The Empire Fireside Dining Experience

The Empire Fireside Dining Experience

DAY THREE — Brioche or pain au chocolat?

No, we’re not in Paris or a big city patisserie.  We’re in Park City, Utah at Deer Valley Ski Resort, one of Utah’s 14 ski resorts.  At Snow Park Lodge, besides the freshly baked French pastries and muffins, the breakfast offerings include eggs benedict, home-made granola, house-smoked salmon omelets and challah French Toast.

Lunches are just as tasty with homemade stews, carved meats, freshly made pastas and homemade sauces.

There are no chicken fingers on the menu, says chef Jodie Rogers, herself the mom of two kids who especially loves to watch  kids saunter up to the carving station  and  order turkey or beef accompanied by potatoes and veggies instead of a burger.

And no one seems to miss those chicken fingers. Even at the kids’ ski school, food is healthier and delicious—salad bar, baked potatoes, home-made enchiladas one day, fresh pasta and homemade sauce another

Deer Valley Mountain Resort has been known for its food and its service since the resort first opened in 1981 and is known for its luxe accomodations—the Montage, St. Regis and Stein Eriksen Lodge  (we stay at The Chateaux which is run by Stein Eriksen).  

Now other snow resorts are catching up touting locally sourced food and service.

But Deer Valley plans to stay ahead of the curve whether you want farm-to-table cuisine, gluten free, vegan or vegetarian—you will find plenty of options.

“People are looking to make better choices for themselves and their kids,” says Rogers. At the same time, kids are more interested in experimenting with food, she said.

She points to the Empire Fireside Dining Experience with different courses cooked and served over four giant separate fireplaces.

We start with the Swiss Raclette melted cheese served with locally crafted dried and cured meats, house pickled onions, fresh strawberry tarragon chutney, boiled potatoes and three kinds of mustard.  Let’s not forget the homemade paprika.  Kids, Rogers had told me, often are more ready to dig into the sometimes unfamiliar cheese than their parents.

Delicious salad at the Deer Valley restaurant

Delicious salad at the Deer Valley restaurant

“Kids especially like the raclette,” observes Rogers.  Who wouldn’t? The salami isn’t two shabby either.

We move on to the signature veal and wild mushroom stew, almond flour dusted Utah trout,  seared pork medallions with sweet potato mousse, dill pickle and sour cream soup (an acquired taste) and farrow stew with leeks, chickpeas, currants and roasted celery root.  Much of the menu changes all the time.

There is lamb cooked over the fire served with creamy polenta and for desert, three different kinds of fondue (dark chocolate, milk chocolate and caramel, with every variety of things to dip–apple slices, bananas, strawberries, biscotti, meringues.  We can’t forget the molten chocolate cake with whipped cream.

Kids of course love that they can serve themselves, just like at Deer Valley’s famous seafood buffet where the sushi chef also makes peanut butter and jelly sushi rolls for the kids.

Speaking of sushi, Yama Sushi at Deer Valley’s Montage hotel has proved a huge hit for families. 

“People used to call way ahead if they wanted special foods. Now they just expect you’ll have gluten free and vegetarian,” said Rogers”And we are ready for them.” Just as significant, if  they didn’t offer it, “people would call us out on it,” she said

The Empire Fireside dining, I think is a bargain–$58 for adults and $28 for kids under 12 It is so popular there is always a waiting list,  despite room for 350 people a night

“Kids are exposed to more kinds of food these days and on vacation, you want them to experiment,” she added.  And the chefs want to make dining n experience for the kids as well their parents.”

As for the competition from the other resorts…”parents are pushing us for better choices for their kids and it is good for all of us… I’m going to make sure we stay ahead…I like the challenge.. .we can keep the momentum going and it drives us to be more creative.”

More chocolate fondue, please