Utah Bites

KILLING IT AT THE COTTAGE: Perfect Prix Fixe at The Nelson Cottage

Just two doors up from the High West Saloon, the Nelson Cottage is a historic Old Town home that serves both as a venue for private events and as a prix fixe dinner destination. 


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I imagine that most readers and subscribers of Utah Bites are familiar with Park City based High West Distillery & Saloon and their award-winning whiskeys. What you might not be as familiar with is their sister establishment, the Nelson Cottage by High West. Just two doors up from the High West Saloon, the Nelson Cottage is a historic Old Town home that serves both as a venue for private events and as a prix fixe dinner destination. 

The Nelson Cottage schedule changes, as does the cuisine, with the seasons. It is currently open for dinner with two seatings per evening – advance reservations required – but books up typically weeks in advance, so plan accordingly. Dinner is currently priced at a very reasonable $95 per person – adults only – plus $60 for optional High West whiskey pairings. There is also wine, beer and cocktails available for purchase.

In pre-pandemic times, the Nelson Cottage prix fixe dinners were mostly a communal affair, with guests served family-style. But due to health and safety precautions, now dinner guests are seated at individual tables with their own party. 

In addition to indoor dining, the Nelson Cottage also offers an Alpenglobe out on the patio which is available to rent. I do recommend showing up a little early for your dinner reservation and enjoying a cocktail or High West Cider on the comfy, heated deck prior to being seated for dinner.

High West’s very talented Executive Chef, Michael Showers, is at the helm in the kitchen of the Nelson Cottage, ably assisted by a top-notch team of rock star cooks, servers, a whiskey ambassador and others, including Inge, Jesse, Greg, Adrianne, José, Sebastian, Edgar, Milana, and probably some others whose names I missed. The service, like the food served at Nelson Cottage, is outstanding, with a menu that changes weekly. 

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Having had the pleasure of dining at the Nelson Cottage numerous times, my wife and I have enjoyed more dishes than it’s possible to write about here. So, I’ll just hit some of the highlights, such as the Agnolotti of Spiced Kabocha & Chive appetizer accompanied by allium & sage dashi, paired with High West Double Rye. 

Feasts at the Nelson Cottage begin with an amuse bouche and one of the most memorable was a recent Caponata with Double Rye and a Samish Bay Oyster on the Half Shell with Fermented Mango Mignonette. Wow. Even the mignonette was marvelous. 

Another knockout starter from Chef Showers was a simple but delicious single seared Sea Scallop with Aguachile, Huitlacoche and Corn Grits. Even the Biscuits and Butter served with meals at the Nelson Cottage are irresistible.  

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One of the fun aspects of dining (and drinking) at the Nelson Cottage – especially if you’re a whiskey aficionado – is being led through the whiskey pairings by Greg Hirsch, High West’s Whiskey Ambassador. I wonder how you get a job as cool as “Whiskey Ambassador?” In addition to learning about whiskey, guests during dinner also get a brief history of the Nelson Cottage itself, which is a very fascinating one. 

Salads under Chef Showers’ supervision are certainly not a second thought. They are complex and well-composed. A salad of Radicchio, Gem Lettuces & Endives with Pickled Shiitakes and Wild Bluefin drizzled with Ginger Green Goddess dressing was simply amazing. The generous chunks of beautiful sushi grade bluefin alone were worth the price of the meal. 

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Likewise, a salad course of Endives with bits of Pork Belly, Duck Egg Yolk and ShaoXing Vinaigrette was particularly memorable.  

Equally memorable are the side dishes at Nelson Cottage. As with everything else, they vary from week to week. But if you’re especially lucky, Chef Showers will have prepared his lip smackin’ Mac & Cheese, made with Pacific Northwest Wild Mushrooms, Pecorino Gras Créme, and generously topped with shredded Black Truffles. Easily the best – and most decadent – mac & cheese I’ve ever eaten. 

Other excellent side dishes we’ve enjoyed included Yukon Gold Pomme Purée with Fines Herbes Butter; Bourbon-Glazed Heirloom Carrots with Ras el Hanout; and Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Horseradish and Fresno Chiles. 

Showers is a master when it comes to veggies, creating fascinating and delicious dishes like his Warm Celery Root with Littleneck Clams and Salsa Macha, garnished with microgreens. I would have never thought to put together celery root, clams, and Veracruz-style salsa macha on the same plate, but it works! 

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No one goes home hungry from the Nelson Cottage; the portions are very generous and we wound up taking home some of the Niman Ranch Prime New York Strip to our lucky dogs. The steak was served with charred onions, black garlic and bone marrow and paired with High Country American Single Malt. On another occasion, I drooled over perfectly cooked, rare Elk Striploin with silky Bone Marrow Hollandaise and seasoned with Red Kampot peppercorns, served with smoky Campfire Whiskey. 

My wife is less of a carnivore than I, so she really enjoyed an entree of Roasted Sea Bass with Jus au Mer and a duet of Blue Oyster and Hedgehog Mushrooms. Thankfully, there was enough – again, BIG portions – for me to enjoy some of that perfectly cooked sea bass. 

Marjolaine Dacquoise with Spruce and Campfire Anglaise

And then, although totally satiated, there is dessert. And like everything else at The Nelson Cottage, the desserts are delectable. On one visit I managed to finish off a magnificent Marjolaine Dacquoise with Spruce and Campfire Anglaise, paired up with Campfire Whiskey. I really loved that dessert. But on our last visit, I found one I liked even more: a Millcreek Cacao & Luxardo Cherry Torte paired with Rendezvous Rye. Are you kidding me? I was stuffed to the gills but still could have happily eaten three of those tasty tortes.  

I was told that after ski season the Nelson Cottage transitions to a warmer weather, a la carte menu. I’m certain that it will be great. But do yourself a favor and book a table for the wintertime prix fixe dinner before summertime shows up. It’s an incredible bang for the dining buck and about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on. Kudos to Chef Showers, High West, and the entire Nelson Cottage team for creating such memorable meals. They are killing it up in Park City.  

Culinary quote of the week: “A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.” – Thomas Keller



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Food writer Ted SchefflerOriginally 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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