Dinner at the Deer Valley Grocery~Café

dvgc- (3) Park City and Deer Valley Resort have many secrets only known by a select few (generally local folks, a few visitors in the know, or natural explorers). One of them might still be the Deer Valley Grocery~Café located at the Deer Valley Plaza. This restaurant stands as a refreshing oasis of calm, fine food, casual ambiance and relaxation, a stone’s-throw away from the busy commercial heart of Park City.

In fact, barely one mile separates the Grocery~Café from the bustling Historical Main Street. There, visitors will discover a place filled with serenity, framed by nature and offering sensibly priced meals on a deck facing a pond that now welcomes stand-up paddleboarding during the day and entire families of ducks that take over the water front when the sun is ready to set.

dvgc- (20)This pristine location is already known for its wonderful breakfast with delightful croissants and other morning pastries, something I have experienced since the place was taken over by Deer Valley Resort. It has gradually been gaining popularity before becoming the choice breakfast place in Park City. It is also a great spot to take someone to lunch and have a quiet conversation accompanied by good food.

dvgc- (10)What most people still don’t realize is that the Grocery~Café can also be a wonderful location for a casual, yet delightful dinner. This is something I discovered for the first time a few evenings ago and that I am definitely going to repeat.

If walking the short distance between Main Street and Deer Valley Plaza is not quite what you had in mind, just hop in your car. If you’re coming from Park City, drive up Deer Valley Drive or descend Royal Street if you are staying up the hill; you’ll always find abundant parking for your car and you’ll be welcome “Deer Valley style” by a staff that never forgets how important their guests are.

Since beautiful weather rules almost constantly in Utah, any day will do. When you get there, just place your order at the counter and pick a table on the deck. Dinner is served from 5 to 8:30 p.m. during the summer and it’s not rare to see diners linger on well into the cool evening. After you’ve ordered at the counter, the servers will bring the order right to your table.

dvgc- (17)Perhaps the best way to prepare for all the delightful options offered by the Grocery~Café extensive menu, is to go online and review its tantalizing array of fares in advance. There are great starters, a large selection of salads, the classic Deer Valley panini sandwiches and wraps, some great soup and gazpacho, plus the usual hot specialties ranging from pizza to quiche. For dinner, the Grocery~Café also offers an extensive list of specials with a good selection of vegan and gluten-free options.

dvgc- (6)The gazpacho was recommended to us, so that’s how we started our dinner. It was the perfect appetizer on such a beautiful summer evening. We continued by sharing a few small plates; the cedar plank salmon that was literally melting in the mouth and received the perfect accompaniment of rhubarb rosemary compote.

We also wanted to sample the duck breast and were not disappointed. It was roasted to perfection and was just delicious. Somehow, we also wanted to try the chicken wrap that was to die for, and dying we almost did from such a feast, but we still managed to conclude the evening with the appropriately named “World famous biscotti” for dessert. What a treat and what a discovery!

A superb evening, a relaxing, casual and beautiful setting, plus a very affordable menu have added the Deer Valley Grocery~Café to our very select list of great dinner spots in Park City. The tranquility of the site, its informality, a staff that goes out of their way to make sure everything is perfect, all these elements bring a piece of magic hard to duplicate anywhere.

Make sure to experience it during these last weeks of summer and I’ll guarantee that you too will become fans. As for us, we’ll soon be back!

The Double Life of Snow Park Restaurant

Snow falling slowly to the ground is transcending and full of magic. A blanket stitched together one fat flake at a time, it smooths the sharp edges of the world offering a more tender landscape to the senses. Few things are more inviting than the best snow on earth, and few places more than Deer Valley. Under a dark Utah sky and through the lights of the Snow Park Lodge, my friend Kate and I walked toward the Seafood Buffet last night, all smiles after several days of great skiing.

I had come to lunch last week at the Snow Park Restaurant, enjoying New York Strip with béarnaise, Seared Scallop Florentine, and a piece of cheesecake that was, as Will Ferrell says, “Scrumtrulescent.” The Scallop Florentine is easily one of my new favorites. I am almost certain that it is meant to be served over pasta, but with scallops that tender and a simmering sweet sauce I couldn’t let anything get in their way.

Instructors from the Deer Valley Ski School were enjoying lunch a few tables away, hands gesturing in smooth arcs and deep angles like pilots talking about turns and maneuvers carved out of the sky. Like many Mondays at a ski mountain everyone was very relaxed and in no hurry. I browsed the food, taking note of the house made bratwurst and gourmet pizza for my next day visit. When I was asked to come back for Seafood Dinner I readily agreed.

As we were seated for dinner the restaurant was relaxed, guests mingling at the tables and serving stations. I was immediately drawn to the Natural Buffet, specifically the Opillio crab. I may live in the Wasatch now but was raised in Maryland. Hardly a crab has gotten by me over the years. After living near the southern tidewaters for the past several years Kate naturally leaned toward the fresh shucked oysters, and steamed clams and mussels. As we began to eat it occurred to me that few foods encourage sharing like seafood. Take two or more people with a passion for sustainable gathering from the sea, and the conversation will travel up and down the coasts of the country. 

Our talk was punctuated with trips to the sushi bar and carving station (Double R Ranch prime beef!) along with our server recommended sable fish and ahi tuna.

After nearly an hour of talking and eating we made a last foray, standing at the bakery trying to make the most difficult decision of the evening. Chocolate raspberry torte and coffee finished us, the mesmerizing spell of a great meal slowly receding. Several inches had fallen while we were inside, promising a great day to come and capping a wonderful evening.

Make reservations for yourself and some friends online or by phone at 435-645-6632. If you can, take a friend who has never been to Deer Valley before. The look of contentment on their face at the end of the evening is almost as rewarding as the meal itself. Thanks to Ryan and the rest of the staff of the Snow Park Restaurant for an outstanding meal.

 

Park City Date Night

I got my first sunburn in Park City on a date night with my husband, the first Wednesday we lived here, in 2001. Yes, I said a sunburn, at night. It was my first glimpse that life at 7,500 feet was going to be even more of a change than I had expected.

By now, I’m a pro. So when I headed out for date night with Jeff last Saturday night to Royal Street Café’s table at Savor The Summit, I was prepared. To wit: in addition to a cute dress and lipgloss, I did a generous application of sunscreen, and made sure I had a cute hat for the occasion—thank you, gold, sparkly cowgirl chapeau—and big, glam shades.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Savor The Summit, you see, is a dinner party for the whole town. Restaurants set up long tables that span the length of Main Street, with a band rocking out at Miner’s Plaza, across from Cows.

And, because of the “mixer” style of the evening, there’s a chance you’ll get to spend time with new friends amidst the many familiar faces. Which is, I’m happy to report, exactly what happened to us. We not only enjoyed Deer Valley’s newest cocktails, Flower and Pine and Rosemary Radler, mixed and served by the resort’s award-winning mixologist, Bonnie Ulmer, but we got to indulge in some fun new preparations of Royal Street Café culinary faves—gazpacho shooters? Yes, please. Crawfish Bisque? But, of course. Ahi Tostada? Yummmm.

I’m proud to say, our table was an enthusiastic participant in the street-long “wave” that happened several times during the evening—and, because I’m competitive in all things, I made sure to give a friendly chide, via Tweet, to the adjacent table of Chimayo diners, whose “wave” was, to my expert eye, a bit, ahem, lackluster. We can’t all be awesome, though, can we?

Thrillingly, the evening has had many, wonderful, summery social aftershocks. I swiftly planned a walk with my friend Leslie Thatcher, KPCW’s news director, who’s still rehabbing her knee after surgery, and a “rookie” bike ride with Park City Magazine Editor Kristen Case—because, yes, eleven years in, I’m still a beginner. I’ll report back on the success of these and other summer adventures. For now, I’ll leave you with this very strong suggestion for your summer vacation planning: Save the date for Savor the Summit 2013.