It’s always fun to discover someone or something that does things a bit differently than the rest. Taking chances and experimentation creates excitement and vibrancy. And few SLC restaurants exhibit this better than SLC Eatery, located on 1017 South Main Street.
SLC Eatery remains one of my favorite restaurants in Salt Lake. I love the someone oddball location on Main Street around 10th South. The building is a former rock shop, sandwiched between a motel and a used car dealership. The interior decor remains current, with beautiful woodwork designed and built by Chad Parkinson at The Furniture Joint.
The wide-ranging menu is creative and daring, but keeping things within most peoples’ comfort zones. Expect to find everything from Utah scones to bulgogi to albacore tataki to swordfish.
My favorite feature of the restaurant is the dim sum cart, which is wheeled around to diners at least twice throughout the meal. The dim sum cart at State Bird in San Francisco inspired co-owner and chef Paul Chamberlain to incorporate a dim sum cart as part of SLC Eatery.
Pre-COVID, the cart was chock-full of various small plates filled with tasty bites. The plates are priced low enough to encourage diners to try a bunch of different plates and see what they like. Now, in a post-COVID world, and with food waste in mind, the cart no longer has ready-made plates ready to be picked off the cart. Rather, the cart has one prepared plate of each option, allowing diners to choose which they would like. The dishes are then prepared a la minute and brought out. I’ll admit some of the charm of the cart is gone with this change, but the idea is still fantastic and sets SLC Eatery apart from other restaurants. On a recent visit, we were able to try a bunch of different small plates, instead of committing to just one entree.
I love that the cart allows co-owners and chefs Logan Crew and Paul Chamberlain a creative outlet to experiment with different flavors and techniques. On the evening we stopped by, we were lucky that one of the dim sum items was an item that’s been with them from the start: the very lovely Tokyo Turnips, with a wonderfully sweet and bright caper date purée and a sesame garlic crunch. The Utah Scone with “everything” seasoning was wonderfully light and crunchy, and the clam dip with tobiko and house-made potato chips were a hit. My favorite small plate was the fried quail with pomegranate and an SLC Eatery take on barbecue sauce. The quail was shatteringly crisp and perfectly cooked.
A standout plate of the evening was the calamari “fried rice,” a gorgeous dish with crispy rice, a carrot ginger nage, jalapeños, olive, and cilantro. Logan and Paul really know how to balance flavors in a way that each dish is wonderfully tasty, but not overpowering.
For our main, we had the house-made orecchiette in a basque chorizo ragu and topped with buffalo mozzarella. It was outstanding.
At the end of the meal, the dim sum cart made another tempting round, this time with desserts. We chose the apple cheesecake with salted caramel and oat crumble. The crust was unique, and was more filo dough-like than a standard graham cracker crust, but it was delicious regardless.
I absolutely love and appreciate the niche that SLC Eatery has managed to carve out for itself in SLC. The food is elevated but approachable, and reasonably priced (expect to pay between $30 and $40 for most entrees). The chefs flirt with molecular gastronomy, but keep it on the conservative side of the spectrum in a way that doesn’t scare off their general audience and keeps prices reasonable.
One other side note: you know the old cliche that we eat with our eyes before we eat with our mouths? Paul and Logan get that. And it shows with their food photography, especially on their Instagram account, which routinely posts some incredibly beautiful photos of their food. They seem to be one of the few restaurants in SLC that understand that proper food photography sets restaurants apart from the rest.
Paul and Logan (and the rest of the SLC Eatery crew): keep doing your thing, man. I love the inventiveness, the willingness to stick your necks out to try a unique location and a unique service model.