I have this theory when shopping. Try the item on, put it down, walk away. If you are still thinking about it in 48 hours then clearly you should buy it. If you have forgotten about it then the decision has been made for you.

It has been five months since I visited Handle in Park City in Utah’s leading ski town and I haven’t stopped thinking about it. Clearly I am meant to return.

I first discovered this hipster food den thanks to Google and a “best restaurant” “Park City” search two weeks before I was due in town. What I didn’t expect was to find it in what can only be described as a mini shopping mall on the edge of downtown just off Main Street.

Fluorescent lights and automatic sliding doors have never boded well for my easily seduced eyes that go bat crazy at the sight of exposed wood, historic brick, copper and pressed tin. As much as I laugh at the bearded brigade I am a sucker for everything those same beards and purple haired laydees produce.

But once you get past that you enter a shrine to contemporary restaurant design with exposed industrial ceilings and low hanging lights with an open kitchen so you can see where your food comes from. Though we know already that Executive Chef and co-owner Briar Handly only sources local and uses humanely raised animals with a focus on a minimal environmental impact. It’s what has got Handle named as Utah’s best ‘farm to table’ restaurant in Travel & Leisure magazine.

Handly was the name behind the former Talisker on Main Street, where he used to keep a roof top herb and vegetable garden. He joined forces with his wife and successful caterer, Meagan Nash, and business partner Melissa Gray to open Handle.

Our server was all tattoos and piercings and the obligatory beard. He specialised in the lost art of calligraphy and waited tables to support his habit. Quite frankly, we loved him. What table of women wouldn’t love a man who confesses to loving the art of writing, all those imagined love letters and wax seals. Sigh.

Handle is all about sharing the love, which is why it’s best to order a number of small plates lest one diner gets food envy. The menu is divided between cold, hot, heart and sweet with a variety of daily specials as divulged by said waiter.

Food offerings here are seasonal so what’s on the menu now may not be what was on the menu then. Our meals on the night were a fusion of Japanese influence and robust American flavours. Think of Nobu in a hessian apron mixing it up with David Chang and a bbq.

Our table’s favourite dish was the berry gelee, chestnuts and crostone and the mushrooms with hash brown and gorgonzola cream. Oh, but then there’s the sunchoke chawanmushi, don’t ask what it is just order it.

Vegetable sides are meals unto themselves with cauliflower in hot wing buffalo fashion with blue cheese, brussel sprouts with sherry butter, bacon and fennel. Lamb comes with goat yoghurt, ribs with grits and so on and the presentation is always sublime, or it was the night we were there. The only downside was the pork roulade which was excessively fatty and too aromatic for our palates.

It would be rude not to try the New York Times favourite, Caramel Pudding, served up in a jar (of course) with whipped marscapone and chex mix cake crumble.

The beauty of Handle is that it doesn’t buy into it’s own press release. The team look too cool for school but their smiles give away that they are far from it. This is ski town goodness done really well and it is no surprise that the team have since opened HSL, a sister restaurant in the thriving food scene of Salt Lake City’s urban resurgence.



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