A couple of months ago I reviewed The Grand America’s wonderful new restaurant, Laurel Brasserie & Bar. It is a killer addition to the downtown SLC dining scene and maybe most surprising: it’s affordable. Well, even more affordable are the Happy Hour specials at Laurel’s bar, which I was barely able to touch on in my previous review since I had so much else to say about the restaurant.
For Laurel bar patrons – 21 and over – there are two daily happy hours totaling four hours of happiness: 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight. During those times, bar menu items are discounted – most by about half. A Margherita pizza that goes normally for $16, for example, is $8 during happy hour. For food as excellent as Laurel’s, that’s a remarkable bang for the buck. The bar at Laurel is beautiful, with seating that wraps around it 360 degrees. In warm weather, guests can enjoy patio garden seating just outside the bar.
As you peruse the bar menu at Laurel, I recommend sipping one of the craft cocktails assembled by The Grand America’s talented mixologists. The Aviation cocktail would be a good place to start: a tangy and sweet concoction of Dented Brick Distillery craft gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de violette and lemon juice. In addition to cocktails, Laurel has an extensive selection of wines by the glass or bottle, beers in bottles, cans and on draft, alcohol free drinks, seltzers, and more.
One of my favorite Italian foods is arancini, deep fried arborio rice balls usually filled with standard stuffings such as mozzarella, ham, peas sometimes, and other good things. At Laurel, the arborio arancini ($6) are made with pumpkin and fresh mozzarella, topped with shredded parmesan and served with spicy aioli.
When Laurel was built the powers that be spent a lot of coin to install a wood-fired pizza oven. It was a very smart move since the Neapolitan-style pizzas are some of the best in town. During happy hour, the Margherita pizza is $8 and the Diavola – my favorite – is also $8. It’s a perfect crust topped with mozzarella, parmesan, soppressata picante, and drizzled with chili oil. There is also a vegetarian Wild Mushroom & Blue Cheese pizza ($9) with sauteed forest mushrooms and gorgonzola dolce.
One of the most talented chefs working in Utah is Fernando Soberanis, Executive Chef of The Grand America. He and his team prepare a dizzying number of dishes ranging from plant-based menu items in the Lobby Lounge to breakfast, lunch, dinner, bar snacks, and an extravagant brunch on Sundays. One of my favorite bar bites during happy hour at Laurel is Grilled Beef Tenderloin Skewers ($7) with button mushrooms and served with a fresh herb dipping sauce on the side.
For a heartier bar menu option, try the Rigatoni Bolognese ($10) which is perfect al dente rigatoni pasta tossed in a meaty ragu of pork, veal and beef with smoked parmesan. Or, give the Meatballs ($7) a go, homemade meatballs bathed in tomato sauce with fresh ricotta and grilled bread.
More typical bar snacks include Pigs in a Blanket with spicy mustard mayonnaise ($5), Chicken Wings with gorgonzola mousse, carrots and celery ($7), and a bodacious Bacon Cheeseburger ($10) with Hyrum Ranch beef, American cheese, bacon, and hand-cut fries.
In the soup and salad category, the Laurel happy hour menu includes French Onion Soup ($7) with house-made croutons and gruyère cheese, a Mixed Green & Herb Salad ($6) with watermelon radish, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and citrus vinaigrette, and a Baby Gem Wedge Salad ($6) with Point Reyes blue cheese, bacon, crispy shallots, and mustard dressing. But my favorite happy hour dish is P.E.I. Mussels ($9) in a white wine, leek and fennel sauce with grilled bread and tarragon aioli.
The Grand America may be SLC’s most grand hotel for out-of-town guests. But I think that the happy hours at Laurel and the low-cost eats there are going to be attracting locals in droves to Laurel. I’ll be one of them.
Culinary quote of the week: “Why limit happy to an hour?” – W.C. Fields
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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.
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