made us all very happy ladies – and we all talked at length about how incredible they were. I am not joking.
The Rest was lovely, interesting, fun, and seems to have something special in both the atmosphere and the food. The service was fantastic, the food was surprising and delightful, and the cocktails were fresh and fun. I suggest making a reservation and checking out this secret and delicious spot! It might be my new favorite place in Salt Lake City!