The newest tenant at The Gateway is already making a huge impression on SLC visitors and locals alike; overnight it’s become one of the most bustling and vibrant spots in town. It’s called Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club and if you’re looking for food, fun and games, this is the place.
Flanker opened last month in the huge space previously occupied by Punch Bowl Social, and I love what they’ve done to the place. You can easily spend a half-hour just wandering from room to room and taking in all the sights and sounds at this new adult fun zone.
Conceived by Las Vegas-based Carver Road Hospitality, Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club is truly unique to Utah. It’s a restaurant and bar first and foremost. Or, I should probably say bars, since there’s more than one. But in addition to the restaurant and three bars, the 17,500-square-foot Flanker is an entertainment complex that features The Sporting Club for gameday viewing parties and nighttime socializing, private karaoke and sports simulator suites, and the speakeasy-style Parlor cocktail lounge complete with retro bowling lanes and throwback music. In addition, as the evening progresses, DJ’s spin tunes for guests, 21 and over, of course, turning the place into a high-energy nightly party.
The food menu at Flanker was developed by culinary director Jeannie Glass, whose vitae includes her contributions to Las Vegas’ dining scene as Executive Chef of Bavette’s Steakhouse and Bar at Park MGM, Estiatorio Milos at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, and the Bardot Brasserie, Five50 Pizza Bar, and Sage restaurants at ARIA; and Glass has also served as a Master Cook under “Chef of the Century” Joël Robuchon.
“It’s a delight to design a menu from the ground up with dishes that can be shared and enjoyed whether you are just stopping by for dinner with friends or settling in for a long evening of fun and games. I’m confident that our thoughtful and learned approach to this menu will make Flanker a must-taste experience among the city’s wonderfully diverse collection of restaurants,” said Glass. Needless to say, this isn’t your standard bar food. The Flanker Kitchen is currently open Wednesday through Saturday evenings and serves brunch on Sunday starting at 11 a.m.. At brunch, you’d be nuts not to try the decadent ricotta pancakes with blueberry compote, mixed fresh berries, vanilla chantilly, salted butter and maple syrup.
Appetizers at Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club run the gamut from Chips and Salsa with roasted tomato and zesty green salsas; Taverna Tots with melted feta cheese, Greek pico de gallo, dill and tzatziki; and House-Smoked Chicken Wings charred on your tabletop grill, to spicy tuna bites, lobster fritters, and more. The Spicy Tuna Bites ($16) were outstanding: finely minced tuna tartare with spicy mayo and fresh jalapeño slices on a crispy rice foundation, sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds.
Another impressive appetizer is the Truffled Beef Carpaccio ($17). It was paper-thin slices of lightly seared and chilled rare beef with black truffle morsels, ginger-soy marinade and topped with crispy fried onions and minced scallions. I was happily gobsmacked that Flanker Kitchen used actual black truffles in this dish, not the all too ubiquitous truffle oil.
There’s a bustling bar scene at Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club and if you’re looking for a quiet corner to converse in, I suggest heading over to The Parlor, an old school-type bar with leather banquettes tucked away in the rear of the sprawling Flanker space. Guests at The Parlor can shoot pool, bowl, and play classic games, or just hunker down and enjoy a craft cocktail.
Under the direction of internationally-renowned mixologist and spirits educator Francesco Lafranconi, Flanker’s beverage program includes carefully curated cocktails that are a mix of timeless classics and contemporary recipes. For specialty cocktails, fresh ingredients are used, along with hand-carved ice, freshly squeezed juices, and seasonal garnishes. The rich and creamy Bourbon Milk Punch 2.0., for example,kicks up a notch the classic New Orleans Brunch drink by incorporating Jim Beam Bourbon, Disaronno Amaretto, Half & Half, maple syrup, nutmeg, and a dash of chocolate bitters. Of course, there is also a large selection of beer and wine available at Flanker. One thing you probably won’t want to do, however, is BYOB wine; there’s a Vegas-worthy $35 corkage fee for wine brought from outside – easily the highest I’ve encountered in the Beehive State.
You’ve gotta love the whimsical Miss Piggy cocktail: Ketel One Botanical Grapefruit-Rose Vodka, Bacardi Dragon Fruit-flavored Rum, dragon fruit and fresh sweet ‘n sour. Remarkably exotic and refreshing, served in a fun pig-shaped vessel.
The Flanker Kitchen menu features a section of “Handhelds” which include a Hot Fried Chicken Sandwich ($16), Backyard Burger ($15), and Brisket Tacos with smoked BBQ brisket. The burger is made with a griddled 8-oz Black Angus Beef Patty, American cheese, sweet onion, dill pickles, and Comeback Sauce on a toasted brioche bun.
The staff at Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club is massive, and it has to be if the crowd there last Saturday night is any indication of the throngs frequenting this new funhouse. Thankfully, servers like Gwen are top-notch professionals – friendly and efficient – trained and supervised by Carver Road Hospitality’s Bryan Bass, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer.
In addition to virtual sports, bowling and such, Flanker has my favorite game: American Shuffleboard. The shuffleboard table is disguised as a bar, with stools and a glass covering on which patrons can rest their drinks and food. Sadly, I haven’t seen a shuffleboard in a bar since MacCool’s closed.
There’s a Salads & Bowls portion of the menu with items like a Little Gem Caesar ($14), Classic Iceberg Wedge ($15), and the Multigrain Bowl ($16) that my wife ordered. It was a generously sized bowl brimming with black rice, quinoa, green lentils, spinach, kimchi, sweet potato, broccoli, soft-boiled egg, and a drizzle of cashew butter – pretty much everything but the kitchen sink; a truly hearty and wholesome bowl.
Entrees from Flanker Kitchen include a vegetarian Roasted Cauliflower Steak ($18) with blistered shishito peppers and Romesco sauce; a Roasted Half Chicken with broccolini, herbed sweet potatoes, and mustard jus ($22); and a NY Strip ($39): 12-oz. Creekstone Farms boneless New York strip steak with herbed sweet potatoes and chimichurri. I settled on the Steak Frites ($32) entree which was a perfectly cooked, medium-rare 8-oz. Creekstone Farms hanger steak, sliced and served with French fries and Comeback sauce. While the fries were meh, the steak was perfectly cooked, tender and delicious. It’s a shame that Flanker doesn’t do twice-cooked, skin-on frites to partner with that sensational steak.
For dessert, we enjoyed Golden Fried Cherry Pie ($9), which is a tongue-searing take on a McDonald’s pie: seared, crispy cherry pie with cream cheese frosting. Ronald McDonald would’ve loved it.
With projects in the works in New York City and elsewhere, it’s quite a statement about how much the Salt Lake City dining and entertainment scene has evolved that Carver Road Hospitality chose our city as the destination for the first Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club. It’s a terrific addition to The Gateway – which also keeps getting better and better – and to Utah’s dining and drink industry in general. It’s an adult playground like no other.
Photos by Ted Scheffler & Courtesy of Jackelin Slack Photography
Culinary quote of the week:
“A converted cannibal is one who, on Friday, eats only fishermen.” – Emily Lotney
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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.