What ensures a successful restaurant? “Location, location, location,” is the usual answer. But you can hardly find a better location than the space that has been Sky Lodge, Main & Sky, Coal & Lumber, etc. Who knows why none of them lasted? Now the space is occupied by Courchevel Bistro, a Talisker property. The downstairs space is for members only, but Courchevel, with its prime people-viewing patio looking right over the pedestrian traffic, is open to all. Longtime Talisker chef Clement Gelas is in the kitchen and right at home. Courchevel is the name of Park City’s sister city in the Savoie region of France. And Savoie is Chef Gelas’ home turf. He worked with Red Bicycle Bakery to make the authentic Savoyarde bread—gorgeous, crisp-crusted but with a fine crumbit comes with cultured butter. And he suggested a bottle of Schiste Domaine des Ardoisiere, a biodynamic wine from the Savoie probably never before served in Utah.
Even now, Americans seem to forget that there are lots of regional cuisines in France. The food of Savoie is distinct and Gelas is having fun showing it off with an elegant spin.
Courchevel is as ritzy as skiing gets; the Mont Blanc-Chamonix snow is world-famous. But the food of the region has deep peasant roots that can still be tasted—even with the sophisticated turn this kitchen gives them, ingredients like cheese, potatoes and buckwheat have earthiness and heft.
Take risotto de crozote. Not really a risotto at all, this dish is more like mac and cheese, only the mac role is played by crozette, traditional small, square buckwheat pasta, the cheese is Gruyere and the (actually rather unattractive) dish is flecked with thick bits of bacon and decorated with pea tendrils. This is real stick-to-your-ribs stuff, making no health claims, delivering nothing but solid satisfaction. Likewise the bratwurst in brioche, the spicy sausage encased in a crisp crust and resting on a bed of white beans. Somehow, this all turns out to be hearty, but not heavy, food. Entrees include an unusual presentation of coq au vin served with carrot puree with potato matafan, potato pancake, crusted in grated potato. Desserts and chocolates are made by Franck Peissel. (Yes, that Franck.)
See all of our food and drink coverage here.