One mark of the change in food culture during this most recent, nearing-the-end (we hope? maybe? soon??) stage of the pandemic is that diners are opting more often for the kinds of experiences that were hardest to replicate at home. I’m talking about beautifully-plated and more expensive meals, in courses brought out slowly, eaten in soft light with cocktails or wine. Googling wine pairings for your slightly-congealed takeout doesn’t pack the same punch as seeking guidance from a sommelier or knowledgeable server, and no one eats said takeout in courses–I didn’t, anyway. My quarantine drink was tequila and it rarely lasted long enough to be drunk concurrently with the takeaway burrito, sandwich, or pizza (or entire batch of homemade cookies) I’d have for dinner.
This year, I’ve done much more dining out than last year, and it still sometimes feels too good to be true. There’s just something about being served a meal at the temperature it left the kitchen, on plates I don’t have to wash. When a chef lends her unique vision to the food in front of her, marrying flavors and textures, artistically directing the way the dish tastes and looks, and then I get to eat it just like that? It’s drastically different from eating at home, is all I’m saying, and I missed it.
If you’re not quite ready to get back out there, I get it. But if you are, there are many gorgeous restaurants around town where you can enjoy a meal like this: where you pay a little more and savor a little longer. A new downtown spot you’ll love is Fenice (feh-NEE-che), from the owners of Park City’s Silver Star Cafe, which opened last month in the old Fireside location on Regent Street. Lisa and Jeff Ward have revamped the space and warmed it up, and are serving delicious Mediterranean bistro fare with a few brilliant twists — and wine, of course.
Try the signature small plates; the burrata with either roasted olives or sherried grapes is fantastic, as is the beet and warmed endive salad. The menu boasts delightful-looking pizzas and seafood dishes, and the carbonara riff with confit duck breast and house-made tagliatelle is terrific. (I’d skip the Moroccan chicken with couscous, as ours skewed just to the dry side.) Don’t miss the beautiful house cocktails, or the gelato if they have it. Honestly? You should get both, and don’t forget to bask for a few extra minutes in the glow of the restaurant experience as it was meant to be enjoyed.
126 Regent St, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Disclosure: Gastronomic SLC enjoyed a preview of the restaurant the night before it opened to the public.
I’m Christy, I love the Oxford comma, and eating isn’t my full-time job but you’d never know it. Find me spending all my spare minutes prowling restaurants, markets, and food trucks around SLC, then filling the internet with photos and descriptions of what I love … which is just about everything. I specialize in hot and sweet—food, that is—and I’m an ardent supporter of eating local and supporting small.
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