Tom Kelly: Mountain dining, beyond burgers and turkey chili
As locals, we tend to head up on the mountain early, get our two to three hours in, ski down to the base and go home. Despite that, we love to talk about the rising cost of a resort burger. In actuality, there are some pretty innovative offerings on the mountain.
This week I’m assembling some of my seasonal favorites in the first Ridgelines mountain culinary tour. It’s an opportunity to look beyond burgers and turkey chili to see what other treats are in store for us and how you could enjoy lunch without breaking the bank.
This culinary tour isn’t a contest. It’s just a few items that caught my fancy and gave me a filling lunch at about the price I would pay on Main Street or a little more.
Salmon Chowder, Cloud Dine, Park City Mountain
I messaged Chef Ben at Cloud Dine that I was coming for chowder on my birthday. He obliged, holding back a healthy bowl of creamy salmon and vegetable goodness for me. It takes a while to work your way up to Cloud Dine, building an appetite en route. This is a bowl of soup that will fill you up, with chunks of salmon and potatoes and slivers of carrot. Ask the chef to top it with some diced jalapenos.
I grabbed a table by the window and a Wasatch 9990. The chowder was thick and heaped on the spoon. The mix of jalapeños gave it a little kick, while the tiny square cut potatoes added some nice texture. The salmon gave it just enough richness. This is one of my favorite meals on the mountain, clocking in at just $12.50 for a bowl!
The Taco Trio, Silver Lake Lodge, Deer Valley Resort
I picked up speed as I ripped turns down Bald Mountain, laying my Rossignols on edge and slicing over the rollers. Then it was the big drop down into Silver Lake Lodge. The menu diversity is a real attraction. But nothing beats the taco trio. The taqueria was serving three choices – mix it up or pick a favorite. I went with one of each – Niman Ranch short rib, Niman Ranch pork and shrimp – each served with some slaw and your choice of accompaniments.
The double corn tortillas gave each of the tacos some notable substance, each with a heaping portion of protein and a chewy texture. It was all I could manage to get through all three. The price on the taco trio is a bit more than a Salt Lake Valley taqueria, but at $18 for the three I thought it was a reasonable offering – especially if you were splitting.
Baby Romaine Caesar, Royal Street Cafe, Deer Valley Resort
Sometimes you just want to get away from the rush of the mountain cafeteria, I love the refuge at Royal Street Cafe, a sit-down experience – ski boots and all. Best of all, it has a diverse menu at Main Street-comparable prices.
My favorite is the baby romaine caesar – a light break from typical ski area fare, with lettuce and shaved parmesan stacked up, plus real anchovies (I’m an anchovy freak) alongside to add a notable punch – all for just $16. Most of all, I enjoy the atmosphere – a refreshing way to take a break before cranking an afternoon of turns.
BBQ Chicken Sandwich, Tombstone BBQ, Park City Mountain
Pointing my skis down from the top of the Orange Bubble, I made a beeline down the mountain, passing through traffic at Red Pine then carving nice GS turns down Chicane. Soon, that smoky smell of roasting meats wafted its way up the run as I slid to a stop at the new Tombstone BBQ. The new restaurant, plus the addition of the Over-and-Out lift have really transformed Tombstone base. It’s a happening spot with great Q being produced on site.
I walked right past the lineup of guests queuing at the counter, over to a computerized kiosk and punched in my order. In about four minutes, I picked up my BBQ chicken sandwich – pretty quick for peak Saturday lunch time. What I immediately liked were the big chunks of smoked chicken – not little strands of pulled meat. I’m a big sauce guy so the choice of original, inferno (pretty hot but not overwhelming) and Carolina was perfect.
The chicken sandwich was served alongside cornbread with honey butter and a side of slaw, all for $16.95 (buck or so more for pork or brisket).
Lamb Shepherd’s Pie, Empire Lodge, Deer Valley Resort
The fireplaces at Empire Lodge create a wonderful ski lodge atmosphere. Fair warning – this hearty lunch will stick with you for the afternoon. The Shepherd’s Pie features big chunks of roasted local lamb, mixed in a heavy gravy with sweet peas, all topped with roasted garlic Yukon mashed potatoes. Oh, and to keep it a bit healthy, there’s a wonderful side salad.
It’s a lunch that lasts all day for $17.50.
The Doughnut, Cloud Dine, Park City Mountain
Everyone loves a special treat. Mine is the freshly-baked doughnuts at Cloud Dine. It’s also a place of solitude for me in the morning – it takes a bit of time for skiers to get there. So after five lift rides, settling down for a quick break at 10 a.m. has become my routine with a fresh doughnut ($3.95) – cooked right there on-site!
As we head into the homestretch of the season this spring, take a minute and treat yourself to lunch.
Wisconsin native Tom Kelly landed in Park City in 1988 (still working on becoming an official local). A recently inducted member of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame, he is most known for his role as lead spokesperson for Olympic skiing and snowboarding for over 30 years until his retirement in 2018. This will be his 50th season on skis, typically logging 60 days in recent years.
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