A couple of weeks ago, friends from New Orleans were in town—one of which was performing at Park City’s Egyptian Theatre for a trio of shows. Before joining my wife and me for dinner on her night off, our guest had a couple of requests: she doesn’t eat pork and she doesn’t like noisy restaurants (neither do I).
Zeroing in on one of the most serene dining spots I know of, I arranged dinner at Stein Eriksen’s Lodge’s Glitretind restaurant in Deer Valley. I’d be treating my out-of-town visitors to a taste of alpine elegance. Or, so I thought …
In case you’re wondering, I’m told that the Norwegian term “glitretind” means “shimmering mountain.” The evening we visited the Glitretind, the surrounding mountains were shimmering, albeit not from snow, sunlight, or starlight, but from thunder cracks and lightning bolts.
I’d received a call from Stein’s earlier in the day asking if our party would be okay with dining in the Lodge’s bar/lounge area called Troll Hallen, as opposed to the Glitretind dining room. There was mention of an impending storm or some such.
We arrived and were escorted by a welcoming hostess to our Troll Hallen table, located just on the front edge of the lounge. So far, so good.
An informative sommelier cracked open a bottle of French Champagne as we perused the tempting menu. Our special dinner guest made a toast to her friend, the musician Dr. John, who had passed away just hours earlier. And then, hell sort of broke loose.
If it’s service you’re looking for, this is the place
As it turned out, the reason the Glitretind dining room was unavailable to us was that it was booked for Mitt Romney’s annual E2 summit, which brings together politicos and big-money GOP contributors, including the likes of former House Speaker Paul Ryan and former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who were in attendance.
It did indeed rain outside on the deck, where speechifying had been taking place, forcing the E2 crowd to move indoors … directly adjacent to our table, in fact.
Before we could say WTF?, a quartet was singing God Bless America at Ted Nugent decibel levels and we found our liberal selves quite literally surrounded by the Grand Old Party. The thunderous crowd managed to drown out the actual thunder outside.
In truth, we and our guests got a laugh out of the whole spectacle and, our server, Alex Caraco, was Johnny-on-the-spot, quickly and deftly relocating us to a quiet table at the other end of Troll Hallen Lounge where we were out of Republican range and could again carry on with normal conversation.
I’m certain that this was an anomaly at Stein’s, and one that the professional staff dealt with admirably. Mitt’s unexpected (to us, anyway) presence made for a memorable evening, if not exactly what we’d wished for.
But much more memorable than Mitt and his cronies was the food and service.
I always know I can count on Stein’s Chef Zane Holmquist to floor me with his cuisine, and it’s become a cliche to even note the uber-professionalism of the restaurant staff at a place that has garnered so much acclaim and honors, worldwide, for their over-the-top hospitality.
New Spring/Summer menu
We were lucky insofar as Holmquist and his team had just released a new Spring/Summer menu at the Glitretind, and I looked forward to trying out some of the brand new dishes. I like spicy food, and so I was completely on board with a somewhat surprisingly fiery Shellfish Pepper Soup ($15) made with roasted red pepper and topped with crab, lobster, shrimp, and caviar. It was a sensational soup that I think might be just as tasty served cold.
Halibut Escabéche ($17) was another outstanding starter: citrus-marinated bitesize pieces of fresh halibut were placed in a large shallow bowl atop a silky mojo Amarillo with peppadew and bright green watercress leaves.
One of my favorite Glitretind offerings—although not a new one—is Farmer Jones’ Greens Salad ($14). It’s a tribute to Chef Holmquist’s old friend and supplier—“Farmer” Bob Jones of The Chef’s Garden in Ohio.
The salad is beautiful in its fresh simplicity: romaine leaves and grilled Utah peaches with house-made ricotta cheese, almonds and honey-wine vinaigrette, sprinkled with freshly ground pepper.
Perhaps the most visually gorgeous dish of the evening was the Ahi Carpaccio ($18) starter—a colorful plate of raw sushi-grade ahi, thinly sliced, topped with delicate pieces of radish, microgreens, and mango, served with yuzu and cilantro-miso sauce. Impressive.
If you’re a wine lover, you’re going to love the Glitretind and its 76-page award-winning wine list and the team of seven sommeliers to help with wine selection and service.
Our sommelier—a 30-year veteran of Stein’s—led us to a wonderful half-bottle of Premier Cru Chardonnay, Domaine Christian Moreau Vaillons Chablis 2017 from France to enjoy with our seductive starters.
To pair with the entrees we ordered, we decided to stick to the half-bottle offerings—and kudos to Stein’s for having so many to choose from—of French wine. Specifically, E. Guigal Brune et Blonde, Côte-Rôtie 2003, which was absolutely superb.
The fruity Côte-Rôtie was lovely to sip with Poulet Rouge Chicken ($29), a tender, perfectly braised leg and thigh with corn hushpuppies and an interesting if unexpected, tomatillo relish with corn and braised greens.
My wife’s Ora King Salmon fillet ($38) was, like my chicken, cooked to perfection, served perched atop a trio of asparagus spears, with fresh peas, pickled mushrooms, and a small dollop of jasmine rice. I thought the small serving of rice was a tad stingy, but the overall dish was excellent.
With so much outstanding food, it’s hard to pick a favorite dish. But I think we all loved Chef Holmquist’s Maine Sea Scallops ($39).
This was a generous serving of four large sea scallops, perfectly seared with a crispy crust but nearly translucent inside, with a couple of purple potato mounds, sea beans, and scrumptious macadamia and jalapeño relish.
Needless to say, with all of those great dishes, we were satiated by the time the dessert and after-dinner drink menu arrived.
But troopers that we are, we allowed ourselves to be talked into splitting a wonderful Pineapple Tarte Tatin ($11)—a puff pastry with caramelized pineapple, rum custard, creme fraiche sorbet, and guava, decorated with gold leaf. Not much arm-twisting was needed.
And, not much arm-twisting will be necessary to get us to return to the Glitretind. Because this deluxe dining destination is a must-visit in Utah, even when the GOP is in the house.
Culinary quote of the week:
I never eat in a restaurant that’s over a hundred feet off the ground and won’t stand still. — Calvin Trillin
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.
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