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Tom Clyde: Lunch reimagined

Tom Clyde
  

Skiing has been remarkably good by any measure, and given this tough snow year, it’s almost a miracle. I’ve been on the Canyons Village side of PCMR, where Kokopelli had good coverage and nice spring skiing. We managed to get 25 runs in this week — with only five lift rides. From Payday, you can ski Bonanza Access, Dividend and a bit of Home Run before turning to Lower Silver Skis, and then Home Run again. There was some debate if Phil’s Hill was an official run or not. That’s a full day of skiing and we did it in a little over an hour. Excellent coverage, mid-winter snow conditions, and at 10 a.m., there was still parking available.

Park Record columnist Tom Clyde.

Deer Valley had a nice opening event for season pass holders last Friday. People came and took a couple of runs on good snow. It never felt crowded. Sunday it seemed like there were more patrollers on the hill than customers, as they trained new staff and got things up and running. Again, mid-winter conditions on the few open runs. Really good skiing, and great to be on something a little steeper than Home Run.

Everything is back to normal. Last winter was severely COVID impacted, and we had to deal with masks and reduced chair loading, which resulted in long lines and closer exposure to others than would have been the case if they had loaded every chair. It was still a good ski season, but weird. This year, lifts are loading normally. It felt so good to be back to normal.



So good, in fact, that my group decided we would celebrate the return of normal by having lunch at Snow Park Lodge. We used to do that a couple of times a week before the plague. Last year, in the pre-vaccine days, it didn’t feel comfortable inside, even with reduced capacity. We ate on the deck a few times, but mostly skied until we were hungry and went home. The tailgate parties in the parking lot looked like a good idea other than having to plan ahead.

Nothing says back to normal quite like lunch at Deer Valley. The celebration of normal was short-lived. The restaurant formerly known as Snow Park has been “reimagined.” That’s never a good thing. It’s now the “Fresh Tracks Kitchen.” You can eat outside from the “grab-and-go” window, or you can eat inside. (At Silver Lake, the grab-and-go is a shipping container washed ashore on the deck.) Food bought at the grab-and-go can’t come inside, and food ordered inside can’t go out on the deck. All morning I had been drooling for a Snow Park chicken enchilada. That’s not happening.



The reimagined menu at Fresh Tracks is largely based on “hot bowls,” which I’m told by people who get out more are trendy on the coasts. These are bowls, and you get to choose a few items to have scooped into them, like picking flavors for a three-scoop ice cream sundae. I first saw it at Breckenridge a couple of years ago. It was really good, but there, you could stand at the counter and look at the various options to make your selection. Here it’s a drop-down list on your phone. It takes a lot of imagination to turn that into an enchilada.

The cafeteria format is probably gone for good, a casualty of COVID and labor shortages. Now, you get to order and pay through an app on your phone. You never have to talk to one of those famously friendly, cheerful Deer Valley employees. In fact, you can’t. I decided to try something from the grill. The reimagined grill offers exactly one item — a hamburger. You click on the burger, and then there is a drop-down menu for garnishes to add. To get a glass of water, you need to start over, access the cocktail menu, and at the bottom there is a button for “glass of water.” It has all the ambiance of a parking meter.

My group would have done better if we had had a 12-year-old with us for IT support. None of us skis with our reading glasses. The menu app doesn’t talk to the season pass app, so to apply the pass holder discount, you have to fill out a separate piece of paper with more information than it takes to register a car, including the 15-digit number that is embedded in the bar code on the season pass.

I think I know why it’s been such a poor snow year. It’s all the heat generated by Edgar Stern spinning in his grave.

Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.

Correction: A previous version of this column included incorrect information about the menu offerings for children at the Fresh Tracks Kitchen. The kids menu includes cheeseburgers, hamburgers, chicken tenders and salmon.


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