What’s Your Handle?

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HSL

200 S. 418 E. SLC | 801.539.9999

Lunch: Monday–Friday: 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
Brunch: Saturday–Sunday: 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
Dinner: Sunday–Thursday: 5:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m., Friday–Saturday: 5 p.m.–10 p.m.
hslrestaurant.com

The element of surprise arose as we walked into HSL. Adorned with living plants, high back chairs and a subtle yet conversation-worthy playlist, this Salt Lake City restaurant is both chill and sophisticated, providing the perfect anytime ambience.

Photo: Talyn Sherer
Photo: Talyn Sherer

With a patio designed for a 5-o’clock-somewhere afternoon glass of wine and a menu made of culinary tastebud dreams, Handle Salt Lake, the sibling of Park City’s Handle, is a curated masterpiece of art.

To be honest, I had never heard of HSL. I travel often, which means I don’t always get to explore my own backyard. Discovering this kind of deliciousness is exactly what my husband and I look forward to, as we are both foodies to our core. When you love culinary flavors, you appreciate a chef’s craft and the thought process surrounding each menu item.

We had our friends join us for dinner and drinks at HSL, making a night of it, allowing me to try more items off of the menu. Between the four of us, we ordered approximately a dozen menu components. What I am about to say you may find hard to believe, but there was not one dish we all did not enjoy. So let’s get into the details.

Rumor has it that the Cauliflower ($10) was the beloved “go-to,” and after one bite of the sriracha-drizzled vinaigrette cauliflower, I knew that this was only the beginning of the night’s epicurean journey. The Snap Pea Salad ($14) with fresh-from-the-Farmers-Market basil was a nice, light and stimulating crunch complete with toasted pine nuts.

The most surprising menu item was the Ash Roasted Cabbage ($13). I can be hundred percent tell you the last thing I would ever think of ordering off a menu is cabbage. That being said, I am not shy about legitimately being able to say yes or no, and so, with a wrinkled nose, I indulged. Combining this leafy plant with a chili romesco sauce that blended hints of spice so delicately, I left wanting more. Dear Chefs, (Briar Handly and Drew Fuller) can you teach me your cabbage secret?

I can’t stop here; I have to move on with the Flatbread ($12). A soft, white bean purée, spread atop a perfectly crisp and OM-Wow-flavored flatbread was a nice balance before we were served the Wild Mushroom Toast ($12). How can each subsequent dish keep you evaluating which one is actually your favorite? Avocado toast has been the rave this summer—however, HSL’s Mushroom Toast with its garlic, spinach and ricotta sauce base just blew avocado toast out of the water.

Alas, our starters came to an end. Taking some time to laugh and tell stories while we decided on our main dishes, I think my husband, Scott, said it best: “Every dish was full of tastes which leave me wanting more, and I am excited to try the next course, but first I need another bourbon cocktail.”  With my “Life is better with bubbles” motto, I naturally chose to enjoy a glass of Cremant, a type of bubbly from France which is not often found on a menu. Scott enjoyed the Bourbon cocktail and did not shy away from a couple, so I can tell you it was good, or he would have switched. The bar made a statement by adorning the garnishes with a tiny clothespin-style clip. Thank you—I am stealing this idea for my next soirée. If you enjoy wine or beer, you will not be disappointed with your options at HSL.

For our hearty selection, we shared the Market Fish ($31), sea bass. In my opinion, sea bass is either great or not good at all. For me there is no in-between. The pan-seared, butter-roasted fish flaked into my fork perfectly. Paired with an indescribable farro pesto, the dish melted in my mouth. Our friends enjoyed the Bavette Steak ($30), the only thing I did not consume, as I was saving my dignity for dessert. The words expressed to describe it, though, were “pretty F-ing good.”

In my mind, I was going to order the Solstice Milk Chocolate Torte ($12), but I ran so far away, landing on a heavenly cloud of S’More Sundae ($12)—Graham-cracker ice cream with perfect toasted marshmallow squares that provided the crunch typically found in the cracker. I took a bite of its mind game, convincing me I was next to a campfire. S’More Sundae for the win.

Typically, I can walk away from a meal and say, I did not like this or that. The only thing I can really say about HSL is the Grilled Broccoli ($11) was only a 3.9 out of 5 for me. Their classic Americana vibe with new age food is working. I’ve got their handle, and I’m likin’, lovin’ and revisiting it.

Disclaimer: No feelings were hurt in the consumption of dinner. Cleaning our plates, and helping each other take one for the team, because how can you let something you love just disappear?