HSL Restaurant Review
Food: Some hits include seeded crackers and snap pea salad. Avoid the fried chicken with lentils and grilled broccoli. Seasonal ingredients are used but comes with a high price tag.
Service: Attentive and helpful
Atmosphere: Large open room, plenty of natural light, and a modern meets vintage feel. During warm weather, the patio is a great option.
Location: 200 South 418 East, Salt Lake City, Utah
Ever since HSL opened, I’ve wanted to love it. American food that focuses on seasonal ingredients is exactly up my alley. I first went to HSL a year ago and left satisfied but not craving much of what I ate. This past weekend I went again, with an open mind, and left with roughly the same feelings. Don’t get me wrong. The food is tasty and well executed. Conceptually, the items just don’t come together the way I wish they did.
Keep in mind, HSL offers seasonal items, so many of the dishes I ate are not available or won’t be available for long.
Seeded Cracker – served with pepper jelly, cream cheese mousse, and an herb salad. Salty, sweet, spicy, and creamy. It’s a great appetizer because it’s not heavy and provides enough for 2 people to have 2 full crackers. The only component that didn’t work was the cracker itself. It fell apart when touched, making it a bit difficult to eat.
Chicories & Broccoli with macrona almonds, dates, olive oil, and lemon juice. The crunchy almonds combined with the earthy broccoli and sweet dates created a balanced and delicious combination.
Flatbread with HSL goat milk ricotta and aged balsamic. According to the menu, it also has confit winter squash. But I didn’t taste any squash. Rather, I tasted pickled onions. Who knows. While the dish as a whole was on the sweeter side, the ricotta completely made the dish. Creamy and unctuous, I could eat the ricotta with a spoon. The aged balsamic provided a depth and acidity the flatbread was needing. It would be a great appetizer for a group or a meal for one.
Snap Pea Salad was fresh, crisp, and well seasoned. A great side dish or main entree for a light dinner.
Honey Cake with sour cream, lime, honeycomb, and cassis. Again, a solid but not mind-blowing dish. The cake was expertly made, moist and delicate. The honey flavor was subtle, especially if you didn’t get honeycomb in your bite. Overall, a nice ending to the meal.
Fried Chicken and Lentils – I was curious about this dish because I love fried chicken but wasn’t sure how lentils would add to the dish. Unfortunately, they didn’t add much. Actually, they detracted from the chicken. A bit grainy and heavy, I had no need to eat more than the first few bites. Even though I love fried chicken, the piece they used was too big. It was about the size a soft ball, making the ratio of chicken to batter unequal.. On the positive side, the batter was seasoned perfectly and had a great crunch.
The Let Downs
Grilled Broccoli with pickled peppers, horseradish vinaigrette, HSL bacon, and hazelnuts. Ian enjoyed this dish more than me. I thought it tasted similar to a stir fry with a strong and unappetizing vinegar. It reminded me of sherry vinegar, which isn’t my favorite flavoring. While Ian didn’t mind the strong vinegar taste, he disliked the combination of broccoli and bacon. Overall, it was an unappetizing looking and tasting dish.
Toasted Vanilla Bean Sundae, which came with lemon, rhubarb, cornmeal cake, and roasted white chocolate. I love desserts. I also love sundaes. So I was really excited about this dish. Unfortunately, I was a complete let down. The cornmeal cake was dry and the lemon overwhelmed all other flavors.
Even though I’ve enjoyed my meals at HSL, I’ve never left yearning to go back. The 3 star rating results from the food often not quite coming together conceptually, such as the fried chicken and lentils. Combined with high prices, I question if I would rather spend my money at Copper Kitchen, Current, or Tradition. If you haven’t tried HSL, I wouldn’t shy away from it. Rather, I would suggest eating one of the seasonal salads, flatbread, the popular, though I’ve never tried it, pork shank, and the honey cake. If you’re wanting a knock-out meal, I would suggest going elsewhere.