This past weekend, friends, family and colleagues of the late food writer/editor Mary Brown Malouf gathered at The Gateway for a remembrance of Mary. Those who knew her know that she loved all things pink, so “Pink is NOT optional” was the dress code for the evening, with food and drink generously provided by the folks at Water Witch.
The memorial at The Gateway gave my wife and I a reason to also visit HallPass for dinner; I hadn’t been there since it opened, just barely pre-pandemic, in January of 2020. HallPass is said to be Utah’s first food hall. Well, if you’re thinking of another ho-hum mall-style food court – you know: Sbarro, Chick-fil-A, Panda Express and Hot Dog on a Stick – think again. Not your daddy’s food court, HallPass is like nothing I’ve quite seen before. For starters, it includes a fully-stocked bar, as well as an array of unique fast-casual food concepts, ranging from bao buns to lobster rolls.
Anchored by the Las Vegas-based SkinnyFATS eatery, HallPass features communal dining in a 11,000-plus square foot space that features beautiful design elements including wall murals created by a local artist Donovan Fitzgerald, and seating for 300, as well as a 3,500 square foot outdoor patio.
The dining options currently include Colossal Lobster (specializing in lobster rolls and seafood), Blaze of Thunder (Nashville hot chicken), Graffiti Bao (steamed bao buns, noodles, rice bowls, dumplings), SkinnyFATS (more about that below), and a sweets counter with cotton candy, ice cream and such. For adult beverages – wine, cocktails and an extensive local craft beer selection – there is the Beer Zombies Draft Room.
I am a lover of East Coast-style lobster rolls and so my first stop at HallPass was at Colossal Lobster, with a menu of raw oysters on the half-shell, shrimp cocktails & ceviche, clam chowder, ahi poke nachos, lobster rolls and a lobster Reuben.
Colossal Lobster offers both Connecticut and Maine-style lobster rolls. The essential difference is that a Connecticut roll is basically a cold lobster salad with mayo on a toasted bun, whereas the Maine lobster roll is a bit purer: warm lobster with melted butter on a roll. I chose the Maine lobster roll ($17) and was pretty impressed. I’ve had excellent lobster rolls here in Utah at RIME Raw Bar in Deer Valley and at Freshie’s, but this one was very respectable and fairly priced, with a generous amount of luscious lobster on a properly toasted hot dog-type bun. The fries ($3) alongside were also crispy and delicious.
If you prefer your seafood deep-fried, Codspeed is the HallPass vendor for you. There you’ll find beer-batter fish fingers and fish sandwiches, seashore fries, garlic-parmesan tots, cold soft drinks and more.
Since my wife is gluten free, she headed over to SkinnyFATS, where there are plenty of g-f options. SkinnyFATS, which is the centerpiece of HallPass, sports a fun and whimsical menu. Or I should say, menus, plural. SkinnyFATS offers diners a “Live Healthy, Live Happy” selection of “Healthy” dining options all under 600 calories – things like the Buffalo-style CauliFIRE and T.A.T.S. sandwich (turkey, bacon, avocado, tomato, spinach), which is balanced by more decadent dishes (the “Happy” side of the menu) of classic burgers, fried pickle chips, Buffalo chicken tenders, and so on. Personally, I think the SkinnyFATS Classic Burger ($12.95, which includes a choice of side) is the way to go. It’s a pretty bodacious half-pound beef burger on a brioche bun.
My wife opted for a rice bowl called Naked Chix ($9.95), which is mango-basil chicken with peppers, onions and pineapple on jasmine rice with a creamy cilantro sauce drizzled on top. It was a generous serving for 10 bucks.
I admit that I tend to avoid food courts unless I’m stuck having to eat in one at an airport or in starvation mode at a mall. But HallPass made me rethink the food court concept. The atmosphere – with soft lighting, piped-in music, and gorgeous wooden tables and chairs made of golden acacia from Thailand – is certainly non-food court like and the food, with a glass of wine or cold brew from Beer Zombies alongside, is above par. It is indeed a dandy addition to The Gateway.
Photos by Ted Scheffler & HallPass
Culinary quote of the week:
“My idea of heaven is a great big baked potato and someone to share it with.” — Oprah Winfrey
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THIS CONTENT IS FROM UTAH BITES NEWSLETTER.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.