Canyons Cooking 

The resort's signature restaurant is breaking culinary ground.

click to enlarge JOHN TAYLOR

Big changes are afoot at Canyons Ski Resort. For starters, the “The” is gone; it’s no longer The Canyons. Also gone is the forest-green logo, replaced by Canyons’ nifty new signature orange, which also happens to be the color of the new heated “bubble” lift at the resort, North America’s first. There’s a whole new mountain—Iron Mountain—to ski, and much more to come with the six-year development plan that’s under way. When Talisker Corporation bought the resort from American Skiing Company, big plans were announced. Well, Talisker isn’t screwing around. Already, the dining scene at Canyons has gone from dreary to dreamy, particularly with the recent opening of the resort’s new signature restaurant, The Farm.

But that’s just one of the new dining venues. Alpine House at Sundial Lodge is a perfect spot for an open-face bagel with fried egg, homemade sausage and Gruyere for breakfast, or apres ski cocktails and fondue a bit later in the day. On the mountain, Cloud Dine, at the top of DreamCatcher and Dreamscape lifts, offers some of the best cafeteria-style dining I’ve ever encountered. The flatbread pizzas are phenomenal, especially the pesto pizza with pine nuts and the ricotta and arugula pizza. Other great choices include a killer grilled Utah trout sandwich with Brie, an open-face short rib sandwich, vegetarian salad with couscous, awesome french fries and cold beer—Guinness, even—on tap. Try to arrive early for lunch, though, because the secret is out and Cloud Dine is packed by noon. Over next to Red Pine Lodge is Bruges Waffles, where you can complement your day on the snow with a decadent Liege vanilla waffle or Torpedo waffle, the latter stuffed with rich, dark chocolate.

Back at the base of Canyons resort, there’s also the new Umbrella Bar—a bustling spot for a quick bite and an apres ski beverage, and, near the Red Pine Gondola and new Ski Beach, where Doc’s used to be, is Red Tail Grill featuring a Southwestern-inspired menu and enticing libations. Like I said, Talisker is serious about improving Canyons’ dining and drink scene, one that had become stale over the years.

The biggest improvement, however, is Canyons’ new flagship restaurant, The Farm. The menu was developed by John Murcko, award-winning chef and vice president of culinary services at Talisker, who, in a very short period of time, has shot to the top of Utah’s chef charts. Well, sort of. In fact, he’s been around for a very long time, but is finally getting the recognition he deserves.

The Farm is, in a sense, temporary. It currently seats about 100 people and will be expanded this summer to accommodate a couple hundred more. The restaurant, when finished, will be much larger than at present and feature floor-to-ceiling windows offering panoramic mountain views. Although it’s a work in progress, the food at The Farm seems time-tested. I ate there a mere two weeks after opening, and the service staff and kitchen team seemed like they’d been at it for years. %uFFFD

The concept behind The Farm—as you may have surmised—is fresh, local ingredients. I was told that, particularly in summer, the kitchen staff hopes to utilize locally sourced foods, the majority of which will come from farms and producers located within a 200-mile radius of Park City. “The Farm represents the future of dining at the resort,” Murcko says. “Our team has always worked with local farmers, but now we’re taking this philosophy one step further. We’ll be partnering with Summit County ranchers to raise cattle, harvesting milk with local dairies and establishing a network of greenhouses and growers to produce for us. The Farm is a great way for us to support the incredible local purveyors that surround Park City while also delivering a great new dining experience to our guests.”

Sounds great on paper, at least, right? Well, it actually is great. Murcko has become well versed in producing food that is complex but not overly complicated, allowing good ingredients to sing out for themselves. And so, a grilled-to-order Summit County Beef rib-eye ($36) comes simply accompanied by blue-cheese potato grits, and it’s heaven. Summit County Beef also provides the oxtails for The Farm’s rich oxtail onion soup ($8) with a crispy melted Gruy%uFFFDre crust and French bread, a wintertime winner if there ever were one. A salad of dark, burgundy-colored pickled beets ($9) and arugula is sprinkled with crumbled Feta cheese and lightly dressed in smoky bacon vinaigrette: tangy, rich and tart flavors all playing off one another.

A lamb shank ($29) from Bear Lake is braised until the meat nearly falls off the bone and is served in natural jus with a hearty puree of lentils and garlic, along with a fried cauliflower fritter. It’s simple, but irresistible. The enticements are ongoing: steelhead trout ($29) from Idaho is perched on a bed of pumpkin spaetzle with pomegranate seeds and topped with fennel “slaw”; a thick bone-in Heritage Bourbon pork rib-eye ($32) is braised until tender and accompanied by scrumptious cornbread stuffing. Sustainable, farm-raised white sturgeon ($33) is a thing of wonder, with decadent onion and duck-fat cabbage, smoked bacon, rich aligot potatoes and garnished with fresh herbs.

And through it all, there is outstanding service. In particular, spot-on wine pairings from Joey Lopaka, who, along with Talisker director of wine Sean Marron, sees that not a morsel of Farm food is enjoyed without a perfectly selected wine alongside.

In case you’re still on the fence about The Farm, there’s one additional menu temptation I should mention: pulled-pork corn dogs with honey mustard, a John Murcko special. Canyons’ culinary team is both literally and figuratively breaking new ground.

Canyons Resort
4000 Canyons Resort Drive
Park City
435-649-5400
TheCanyons.com

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