Restaurants + Cocktails

Pallet Bistro | Wood Works

3/15/2017 | Amy Tibbals
Kerri Fukui

This is one of those stories that is, at this point, so very overdue that we nearly feel sheepish in our tardiness. But hey…this website is a labor of love, and since our city/state have SO much that we want to gush about (in the way of locals, homes, design, new businesses, and general creative happenings), you can imagine that it’s tough for us to keep up. A few of our obvious loves have been put on hold, yes…but we certainly have every intention of shouting them out. Enter Pallet. You’ve probably been here by now, but for those who haven’t, it’s time you join the party. With its impeccably-designed, moody interior, (we’re hoping) you guessed that cityhomeCOLLECTIVE had something to do with the look of it. And we most certainly did. Opened officially in 2012, original owners Rocky Derrick and Drew Eastman brought Cody on board for two services that he dishes up like no other: that is, to help them find the perfect restaurant space downtown, then to design it to utter perfection. And, obviously, since we believe those two services were always meant to marry, Cody set out to find just the space that would enable a design daydream to become reality. Ultimately, a simple shift from “commercial” to “industrial” saw the pitch-perfect place on 400 West. At the time, it wasn’t necessarily the ideal spot for a restaurant, but as with any burgeoning neighborhood with potential, they were able to look ahead, and decided anyway to grab the stellar location while they could. That forward-thinking decision has paid off, too–with a few other fantastic local joints now in the area, it’s kind of the block to be for a good meal.

"our staff keeps the place going, and they deserve to be proud of their hard work"

In November of 2015, former manager Esther Imotan and Executive Chef Buzz Willey became the official owners of Pallet, and within a short time, the spot received its first Best Restaurant nod from the Salt Lake Magazine Dining Awards. Says Esther, “We hope it becomes one of many more recognitions…our staff keeps the place going, and they deserve to be proud of their hard work.” On any given day of the week, Pallet (the misspell is intentional…it’s a taste-related hat tip to the building’s origins as a loading dock) is bustling, too, thanks to consistent menu updates that keep the line-up solid. Between Buzz, Sous Chef Jerry Pacheco, and Pastry Chef Courtney McDowell, there’s not a mediocre munch on the menu. During our visit, we were more than sated, thanks in part to truffle yukons, Caputo’s burrata (drizzled and garnished to perfection), and a dessert that we don’t want to describe, primarily because our best attempt at words would never suffice.

we’ll be happy to try everything on Pallet’s menu, whether its plated or served on ice.

 Sure, yes…the menu, interior design, and day-to-day operations are firing on all cylinders at Pallet these days (our “music and lighting” boxes are always happily checked when we go in). But the cocktail and wine offering here is its own perfect reason for a visit. Bijan Ghiai wields a shaker with a deft hand, and if memory serves correctly, we drank something heavenly from an eggplant (just kidding…we weren’t that drunk. It was a pepper.) His cocktails, in short, have us champing at the bit for Salt Lake Magazine’s Farm to Cocktail contest–until then, we’ll be happy to try everything on Pallet’s menu, whether its plated or served on ice. “Buzz and I, and all of our staff, have dedicated so much time and energy in Pallet,” says Esther. “We felt that [owning it] was the best way to achieve maximum potential here, and we were more than confident, given our experience with one another and our incredible team. Having been in [our staff's] positions and understanding how integral everyone’s role is, we wanted to be able to show our appreciation for how hard they work. And now we’re able to do so.”

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