Ascend the winding and twisting Royal Street—the main boulevard that connects upper Deer Valley to lower—or take the more direct Ontario Canyon Road (aka the "mine road"), and you'll end up at the epicenter of Deer Valley Resort, called Silver Lake Village. There you'll find, in addition to spectacular mountain views, some of Utah's finest cuisine packed into an area smaller than a single square city block.
There's Stein Eriksen Lodge and its signature restaurant The Glitretind, where longtime Executive Chef Zane Holmquist dazzles diners nightly. Royal Street Cafe is another exceptional spot to take in Deer Valley Resort's top-notch cuisine and service. I've written about those venues in the recent past, so I won't dwell on them here. But a recent weekend getaway to Silver Lake afforded me and my wife the chance to sup at two of mid-mountain's most reliable eateries: The Mariposa and The Goldener Hirsch Inn Restaurant. In between, we also lunched at Cena.
With only 20 luxurious rooms, the Goldener Hirsch Inn (7570 Royal St. East, Park City, 435-649-7770, GoldenerHirschInn.com) has an exclusive yet warm and hospitable vibe that can transport you to the world-class Austrian inn for which it's named. It's the perfect place for a weekend getaway, and a short walk to all of Silver Lake Village's dining and shopping. So, napped and refreshed after a day of skiing at Deer Valley Resort, we strolled over to The Mariposa (7600 Royal St., Park City, 435-645-6715, DeerValley.com/dining)—the resort's main fine-dining venue—for dinner.
We were warmly greeted by a hostess and seated in the warm, rustic restaurant, beside a toasty fireplace. Before we knew it, there was a trio of oysters in front of us: Kumamotos on the half-shell ($3.50 each) served with housemade seafood sauce and mignonette, and resting on a bed of seaweed. Sticking with the shellfish theme, we also enjoyed a nearly transluscent, sashimi-style diver scallop ($16), sliced into bite-size medallions and drizzled with lime & aji-chile-pepper vinaigrette and cilantro emulsion. Delightful.
Not quite ready to move on to meat, we also enjoyed longtime Deer Valley Executive Chef Clark Norris' exquisite Maine lobster chowder ($16)—a very delicate, rich take on chowder, made with lots of butter and cream and heightened by paprika smoked in-house and minced chives. One last seafood selection—pan-roasted sea scallop with oak-smoked, bacon-chive risotto, gala apple, basil and frisée salad and Granny Smith beurre blanc ($19)—was stupendous. And I appreciate that The Mariposa menu is mostly small-plate-oriented, so it's easy to try a lot of tasty dishes during the course of an evening rather than just one or two big ones.
Table and wine service were, as always, up to Deer Valley Resort's ultra-high standards, where guest-pampering is taken to extreme levels. More divine dishes came and went: pan-roasted boneless quail saltimbocca and miso-braised kale and mushrooms in a Cabernet reduction ($20); Niman Ranch beef short rib with Pontack sauce and salsify-parsnip puree ($20); and my favorite dish, housemade lemon-thyme gnocchi with beurre blanc, Rockhill Creamery aged Edam cheese and slow-poached wild Gulf shrimp ($16). This would be hard to beat.
And lunch at Cena Ristorante & Lounge (7815 Royal St. East, Park City, 435-940-2200, The-Chateaux.com), located in the Chateau at Deer Valley definitely did not beat it. Stein Eriksen Lodge took over operations of the restaurant last year, and I was expecting Stein-quality food and service. But my wife's Caesar salad—advertised as coming with ciabatta croutons—was skimpy, with only four lonely croutons on the plate. A flatbread pizza ($12) with Creminelli pepperoni would have been spot-on, if not for an overwhelming amount of garlic in the sauce. The grilled-chicken sandwich with basil pesto was so pesto-loaded that any chance of tasting the chicken was a non-starter. When we left, our server didn't even wish us good day or say goodbye. Is this place really run by Stein?
If you've been to the Goldener Hirsch Inn as often as I have, you probably think "fondue and wiener schnitzel" when you think of it. And sure, those classic European staples are on the lunch, dinner and après-ski menus, and probably always will be. But Executive Chef Ryan Burnham also offers up more delicate and creative dishes like his "mushroom tasting," which is a mélange of fresh, wild mushrooms with sunchokes, cranberries, crispy prosciutto and sweet Pedro Ximenez balsamic vinegar ($22). The roasted-beet salad ($16) looks as beautiful as it tastes—cubed, roasted beets served with quinoa, blood orange, mango, Marcona almonds and French feta cheese.
But the entree section of the menu is where things really get interesting. Potato gnocchi, made with organic spuds, is paired with duck confit, caramelized pear, arugula, lemon and a big dollop of housemade burrata on top ($29). The fact that duck confit and gnocchi are two of my favorite foods made this dish an easy grand slam. I also relished the lamb preparation: seared, medium-rare cubes of Willis Ranch lamb sirloin served fricassee-style on a rectangular plate strewn with roasted sweet potato, apple-kohlrabi slaw and smoked-mushroom velouté ($35).
As at The Mariposa, the service, beverage selection and ambiance at the Goldener Hirsch were absolutely terrific: friendly when called for, crisp and professional when necessary. I think many a restaurateur and server would benefit greatly from taking a field trip to Silver Lake Village to see how the pros at Goldener Hirsch and The Mariposa do it. A citrus-olive-oil torte dessert with lemon mousse, pistachio and blood-orange sherbet sent us back to our cozy upstairs room grinning like idiots.