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Felt Bar & Eatery joins Salt Lake’s bustling Main Street

Felt Bar & Eatery - bar area (Gastronomic SLC)

If the name Richard Romney sounds familiar, you’d be right. Romney has been a near ever-present fixture in the downtown dining scene for some two decades. Ascending through the ranks at Takashi, the past eighteen years saw the affable gent end up as the head honcho of both Takashi and Post Office Place – two restaurants that need little introduction.

That experience is what compelled the owner of the former Pago On Main space to quiz Romney when the location (341 S Main St, SLC) shuttered. When the call came about the possibility of taking up the mantle at the Felt Building, Romney immediately tapped long-time pal and veteran chef, Travis Herbert. Much like Romney, the self-taught toque started on the very first rung; a nascent dishwasher would end up as a corporate chef for Fleming’s Steakhouse. The role would ultimately see Herbert flit relentlessly from state to state, assisting in the opening of glittering new flagship locations such as Vegas and Houston. Each call from head office would once again require him to ask his family to up and move sticks all over again.

In search of a calmer life then, a return to Utah beckoned, and a life of private chefing and catering followed. The call from Romney was a no-brainer, “How soon do you want to get going?”, an almost instant reaction.

Not as immediately as you might think. The former Pago On Main space first needed an overhaul, with much of the hard labor undertaken by the duo themselves over the Fall and Winter of 2023. “The holidays were a muted affair for us last year”, jokes Herbert as he tours me around the retooled Felt Bar & Eatery.

As well as a completely reworked kitchen setup – the central area of the Felt Building space has been demolished and re-imagined. A welcome bar counter now anchors proceedings, an inviting wrap-around that unites either side of the room. Banquettes and booths flank either end of the restaurant while tabletops, low and high are scattered throughout.

Felt Bar & Eatery - interior
Felt Bar & Eatery – interior
Felt Bar & Eatery - Richard Romney and Travis Herbert
Felt Bar & Eatery – Richard Romney and Travis Herbert
Felt Bar & Eatery - front of space
Felt Bar & Eatery – front of space
Felt Bar & Eatery - bar seating
Felt Bar & Eatery – bar seating
Felt Bar & Eatery - banquettes and tables
Felt Bar & Eatery – banquettes and tables
Felt Bar & Eatery - bar bites of marcona almonds, beet pickled eggs
Felt Bar & Eatery – bar bites of marcona almonds, beet pickled eggs
Felt Bar & Eatery - beef tartare with bone marrow
Felt Bar & Eatery – beef tartare with bone marrow
Felt Bar & Eatery - close up with the half pound elk burger
Felt Bar & Eatery – close up with the half pound elk burger

Licensed as a 21+ bar – Felt follows a similar blueprint to that of neighboring peers like White Horse and Whiskey Street – crafting a multipurpose menu (see end of article). Swing by for a complete meal, a few light bites, or simply plonk yourself at the bar for after-work drinks. Bar hoppers can also add one more stop on their Main Street itinerary too. From 4.00 p.m. daily, how you choose to enjoy Felt is yours to decide.

Speaking to that, both Herbert and Romney are keen to stress the food and drink lineup is a fluid affair. As the restaurant draws crowds, both are more than happy to let customers dictate the evolution. Not only that, the pair keenly encourage input from their whole team, “We want everyone who works here to be invested, to see the difference their contribution makes”, Romney tells me. There’s zero tunnel vision, a problem that many stubborn operators falter from. With their collective industry experience, both exude calm composure aplenty. Indeed, I’m struck by just how collected the two are – in the world of new restaurant openings, this is exceptionally uncommon stuff.

Onto the food then, and the core of the launch menu partly reflects Herbert’s previous two decades of travel; not a steak house by any means, but certainly a collection stuffed with sizable flavors, and robust proteins. A unique elk burger is a perfect example, an imposing half-pound patty comes cooked to a rarer finish. Tempering that naturally lean meat, pork fat is effectively employed to keep things supple. Boldly peppered bacon comes next, as does a mushroom duxelle for a touch of earthiness. According to Herbert, the regionally sourced elk is served on only one other menu in the state.

Another item I immediately gravitate to is a daintily plated beef tartare. This isn’t the uncontrolled mush ordinarily encountered. The beef is sparingly chopped, affording gobs of textural interest. In lieu of a more familiar creamy egg yolk topper, bone marrow is used instead to provide galvanizing richness. The finished effort is presented in the halved bone. As I scoop a final bite Romney assures me, “We’re going to come up with a special cocktail for this one, to shoot down the bone once finished”. Tremendous.

Between dishes, I snack on light bites. A flurry of gussied-up marcona almonds, and shockingly beet-tinged pickled eggs (mercifully not another deviled oeuf) – anything but your normal bar snacks.

As this article goes live, the restaurant is barely two weeks old. The menu is already iterating quickly, with daily specials now appearing. The space will soon host live music at weekends, patio dining should be here any day, and brunch will arrive sometime down the road too.

Felt Bar & Eatery
341 S Main St, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
https://www.feltslc.com

Felt Bar & Eatery - food menu March 2024
Felt Bar & Eatery – food menu March 2024
Felt Bar & Eatery - drinks menu March 2024
Felt Bar & Eatery – drinks menu March 2024
Felt Bar & Eatery - exterior
Felt Bar & Eatery – exterior

Want to stay on top of the SLC food scene, minute by minute, dish by dish? Here are a few other places you should follow along:



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