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Dining Guide: Autumn of Our Appetites

As seasons change, so do several menus.



The adage “everything old is new again” applies equally to food and fashion. But when it comes to fashion, that’s not always a good thing. Whose idea was it to revive those gigantic belt buckles, anyway?

However, with food, there’s usually a good reason to “reinvent” a recipe. Chefs love to put new spins on timeless dishes. It keeps things fresh and fun for them. And it usually makes diners happy. In the case of many of northern Utah’s new fall and winter menus, this is especially true.

So, despite the fact that, in some ways, I’m an insufferable traditionalist (not fond of deviations from the classic, full Romaine heart, raw egg-dressed, anchovy-laden Caesar salad on a chilled plate, for example), you can always tempt me with great ingredients that really “work.”

Case in point: Adam Kreisel’s fall menu at Globe Cafe by Moonlight made my heart beat fast with his long-braised rabbit leg over carrot risotto and pancetta-verjus (verjus is an intensely flavorful unfermented grape-juice reduction) emulsion with a poached Fuji apple. This quintessential autumn entrée plays rather gently with tradition. But overall, Kreisel’s menu has an edgy, intense character, devoid of any timidity—sort of like a good indie film. I also love his light, tempura-battered Okeechobee catfish with warm grapefruit-nuoc mam vinaigrette and wasabi-rich mashed potatoes. And then there’s Metropolitan’s Jonathan Perno and his brilliant rendition of roasted bream (a delicately flavored relative of the perch family) with garnet yam purée, marinated red beets and broccoli raab.

Back to the more traditional, Harley Charron’s elk tenderloin with mountain berry chutney and—this is my favorite part—a celery-root dauphinois (thinly sliced and layered, as in a potato gratin) sounds absolutely sublime. He’s also revived traditional coq au vin and beef bourguignon at Snowbird’s newly configured Lodge Bistro. Franck Peissel at L’Avenue is strictly traditional with his addition of boeuf à la provençal, a glorious beef stew for winter nights. At Snake Creek Grill in Heber, Barb Hill is playing “Mama Leone” with her rolled lasagna with roasted garlic, spinach and toasted pine nuts in hand-pressed tomato sauce with scrumptious, house-made meatballs. At Fresco, Todd Mark Miller will soon be dishing up porcini papardelle—wide, ribbon-like pasta—with rabbit sugo with winter greens, fava beans and rosemary. At Trio Café, he and managing chef Brant Christofferson are adding several new dishes, including a voluptuous-sounding baked penne, with mascarpone, asiago and pecorino cheese sauce, whipped egg whites and slow-roasted tomato, with or without spicy Italian sausage. Slow-roasted salmon will arrive atop eggplant confit and with a garnish of preserved lemon. Get in line.

So many great menus, so little space. Chefs are going further out, offering different types of seafood, such as bream, catfish and monkfish, and bringing back winter vegetables such as bitter greens, celery root, and savoy cabbage with pride, combining tradition with creativity and coming up with some great dishes. In addition to the original and traditional, here are some of the trendy takes on classics for the upcoming months:

Raviolis of the Season

If you love ravioli, from small bundles to one elegant, thin square of house-made pasta, here’s a little menu tour you won’t want to miss. It starts with the terrific “ravioli of the day” concept Greg Neville executes so well at Lugano. Look for pumpkin ravioli with brown sage butter and toasted hazelnuts, and roasted chicken and ricotta-filled ravioli with extra-virgin olive oil, basil, garlic and diced heirloom tomatoes, topped with fresh mozzarella. At Bambara, Scott Blackerby can hardly keep up with the demand for his perfectly balanced version of pumpkin ravioli with sage butter. At Baci, there’s Maine lobster ravioli in porcini mushroom and chive cream sauce. Globe’s menu also includes venison-stuffed “raviolone” with black mission figs, shaoxing wine, radish sprouts and shallots, as well as an entrée of ricotta agnolotti with sundried tomato beurre blanc, broccoli raab, fried sage and white truffle oil. (Angnolotti are simply crescent-shaped ravioli.) Trio Café’s new menu includes three-cheese ravioli in a buttery tomato sauce with fresh pesto, spinach and toasted pecorino cheese. Don McCradic at Westgate Grill (at the Canyons in Park City) will be dishing up pheasant ravioli with wilted greens, toasted hazelnuts and a spicy tomato sauce. Metropolitan’s delicate bitter greens ravioli with pearled vegetables in a pool of chicken broth is a light, elegant appetizer that puts ravioli in a whole new light. At 350 Main in Park City, Michael LeClerc will do lobster and asparagus ravioli with a slow-cooked tomato fondue, asparagus spears and tomato salad. At Snowbird’s Aerie, Todd Gardiner fills ravioli with herbed goat cheese and butternut squash and serves it in a roasted shallot sauce, pumpkin oil and Parmesan Reggiano.

Osso Buco Makes a Comeback

At Westgate, McCradic is also getting inventive with the classic slow-cooked Italian tradition, osso buco. Literally translated as “bone with a hole,” it is one of the most elemental, earthy, succulent preparations of a veal shank you can imagine. The main attraction for lovers of this dish is the marrow of the bone, meant to be scooped out with a tiny spoon. Often the marrow is topped with a version of gremolata, a garnish of chopped parsley, garlic and lemon zest and the meat is surrounded by risotto Milanese. Look for osso buco made with both venison and buffalo on Westgate’s winter menus. You’ll come across the classic veal version at Bambara and Lugano this winter, usually as specials. At Martine, it’s exotic. Tom Grant does venison osso buco Moroccan style, braised in Marsala and marjoram, served over Israeli couscous with a chutney of mission figs, golden raisins or red currants. He dry-marinates the meat first for 24 to 48 hours. Now and then he’ll do a classic version, too. At the New Yorker, Wil Piler’s special veal dish comes in the welcome form of a Wisconsin veal chop, with morels and brandy cream sauce.

Potpies Humble and Haute

Potpies and shepherd’s pies are ranging from basic to esoteric this fall. At Bambara, the potpie is filled with lobster. At Snowbird’s Forklift, the pork and green chile potpie with a cornmeal crust, and the standard chicken potpie with a buttermilk crust are both faves. At Stein Eriksen Lodge, everything on chef Zane Holmquist’s menu is tantalizing, as always. As for potpies, he has that too—in the form of a shepard’s pie of braised lamb, fingerling potatoes and root vegetables. Deer Valley’s new Royal Street Café (slated to open this winter) will offer a chicken, asparagus and shiitake mushroom potpie with braised baby onions, all topped with an asiago mashed potato crust.

Several new menus are up and running for fall and winter, while others are on the back burner, but should be unveiled any day now. If you’re hankering for a particular dish mentioned here, better call the restaurant first. Bon appetit.