Restaurant reveal: Powder aims to deliver more than expected
Powder Restaurant is located in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, 2100 Frostwood Drive, Park City. The restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sunday Brunch and Sunday Supper Club both begin May 20. For more information, call 435-647-5566 or log on to waldorfastoriaparkcity.com.
The Waldorf-Astoria line of hotels have been closely tied to fine dining, laying claim to famous dishes such as eggs Benedict, red velvet cake, and the Waldorf salad, all still prepared more than 60 to 100 years after their creations.
But Eric Leblang, Director of Food and Beverage at Waldorf Astoria Park City, and Michael Zachman, Executive Chef at Powder restaurant, hope that non-hotel guests can overcome any intimidation factor of the hotel name and discover the reason to make Powder a home away from home.
“We really want this to feel like a cozy environment. … We want the rest of the community to know it’s not a white glove, fine dining experience. The service is immaculate, but it’s not overwhelming; it’s approachable,” Leblang said.
“It’s more of a relaxed atmosphere, so it’s not your five star, not-comfortable-walking-into-the-restaurant, am-I-wearing-the-right-attire (feeling); It’s a more relaxed experience with proper service,” Zachman added.
To achieve this goal, Leblang and Zachman, who began at the hotel within a month of each other in early 2017, identified a “soul for the restaurant,” Leblang said. Their calling would be to serve “elevated comfort food inspired by mountain regions around the world.”
“That speaks to what we’re trying to portray to Park City,” Leblang said. “We want to showcase mountain cuisine, but not in the mindset that everyone focuses on… We wanted to bring a little more life into the comfort food that people recognize.”
Discovering the familiar comfort food on the menu, such as corn chowder, chili and burgers at lunch, or fried chicken, pot pie and tenderloin at dinner, opens a pathway to surprising guests.
“Everybody knows what fried chicken is. But when they actually taste [our dishes], it’s most likely something they haven’t tried before,” Zachman said.
Fried chicken, for example, is a well-known dish because it is a home kitchen favorite. At Powder, however, “It’s not your typical fried chicken, just from the process that goes into it,” Zachman said.
Starting with the chicken, sourced from a ranch where it is humanely raised and organic, the meat is then brined for five hours and sous-vide for two before the 12-ingredient seasoning flour and buttermilk come into play.
“Coming from Georgia originally, it’s all in how you batter your chicken,” Zachman said. “There’s the flour dredge. We do that three times to get a nice crunch on the outside, and it sticks to the chicken breast itself. And then we fry it.
“That’s sort of the traditional method of fried chicken, taken to the next level” he added.
The accompanying cheddar potatoes, pickled cucumbers and carrots, and chicken gravy all go through their own processes, so that each element on the plate can stand on its own.
These processes stay in the kitchen, leaving guests to enjoy a simple-sounding meal of fried chicken and potatoes.
The restaurant’s signature dish for dinner is also familiar, yet innovative.
“Our signature item is the guajillo-rubbed buffalo tenderloin,” Zachman said. “It’s not complex; it’s just a bit of beetroot puree, so you have a lot of color, a lot of pop, and succotash, a medley of different sorts of vegetables that give it a really good texture, crunch and sweetness.
“The buffalo itself, we actually rub it with the guajillo chili. … And then we grill it, he said. “We have a wood-fire grill in the kitchen, which gives it part of its uniqueness. It’s a cowboy way of grilling a steak.”
A focus on Sundays and families
“We are launching two initiatives to focus on Sunday,” Leblang said. “A Sunday brunch. … Including shellfish, oysters, and carving stations. And I’m really happy we’re launching the Sunday Supper Club. It’s designed to welcome in the families at an affordable price, where it’s a family-style meal. And the menu changes every Sunday.”
The menu for the opening supper club includes cheddar and scallion biscuits, whole smoked chicken with Alabama white BBQ sauce, Yukon gold pierogi, and grilled asparagus. Guests can also order a full homemade pie for the table as dessert.
“We really wanted to make it approachable,” Leblang said. “We want families coming in and enjoying their Sunday dinner with us, without having to worry about the dishes.”
The two initiatives join an established Thursday night pairing of burgers with either wine or beers. Powder’s Burgers & Burgundy/Burgers & Brews pairs a glass of wine or a local brew with the restaurant’s Dirty Burger, made of wagyu beef, boar bacon, tomato jam, and Utah cheddar.
A busy kitchen is a winning kitchen
Zachman and Leblang don’t just have three meals a day on their plate; there is also the bar menu, spa menu, pool menu, room service, catering, tasting menus for adults and children, and now the brunch and supper club menus.
“It keeps us in the kitchen always churning, coming up with ideas,” Zachman said. Only focusing on one meal would be boring, he added. The opportunities of creating 10-plus different menus does mean he has to pay attention to inspiration.
“I’d come up with all these crazy ideas, and then I’d get out of the shower, and I’d forget what I was thinking about,” he said. His wife paid attention. “I get in the shower one day, and there’s a [waterproof] pad and a pen. … So now, when I get crazy ideas, I can write them down and remember them.”
Constantly creating at Powder may have help Zachman win the 2017 Taste of Waldorf Astoria competition against 11 other Waldorf chefs from around the globe. The competition paired him with a James Beard chef and together, they created two dishes under the theme bar snacks. Their winning dishes were a beet-cured steelhead trout with a sweet potato bellini, an elevated play on traditional lox and bellini.
“That was one of the most extraordinary feelings when they called Waldorf Astoria in Park City. I thought, really? Did that just happen? It feels like a dream now,” he said. He’ll return to the competition to judge next year.
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