The big news is that Jean-Georges has left the building.

His world-renowned name is no longer associated with St. Regis Deer Valley. Who knows exactly why? Maybe he just got sick and tired of never coming to his namesake restaurant.

More to the point, who cares? The notion of chefs becoming brands is so ’80s, anyway. Remember Wolfgang Puck? Once he was more than a pizza label.

We like restaurants with chefs in their own kitchens, hands-on, passionate, part of the community they live in. Of course, a resort like St. Regis has a jet-set community—the world is their home and they can afford $1500 per night rooms. They’re part of the club. But restaurants, even at high-flying resorts like St. Regis, need local custom, especially ski resorts in the summer.

So everything has changed and after last night’s dinner at Rime, I’d say for the better. I loved the former sous-chef in JG’s kitchen; Chef Rachel Wiener was a force of perfection and originality, but I was happy to meet one of the new chefs, Austin Hamilton and to see Chef Matthew Harris, chef-owner of Tupelo, in the driver’s seat. Meaning he, to use a loathed but commonly-used word, “concepted” the new restaurants at St. Regis.

Rime is the first to open. Originally planned as a Main Street restaurant, but blocked by the outrageous rent, Rime was an experiment up on the slopes last year, it proved so popular that it’s been given a full-fledged home in the main resort building where even non-swooshers can enjoy it. Harris says the menu is an homage to the first-rate purveyors he’s worked with over his career—oysters from Sue in Maine, elk from Delta, Utah, pasta from Bartolo’s, micro-greens from Brickhouse. What it boils down to is the tried-and-true steak and seafood combination but executed with great precision and elegance.

Three types of oysters, from East coast to Northwest, were presented on ice in big rock salt bins before dinner, first with an Alpine gin old-fashioned type of cocktail, then more pleasantly with champagne. Elk loin and dry-aged Desert Mountain Ranch porterhouse were ceremoniously carved in front of guests so the aromas hit the senses before the plate was even presented, starkly, with just the sliced meat and a slight puddle of sauce.

The complication was in the sides: romanescu with a parsnip puree and hazelnut crumble; Brussels sprouts roasted to dark caramelization with pickled carrots and a hint of chile; roasted heirloom carrots with a pecan romesco. No potato—the starch of the meal was a bowl of fantastic and simple clam spaghetti, served as a second course and luxuriously topped with winter truffle. Dessert, a complicated and beautiful take on the St. Regis signature s’more, was a superfluous delight.

But Rime is not all: a French brasserie-style menu will be served in another part of the vast space that was once Jean-George’s kingdom and a third concept is planned for the terrace.

So. Stay tuned. But in the meantime, stop in for surf-n-turf at Rime.

And don’t worry—the famous Bloody Mary is still on the bar menu.

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