By Eileen Ogintz
PARK CITY, UTAH — We expected to be on the mountain by now.
But it’s not only snowing but so windy that the trees outside our condo are quaking. It’s bound to be miserable on the mountain, we think. And since we are EPIC season pass holders, we don’t feel compelled to get our daily lift ticket money’s worth.
“We’re all here for family time, that doesn’t necessarily mean on the mountain,” says my daughter Mel Yemma, who drove six hours with her boyfriend from Crested Butte, CO for this weekend rendezvous with us (we flew from Denver) and her older sister and brother-in-law from San Francisco.
Besides, our planned meet up for lunch at the newly renovated Mid Mountain Lodge at Park City Mountain Resort(complete with a full service bar serving artisanal cocktails) never happened as a result of long lift lines and so much terrain. Park City Mountain Resort, after all, is now the largest in the country, boasting more than 7300 acres.
We finally met up après-ski at our Park City Lodging condo with the two last stragglers walking back from the Town Lift after 4:30 pm. It was dumping snow. A night to order pizza?
Nope. We decided to follow the locals to Hearth and Hill, at Kimball Junction about eight miles outside of Park City. The place was packed with locals who, general manager Mia Yue explained “don’t want to be looking for parking places on Main Street.”
The huge new restaurant (over 5,000 square feet) with its visible kitchen is a father-son venture of Brooks and David Kirchheimer with executive chef Jordan Harvey. The aim is to be a gathering place offering a fresh take on comfort food and a healthy kids’ menu—everything from tomato soup and grilled cheese to grilled salmon or chicken breast to a quesadilla with chicken, sweet potato, Oaxaca cheese and guacamole.
The vegetarians in our group with very happy with the grilled artichoke, gnocchi and truffle Mac and Cheese, while the rest of us chowed down on shrimp shumai, salads, ramen complete with kimchee and the best Korean Fried Chicken with potato scallion waffles.
Desserts—and two were plenty for the six of us—included Sundae Nachos (chocolate waffle, pizzle cookies, banana, coconut almond ice cream, hut fudge caramel sauce, almonds and whipped cream. Equally yummy was the Crème Brule.
Another plus: portions large enough to share and prices that weren’t over the top – The Korean chicken which we shared was $26; the Truffle Mac and Cheese $10. Deserts were $10 or less and the kids’ menu ranged from $6 for soup and sandwich to $11 for the grilled salmon that came with mashed potatos, salad or vegetable.
Even with the added expense of an Uber because no one wanted to drive in the snow (about $20 each way) we all agreed Hearth and Hill was well worth the effort to get there.
Of course Park City is packed with restaurants from Deer Valley’s Stein Eriksen Lodge famous for its weekend brunch to Riverhorse on Main known for Utah game (elk and bison) trout and vegetarian dishes.
The exceedingly popular High West Distilleryat the base of the Town Lift has now opened a full-fledged distillery in Wanship, 10 miles west of town. There is also the first microbrewery in Utah, Wasatch Brew Pub on Main and the newest spirits maker, Alpine Distilling, specializing in gin (couples can make their own gin!)
The great thing about Park City is that there are plenty of great food options for those traveling with kids (locals recommend Twisted Fern along with Hearth and Hill) or those, like us with adult kids, High West Distillery in town is for those 21 and older. Besides the artisanal cocktails, order anything from a house made pretzel-with pickles and mustard, pickle brined chicken wings, fondue to steaks, pork chops, burgers and more.
There is also plenty to do if you don’t want to ski—spas (The Montage in Deer Valley has one of the best I’ve ever seen), bowling, ice skating, swimming at the Park City Municipal Athletic Rec Center and the South Summit Aquatic Center, the Utah Olympic Park, workshops at the Kimball Art Center, yoga, climbing gyms, places to snowshoe and XC ski, even Park City Ghost Tours. For those with special challenges there is the National Ability Center, which offers a variety of on-snow sports.
As for us, we are going to take a rare opportunity—and go to a movie together, order Chinese food for dinner and soak in the hot tub.