Let’s be honest: The opportunity to dine in the mountainside Yurt at Solitude Mountain Resort on a snowy evening is enticement enough. Few fantasies can be more romantic.
The fir trees, laden with snow, the hushed background of fresh snow that makes every crunchy step of your boots sound digitally clear, the icy cold that feels bracingly fresh and hardens to lip-paralyzing numbness by the time you reach the welcoming glow of the entryway and that first body-warming taste of wine after you’ve stamped the snow off and hung up your coat—all those sensations are delightful enough without even considering the food.
And when you realize that all the cooking equipment, stove, pans, tables, table settings, linens—every single thing you need for a dinner party, including cases of wine—have to be transported up the mountain. It’s the ultimate camping kitchen, the very thought of which makes you relish the idea of a hotdog on a stick even more. I have to point out, they could have saved a little weight by choosing to pack a smaller pepper grinder.
But that the meal is prepared at all is amazing. That it’s a five-course meal served all at once to 40 people or so is more amazing.
And that the quality of the meal exceeds that of most Salt Lake City and Park City restaurants is jaw-dropping. Well, pick up your jaw and chew, because that’s how good this is. (And all served with showmanship and perfect timing.)
The perfect scallop. The hefty frisee salad that makes you want a second serving. (When does that happen) Beef cooked two ways—perfectly raspberry-rare loin and deeply braised TK, served together, a trick that would be just that if the two flavors weren’t bridged by just-cooked greens instead of bland potato. Siding meat with greens instead of starch provides a flavor segue between the metallic flavor of rare beef and the mouth-coating fat of the braise. A brilliant move by Chef Craig Gerome.
Most brilliant of all is the confined, cozy ambiance of the Yurt. Everyone is seated communally and after some shared wine, your fellow dinner guests are your friends.
Solitude Mountain Resort, 12000 Big Cottonwood Canyon Road 801-536-5765.
Note: In past years, the yurt has been a winter-only experience, but there is talk of adding summer hours. Check with the resort to see.
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