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Blue Christmas 

Dinner at Midway’s Blue Boar Inn is as poetic as the rooms’ namesakes.

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It had been a couple of years since I last visited the Blue Boar Inn & Restaurant. So I was stunned at the proliferation of million-dollar starter castles that now pepper the landscape as I wound my way up to the Blue Boar in Midway. Apparently, Midway is now the “in” place to be.

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Of course, the Blue Boar Inn'along with The Homestead Resort and Inn on the Creek'was at the forefront of the current Midway renaissance. Long before the gaudy new Zermatt Resort & Spa was even a blueprint, John and Marva Warnock purchased the Midway lodge that would become the Blue Boar Inn and turned it into a European-style bed & breakfast. It’s a friendly, cozy place named for the tavern from Howard Pyle’s classic kids’ book The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. The Blue Boar Inn is a welcome respite any time of the year but perhaps even more so during the holiday season. If you’re looking for a quick escape from Christmas chaos, the Blue Boar Inn is a stellar choice.

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Upon arrival at the Blue Boar, we were shown to the Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning suite. Each room at the inn is named and decorated for literary figures. So, there are rooms named for Shakespeare, Dickens, Kipling, Chaucer, Austen, Bronte and so on. The rooms at the Blue Boar run from $175 to $295 per night and are luxurious with a capital “L.â€nn

Dipping into a couple of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnets, melancholy quickly overcame me, and I found myself developing quite a thirst! So I decided to abandon Barrett and Browning and instead occupy myself with the Blue Boar’s in-room wine selection. Frankly, I was dumbfounded by the prices. “These can’t be bottle prices, can they? The wine must be priced by the glass,” I thought. But it wasn’t. The wines by the bottle for in-room consumption at the Blue Boar are actually priced with no markup. There are bottles available for as little as $7. I could hole up at the Blue Boar and drink their wine at cost!

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In the newly refurbished dining room of the Blue Boar Restaurant, it’s a different story. Wine markups there are standard and fair, with most wines priced at about double the retail cost. (Hint: If you’re cheap like I am, you might want to buy a bottle from room service and then BYOB for dinner.) While I was perusing the dinner menu, it dawned on me that the main dining room of the Blue Boar seemed much warmer than before. And indeed, gone are the stark white walls that previously defined the dining room. Now the room is mostly sheathed in warm tones of olive and sage'a noticeable improvement.

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Quickly after being seated for dinner, an amuse bouche arrived'the most interesting (not to mention delicious) I’ve ever encountered, as a matter of fact. It was a tiny, bite-sized knuckle of veal served osso buco style, with natural jus, microgreens and a couple of baby carrots on a small triangular plate'a terrific start. The beef carpaccio appetizer that I enjoyed so much from previous Blue Boar menus has been replaced with an even better starter: Peppered bison striploin cooked medium rare and served chilled, carpaccio style, with fig mostarda (pickled candied figs), whole grain mustard lavosh, huckleberry gastrique, arugula and lemon basil ($12). The Blue Boar Inn is a B&B, but I quickly realized that something serious was going on in the kitchen. It would appear that Chef Chris Sheehan has kicked things up a notch since assuming the helm at the Blue Boar Restaurant last year.

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My wife’s heirloom tomato “salad” with fresh crab, avocado, baby arugula, ruby grapefruit and caviar crème was a work of art. It came in a cucumber cylinder stacked with ripe heirloom tomatoes and garnished with baby arugula, all swimming in a pretty pool of Chef Sheehan’s caviar crème and wedges of grapefruit. Beautiful.

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Chef Sheehan leans towards vertical presentations of his food, and his luscious pan-seared halibut ($30) was stacked on a bed of watercress risotto with shaved fennel and apples, all drizzled with a light mustard vinaigrette'yet another deliciously gorgeous dish. Still, the best was yet to come in the form of my wood-grilled lamb sirloin ($34). Tender, medium-rare slices of lamb came with scrumptious fingerling potatoes, arugula and pumpkin-seed pesto with red chard, ultimately kissed with a wonderful rosemary lamb glace.

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Throughout dinner, Jay Niederhauser'the Blue Boar’s innkeeper, along with his wife Sandy'greeted guests in the dining room and lobby. Many were return visitors'regulars who turn to the Blue Boar for its warm hospitality and nurturing ways. Everyone there is treated like a VIP. After dinner, Niederhauser took me on a tour of the Blue Boar which included a display of his personal collection of Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic pins, the envy of any pin collector. We wound up eventually in Blue Boar’s cozy little back bar called Truffle Hollow, sipping a glass of rosé, where I was treated to fascinating stories about how Niederhauser wound up going from selling men’s apparel to running the Blue Boar Inn. I won’t recount them here since too much would be lost in translation. But if you’ve ever a free night and are in need of an interesting and entertaining host, look him up.

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It would take me another 900 words to recount the phenomenal Sunday brunch we enjoyed at the Blue Boar'easily the best brunch around. But I encourage you to try it out yourself, because the Blue Boar Inn & Restaurant is totally clicking right now.

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BLUE BOAR INN & RESTAURANT
n1235 Warm Springs Road
nMidway
n435-654-1400
nBreakfast, lunch & dinner daily

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