Pallet is unlike anywhere else in Salt Lake City. The downtown restaurant is known for its unparalleled atmosphere, the focus of which varies depending on the time of day from a cozy neighborhood bistro when it opens to a hip, cocktail-focused joint later in the evening. Regardless of the time or vibe, as soon as you settle into the west side restaurant, it’s apparent you’re in for something special.
Pallet has been a part of the downtown dining scene for awhile now, causing a stir with its unique decor (done by the folks at City Home Collective) and swanky cocktails (created by Matt Pfohl, one of SLC’s best mixologists). I wrote about it when it first opened more than a year ago but was recently lured back into the cozy, candlelit restaurant and thought I’d take a closer look at where Chef Willey has taken the place.
The ever-changing menu is heavily focused on appetizers, ranging around $8-12, and several salads (including asparagus- and beet-based) making a small plates/tapas-style dinner an easy option. Main dishes steep upwards of $27 for a lamb T-bone or an array of vegetables for $15. The descriptions are incredibly vague but the server will tell you that’s done intentionally to strike up a conversation with him or her about what to order. I’m a big fan of talking with the staff but I’m more in favor of detailed menus.
After starting with the bartender’s choice of a cocktail (he brought a perfect-for-my-mood Mint Julep), my friend and I decided to create a dinner of small plates. Our server grouped them in courses for us, bringing out the Hamachi ($12) first. It was served sashimi-style with shishito peppers, avocado balls and bacon sorbet topped with lemon, cilantro and chunks of ice. Yes, ice. I liked the combination of flavors but felt that the ice was somewhat distracting.
With our fish dish came the Figs and Speck ($11); figs wrapped in Caputo’s house made Speck, drizzled with balsamic, ricotta chunks and almonds. I was surprised how much I liked the texture and flavor contrasts of this dish, but really, when you put speck on something (especially from Caputo’s), can you ever go wrong? I think not.
Next up were the Clams ($13), served with fries, onions and sausage. The classic dish was enjoyably spruced up with sausage, but otherwise predictable. Alongside them we had the Spicy Pillows ($11), addicting puff-like pillows with a gnocchi-ish texture with chard, lemon, thyme and onion. I could eat these all night, especially after a cocktail or two.
And even though I was more than full, we finished the meal with Warm Oatmeal Walnut Shortbread ($8) with chocolate and salted caramel, berry and ice cream. Every time I’ve been to Pallet, the dessert has been the highlight of the meal and this was no different. It was warm and comforting and simply delicious.
Pallet’s strengths are easily its atmosphere and innovative cocktails. Some items on the menu can be hit or miss, but trust your server to be honest and take their advice. In the meantime, sit back, relax and sip on something sultry while you enjoy the fact that you’re in a truly one-of-a-kind restaurant in Salt Lake City.
Go to Pallet for :: the awesome atmosphere, amazing cocktails and great desserts for a date night or casual dinner with friends. Notes :: Open Monday through Saturday, 5-10 pm. Some tables are communal-style seating but singles are available. Reservations can be made online here.