- Ted Scheffler
Where upscale dining is concerned, Deer Valley boasts an embarrassment of riches, with venues such as The Glitretind, Royal Street Cafe, Cena, Apex, Seafood Buffet, The Mariposa and others. This ski season, I’ve visited three of Deer Valley’s best dining destinations: one old, one new and one somewhere in-between.
Let’s start with the old. The Goldener Hirsch Inn and Restaurant (7570 Royal St., 800-252-3373, GoldenerHirschInn.com) was established mid-mountain at Deer Valley’s Silver Lake Village in 1990, long before all the new condos, shops and offices that surround “The Hirsch” came along. It’s a high-end (but quaint) inn, with a mere 20 luxurious guest rooms, built as an homage to the original Goldener Hirsch (“golden stag”) Hotel in Salzburg, Austria. The service and accommodations are Old-World-style pampering, with modern conveniences like free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs.
Through the years, The Hirsch’s restaurant has had some very talented chefs at the helm, including James Dumas, Jean Louis Montecot, and Michael Showers. Still, the food there never totally bowled me over. There were hits, but also misses. Then, in 2013, Ryan Burnham—formerly of Pago and Wahso—was brought in as executive chef, along with longtime Summit and Wasatch County restaurateur Billy Williams as general manager. The transformation has been impressive.
Given the Goldener Hirsch’s Alpine-Austrian vibe and theme, there are certain dishes no chef can mess with, like the classic wiener schnitzel ($38) or the traditional cheese fondue ($42). What you can mess with are the accoutrements, such as serving the schnitzel with delicious herbed spaetzle, choucroute and brown butter. However, Burnham isn’t willing to stop there. Today’s menu is contemporary and innovative with dishes like the Label Rouge chicken, served with wild mushroom-leek bread pudding, baby turnips and bacon jam ($34). Or a Morgan Valley lamb shank with sunchoke risotto, wild greens and aged Sherry ($41).
Yes, the food is pricey. However, you should know that servings are very generous, and no one will scowl should you choose to share dishes. One such dish is a large-size roasted-beet salad with golden and burgundy beets, orange, fresh fennel, arugula, toasted Marcona almonds and housemade ricotta ($12). The housemade Morgan Valley lamb sausage ($17) was absolutely delicious, with housemade mustard gel, roasted radishes and heirloom carrots and carrot puree. Equally satisfying was a Maine diver scallop, seared perfectly and served on wilted Swiss chard with golden raisins and pine nuts ($19).
Burnham elevates common “meat and potatoes” by serving American Wagyu beef bavette with irresistible potato-bacon rosti, creamed spinach with fresh ricotta and his rich, silky steak sauce ($39). And, among many standout dishes, I loved the Utah Steelhead trout filet on a bed of black quinoa with roasted fennel, Chioggia beets and his decadent take on Green Goddess dressing ($36). Superb service, a top-notch wine list and flawless desserts round out the excellent Goldener Hirsch dining experience.
After a day of skiing Deer Valley Resort’s pristine corduroy-blue runs and secret powder stashes, the all-you-can-eat Fireside Dining at Empire Lodge (9200 Marsac Ave., 435-645-6632, DeerValley.com/Dining) is the perfect way to reboot. This ain’t no Chuck-A-Rama, however. Deer Valley’s buffets ($58/adults, $28/kids 11 and younger) are opulent, with four-star service and food to match. Wednesday through Saturday evenings, Deer Valley’s Empire Canyon Lodge morphs into a European-style Alpine lodge where the food is cooked and served from Empire’s five stone fireplaces. The first stop, for me, is always to dive into a molten hot plate of gooey Raclette, melted over the wood-stoked fire. House-cured charcuterie, cornichons, fresh-baked breads and steamed new potatoes are perfect accompaniments.
Next stop is usually the North Fireplace, where you’ll find hot, simmering stews like the rustic Swiss veal and wild mushroom stew, along with entrees such as grilled quail with pickled purple cabbage, beef short ribs, Utah trout dusted with almond flour and much more. The Ontario Fireplace offers tender and tasty fire-roasted leg of lamb, along with Dutch oven side specialties. The Lobby Fireplace tends to draw the biggest crowds—especially kids—with its tempting chocolate, white chocolate and caramel fondues, plus fresh fruit for dipping and a dizzying assortment of Deer Valley Bakery pastries, cakes, cookies and other treats. A very appealing wine and cocktail selection makes Fireside Dining a Deer Valley slam-dunk.
Located a short stroll from Empire Canyon Lodge at Montage Resort, the newest kid on the Deer Valley block is Burgers & Bourbon (9100 Marsac Ave., 435-604-1300, MontageDeerValley.com). You have four seconds to guess the specialties. That’s right: This new bar & lounge adjacent to Apex restaurant features a selection of more than 100 American bourbons and whiskeys—a showcase of the range of craft spirits in the United States—along with an array of from-scratch burgers. The latter run the gamut from a Timpanogos blue-cheese burger ($16) and the Naked (bun-less) burger with veggies and sprouts ($15) to a peppercorn-spiced Big Eye ahi tuna burger with garlic aioli ($21).
We very much enjoyed a Wild Turkey burger, made not with Wild Turkey bourbon, but with organic ground turkey and homemade herb tzatziki ($15). I’d like to be able to comment on the Lux burger, but it just seemed silly to me: a burger with foie gras, truffles, Bourbon-caramelized onions and arugula for $32.
My favorite was the classic burger ($15): It’s a juicy, flavor-packed blend of brisket, hangar and top round beef, topped with Gold Creek Farms aged cheddar. And it comes on a soft, buttery, perfect bun custom-made for Burgers & Bourbon by Pierre Country Bakery. It’s one bodacious burger.
Who needs the Swiss and French Alps when we’ve got ski resort fare like Deer Valley’s in our own backyard?