From Yurts to Desserts
If, like me, you’ve been mostly cooped up during the pandemic and not venturing out very much, maybe now is the time to do so. I’m ready to get back in gear and explore some of the more unique winter dining destinations at our local resorts — options ranging from Mongolian yurt dining to a raw bar ensconced in a cabin. Here are five can’t-miss picks for distinctive Utah winter resort dining.
Solitude Mountain Resort offers one of Utah’s most unique dining opportunities with their Mongolian-style yurt. Hungry guests kick off an evening at the Solitude Mountain Resort Yurt with a not-too-strenuous guided tour — hiking or snowshoeing — through a moonlit (or lantern- and headlamp-lit) forest. The resort provides guests with snowshoes, which are included in the price of the meal.
Once you arrive at the cozy yurt which seats 26 people, you’ll warm up and enjoy your favorite libations along with a delicious five-course dinner prepared tableside by Solitude’s talented chefs. The communal Solitude Yurt dining experience is a wonderful opportunity to gather with old friends and to make new ones.
One of my very favorite dining destinations during ski season is Deer Valley Resort’s Fireside Dining, where dinner courses are cooked and served from a quartet of large stone fireplaces at rustic Empire Canyon Lodge. A busy lunch spot by day, in the evening Empire Canyon Lodge morphs into a European Alps style dining experience with a huge array of rustic foods.
I can’t get enough of the gooey Raclette cheese melted over the fire, but I also love the selection of cured meats and cheeses, roasted leg of lamb, veal and wild mushroom stew, and so much more. Kids and adults both go gaga for the fondue station, with dark chocolate, caramel, and white chocolate Grand Marnier fondues served with a variety of dried and fresh fruits like pineapple and strawberries. There is also a fully stocked bar and a terrific beer and wine selection. For the adventurous, consider a pre-dinner snowshoe trek or a horse-drawn sleigh ride.
Each month, Snowbird Resort hosts a fun Full Moon Dinner which is held at the 11,000 foot Summit Restaurant at the top of the Snowbird Tram and Hidden Peak. Up there, the views are nothing short of spectacular. And guests get a double-dip: getting to see the sun set in the west, while also watching the moon rise in the east.
The mode of transportation to the Full Moon Dinners isn’t standard, either. You won’t be using Uber or Lyft; rather, you’ll be swiftly ushered up to Hidden Peak and The Summit restaurant via an Aerial Tram Ride, which is included in the price of dinner. It’s all part of the Full Moon fun. Since the Snowbird Full Moon Dinners are buffet affairs, there’s lots of time to wander around The Summit Restaurant — both inside and outside — to take in panoramic views and shoot plenty of photos. It’s a leisurely evening where guests dine at their own pace.
The menu changes from month to month, but you can always count on an array of tasty hot and cold goodies that range from charcuterie and chilled seafood, to salad and carving stations, vegetarian dishes, and an opulent dessert display. Wine and beer are also available and live music fills the air of the 23,000 square foot Summit Restaurant.
One of my favorite off-the-beaten-path eateries is Utah’s first ski-in/ski-out raw bar, called RIME, “Where powder meets chowder,” and which is tucked away in a cabin adjacent to the Jordanelle gondola at Deer Valley Resort.
Named for the Old Norse word for “the layer of frost that develops on an object when bitter wind freezes fog or clouds,” Rime is the brainchild of Tupelo restaurant owners Matt Harris and Maggie Alvarez. The main draw — for me, anyway, at RIME are the Connecticut-style lobster rolls, which I think are the best lobster rolls this side of Interstate 95. Other RIME delights include oysters on the half shell, ahi tartare, market crudo, clam chowder, shrimp cocktails, tacos, and one of the tastiest French dip sandwiches I’ve ever gotten my lips around. And, there’s beer, wine and bubbles to enjoy, as well.
Not to be outdone by Solitude, Park City Mountain Resort has a yurt of its own. Dinner at The Viking Yurt kicks off with a 23-minute snowcat-drawn sleigh ride up 1,800 feet, offering gorgeous views of Park City as well as the night sky. It’s a thrilling and solemn experience between the only people on the mountain at night. Once settled into The Viking Yurt with a complimentary mug of glogg, guests will enjoy a gourmet six-course meal that includes soup and salad, an entree such as braised short ribs, a cheese course and dessert. Live music adds to the festive evening, and you’ll want to ask your hosts how in the world they managed to get a baby grand piano into their mountaintop yurt.
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