Dining in restaurants was a little different on this trip to Utah. I ordinarily seek out the best of the newest and review a classic selection or two. In an attempt to remain as safe as possible, I limited my search to those with appealing outdoor dining spaces. That meant skipping some of Park City’s most interesting restaurants, but fortunately, I found three fine choices within easy distance of downtown.
We most enjoyed this distillery-owned bar and restaurant, a block off Park City’s Main Street. We ended up on the terrace of the converted historic home that houses the saloon, overlooking a patio shaded by red umbrellas. Although we visited at lunchtime, I couldn’t resist trying one of the unique cocktails on the menu, all of which incorporated High West Distillery spirits. The Kid Curry cocktail combined American Prairie Bourbon, Aperol, fresh watermelon, garam masala simple syrup, lemon and sudachi (a Japanese citrus fruit), resulting in a refreshing sweet-savory drink with a bit of bitterness on the finish and a slightly tannic texture. Delicious. For an appetizer, we split some gnocchi, which came deeply browned. The preparation was unorthodox, but I enjoyed their crunchy-gooey texture nevertheless. They were served with fresh local corn, asparagus, cherry tomatoes and preserved lemon, which added a welcome pop of acidity. Even better was my main course of buttermilk-fried local quail with savory ginger fried rice, topped with a salad of shaved fennel and mixed greens dressed in a kimchi vinaigrette. The service was very friendly and professional.
High West Saloon
703 Park Avenue. Tel. (435) 649-8300
This casually stylish spot has a prime location at the base of the Silver Star Lift, with outdoor tables either overlooking the ski slope or a golf course at the base of the hill. We had a table with a panoramic view of the latter. At dinner, the menu has a range of mostly Mediterranean-inflected dishes, such as Moroccan-spiced turkey meatballs with cucumber yogurt, or pork osso bucco with tomatillo salsa and coconut creamed corn. We visited at lunch, however, which focuses on sandwiches and delicious thin-crust Neopolitan-style pizzas (the elk burger is always available). I opted for a pizza topped with roasted artichoke, red pepper, Castelvetrano olives, pecorino and garlic ricotta, with a roasted-tomato sauce spiked with scallions. Its thin crust had exactly the texture I prefer, and the ricotta balanced out the acidity and smokiness of the vegetables. A glass of zesty and full-bodied Albariño from Lodi was a delicious accompaniment.
Silver Star Café
1825 Three Kings Drive. Tel. (435) 655-3456
I read glowing reviews of this “chef-owned restaurant that’s doing ingredient-driven dining right.” It has an unpromising location in a strip mall on the outskirts of Park City’s center, but the patio is shaded by trees festooned with strings of lights, overlooking a sagebrush-covered hillside nearby. Our server recommended the octopus appetizer, cooked sous vide to assure tenderness, “but it’s a hard sell,” she said, “because it’s, well, octopus.” She seemed even more excited about the farinata, chickpea-flour pancakes topped with black pepper-spiked carrot purée, crunchy slices of red pepper and zucchini, sweet grapes and refreshing mint. The salad tasted bright and delicious, but the farinata proved to be dry as dust. Much better was Utah elk tenderloin, cooked medium-rare, with rosemary roasted fingerling potatoes and rich cippollini onion cream. The elk had a delectable black-pepper crust and a flavor reminiscent of mild venison. Fruity and well-balanced Rodney Strong Pinot Noir paired beautifully. Dinner only, closed Sunday and Monday.
1300 Snow Creek Drive. Tel. (435) 731-8238