Had the pleasure of visiting Laurel Brasserie & Bar for a belated birthday celebration. It’s located inside the Grand America Hotel in downtown Salt Lake, and it is a lovely pleasure to be able to use the hotel valet and walk through the plush halls after dinner. 
The decor and colors inside the restaurant are breathtaking. I will need to go back again soon because I took no photos of the inside of the beautiful tiles, light fixtures, and dining room. I was overwhelmed by the other details of the dining experience, like those beautiful plates and the glassware.
The dress code is typical downtown SLC – you’ll see men in suits and also guests who look like they’ve just finished hiking in shorts and tees. I think this restaurant deserves a dressier attire but we also saw two hotel guests at the bar in bathrobes (!!) So, you do you.

We took our time browsing the menu, which is very interesting and offers smaller shareable plates and traditional entrees. The fresh bread with homemade butter was a nice touch.
Grateful that the chefs did not go for typical hotel restaurant choices but introduced a classic European menu with unexpected offerings like an upscale “Pigs in a Blanket” and a chilled sweet corn veloute soup with crab salad and spicy popcorn. They also offer traditional fare like bolognese, pizzas, and steak frites. 


We started with drinks and the cocktails really shined. I love when servers know their alcohol menu (not a frequent happening in Utah!) and ours recommended the blackberry margarita (Luna Azul blanco tequila, St-Germain, fresh blackberry, lime). Strong and not too sweet. My friend ordered the hibiscus mule (local Dented Brick vodka, ginger beer, hibiscus tea, lime) and raved.

I also appreciate a strong alcohol-free section on the menu, as a respectful nod to the many diners who do not consume alcohol. The choices – including an Earl Grey soda and Cosnopolitan – look creative and delicious and don’t at all feel like an afterthought.
The burrata and prosciutto small plate was served with kale pesto, arugula, golden raisin and was good. I also liked the arancini: Sicilian rice fritters with fresh mozzarella, parmesan, and tomato marmalade. 
Entrees included the linguine with Manila clams, toasted garlic, kale, white wine, chili flakes.

The mushroom and blue cheese pizza, with sautéed forest mushrooms and gorgonzola dolce, was a little two-dimensional for my taste and needed more gorgonzola flavor. Next time I would go with the margherita or spicy lamb sausages.

Only place I might felt was lacking was the service. The restaurant manager came to our table early on to greet us, which was nice and a rare touch these days. But our server, who we interacted with much more, was too eager for us to order and checked on us too often for our leisurely dinner so we had to keep telling him we weren’t ready. 
At the end of the night (well before closing), he asked us to hurry with the check so he could “close out” for the night. I’m always disappointed when a fine dining experience is tainted by inexperienced service. 

Even so, it was a beautiful dining experience that still felt like downtown SLC. The atmosphere is beautiful and classy, the people-watching is vibrant and fun, and the food was enjoyable and delicious. I really enjoyed Laurel and can’t wait to return.

– Kelsey Ramos-Conroy

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