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Utah ski resorts upping their gourmet dining offerings

Published January 15, 2014 11:24 am

Dining • Utah ski resorts shifting toward gourmet offerings.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Step away from the chili and chips. There's no reason to fill up on tired après-ski food when you can indulge your foodie cravings as easily on the slopes as off.

Ski resorts are upping their gourmet offerings, whether it's with wild turkey burgers and nachos made with wagyu beef, or bringing a twist on the chicken-and-waffle trend to the slopes.

Of course, you'll need to make time to carve a few more turns on the hill. These aren't New Year's resolution-friendly foods. One chef describes his dish made of fives types of cheeses as a "gut bomb."

Here are some new or notable dishes worth heading up the canyons for.

Burgers & Bourbon

The Montage Deer Valley hotel recently opened a slopeside restaurant called Burgers & Bourbon — there are more than 100 bourbons and whiskeys at the bar — featuring several local ingredients.

Made with the on-site butcher's blend of beef, the burgers can be topped with local Gold Creek Farm cheddar, chili, bacon and bourbon barbecue sauce ($15-$22), and served on potato buns made by Salt Lake City's Pierre Country Bakery.

Or branch out and try the organic ground turkey patty slathered with herb tzatziki ($16), or splurge with the $32 Lux, which is topped with foie gras, truffle and bourbon caramelized onions. Rosemary sea salt, sweet potato and truffle parmesan fries come with made-in-house fry sauce.

"Our guests at Montage are coming from all corners of the country and the world, so we like to present something that really speaks to Utah," says Montage spokesman Dan Howard. "One would expect that Utah would know how to make a burger. There's something about our cowboy culture."

And nothing completes a culinary trip to Utah like a shake. The restaurant's signature shakes, made with Heber Valley Dairy ice cream, include roasted s'mores and "ginormous chocolate cake." Each of the six flavors ($6) comes with an adult beverage spike for an additional $10.

Goldener Hirsch

The only inn and restaurant at Deer Valley owned by a local (Spence Eccles), the Goldener Hirsch offers two new indulgent items: a lamb stroganoff ($21) on the lunch menu and a Utah version of the Canadian dish poutine ($19) on the après-ski menu.

The stroganoff is made with Morgan Valley Lamb shanks and a wild mushroom confit, house-made crème fraîche and house-made pappardelle pasta. It's been so popular the kitchen staff struggles to make enough noodles.

Chef Ryan Burnham calls it a "sexed-up" mountain dish. "It's not this overflowing bowl of pasta. You're not going to need to take a nap. You can still get out and bounce around on the slopes."

The poutine also calls for braised Morgan Valley Lamb and a reduced liquid made from the lamb that serves as the gravy, which, along with Beehive cheese curds and Goldener Hirsch's four-cheese fondue blend, tops crispy frites.

"It's an over-the-top gut bomb that you would have with beer and a hot tub nearby," Burnham says. "When you're up here, you do kind of everything to the extreme. You push yourself out on the hill, you endure the elements. It's just kind of a reward at the end, or sometimes the middle."

Canyons Resort

Canyons executive chef Zeke Wray introduced three dishes this ski season. The chicken 'n' waffle tacos, available at The Farm restaurant on the après-ski menu ($16), features maple-glazed chicken wrapped in a house-made waffle taco shell and served with buttermilk custard and local greens.

The Umbrella Bar debuted the Scone Burger, inspired by Utah's love of fry sauce and fried bread. It's a beef patty served on a rosemary-infused scone and house-made fry sauce ($12).

And the Red Tail Grill created a massive burrito called the 4,000-acre (named for the amount of skiable area at the resort), described as a 2 ½-foot-long "natural halfpipe" stuffed with braised chicken, pork carnitas or beef ($32). Sharing with six to eight friends is recommended.

"The point of these dishes is to have fun," says chef Wray. "We have the ability to serve people having the time of their lives and the goal is to help the experience stand out."

Snowbird

It's not a seasonal dish, but it is delicious, says Emily Moench of The Aerie's new Lobster and Corn Fritters small-plate addition ($12). Lobster cooked in brown butter is dredged in a mixture of local Beehive Promontory cheese, cornmeal, buttermilk and eggs, and the fried result is topped with a mix of local Slide Ridge honey and truffle oil.

They're a play on the corn fritters executive chef Ken Ohlinger ate in his home state of Nebraska.

And the Pork Terrine ($14) combines kurobuta pork paté from Snake River Farms, bourbon gelée (a fancy Jell-O) and cornichons (small, tart pickles). "It's a big, rich, hearty comfort food. Perfect for after skiing all day," says Moench.

Snowbasin

Buried in the Needles Lodge's lunch menu is a real treat, says Jason Dyer, Snowbasin's spokesman. While the resort has long had a bratwurst, this year the sausage ($9.50), along with sauerkraut and grilled onions, is served on a roll made of pretzel dough, "just to mix it up," he said. "Everybody has a hot dog. Everybody has some form of bratwurst. It's like the snow. We all have great snow. What are those little twists that separate us from the rest?"

Another relatively new standout dish is the Udon Noodle Bowl at Earl's Lodge ($13), he says. Beef, chicken, tofu or shrimp is served in hot lemongrass broth with fresh vegetables.

Solitude

This resort launched a new restaurant concept called the Last Chance Southwest Grill, which offers fresh-tossed salads made to order along with Southwestern fare like grilled steak tacos and Killer Nachos, served with house-made chile verde.

"We wanted to be able to offer different food options so it's not all just cheeseburgers and french fries," said spokesman Dave DeSeelhorst.

The Honeycomb Grill also changed its menu. Look for the D pizza, made with San Marzano tomatoes, burrata, a fresh Italian cheese, prosciutto and arugula ($15).

Deer Valley Resort

Don't forget dessert. New at Deer Valley Resorts is a Cracker Jack-inspired salted caramel panna cotta, served at the Seafood Buffet, at Snow Park Village. The milk chocolate cremoso (a puddinglike dish) with caramel corn cream served in a cocktail glass with whiskey-smoked sugar coating the rim, alongside a cone of cashew caramel corn, is decadent and delicious. The dessert is part of the $64-a-plate buffet. But if you're not interested in indulging in dinner entrées at the buffet like the lemon-black garlic bluenose bass (made of oolong tea and wild mushroom broth and New Zealand bluenose bass), you may have luck buying the dessert à la carte at the Deer Valley Grocery Cafe, which includes the panna cotta in its dessert rotation, for $7.

Another excellent option is the buckwheat crêpe and brie roulade, served at Mariposa at Silver Lake Village ($13). Deer Valley has started making its own cheeses including the brie used in this dessert as a mousse. It's glazed with a huckleberry, muscat wine and beet juice sauce and topped with a pink huckleberry crunch.

"It's really delicious," promises Stephen Harty, pastry chef at Silver Lake and Empire Canyon Lodge.

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Après ski dining highlights

Canyons Resort • 4000 Canyons Resort Drive, Park City; http://www.canyonsresort.com

Goldner Hirsch • 7570 Royal Street East, Deer Valley Resort, Park City; http://www.goldenerhirschinn.com/

Burgers & Bourbon at Montage Deer Valley • 9100 Marsac Ave., Park City; http://www.montagedeervalley.com

Snowbasin • 3925 E. Snowbasin Road, Huntsville; http://www.snowbasin.com

Solitude • 12000 Big Cottonwood Canyon, Solitude; http://www.skisolitude.com