It is hard to keep up these days, with so many amazing things opening in Salt Lake City. But I have to tell you, HSL is special. If you have visited Handle in Park City, you know what I am talking about. That same passion, but with a special Salt Lake City twist, is evident at HSL in everything from the decor (Melissa Grey, HSL & Cody Derrick, cityhomeCollective), to the food (Executive Chef Briar Handly), to the pastries (Pastry Chef Alexa Norlin), and of course — the cocktails (Scott Gardner).
From the moment you walk in the door, you know that something wonderful is happening. The space has been completely transformed from the old Vinto Restaurant, and it is nearly unrecognizable. Its luscious and dark tones give way to a beautiful bar and dramatic seating in a variety of settings. The space will impress you — but don’t worry, everything that comes after that first impression will keep you satisfied.
I have to start with the cocktails because Scott Gardner is arguably my favorite bartender in the city. (To be clear, I do have a lot of favorite bartenders…because we have a city full of amazing drink slingers!). But Scott’s technique and knowledge is truly next-level and his cocktails nearly always incorporate a super interesting, not expected, beautiful component or ingredient of some kind. His cocktails tend to be simple and complex all at the same time. So, of course, the cocktails were wonderful and I can’t wait to get to HSL for regular service so that he can make me some others to try. (Good thing HSL is just up the street from work!).
My favorite of the evening included Mezcal, tequila, epazote, and palm sugar. Earthy and perfect. He also whipped up another green beauty with green apple, gin, and parsley components. Green drinks — I am all about them lately. Both were wonderful with familiar flavors and a hint of the unexpected.
During the media opening, we were able to sample a variety of small bites — and each of them were different and delicious ; and, if they are indicative in anyway of what HSL’s full menu is like — then count me in for one of each. Here are a few of the bites we were able to taste!
My favorites of the evening were the General Tso’s-style Cauliflower as well as the delicious Tuna Bites. The Cauliflower was pretty much the most flavor in one little bite that I can recall having in a long time. I want a whole plate of it — every day. Also, chocolate mouse cake bites were delectable and the stinging nettle ice cream stole my heart.
There is something about being in a beautiful, well-planned space, eating heavenly bites of intensely crafted food, and washing it all down with a perfectly balanced cocktail. Visiting HSL TRULY remind me why it is I write this about food and cocktails in Salt Lake City.
I am so inspired by the people here who continually step forward with interesting and creative flavors and spaces. I felt incredibly honored to be there and I can’t wait to go back.
Make sure to eat your way through the HSL menu as soon as possible!
418 East 200 South | Salt Lake City