All too soon, winter will wane, and we'll be forced to ski and ride in slush. Before that happens, you should get your butts out onto the slopes while conditions are still great. While you're at it, be sure to check out some of the new eating spots and menus that a few of our local ski and snowboard areas have to offer. I've spent a good portion of the past month skiing from on-mountain eatery to eatery. Hey, someone has to do it. Here are some hot spots for great slopeside meals and libations.
When Deer Valley Resort purchased and took over operations of Solitude Mountain Resort (skisolitude.com) last year, they probably weren't anticipating having to remodel the iconic mid-mountain Roundhouse restaurant there. But, accidents happen: Last April, the 60-year-old structure burned to the ground while, due to a lack of access and water, firefighters had to simply sit and watch the blaze. The good news is that the new Roundhouse is a much more modern eatery with improved seating capacity and, maybe ironically, a huge round fire pit in the center of the upstairs dining room.
Menu options here are divvied up into two parts: the Wasatch menu items and the Himalayan. All-American (and Canadian) foods like chicken pot pie, burgers, grilled chicken, fries and chicken poutine occupy the Wasatch side, while Eastern flavors beckon on the other, including vegetarian-friendly dishes like dal bhat (split lentil and vegetable stew), saag paneer (sautéed spinach with Indian cheese) and vegetable curry. Meat lovers will enjoy the richly flavored meat entrée, which includes both Himalayan-style butter chicken and tender, braised lamb curry, plus jasmine rice.
For a truly unique and memorable dining experience, book a guided evening dinner at The Yurt at Solitude—a Mongolian-style yurt located about a half-mile from Solitude Village that you'll reach by snowshoe under the moonlit sky. The talented Solitude chefs prepare a four-course fine-dining meal in the warm and cozy yurt that you'd think might only be achievable in an upscale urban restaurant setting.
Snowbird's (snowbird.com) high-flying, Summit restaurant—located 11,000 feet above sea level—offers panoramic 360-degree views along with lip-smacking food that would taste great at any elevation. With a patio overlooking Mineral Basin, the Summit can accommodate up to 400 hungry patrons for lunch, with excellent panini sandwiches like the cheddar, havarti and provolone on sourdough bread, along with salads, soups, grass-fed beef chili, rotisserie-cooked meats and chicken and individual-size artisan pizzas, including gluten-free options.
If I were forced to choose a favorite on-mountain dining destination at a Utah resort, I think it would be Lookout Cabin at Park City (parkcitymountain.com). The cozy ambiance, top-notch service and full bar just add to the appeal of Chef Chris Durfee's (formerly of Metropolitan restaurant) cuisine. The eclectic menu ranges from delicious five-spice chicken buns with maitake mushrooms, ginger-plum wine broth and grilled bok choy, to shrimp scampi spaetzle, Rocky Mountain cheese fondue and pan-seared, apple-braised pork belly. And those are just some of the starters. The 8-ounce Kobe burger with Heber Valley cheddar and housemade bacon on a toasted bun is one of the best burgers I've tasted, and comes with perfect, double-cooked french fries to boot. For veggie lovers, I recommend the roasted winter vegetable- and quinoa-stuffed bell pepper with roasted garlic, tomato purée, Utah goat cheese and arugula pesto. In addition to the fully stocked bar, Lookout Cabin's wine selection is also loaded, with more than 20 wines available by the glass and even more by the bottle.
Over at Park City's chic, cafeteria-style Cloud Dine, you'll find one of the best Niçoise salads in the Intermountain West, as well as my favorite lunchtime fix: the Kobe beef hot dog in a housemade pretzel bun. Salmon pot pie and flat-bread pizzas also beckon, as do Chef Greg Hansen's addictive housemade doughnuts. Try to avoid peak lunchtime hours, however, as Cloud Dine gets full fast. Also, new to Canyons Village at Park City Resort this season is Bistro Kosher Deli, located in the Silverado Lodge. It features antibiotic- and hormone-free meats and a dairy-free kitchen, along with 100 percent organic produce. The deli serves items such as hot pastrami and turkey Reuben sandwiches, and mains like spaghetti and meatballs, chicken schnitzel and citrus salmon.
Finally, just steps from Park City's Orange Bubble Express chairlift is Red Tail Grill, where the quality of the cuisine somewhat belies the restaurant's funky, friendly feel. It's the type of place where you can enjoy a bottle of Sonoma Cutrer along with your mushroom burger or fish and chips, while catching some sun on the outdoor deck. Huevos rancheros and chicken fried steak are popular breakfast items, while our crew devoured the smoked Idaho trout flatbread and the crab fritters with avocado mousse at lunchtime.
Ski resort dining options are getting more and more diverse, as evidenced by Deer Valley Resort (deervalley.com). In Silver Lake Lodge, hungry guests can enjoy iconic Vietnamese noodle soup at Bald Mountain Pho. The base is your choice between slow-cooked, rich beef broth or a vegetarian ginger-mushroom broth. Doctor it up with thinly sliced Wagyu beef, tofu, shiitake mushrooms, bean sprouts, lime wedges, sliced chiles, fresh Thai basil and mint, plus sauces like housemade Sriracha, hoisin and hot red chile oil. Or, for south-of-the-border flavors at Silver Lake, drop by the Taquería, where taco options include mole beef short rib, pork carnitas or cilantro-lime shrimp. All are served on corn tortillas with shredded cabbage, and alongside there's fresh baby kale salad, red quinoa, corn and black beans. Salsa bar toppings include grilled pineapple salsa, pickled red onions, pico de gallo, salsa verde, red chile sauce, fresh cilantro and lime wedges.