Restaurant review: Flavor and style for a Park City price at Burgers and Bourbon
Park City • I've spoken on the notion of value before. It's a concept as slippery as a greased eel and as divisive as a debate over health care.
And we're going to talk about it again; feel free to prep your polemic and head over to the comment boards. Or maybe not. Surely something we can all agree on is that a $32 burger is an expensive purchase.
Still on the fence? What if I told you that fries, a drink, tax and a tip were extra?
As soon as the hyperventilating rage subsides, let's move on. The Rockefeller-worthy bun and patty in question (featuring foie gras, I should add) can be found at Deer Valley's ultra-luxurious Montage resort, more specifically at the restaurant Burgers & Bourbon (B&B).
Utah's high-end ski resorts have long reminded me of Las Vegas. First, there's the gleeful disdain for nature: plonking a hunk of Italian marble and dapper valets into the inhospitable wilds. Second, there are the prices, numbers that would seem more plausible in the context of, say, a discussion on NASA's budgetary concerns.
B&B does exactly what it says on the tin. The restaurant offers a bevy of burger house classics supported by a barful of booze. Everything is then fiscally weighted by the requirements of a restaurant sitting, as it does, in a resort etched into the mountainside at a reputed cost of more than $400 million.
None of this is to say is to say there's not quality here; far from it. While $23 for an appetizer of nachos might sound preposterous, you'll find wagyu atop a sizable plate of chips and fixings, plenty for three or four to share. Likewise, appetizers such as deep fried pickle chips ($9 with paprika ranch) and bourbon BBQ wings ($14) are admirably rendered with expertise, if not heart-palpitating pricing.
The burgers also make every effort to impress and support their premium. Golden yellow-potato burger buns come from Salt Lake's Pierre Country Bakery. Meat is sourced from Niman Ranch and ground in house; this means you can be as safe as is reasonable when selecting a pinker and cooler preparation. Indeed your server will ask you for your preferred temperature, and a response of anything more than medium would be a sorely missed opportunity.
The menu begins with the Classic ($15) topped with Gold Creek Farms aged cheddar and proceeds through several predictable gears. There are creations topped with Timpanogos blue cheese ($17), smoked bacon and barbecue sauce ($18) and B&B chili ($17).
The menu also goes further than beef. A Tatanka ($18) burger uses free-range bison, which, should you concede to ordering medium or less, will reward you with a mercifully juicy and meaty sandwich; a picture-perfect sunny-side-up egg is a luscious addition, but a $3 extra splurge.
In fact, the only real letdown I tasted over a couple of meals was the Big Eye ($21), sushi-grade tuna gently seared with an impeccably rare interior. All that effort was for naught, as the delicate flavors were outgunned by a bold peppercorn crusting.
And then there's the Lux ($32) that mighty monster I opened with proclaimed by our waitress as the "Rolls Royce of burgers." The burger is gussied up with decadent foie gras, truffle, bourbon caramelized onions and an ineffectual flurry of arugula. So is it any good? Well, actually, yes. More than that, it's very good. Ordered medium-rare one evening, the thing practically oozed enough rich and fatty flavor, I almost ordered a side of statins for dessert. But is it worth $32? I'm afraid that's a debate for you, your CPA and, well, your medical practitioner to haggle over.
As I mentioned earlier, sides are an additional, eye-watering proposition. Choose from rosemary sea salt fries ($6), sweet potato fries ($6) or truffle Parmesan fries ($7) or sample all three at once for $15. These are all perfectly enjoyable, but for something more left-field, the B&B chili ($15) makes an excellent side dish to split. The muscular stew is brawny and fiery, plus a side of green chile cornbread was some of the best I've had.
For dessert, look no further than the classic shakes ($9 virgin or $16 with a shot of something grown-up) featuring real ice cream and swoonworthy flavors such as banana Nutella and PB&J. Shakes hit the table with Americana aplomb, filled to the brim of sculpted glasses, a swirly red and white striped straw peeking out the top.
If your meal winds down as dusk approaches, ask about s'mores. The Montage offers a free fireside s'more smorgasbord hosted on the patio outside B&B. In the same manner that chic Vegas resorts seek to showcase "the experience," being surrounded by the lush Deer Valley landscape, setting sun and dancing flames is almost enough to make you forget about that $3 egg. Almost.
Apart from the briefest of stumbles, I can't fault the culinary quality and execution at B&B. Just be keenly attuned to those prices stepping through the door. Those not prepared might be left reeling when the tab arrives.
Stuart Melling also writes at http://www.theutahreview.com and can be found on Twitter @gastronomicslc.
Burgers & Bourbon
Food • HHH
Mood • HH
Service • HH
Noise • bb
Hamburgers, fries and shakes served in style at one of Utah's chic ski resorts. A rarefied experience in pricing and location.
Location • Inside the Montage Deer Valley, 9100 Marsac Ave., Park City; 435-604-1300
Online • montagehotels.com/deervalley
Hours • 3 to 10 p.m. daily
Children's menu • Yes
Prices • $$$$
Liquor • Full bar
Reservations • No
Takeout • No
Wheelchair access • Small steps into the dining room
Outdoor dining • Yes
On-site parking • Valet
Credit cards • All major