Everyone likes the idea of being a part of an exclusive club, and everyone like secret underground treasures. If you don’t then go back and watch The Goonies or Fight Club again, and then come back and read this review. This is why I’m taking a cautious approach with this review. Yes, I took pictures of my food and the inside of this place, but I hesitate to share them.
“The first rule of Fight Club, is you don’t talk about Fight Club.”
Being a foodie, I first heard about this place from a gal I work with. She actually has never gone here either, but she “heard from a friend” of a restaurant in the underbelly of Bodega tavern that isn’t really advertised, and likes it that way. A kind of word of mouth place that provides that unique private, intimate experience. I started my investigation by visiting Bodega’s website here. If you visit the site, it is a one page site that advertises on the bottom “Tavern – Groceries – Empanadas” on the bottom. You can’t click any links however. I was about to give up when I noticed some flashing dots in the bottom right hand corner of the page.
“How far down the rabbit hole do you want to go?”
Clicking on the dots took me to another page, that was almost as vague as the first one. Just a picture of a hand drawn diver falling into a sofa, with a phone number for reservations. I was definitely intrigued enough. My 13th anniversary was coming up, and wanted to take my wife out somewhere nice that I’ve never been to before. I called the number and got an answering machine, instructing me to leave my name, number in my party, and what time I wanted to go. I did just that, an about an hour later, I got a call back from someone who said that the time I left looked good and they should be able to accommodate me. I felt pretty excited like I had somehow got accepted into the circle of trust.
Finally the day came, and we parked up at City Creek and took the trax down to the Gallivan Center stop. Bodega is just kitty corner from he trax station. Walking up to Bodega we walked by some pretty suspicious characters sitting outside. It just added to the ambiance and lead up to the door. When you step into Bodega, there is a small (and I mean small) waiting area on the left hand side where apparently you can order some drinks. On the right is a tiny drug store that sells just a few random items. Definitely no signs of a restaurant anywhere. I was hoping I had found the right place.
The gentleman behind the counter asked me if he could help me, and I gingerly replied “Yeah, uhm…. uh….. I’m Hyrum I had reservations for 7 pm?” He turned around and opened a wooden drawer and pulled out a key and handed it to me. The key had my name written on it. He pointed to a door in the back, and told me the key would open the door. I just had to follow the back hall, go down the stairs and through a few more doors, and they would be waiting for me.
I have to admit, I was pretty excited. I kept thinking to myself “Don’t screw this up, or they will never invite you back, and you will be banned.” My wife held on to my hand a little tighter than normal as we unlocked the door. ”Hyrum, what is this place?” We were both just a little excited.
As we unlocked the door, you immediately are led to the right and down a staircase with a huge moose head on the wall. This will be the last picture I post in this review besides the pictures of my food. I don’t want to ruin the surprise or violate some Bodega rule, not to talk about Bodega. If you want to find this place for yourself, you know what to do.
Finally we made it to the second and final locked door and stepped into what is known as The Rest. A hostess came and asked for my key, and showed us to our table. Without giving too many details, I would describe The Rest as a brown derby type of place. There are animals busts hanging from the walls, and pictures of old rich people on the wall. In the back, there is an actual library with a few small tables in it, that I imagine are for cocktails and social gatherings. The Rest only has 5-6 tables. You can tell that they don’t really care about getting as many people in there as possible. The music, the lighting, the ambiance all were screaming intimate, and relaxed. You can say that we definitely enjoyed our time there.
For starters our waiter brought us out two manilla folders that contained the menu. The menu is basically just one sheet of paper. They have 4 choices for appetizers, another 4 choices for small plates or tapas, and another 6 choices or so for main entrees. Finally they have some blueberry beignets as your dessert option. It’s basically the complete opposite of Cheesecake Factory where you have pages upon pages of choices to look through. It was like The Rest is telling you “This is what we do really really good. Take it or leave it”
The picture above was taken with my wife’s iPhone 4 and has been enhanced a few times to get the lighting just right. I thought the corn bread was spectacular. The butter was light and had a sweet honey flavor to it. I tasted a little kick in the cornbread as well. It was a good starter
For our appetizer we went with the bacon cheddar french fries, because well to be perfectly honest, whenever you read the words “Bacon” and “Cheddar” together on a menu, you would be pretty stupid for not ordering. The fries were spectacular. I really wish I had a better picture of them.
For our entrees, I went with “The 36″ which was The Rest’s take on a reuben sandwich. It was called The 36, because that was the amount of time they brined the pastrami to get it ready. The meat wasn’t thinly sliced however, there were thick, juicy pieces of pastrami. It came with some kraut and pickles. Rarely in my life have I tasted something so amazing. My wife ordered the “Kraft Dinner” which consisted of cheddar, tuna, English peas, and watercress. I got a somewhat decent shot of it.
This isn’t your after school survival food we are talking about, or the subject of Barenaked Ladies “I wish I had a million dollars” song. This stuff was awesome.
Finally we closed up the meal with some blueberry beignets.
I just want you to know that the beignets were roughly 1000 times better than what they look like in the picture.
Food? Amazing. Ambiance? Best dining experience I’ve ever had. Salt Lake needs more fun places to go like this place. You should plan a special reason to get out to this place and make a night of it, but don’t tell them that Food Radar sent you, hahahaha.