Trestle Tavern | Czech Yo’ Self
At cityhomeCOLLECTIVE, we revel in the finer things: we love spaces designed with intention, we love long sits with close friends, and we love us a good burger. It’s because of our affinity for fine design and killer cuisine that we’ve grown so fond of a few of SLC’s eateries, and it’s precisely why we pounced at the opportunity to take a post-work field trip to 15th & 15th’s newest addition, Trestle Tavern. Nestled into the quiet streets of this fantastic neighborhood, in the space formerly belonging to Fresco, lies the new, delicious, Trestle Tavern. With this new enterprise, owners Scott Evans (our COLLECTIVE pal, and the man behind Finca, Hub & Spoke, Pago, and East Liberty Tap House) and Director of Operations, Jameel Gaskins, aimed to bring both familiar flavors and new tastes to the established SLC ‘hood. We think they’ve wholeheartedly succeeded. Upon passing through Trestle’s gate, you’re met by a quaint courtyard with choice summer seating (partially covered, for just the right amount of shade, and a dreamy wall of ivy). From a cozy patio you move to an even cozier interior–Suzette Eaton was hired to design a pub-inspired space with a fresh and modern tone. The result is a casual, European elegance. Purposefully-placed books and cutting boards adorn the walls without cluttering, and the two-tone walls allow for a pop of contrast in the minimal and intimate space. A gorgeous wood communal table anchors the space, and a modern sputnik chandelier hangs above. Ultimately, Trestle hosts a beautiful patio and a beyondcozy interior. You can’t go wrong eating here any time of the year.
The palate here consists of a variety of dishes and drinks inspired by the Czech region of Bohemia. This includes the most delicious pretzels and dipping sauce you’ve ever had (if you made it to our 4th Annual Brew + ‘Q, you know exactly what we’re talking about), Pierogies (try the Beef & Potato), Grilled Sausage with smoked sauerkraut, and–yes–a Trestle Burger. We were also introduced to the Cabbage Rolls (try both), Goulash (veggie and beef are delish), a sensational Summer Borscht, and Chicken Paprikash. True, these items are unusual fare for Salt Lake, but after sampling the Trestle menu, you’ll be jonesing for a Pork Schnitzel Sandwich in no time. And, with a fantastic selection of ciders, beers, and wines, the beverage list is quite complementary, as well. They’ve essentially introduced us to the best dishes we never knew we needed (we’ll be back soon…keep a few pretzels warm for us). We had a little chat with Scott about the biz and the buzz. Czech, please…
Pago Restaurant Group has opened an array of restaurants, each with its own unique vibe and menu, which we love. Trestle Tavern, in particular, has a Bohemian and Easter European menu. What inspired this rarely-found fare in SLC? We focused on Bohemian food first and foremost, because it’s delicious and comforting, but a bit hard to find – and we love bringing unique food and beverage concepts to SLC. I became interested in the cuisine as I began to explore my personal heritage. My grandfather was from the Czech Republic and as I spent years globe-trotting & soul searching, I traveled through the Czech Republic and many of the foods spoke to me. Specifically, I fell in love with Pierogies and wanted to offer those to SLC diners. At the same time, some of the Eastern European food can be heavy and rich, so we also wanted to provide a fresh, chef-driven take on the classic dishes. We also wanted to step up the quality of ingredients to match our philosophy of using local and seasonal ingredients. When the space became available, I instantly thought the neighborhood needed a casual, comfort-food focused restaurant. And in Trestle Tavern, I thought I could provide that and offer something truly unique to SLC and the 15th & 15th neighborhood. Now that we’ve been open a few months, we’ve been so incredibly pleased to have many of our guests walk down from the area and join us once or twice a week. It is definitely becoming a neighborhood gathering spot like we had hoped.
“Tavern” is clearly in the name, but you’ve placed as much focus on the food as you have on the beverage menu. Can you speak a little more to the importance you felt in pairing the curated selection of beers and ciders with equally amazing plates? The neighborhood pub or tavern is a concept that is so central in Europe. Historically, the word “tavern” referenced a place where people gather to enjoy both food & drinks and the term “bar” was linked to merely drinking establishment. In the US, taverns and pubs have become so removed from the food originally served in them, we wanted to link them back together. It is not uncommon to find Thai, Mexican, Italian and American cuisine all on the same menu in many US pubs and taverns these days. I saw Trestle Tavern as an opportunity to re-unite beer and cider with the food that historically complemented it. A common wine/beer pairing mantra sums it up well – “if it grows together, it goes together.” At Trestle Tavern, we built the beverage and food menu together, offering some of our favorite craft beers and ciders and with a Bohemian-inspired menu that pairs well the beverage list. The wine list complements that theme as well, offering a focused selection of Austrian, Alsatian, Hungarian, Slovenian and German wines. I am working with a couple new importers to try and source more wines from those regions as well.
We COLLECTIVELY adore a good patio (and Trestle has that), but the interior is cozy, too…designed with simple elegance. Tell us about your inspiration and the changes made, both inside and out, since taking over the former Fresco space: The atmosphere and charm of Fresco is what drew us to the space initially and we didn’t want to make any major changes to the building and lose that. So with the help of our friend and talented designer, Suzette Eaton, we wanted to make the dining room reflect and complement the cuisine we were serving. British and Eastern European pubs were an inspiration, yet we wanted to add a Scandinavian touch to modernize the feel. Her vision was to offer a warmer, more casual interior through the use of color, lighting, and furniture. Suzette selected a warm grey tone for the paint on the walls, but suggested we use the paint as wainscoting for an updated feel. We used a dark epoxy to cover the tile floors and changed out all the light fixtures in the dining rooms. The large custom trestle wood table, from Blackridge Metal, is the centerpiece of the main dining room and reflects the vision (and name) of the space with the natural and rustic trestle wood, balanced by the sleek steel frame and runner. The mid-mod Sputnik chandelier further plays off the theme of a modern/rustic tavern. Other changes included refinishing the fireplace, adding book shelves with vintage books and re-facing the host stand with white tile and cold rolled steel. At the same time, we wanted to make both of the small dining rooms more enticing. The previous layout and seating arrangement felt a little too tight for our concept and I wanted the second room to feel desirable as the main room. We did that through adding banquette seating (actually vintage church pews) in both dining rooms and reducing the seating capacity a little bit as well.
Why does having a professional designer matter when it comes to opening a restaurant, in your opinion? A professional designer can offer a lot to a restaurateur. For us, we always have a strong vision for our spaces, from the layout/flow and general design aesthetic of each outlet. Working with a talented designer helps to take our vision to the next level. A good designer is just as obsessed about the design as we are about food and wine, and the end result is richer and more complete as a result. I can’t tell you how many times I said, “wow, I would have never thought of that.”
We love that you’ve transformed the SLC food scene. It’s incredible. That said, what do you see coming down the line? From ownership, to staff, to food and drink. what’s the Scott Evans Utopian Foodie Scene dream? Thanks! Each of our restaurants represents our thoughtful and deliberate approach to make a SLC a more culinary diverse, interesting and rich place to live and dine. What I love about other food destination cities is the sheer diversity of great independent restaurants across all price points and cuisines. Our immediate plan is really to continue to develop the teams at each outlet and focus on continuous improvement. We are proud of what we do, but we always want to do better. We are doubling down on training, recruiting and building the best teams. Our staff is our biggest asset and we will continue to invest in them. With the opening of Trestle Tavern, it has also been very rewarding to create an opportunity to offer partnership to our very talented Director of Operations, Jameel Gaskins. That feels pretty good too. As far as the future, we don’t plan to open any other restaurants this year or next, yet we haven’t committed to not opening them either…We take one opportunity at time, consider our team, the existing restaurants and how we feel they are performing and go from there. Personally, I could develop another 5 restaurants at any given time, but operationally we wait for the stars to align before doing so. SLC is getting a bit crowded in the “New American” category right now so we won’t open anything along those lines. As we grow, we also want to find more opportunities to find operating partners both in the kitchen and the dining room.
Trestle Tavern | 11am – 5pm, M-F | 5pm – 10pm, daily (weekend brunch coming soon!) | 1513 S. 1500 E.