Restaurant Roundup: Valentine's Dates Sure to Impress | Restaurant Reviews | Salt Lake City Weekly

Restaurant Roundup: Valentine's Dates Sure to Impress 

A curated list of romantic restaurants for that special foodie in your life.

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Cozy up with cocktails at Urban Hill - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Cozy up with cocktails at Urban Hill

February is upon us once more, which means thoughts often turn to answering one looming question: Where am I going to take my Valentine for dinner this year? If the question hasn't yet popped up for you in particular, let this be a seasonal wake-up call for you, dear reader. Sure, you'll need to get some reservations lined up, but where? What local dining destination best represents the love/lust you feel toward your current significant other?

Based on my years of experience covering Utah's food scene, I think I can safely recommend a local spot that will impress the object of your affection.

For the Traditionalist: Bambara (202 S. Main Street, 801-363-5454, bambara-slc.com). If your bae is pretty traditional about Valentine's Day dining, chances are they'll have a good time at Bambara. It's upscale enough to make the evening feel special, it's got a great cocktail menu, and the Downtown ambiance is a perfect backdrop to a romantic evening. You'd also be just in time to check out Chef Patrick LeBeau's new winter menu; will you choose whipped goat cheese tartine decked out with spiced pumpkin butter puree and toasted pecans or the caramelized onion Dutch pancake packed with pork belly, maple bourbon glaze and some roasted squash?

For those really gunning to impress their date, may I suggest the shareable bison Wellington? It's a beautiful cut of bison wrapped in prosciutto and a buttery puff pastry. It's on the pricier side of the menu, and needs to be ordered 48 hours in advance, but this is a banger of a dish that will impress on all fronts. With the Vault bar just down the hall and the Hotel Monaco just upstairs, dinner at Bambara adds enough flexibility for dinner to become drinks and drinks to become really whatever else you'd want to do with your Valentine.

For the On-trend Foodie: Urban Hill (510 S. 300 West, Ste. 100, 385-295-4200, urban-hill.com). It can be hard to use food to impress a foodie, but Urban Hill checks all the right boxes for that food nerd in your life. After only a few years in operation, it's still a fairly new and buzzy restaurant for locals, which makes you look like you've got your finger on the pulse of our food scene. It also comes from a highly beloved local restaurant pedigree—Urban Hill is owned by the Kirchheimer family, who also run Park City's Hearth & Hill. Oh, and Chef Nick Zocco was just announced as a semifinalist for this year's James Beard Awards; merely demonstrating your knowledge of our national food accolades might just be enough to seal the deal.

If you're planning on going the extra mile for this one, start things off with a half-dozen oysters, share a plate of their potato gnocchi and wrap things up with a pork chop Milanese and a lamb porterhouse. It'll make a dent in your wallet, but you'll be so stuffed with the good things of this Earth that you'll barely notice.

For the Vegetarian or Vegan: Seasons Plant Based Kitchen (916 S. Jefferson Street, Ste. B, 385-267-1922, seasonsslc.com). I've been to my share of plant-based restaurants along the Wasatch Front, and Seasons remains the one to beat. Taking cues from traditional French cooking, Seasons has done an outstanding job of reinterpreting a cuisine that relies heavily on butter, cream, cheese and meat into something that is entirely plant-based.

Hopefully if you are romantically involved with someone who sticks to a plant-based diet, you're not the kind of dickhead who thinks plant-based food is automatically going to be inferior to whatever you're used to. Hell, even if you are that kind of dickhead, I dare you to take your date here anyway to educate yourself about the ways in which you have sold yourself short.

Everything at Seasons is prepared gorgeously, and the creativity on display is absolutely mindblowing. Plus, you'll get to dine at their new location in Central Ninth which is a nice spot to spend any special evening.

For the Diner Who's Hard to Impress: Bar Nohm (165 W. 900 South,385-465-4488, barnohm.com). Maybe you've got a date who doesn't really care about dining out, or who has yet to experience the transformative phenomenon that comes from eating a perfectly cooked duck. After I ask if you're sure you want to be dating them, I'd follow up with a recommendation to check out Bar Nohm.

It's another Central Ninth institution, and it takes its cues from a Korean dining culture concept that favors small bites and drinks over a traditional sit-down meal. Bar Nohm's adherence to this concept means you can either eat lots and lots, or just grab a few snacks while drinking some of their craft cocktails. I mean, you'll still need to be witty and charming, but the cool vibes, accessible yet unique menu and tasty drinks will go a long way to impress your date, despite their sphinx-like attitude toward dining culture.

Wherever you may end up on Valentine's Day, I hope you and your special someone have a great time and eat some great food. Keep me posted on the socials if you find a place that should be on my list.

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