TEX'S TRAVELS #2
- TEX Dec 2, 2000 01:43 AM
This follows on from my posting on the international board:
Back now in the U.S.A and westward to Park City Utah for the next week of ski racing.Arrived Monday and rented a
nice condo for the week which had a (surprisingly ) well equipped kitchen. Spent the afternoon trundling down Main
street and what ever else was left of Park City perusing the menus of various establishments. What I found most
underwhelming was the real lack of distinction between many of the places, and they all stuck to the same basic type
of menu . On the lower end you have your Burger/ Grill/ Bistro restaurants, of which there are about 20 in the
locale, all serving lower end make you fatterAmerican Junk food, typically, Burgers, Cheese, Bacon, Chili, Cajun,
or for the adventurous get yourself a buffalo burger at Burgies 570 Main St. or Wasatch Brew pub 250 Main st.
Exploring these menus further one uncovers the unearthly delights of Chicken wings, Onion rings, Mozzarella sticks,
Soups , Chicken Sandwich, 12 inch Jumbo Hot dog, Nachos, Ribs, etc. etc. truly rubbishy slop. On the same culinary
level there are a slew of Mexican and Italian Eateries serving the self same bog standard junk as above except you
have the added choice of Antipasti, Pasta ,Quesadillas or Fajitas. If you check out Corner Cafe, 1800 Park Ave,
Park City you can have both from the same menu, now theres a choice for you.
To be fair I didnt eat in any of the above mentioned places and I am sure that one or two might offer a reasonable
bite to eat, if your legs were broken and movement from ones chair proved impossible.
Moving into middle territory there seem to be few Thai and couple of Japanese and the higher class Steak/Grill
establishments. I had a nice bowl of Tom Young Goong, a spicy/ sour soup of Shrimp, Mushrooms, Lime leaf and
Lemon grass at Bancock Thai on Main, 605 Main st. The temperature was minus 18 Centigrade and I was out in the
street watching the draw for the following days race, so I needed something to warm me up. Of course in Europe I
would have wandered over to the nearest booth dispensing Gluwein or Jagertee Punsch, but this being America AND
Utah there was no hope of that.
I went with my friends Lena, Britta and Scott to have dinner on the Wednesday night at Kampai Japanese Restaurant
and Sushi bar, 586 Main St. The Meal was decent, Gyoza dumplings were tasty and not too greasy, and the Tempora
was light and again not greasy. The Sashimi was of good quality and fresh. The spicy Tuna roll was lost in its spicy
sauce but the fried spider crab roll was the nights winner, it had a nice plum/soy tasting sauce. Presentation was nice
but the most surprising aspect was our waitress. She stood and listened whilst we all reeled off our orders and
between the four of us we probable took 13 or 14 different things, she then proceeded without writing anything down
to relay back to us our entire order perfectly. Photographic memory recall, definitely up for a good tip. Liquor in
Utah is another story, and the waitstaff are not allowed to ask you if you want anything to drink, Utah law requires
the customer to request a wine and liquor menu. Total bill with Saki and beer for four was $117. (+ a good tip) .
There are about a dozen better level restaurants,( roast/glazed Duck breast, seared/grilled Salmon Fillet, Crusted lamb
Sea Bass, Venison/Ostrich/Caribou, although some are located as much as 30 mins drive away. I never made it to any
of them but the Barolo and Anise rack of Wild Boar at Blue Boar Inn 1235 Warm Springs rd, Midway Utah
looked interesting, as did the Breast of chicken stuffed with Chestnuts, spinach and lemon in Sauterne sauce at the
Juniper at Snowed Inn , 3770 North Highway 224 Park City. The Juniper also has a Wine Spectator award of
excellence, as does 350 Main @ 350 Main st, the Goldener Hirsch inn, mid-mountain, Deer Valley, and the Valhalla
at Stein Eriksen Lodge, mid-mountain, Deer Valley.
Strangest dining place must be the Viking Dinner Yurt, you take a gondola up to Red Pine Lodge and then cross
country ski or snowshoe at 8,000 ft through the forest to your five course meal in a yurt plonked on the
mountain-side. Address as you would guess is a little unknown , but the phone no is 435-615-9878.
Park City I must say was a disappointment for me as far as food goes, next year the Olympics will be here and the
Giant Slalom races will be taking place on the mountain and for the slew of Europeans that will be out here to cheer
there teams on I think that they will have a severe case of food culture shock.
On the Sunday I drove to Aspen where I have been before and where I had much higher food expectations. Tuesday
night I trundled down to Matsuhisa for a solo birthday dinner. I was looking forward to this as I had eaten in the
newly opened Nobu Malibu a couple of months ago when I was out in California and was eager to try out the Aspen
branch. From the outside a small wooden sided, single story suburban house greets you, the entrance is around the
side on Monarch st. one descends via elevator or stairs into the basement where it opens up into a large well designed
room with a spacious open kitchen, it seems to have no relationship to the house upstairs at all. I sat at the sushi bar
and was immediately drawn into a conversation with the chef Kiyomi Sano. I ordered Tempora rock shrimp in a
creamy spicy sauce, Squid Pasta with Asparagus and shitaake mushrooms in garlic sauce ( one of his mainstay
dishes) and the Broiled cod in miso sauce. The Shrimp were disappointing and rubbery, but the Squid was delectable
and the sauce very subtle, I have had this dish before and the sauce has been over garlicky and has consequently
spoiled the dish. The Cod arrived sizzling at the edges and was marvelous, juicy firm thick flakes of flesh perfectly
cooked. It was very enlightening to be able to watch all that was going on in the kitchen and to see how things were
being cooked and prepared. Sadly I was too full to try any Sashimi but the quality of the fish looked to be first class.
I didnt drink, other than water, and the bill was $42. I walked in without a reservation and the restaurant was pretty
empty, but it is early in the season and Ill bet it gets packed as the winter holidaymakers pour in. I would recommend
this to anyone who wishes to have a Nobu Matsuhisa experience without the cost or reservation hassles associated
with its New York counterpart (that is of course if you find yourself in Aspen).
Matsuhisa 303 E Main st Aspen, at Monarch. 544-6628
Following night I dined out with my friend Doug at Rustique, a new Bistro co-owned by Charles Dale, recipient of
Food and Wine magazines best new chef award in 1995. The Menu spans the bistro mainstays of Escargots,
Rillettes, Grilled Skate wing, Calves liver. I took the Cassoulet, which by my standards as a self proclaimed
Cassoulet expert, (although I dont yet have my Cassole hat from the Grande Confrerie du Cassoulet de Castelnaudry)
I would rate at a 7 out of 10. Good but not great, a little dry and only close with the sausage, and where are they
going to get their Tarbais beans up here?. Doug took the skate which came with stuffed vegetables and a Caper
tapanade which was extremely good, tasty and cooked perfectly. We had the charcuterie plate to share for starters
and it was a good companion for the house Pichet of Vin Rouge. The wine list was small but well priced with at least
a dozen bottles under $30. Deserts looked good but we didnt try any and there was a cheese plate floating around
somewhere but I have never found a decent cheese plate in America yet, so have given up trying. Total bill for 2 was
Rustique 216 S.Monarch 920-2555
Next night I went to Cache Cache with my friend Peter who coaches the Austrian womens speed team, we needed
big warm food as we had been up on the Mountain all day and had walked from our lodge in temperatures of -22 F.
The restaurant has a very pleasant feeling through the decor which is tasteful and understated. I had wanted to check
out this place because I heard that the wine list was extensive, and so it was. I think that other than the Little Nell ,
which has the definitive encyclopedia of wine in Aspen, the list here must come in next. There is a staggering array of
French Bordeauxs and Burgundies with verticals of many of the finest, there was also a wide selection of Californian
wines as well as Austrian, South African, Australian,Spanish. Also a large selection of Large bottles and a decent
amount of 1/2 bottles. There is not too much by the glass however and with such a large assortment of wines I think
that this is an oversight. Prices are high but it is a nice read and will take you a good ten minutes to travel the length
and breadth of it. Peter didnt like the Onion soup stating that it was too sweet and I would agree with him. We also
tried the Fois Gras terrine and warm goat cheese crouton salad, both of which were average. Earlier in the week I had
eaten here ( Monday) and had an extremely good duck confit salad, which had prompted my return. Main courses. I
had the Rotisserie duck with orange sauce and frites, and Peter had the Caves Liver. Both were tasty and cooked, as
well as presented, nicely. I had taken the Marseille seafood stew and Aioli on my previous visit but found it
overpowered with saffron and the Aioli consisted of two pieces of toast spread with garlic butter, not my idea of
seafood stew with aioli. We took a bottle of 95 Solitude Pinot Noir Carneros which slipped down like ice cream and
the total for two with wine was $170. More like Aspen prices. This place is good but very uneven with its dishes,
some are standout and some are disappointing, still we had a good evening and continued onto the Caribou Club, but
as that only involves only drinking and no food I am afraid I cannot divulge any further information.
On Sunday I drove back to Salt Lake city for an early Monday flight and could not find much open at all. Salt lake
City is like a ghost town on Sunday nights. Had to make do with the local Burger King.
Now in N.Y.C for the week, took dinner with friends at Waterloo Brasserie on Wednesday which I always find
decent and reasonably priced with its $22 dollar bottles of 96 Lhortus Languedoc wine.
On Monday I am off to Val Disere and St. Moritz with a quick spell in Berlin and London in between. I am already
planning to stop at Auberge de Lill and Buerehiesel near Strasbourg for more 3 star experiences and I know there
are some jewels up around St. Moritz as well as ex- Girardet, now Lhotel de ville- Phillipe Rochat in Crissier
Switzerland. Too much choice not enough time.
PIP--PIP Keep you posted.