In an attempt to stay culinarily current, a number of local ski resorts are updating their dining options this ski season, in part reflecting national restaurant trends and patterns. Much of the skiing/boarding public just isn't satisfied anymore with a burger or slice of pizza at lunchtime, so expect to find gourmet goodies along with international comfort cuisine such as pho and Mexican-style street tacos at our ski areas where you once found corn dogs. Here are a few of the tasty changes to look forward to during the 2015-16 winter season.
The recent purchase of Solitude Mountain Resort (SkiSolitude.com) by Deer Valley Resort means the dining scene at Solitude is getting a reboot. While some venues, such as Stone Haus Pizzeria and Creamery, Moonbeam Lodge and Thirsty Squirrel remain mostly the same, others have undergone substantial changes. The biggest is probably the on-mountain Roundhouse, which has been reborn as The Himalayan Hut. The Hut will be serving traditional Himalayan fare like lamb rogan josh, butter chicken, lentil dal and naan, with a portion of all sales being donated to worldwide mountain relief efforts.
Last Chance at Solitude is now a Southwest Grill, with a taco bar, chilies, soups, nachos and such, while St. Bernard's—Solitude's fine-dining spot—will feature "European family favorites" in a casual, buffet-style setting. Look for pretzel schnitzel with brown-butter lemon sauce, sundried potato risotto with Appenzeller cheese, and spaghetti & meatballs for kids. Honeycomb Grill will offer lunch and dinner daily, along with Sunday brunch. Gone is the Italian-inspired cuisine, replaced by an eclectic North American menu with items like poutine, bison carpaccio, oven-roasted salmon, shrimp & grits and Wagyu hanger steak.
The biggest change at Park City (ParkCityMountain.com), formerly Park City Mountain Resort, is the incorporation of Canyons Resort, creating the largest resort in the United States, with 7,300 acres of skiable terrain. In addition, $50 million in mountain projects includes some much-needed improvements to resort dining. Red Pine Lodge has a completely new contemporary look and an upstairs dining deck with 250 additional seats, and an all-new Miners Camp restaurant is scheduled to open in mid-December. Miners Camp replaces the old Snow Hut at the base of Quicksilver Gondola and the Silverlode Lift, and will offer house-made soups and chili, artisan salads, Mediterranean kabobs, gyros and more.
For the third consecutive year, Deer Valley Resort (DeerValley.com) has been honored as United States' Best Ski Resort by the World Ski Awards at the 2015 Ski Oscars Award Gala Ceremony in Kitzbühel, Austria. Not content to rest on their laurels, Deer Valley is constantly sizing up the competition, and usually staying ahead of it. At a recent Deer Valley Winter Menu Tasting, bloggers, writers and other media types got a peek at some of the new dishes and improvements slated for the 2015-16 season.
Among the physical and visual changes at Deer Valley is the total redo of Silver Lake Lodge and Silver Lake Restaurant. Gone are the Natural Buffet, the Deli and Bald Mountain Pizza at Silver Lake. The latter has been replaced with a Vietnamese-style pho bar called Bald Mountain Pho. At Silver Lake Restaurant this season you'll also find the all-new Taqueria, which will offer street-style tacos such as mole Wagyu beef; red chile, lime and cilantro shrimp; and Niman Ranch pork carnitas. I've gotta admit, those carnitas are killer!
I was pleasantly surprised by the excellent quality of the Bald Mountain pho. Frankly, I wasn't expecting fabulous pho at a ski resort. However, the Deer Valley culinary team takes the time to make broth from scratch with beef knuckle bones, and the pho is fragrant with hints of clove and cinnamon. The pho I tried featured thinly sliced Wagyu beef, perfectly cooked rice noodles and accoutrements such as bean sprouts, lime wedges, fresh mint, Thai basil and sliced jalapeños, plus house-made Sriracha, hoisin and red chili oil sauces. For vegetarians, Bald Mountain Pho also offers pho with ginger-mushroom broth, tofu and shiitake mushrooms.
Down at Deer Valley's Snow Park Lodge, there are some changes afoot at the Seafood Buffet, as well. This season you will find fresh ahi poke on the menu, in addition to crowd favorites like unlimited chilled shellfish, roast duck, Prime rib, fabulous desserts and the like. One particularly inviting new menu item is the sensational seared sea scallop. It's a large sea scallop, seared and served on a Himalayan salt block with grilled kale, roasted Brussels sprouts, oven-dried tomato, shiitake "bacon," smoked mozzarella arancini di riso (a breaded rice ball) and superb lemon-herb Champagne vinaigrette.
Up at Snowbird resort (Snowbird.com), I'm told that El Chanate restaurant ["A Blackbird Sings," Nov. 11, City Weekly] will be getting a total makeover and updating—the current décor dates back to the 1970s, and isn't too current—by the end of spring. But the bigger news is the opening of the all-new Summit restaurant, adjacent to the Tram stop at the top of Hidden Peak. The Summit is a 23,000 square-foot, upscale cafeteria-style restaurant with two stories and a 10,000 square-foot deck. It's also the highest altitude, year-round, lift-served guest facility in North America at 11,000 feet above sea level, offering 360-degree views of the surrounding Little Cottonwood mountains. The 7,600 square feet of insulated, double-pane glass windows alone are nearly the size of two Imax movie screens.
Finally, Snowbasin resort (Snowbasin.com) will offer guests a full schedule of Dining Discovery events, which includes mountaintop brunches, cooking classes, special wine/spirit/beer tasting dinners, culinary expeditions and more. Upcoming dining discovery offerings range from a Uinta Brewing brewmaster's dinner and a wine & tapas après-ski, to a Polynesian spirit pairing and a spring lobster celebration.
However, if you're an old-school sort, Brighton Resort (BrightonResort.com) reminds you that it is one of the few mountains left that actually invites guests and families to brownbag it and offers picnic lunch spots at the base of the mountain.