Understatement is not Park City’s strong suit. A deep-pocketed tourist market calls for big decor, lots of hype and high prices. Lespri has none of these. It’s one of Park City’s few quiet treasures.
The foyer separates the sushi bar from the dining room, which is lined with high-backed black banquettes surrounding a glass wine-cellar tower. When I sat down on the banquette, my chin was about six inches above the table. Uncomfortable seating is nothing new in restaurants—a restaurateur friend in Dallas told me once he was always looking for the perfect 45-minute chair, one in which you were perfectly comfortable for 45 minutes and then couldn’t wait to get out of. What was unusual at Lespri is the server took one look at me and asked if I’d like a cushion to sit on. Evidently I wasn’t the first short person to eat at Lespri and being aware of the problem and fully prepared to fix it was an impressive customer-service moment.
The menu, like the place, is divided into a sushi section and a grill section. Appetizers are pretty standard-steakhouse sounding—crab cakes, shellfish-stuffed mushrooms, carpaccio. Or, you can split an order of sushi instead. We ordered the Emperor roll on the server’s recommendation—purists beware. Lump crab, avocado and sprouts with spicy tuna came with a jalapeño reduction so mild we added wasabi. This is fusion sushi—one of the menu’s “classic” rolls is a Philly roll with smoked salmon and the list of specialty rolls includes one made with beef tartare and one based on a baked avocado. Potato chips drizzled with champagne vinaigrette came with our pre-dinner drinks—Roederer Estate, which elided well into the sushi roll course.Then we split a New York strip, ordered rare and, surprisingly, cooked to that order. So often “rare” in Utah means pink in the middle. Lespri serves its steaks on hot plates with sizzling parsley-butter. Side salads (arugula and pine nuts and a wimpy Caesar) were both doused with an overly acidic dressing—after tasting, we saved them to eat with the beef. We left Park City with a rare sense of post-prandial ease—we didn’t feel over-charged or exploited. In these days of razzle-dazzle and overhyped dining, that was a thrill.
Half sushi bar, half steakhouse, Lespri’s menu features USDA Prime beef—a steakhouse is by definition a conservative place, more about execution and quality ingredients than invention. But why not step outside the beef box? Besides the beef filet, the strip, the ribeye and the wagyu bavette, an elk loin is on Lespri’s menu—not gamy but hefty, with a berry and orange gastrique.
1765 Sidewinder Drive, Park City, 435-649-5900.
See more inside the 2017 May/June Issue.