Dining out: Summer in the mountains

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Park City view from Marriot Summit Watch
Park City view from Marriot Summit Watch

Don’t let the current falling temperatures fool you. We’ve still many days left to our Dante-inspired Summer weather. And that means several opportunities to justify an escape to various canyons and mountains. Here’s a roundup of a few dining options from my own recent travels.

Reef’s Restaurant – I can’t imagine the space for this restaurant comes cheap. Sat within the shopping plaza of the Marriott Summit Watch, I have to believe the menu’s pricing stems in some part from seriously hefty rents.

If memory serves the Beet Fries appetizer clocked in at a whopping $14. That, for a modest bowl of wedge-cut beets, deep fried to a crisp completion. Ordered with a sampler plate (itself giddily approaching twenty dollars) of hummus, babaghanouj, tahini and falafel the duo made for a fun way to linger on Reef’s patio; glass of something drinkable in hand, summer breeze, watch the world go by, wonderful.

Quality wise, everything was faultless, and so you’d hope at these prices. Firm falafel that doesn’t require dental work is always a plus and the smooth, creamy and garlicky eggplant dip was quality. I forget which of these two dishes also came with a feisty oil based, jalapeno dip, but it was stellar stuff and worth making sure it’s at your table regardless of your order.

reefs sampler plate
Reef’s – sampler plate
reefs restaurant beet fries
Reef’s Restaurant – beet fries
reefs beet fries pita wine
Reef’s – beet fries, pita bread, delicious wine
marriot summit watch plaza
Marriot Summit Watch – plaza of shops and restaurants just behind Main Street

710 Main St, Park City, UT 84060
(435) 658-0323
www.reefsrestaurant.com

Butcher’s Chop House – It’s easy to get carried away by the latest, trendiest openings in Park City. I’d suggest Butcher’s is about as far removed from the word trendy as I am. That’s not a slight on my part, I’m a fan of Butcher’s. Far more often than not, I could care less to deal with the baggage that accompanies the painfully hip; the baying crowds, the $15 cocktail list or the insufferably weird table ware that’s seemingly de rigeur of any new restaurant. Butcher’s has none of this. It’s steady, it’s solid, it’s a casual, classic steak house. Done.

Every time I’ve dined here, and that’s been a few times over the years, I’ve left comfortably happy. Summer sees 2-for-1 specials, so treat your special other to something luxe like king crab legs and order yourself a free steak. The freebies aren’t second rate either, the filet mignon (pictured below) I enjoyed recently was as enjoyable as any I can recall in recent memory and perfectly cooked to order.

The staff are friendly and relaxed and the bar area is remarkably wallet friendly for Park City; and serves well for both pre and post dinner drinks. Perhaps my only let down at our recent dinner was a rather mediocre bread pudding.

butchers chop house crab legs
Butcher’s Chop House – king crab legs
butchers filet mignon 1
Butcher’s Chop House – filet mignon
Butcher's Chop House filet mignon
Butcher’s Chop House – filet mignon interior
Butcher's Chop House - bread pudding ala mode
Butcher’s Chop House – bread pudding ala mode

751 Main St, Park City, UT 84060
(435) 647-0040
www.butcherschophouse.com

Peace Love And Little Donuts – Fear not, for breakfast comes in the form of even more sugar. Oh so much sugar. Wait, you don’t cover chain restaurants, blah blah blah. Well, I do when I happen to enjoy one that catches me by surprise, and this little family run franchise made me smile; friends and acquaintances will confirm, this is a rare, and slightly unnerving event.

The hippie vibe might be a tad in your face for some, but the concoctions are fun, and the prices aren’t terribly egregious. Load up on processed cane sugar, a cup of Joe to go, and you’ll be set for hours; indeed you’ll probably be ready to hike the nearby trails like a crack addled Olympian several times over.

peace love little donuts exterior
Peace Love and Little Donuts – exterior
peace love little donuts menu
Peace Love And Little Donuts – menu
peace love little donuts donuts
Peace Love And Little Donuts – donut counter
peace love little donuts donut box
Peace Love and Little Donuts – donut box

738 Main St, Park City, UT 84060
(435) 565-1799
www.peaceloveandlittledonuts.com

Honeycomb Grill – What a difference a year makes. Since the whole resort was taken over by Deer Valley sometime in the prevailing 12 months, this Solitude restaurant seems to have undergone quite the transformation; despite our server’s attestations everything was businesses as normal – my own experience was night and day. For one, the restaurant was correctly staffed this year; despite a wedding in full flow on the beautiful outdoor patio, our own needs were met wonderfully.

And what a hidden gem of a menu too. There’s nothing overtly ostentatious here, but there’s an understated attempt to lean on local and quality ingredients. Names like Niman Ranch and High West interlace a menu that’s seasonally spry. A pistachio dusted Utah trout was plated simply and cooked pitch perfect (served with sweet corn, arugula, herbed fire roasted tomatoes, lemon basil pistou) and more than reasonable at twenty bucks. An order of flatbread was fine too, charred edges, smushy in places, and popping with summer brightness.

My only quibble? If you’re going to serve me ice cream topped peach cobbler in a mason jar, I can guarantee you I’m going to leave your restaurant looking like a three year old was having a grand old time. This is on you.

honeycomb grill flatbread
Honeycomb Grill – flatbread
honeycomb grill trout
Honeycomb Grill – Utah trout
honeycomb grill fresh peach cobbler
Honeycomb Grill – fresh peach cobbler

12000 Big Cottonwood Canyon Rd, Salt Lake City, UT 84121
(801) 536-5787
https://skisolitude.com/village-dining/honeycomb-grill

Silver Fork Lodge – I’ve been here twice for breakfast. Twice the restaurant seemed to be in some form of nuclear melt down. I’m honestly unsure as to what’s so complex about a menu that largely comprises short order cooking, at least for the breakfast hours I’ve stopped by. This last visit included a thoroughly messed up order, staff running around like headless chickens, even barking at customers at one point.

Despite the quirks, I really dig this place and would come again. My botched order was rectified quickly and also supplemented with freebie coffee by way of apology. The canyon charm and wood cabin vibe go a long way in papering over some of the organizational cracks, it’s a fun place to hang out and relax.

silverfork lodge exterior
Silver Fork Lodge – exterior
silverfork lodge interior
Silver Fork Lodge – interior
silverfork lodge chorizo sandwich
Silver Fork Lodge – chorizo sandwich

11332 E Big Cottonwood Canyon Rd, Brighton, UT 84121
(801) 533-9977
www.silverforklodge.com

Stuart avatar

Hi, I’m Stuart, nice to meet you!  I’m the founder, writer and wrangler at Gastronomic SLC and The Utah Review; I’m also a former restaurant critic of more than five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune.  I’ve worked extensively with other local publications from Utah Stories through to Salt Lake Magazine and Visit Salt Lake.

I’m a multiple-award winning journalist and have covered the Utah dining scene for more than a decade.   I’m largely fueled by Uinta Cutthroat, alliteration and the use of too many big words I don’t understand.  I ate all the pies.

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