There's lots of razzle-dazzle dining in them thar PC hills these days.
Spruce, J&G Grill, Talisker on Main have all added extra luster to the four-star stalwarts like Glitretind, Mariposa, 350 Main. But we enjoyed a tasting menu last night that topped them all at quaint, old-world Goldener Hirsch. If you think wiener schnitzel when you see the stag, re-think. Chef Michael Showers is on a roll, incorporating all the trends-house-made charcuterie, sous-vide, obscure greens and local everything-into dishes that have all the grace of classics.
The place is lovely on a summer evening-the windows were open so we could feel the breeze and smell the mountain air and we couldn't help thinking how coziness is so underrated right now. Everything has to be so grand, with tall ceilings and spacious views, and minimalist, with clean, hard lines and neutral colors. The Alpine carved shield-back chairs and stencilled walls were a comforting relief.
First came the amuse, accompanied by a glass of Beni di Batasiolos, Moscato d"Asti whose crisp-edged nectar balanced the salt and smoke of house-cured lomo or pork loin rolled around smoked Oregon blue cheese and echoed the sweetness of the enfolded D'anjou pear. Perfect.
Second, delicately fried squash blossoms filled with truffle-infused Drake's goat cheese with a tart vinaigrette made from Kamas tomatoes. With it, a Lageder Pinot Bianco from Alto Adige, that Alpine part of Italy where Goldener Hirsch would look right at home.
A deceptively simple plate of thick asparagus spears, peeled up to the buds, were sprinkled with lamb pancetta cracklings, Beehive cheddar and a poached Utah egg whose runny yolk provided the unctuous mouthfeel that is the reason we love hollandaise with asparagus.
A thick blue crab cake was seasoned with Thai curry and Kaffir lime and servd with gingered tartar sauce on a stack of double-fried frites. Amazingly, my mouth still waters when I think of it, and the Helfrich Gewurtztraminer extended the aromatic delight.
The courses were suitably small, because there were so many. Nevertheless, at this point I was beginning to droop from sensory overload. We worked our way through the pressed squab, cooked sous-vide style and served with puy lentils and roasted porcini with saba, the intense Sardinian grape must reduction. The Louis Latour Bourgogne took us from this and into the next course of halibut with espelette (a Basque chile pepper I'd never heard of) with pea vines, paprika and lemon, and then it was time for recess-Limerick Lane Zinfandel, "Molly's Black," whose aroma jumped out of the glass and made us want to take our shoes off. With it, simply, Morgan Valley lamb loin basted with chermoula, a North African spice marinade and sided with lovely gnocchi in a yogurt sauce, effectively turning an English lamb dinner into exotic Moroccan fare.
Desserts-cinnamon-dusted beignets with blueberries and sauteed peaches with torched sabayon and a glass of late-harvest chenin blanc-ended the bliss, altogether one of the most remarkable meals I've had, and proving Chef Showers runs a destination kitchen, definitely worth the drive from SLC or another resort.
If I were you, I'd head for the hills.