I keep hearing from culinary pundits and colleagues about the demise – even “death” – of fine dining. Really? Have you tried to get a reservation at fine dining destinations like Log Haven, Grappa, The Glitretind, Caffe Molise, Fleming’s, Tiburon, Tuscany, Franck’s, Veneto, and the like lately? Many such restaurants are booked for weeks in advance. Log Haven is already sold out for Valentine’s Day. It seems to me that fine dining seems to be doing just fine, thank you very much.
One such fine dining restaurant that should be on your radar is the Mariposa in Silver Lake Lodge at Deer Valley Resort. Being a seasonal restaurant that only operates during ski season, there is a limited window of opportunity for dining at this excellent eatery. Through the years, some of my most memorable meals have been at Mariposa tables, and a recent visit renewed my opinion that it is one of Utah’s finest dining experiences.
If you’ve just come in from the cold, there’s a cozy fireplace adjacent to the Mariposa’s check-in desk to warm up by. In the dining room itself, there’s another stone fireplace which is the perfect spot to enjoy a leisurely Mariposa meal. No one is going to rush you here.
Take time to peruse the tantalizing menu and the impressive wine list. There are treasures to be found on both as you enjoy a complimentary amuse bouche, courtesy of Chef de Cuisine Ryan Swarts. In addition to the regular Mariposa menu, Chef Swarts offers a chef’s special which, on the night we visited, was Scallop Crudo ($22). It was a delectable dish of thinly sliced sashimi-style raw scallops with blood orange, finger limes, broccolini florets, pickled Romanesco, mango, and lobster oil. Alongside the Scallop Crudo I sipped a glass of Albert Bichot Brut Rosé Crémant de Bourgogne while my wife enjoyed her favorite Champagne: Roger Coulon Brut 1 Cru Vrigny. It was the opening volley in what was going to be a very tasty evening.
It is worth noting that the Mariposa, under Silver Lake Food and Beverage Director Josh Hockman, offers wine lovers a vast selection of domestic and imported wines to choose from, not to mention cocktails, beer and such. Wines by the bottle are available in every price range – from very affordable to bottles for those on a luxury budget. And, I am very impressed by gems that are offered by the glass like the aforementioned Champagnes and outstanding wines such as Château Beaucastel Coudoulet de Beaucastel, Domain J.A. Ferret Pouilly-Fuissé, Parallel Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa, and Ridge Vineyards Lytton Springs Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel.
I rarely pass up the opportunity to indulge in freshly shucked oysters, so for a starter at Mariposa I ordered the Evening’s Oyster Selection ($24), which was fresh half-dozen Kusshi oysters with traditional accompaniments: homemade mignonette and seafood sauce. Another excellent starter to share is fresh-baked bread from Hawk and Sparrow Bread in Midway, served with cultured whipped and honey butter.
The Maine Lobster Chowder ($24) and Ahi Tuna Tartare ($30) with smoked caviar, avocado, radish, cured egg yolk and grilled lavash were quite tempting. Ultimately though, we settled on sharing the Wild Mushroom Tart appetizer ($26), which was outstanding. I remember this rich-tasting dish in a slightly different form at the Mariposa in the past, when it was a Mushroom Beggars Purse. This version, with goat cheese and salt-roasted beets, was equally delicious.
There are a pair of superb salads on the menu: Prosciutto and Butter Leaf ($19) and the one we loved: Gioia Cheese Co. Burrata ($18) with stewed heirloom tomatoes, Cara Cara navel oranges and fresh greens on a bed of arugula pesto.
It goes without saying that service at Deer Valley Resort is world-class. Just do a bit of research on how many awards the Resort has garnered for its top-notch hospitality and amenities through the years. Our server for the evening, Julia, was exceptional and agreed to briefly remove her mask so we could take a photo to remember her by. You won’t find a more professional staff anywhere.
Entrees at the Mariposa have a steakhouse-type leaning with a mouthwatering focus on Prime cuts of meat. There’s a 6-oz Bison Filet ($56), 8-oz Grass-Fed Beef Filet, 14-oz. Bone-In 48-hour Sous Vide Piedmontese Short Rib ($49), 16-oz Niman Ranch New York Strip ($58), and Utah Rack of Lamb (half/$80; full/$150). Guests can select from four sauces: Bearnaise, Cabernet Jus, Shishito Chimichurri, and Cognac-Peppercorn Jus. I went for the gusto by ordering a 16-oz milk-fed Veal Tomahawk ($62). The thick chop was perfectly cooked, medium rare, every bite juicy, tender and scrumptious. Veal chops are rare on Utah menus, so I’d strongly encourage meat lovers to indulge in this dish.
A la carte side dishes ($12) at the Mariposa include Creamed Miso Kale, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Duck Fat Pomme Frites, Yam and Yukon Potato Gratin, and Black Truffle Mashed Potatoes. We especially liked the al dente roasted Ras el Hanout Heirloom Carrots with preserved lemon curd and crushed pistachios.
My wife, who is not a big meat eater, thoroughly enjoyed her entree of Big Glory Bay Organic King Salmon ($38) with silky and sensational sweet potato velouté sauce and fresh greens. Although we were stuffed to the gills, the Mariposa management generously insisted that we have a taste (or three) from their dessert selection. The desserts – as with everything else at the Mariposa – were superb.
If you’re looking for excellent ambiance, service, and cuisine, the Mariposa is also the perfect spot for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner. For three special nights – February 12-14 – the Mariposa culinary team will create a unique 6-course tasting experience featuring luxury items such as Petrossian caviar, shaved black truffle, and hand selected bison filet, just to name a few. Each course will be accompanied by the perfect beverage pairing to enhance your Valentine’s dining experience.
Fine dining is dead? I don’t think so. It is very much alive and thriving at Deer Valley Resort’s Mariposa restaurant.
Photos by Ted Scheffler
Culinary quote of the week:
“When I started to work in Paris in fine dining, the passion really kicked in, and I knew that I would not, for the rest of my life, do anything else.” – Eric Ripert
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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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