Drinkers will know what I’m talking about. In Utah, a schism exists between our restaurants and bars. There are great restaurants that offer an unsophisticated drink menu, and there are bars which serve lackluster food. It reflects where the owner’s passion’s lie as well as Utah’s bridled and archaic liquor laws. There are certainly places trying to bridge this gap like Beerhive, Bayou and Garage, all of which are terrific, but Main Street’s Whiskey Street is a beautiful hybrid with artful food, an incredible drink program, all served in a delightful ambiance.
It was Brigham Young who gave Whiskey Street its name, well not exactly, but he did refer to this portion of Main Street between 200 and 300 South as Whiskey Street until 1906 when it was officially changed to Main Street. From the owners of Bourbon House, Whiskey Street has a more polished presentation both in food and design. The gorgeous and masculine 72-foot-long Cherry-wood bar looks like it has been there forever but was built in just two weeks before opening. But it’s the drinks they are concocting behind the bar that are the real stars. Stylish and classic cocktails like the Sazarac and a Pimm’s Cup are hand-crafted and made with love. From the specialty cocktail list, The Brown Derby with Bourbon, honey syrup and grapefruit juice is a perfect balance of bitterness, sweetness and acidity.
A novel addition to the menu is a liquor and beer pairing where you might want to try 1.5 ounces of Cazadores Repasado Tequila paired with Park City Brewing’s Baja Especial… it should go without saying that these combinations sneak up on your lucidity as well as your wallet pretty quickly. An approachable wine list accompanies a comprehensive beer selection from around the world. But it is the whiskey selection that will delight any brown-liquor drinkers. I counted around 145 options from Pappy Van Winkle to Johnnie Walker’s King George V. I wanted to try something new and the bartender led me to Pig’s Nose, a single malt from the lowlands with a light touch of peat. I was impressed by the bartender’s knowledge as well as a gift to translate my yearnings into a perfect evening drink.
The food menu is equally interesting with a great variety of small appetizers to entrees that are serious appetite-quenchers. The bourbon, bacon, caramel popcorn and the curried cashews, Moroccan spiced peanuts and pecans are a great place to start the mulling of the menu. Both offer complex flavors that pair nicely with a cocktail. On a cold afternoon the Jack Daniels black bean buffalo chili was a source of warmth and big flavor; it is meaty, spicy and is topped with fontina and a cilantro lime crème fraiche. On another visit a bright, classic chopped salad with prosciutto, brined chicken breast, red onion and Kalamata olives was topped with an extra-creamy blue cheese dressing.
The sandwiches and entrees will not leave you disappointed either. The Cuban with braised pork belly, house-smoked tasso ham, was served with bubbling gruyere and a spicy-sweet mango mostarda on a ciabatta bun. The sandwich was more complex than your typical Cuban while remaining true to its roots.
Sophisticated entrees like seared scallops, steak au poivre, and a blackened ahi served with chevre chile relleno and a smoked tomato cream cemented our party’s feeling that Whiskey Street is aiming much higher than Bourbon House, or really, anything else on Main Street.
Whiskey Street is a delightful space for after-work drinks and appetizers but a bit of warning that the room fills up quickly and it doesn’t take long before its standing room only. At this point, the service can slow considerably as waiters are playing ping pong with the patrons. My advice is to arrive early to ensure you’ll get a table; you’ll want to make an evening of it anyway, as you work through those 140 whiskeys.
325 South Main