Since I began attending the Sundance Film Festival in the early 1990s I have had, frankly, a love-hate relationship with the event. I am not alone. Sure, we love the films. But the onslaught of crowds, egos, rude behavior, and the miserable traffic conditions makes me less than delighted to attend Festival events, even the groovy star-studded parties. But having said that, I also confess to still having some love for Sundance and will inevitably be sucked once again into its vortex when the circus comes to town this week.
Getting dinner reservations at Park City restaurants can be a challenge during the Festival, but it’s worth the effort, especially for star-struck diners hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite celebrities. What follows is a list of 10 of my favorite Park City eateries – spots with can’t-miss cuisine, ambiance and service that are exceptional dining destinations during the Sundance Film Festival or any other time, including a few off the beaten Sundance path.
At Park City’s Firewood restaurant, Chef/Owner John Murcko and his crew cook everything—and I mean everything—over fire using state-of-the-art wood-stoked grills. It’s as unique a restaurant as I’ve ever been to and dishes like elk loin au poivre; winter squash with roasted romesco; coffee-chili bavette; game hen piccata with chanterelles; and oxtail onion soup with smoked bread and brie are irresistible menu temptations.
For creatively delicious American cuisine made largely utilizing wholesome, locally sourced ingredients, look no further than Handle restaurant, where Executive Chef Briar Handly and his uber talented crew impress guests nightly, including those who are gluten free and/or vegan. Enjoy the heavenly hamachi crudo with Calabrian chile vinaigrette as a cold starter before diving into the hearty pork/rabbit/duck cassoulet with Anasazi beans, collard greens, and cornbread crumbs. The pork shank with Frank’s Red Hot glaze is another dependable crowd-pleaser.
Situated mid-mountain at Deer Valley Resort’s Silver Lake Village, The Mariposa is the Resort’s fine dining establishment, offering a rustic setting with blazing fireplaces and the cuisine of a prime steakhouse with an award-winning wine list. Menu items such as beef tartare; foie brulee; poulet rouge; lamb shank; and those perfectly cooked steaks keep both visitors and locals coming back to The Mariposa.
If you’re looking for an excellent dining spot away from busy Main Street – and with ample parking – look no further than tupelo Park City. Chef/Owner Matthew Harris’ eclectic menu ranges from his heavenly buttermilk biscuits with honey butter to complex dishes like seared ahi tuna with Carolina golden rice, nori, kimchi, and jalapeño dressing, or a prosciutto-wrapped pork chop with celery root puree, apple & fennel salad, and fermented honey.
If you really want to avoid the Sundance crowds I suggest heading out to Billy Blanco’s Motor City Mexican, Bill White’s fun eatery in Pinebrook aimed especially at gearheads. It’s not surprising that White is a lover of cars, bikes and just about anything else with a motor as well, since he hails originally from the heart of the American automotive industry, Detroit – AKA Motor City. The Taco Sampler is a good choice for exploring a range of Billy Blanco tacos such as carne asada, chicken al pastor, Baja fish tacos, Tejano smoked short rib, pork adobada and portobello mushroom tacos. Vroom!
Back on Main Street, Yuki Yama Sushi isn’t just one of the best sushi restaurants in Utah, it’s one of the best restaurants, period; full stop. Headed up by the talented team of Matt Baydala and Kirk Terashima, Yuki Yama Sushi is one of the most sought-after tatami tables in town. There’s really know way to go wrong at Yuki Yama, whether you’re seeking sashimi, sushi, ramen, cooked items like Wagyu oxtail gyoza and the delicious lamb lollipops, or just a top-notch serving of imported sake. Bonus: Super friendly servers just add to the enjoyable Yuki Yama experience.
Down the block near the bottom of Main Street is the wonderful Talisker Club restaurant, Courchevel Bistro. At the helm in the kitchen is the uber-chef – who hails originally from the Savoie region of France – Clement Gelas. He says of Courchevel Bistro, “Sharing the culinary influences from my home country of France and the Rhône Valley in a fresh and inventive manner is one of my greatest passions. We’re excited to craft modern adaptations that incorporate seasonal flavors from purveyors who share our commitment to sustainable and local ingredients.” They find their way into delectable dishes such as Arctic char bouillabaisse; ravioli Royan; vegan pot pie, baked crozets; smoked trout rillette; onion tart; and many more.
Executive Chef Pierson Shields in collaboration with Chef Matthew Harris is knocking it out of the park at the St. Regis Deer Valley’s RIME restaurant, where during the Sundance Film Festival you’re guaranteed to rub elbows with celebrities of all sorts. Outstanding starters from the RIME kitchen include octopus a la plancha; roasted bone marrow; lobster bisque; and the foie gras “trio.” For entrees, try the grilled oyster mushrooms; roasted cauliflower steak; grilled Utah lamb chops; pan-seared Utah elk loin; or blackened Maine scallops, just to suggest a few.
Photo by Dung Hoang
Another escape from Main Street is Twisted Fern, located in the Snow Creek shopping center where there is plenty of off-street parking to be had. A sampling of enticing dishes from Chef/Owner Adam Ross’ kitchen include Nashville Hot Maitake Sandwich; Roasted Japanese Eggplant with Middle Eastern accouterments; Double-Wide Niman Ranch Pork Chop; Spanish Octopus with potato brava and Calabrian chile aioli; and my very favorite: the Shorty Melt open-face braised short rib on rye with gruyère cheese, B&B pickles, 1000 Island Dressing, apple sauerkraut, fried egg and fries or salad.
Last, but certainly not least, is the excellent off-Main Middle Eastern and Mediterranean eatery, Nosh. It’s the creation of transplanted New Yorker Jason Greenberg, who learned his kitchen skills at heavy-hitting NYC restaurants like Eleven Madison Park, Nobu, and Mile End Delicatessen – even opening a Balinese eatery in Brooklyn along the way. Menu selections range from falafel, hummus, za’atar fries, muhammara, babaganoush and the like, to the very shareable Nosh Platter, which includes falafel, green salad, spiced rice, herb-roasted vegetables, hummus, pickled slaw, pitas, yogurt sauce and tahini.
Enjoy the festival!
Photos by Ted Scheffler & Courtesy
Culinary quote of the week: “Promises and pie crusts are made to be broken.” Jonathan Swift