Along the Banks of Trail Creek

As our server Shauna approached the table to take a drink order with her signature smile, the business of the day began to evaporate into the tumbling water of Trail Creek as it raced just feet from where we sat. The wide wooden deck, perched inches away from the burbling stream, was set with umbrellaed tables and offered a full bar, complete with comfortable bar stools and festooned with twinkling lights.

The deck at beautiful Trail Creek Cabin awaits to make your dining dreams come true!

The deck at beautiful Trail Creek Cabin awaits to make your dining dreams come true!

Welcome to summer at Trail Creek Cabin, Sun Valley’s historic restaurant located 1.5 miles east of the Sun Valley Lodge. This romantic hideaway in the Idaho hills was originally built in 1937 as a hunting lodge and now offers a first-class dining experience featuring a menu filled with the freshest, most local, most seasonal choices available.

There is no better place this summer to enjoy a hand-crafted cocktail (pictured is the Hawaiian Cosmopolitan) and delicious, locally-sourced food.

There is no better place this summer to enjoy a hand-crafted cocktail (pictured is the Hawaiian Cosmopolitan) and delicious, locally-sourced food.

This summer, creekside dining is a must-do. Though the restaurant normally offers al fresco dining on the lawn adjacent to the restaurant, there is something really special about descending the steps onto the deck. The slight mineral smell of the creek and the sounds it makes as it bounces over rocks and around bends ensure a one-of-a-kind experience.

Through June 21, the menu at Trail Creek Cabin includes a nightly “deck” special, that for $15.95, is a can’t-miss. This week, the special included a grilled New York Steak with crushed red potatoes and seasonal vegetables accompanied by a glass of red wine and ending with homemade cinnamon ice cream.

The daily 'deck special' hit the spot.

The daily 'deck special' hit the spot.

The rest of the menu this summer, under the direction of Chef Wendy Little, is full of delicious details and fan favorites. Small plates include House Smoked Rainbow Trout with potato and watercress salad, a Charcuterie Plate and Ground Elk-Buffalo Sliders. A complement of salads provide a light interlude and rely on locally grown, in-season ingredients. Large plates range from Grilled Eggplant for the vegetarian to a Bone-In Cowboy Rib Eye for those who crave a taste of the wide-open range. Of course, wonderful fish dishes like Cedar Planked Alaskan King Salmon and Potato Wrapped Idaho Sturgeon with sublime sides are also available.

Trail Creek Cabin is also known for it’s hand-crafted cocktails and extensive wine list. Bartender Richard carefully prepares Basil Lemondrops using fresh basil that is still growing behind the bar. Another favorite is a Huckleberry Mojito, full of the flavor of fresh local huckleberries. My favorite is the Hawaiian Cosmopolitan made with fresh pineapple. It’s a trip to the beach without ever having to leave the beautiful Idaho mountains.

My chicken was juicy and flavorful, perfect for a summer's evening.

My chicken was juicy and flavorful, perfect for a summer's evening.

Save room for dessert as Trail Creek Cabin’s enormous “Mile High” Mud Pie is something you have to taste to believe. They also serve local ice creams, a wonderful chocolate lava cake and specialties featuring in-season berries and fruit.

For dinner one night recently, our party of four enjoyed a relaxing dinner on the deck and ordered a wide selection from the menu. I sampled the night’s Market Salad that was comprised of the freshest local asparagus, crumbled egg, a bit of breadcrumb and hazelnuts. It was accompanied by a wild mushroom strudel and was absolutely perfect. Our large plates ranged from the Bone-In Cowboy Rib Eye (with the best buttermilk onion rings ever), the deck special, Brick Red Organic Rotisserie Chicken and the Slow Cooked Heritage Pork Ribs. Delicious!

Bring your friends and enjoy a memorable meal along the banks of Trail Creek.

Bring your friends and enjoy a memorable meal along the banks of Trail Creek.

To make a special night even more special, book a round-trip carriage ride to Trail Creek Cabin from the Resort. This approximately half-hour journey includes beautiful scenery and the chance to take life at a slighter slower pace. For details on this memorable option and to ask about the Mountain Romance package, please call 208.622.2387.

Reservations for dinner are available by calling 208.622.2097 and dinner is served Tuesday through Saturday 5:30 to 9:00 p.m.

Dinner on the deck beside Trail Creek – it really feels, and tastes, like summer!

–RES

Recipe from the Resort: Trail Creek Meatloaf with Tomato Onion Relish

The Trail Creek Cabin patio was full on July 4 with people enjoying great food and a great ambiance

The Trail Creek Cabin patio was full on July 4 with people enjoying great food and a great ambiance

Trail Creek Cabin is located merely a mile and a half east of the Sun Valley Lodge, but is a world away. Step inside the rustic cabin, built in 1937, and step back into an era both of simplicity and glamor; one where meals with friends lasted for hours and ended over a fine single malt scotch. Once Averell Harriman’s private hunting lodge, this idyllic location on the banks of Trail Creek hosted gatherings of some highly influential people, including by many reports, Ernest Hemingway. Today, the cabin’s rough-hewn exterior, log furniture and grand fireplace still exude a masculine, woodsy energy, but don’t let that fool you – the food is refined, sophisticated, and offers just the right fresh, healthy, flavorful ingredients that still give a nod to Trail Creek’s hunting lodge heritage.

Make your own history at Trail Creek Cabin, built in 1937

Make your own history at Trail Creek Cabin, built in 1937

For a festive Fourth of July celebration, my family, friends and I ventured to Trail Creek Cabin to enjoy a meal beneath one of the most spectacular Idaho sunsets I can remember. Under Chef Wendy Little’s discerning eye and exacting palate, the menu offered something for everyone in our party of seven that included four children. Wendy, who has been with Sun Valley Company since 2009 and the chef at Trail Creek Cabin since 2010, said the special environment at Trail Creek Cabin informs the menu, with hearty steaks and meatloaf year-round favorites. For summer, Wendy also incorporates a great deal of fish and farm fresh, local, organic greens and vegetables into her seasonal offerings. For children, she insists on the same high quality of product as with adults, simply cutting down portion size and offering sides to appeal to the younger set. “I don’t do chicken nuggets or strips or any of that,” she laughed.

As we were under a bit of a tight deadline to get to Sun Valley On Ice, our server quickly took our order that included wild salmon, Idaho trout, cowboy rib eye steaks with buttermilk onion rings and baked potatoes (a favorite at the table), Kobe beef sliders, organic chicken and a buffalo and lamb meatloaf. All delivered wonderful flavor and excellent sides, but the meatloaf proved the most interesting. Chef Little agreed to share this recipe with the readers of The Valley Sun.

Trail Creek Meatloaf is a year-round favorite

Trail Creek Meatloaf is a year-round favorite

Trail Creek Meatloaf with Tomato Onion Relish

For the relish: (yields approximately 2 cups)
1 small onion minced
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1 tbl. Olive oil
7 oz. ketchup
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 large roasted red bell pepper, peeled and seeded

Method:
Chop tomatoes and pepper into a coarse dice, sauté onions and garlic in the olive oil, then add the chopped peppers and tomatoes.
Add the ketchup and Worcestershire sauce and cook 15 minutes.
Cool before stirring into the raw meatloaf mixture. Reserve the extra sauce to spoon on top of the meatloaf as a sauce.

For the meatloaf (yields one four inch deep meatloaf pan)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.5 pounds ground buffalo meat
1.25 pounds ground lamb
3 eggs
4 ounces heavy cream
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
1.5 cups tomato relish
½ pound bacon for lining the meatloaf pan
Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste

Method:
Place meat, eggs, cream, tomato relish, salt and pepper in the bowl of a kitchen aide mixer. Using a paddle attachment, slowly blend these ingredients.
After these are mixed, slowly sprinkle in the breadcrumbs and mix for three minutes more. Cook a small piece to check for seasoning.
Line a Teflon pan with strips of bacon and then fill with the meat mixture. Place more strips of bacon over the top of the meatloaf if necessary.
Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes, remove the foil and bake another 30-45 minutes until an instant read thermometer registers 155 degrees.
Allow the meat loaf to rest for 20-30 minutes before slicing. Spoon reserved tomato onion relish on top of each slice and serve.

Makes ten generous, delicious servings that taste even better the next day!

Chef Wendy Little of Trail Creek Cabin works painstakingly to share Idaho's local flavors and Sun Valley's rich history with diners

Chef Wendy Little of Trail Creek Cabin works painstakingly to share Idaho's local flavors and Sun Valley's rich history with diners

While I would certainly recommend making this meatloaf at home (dinner one night, sliced into picnic sandwiches the following day!), no visit to Sun Valley is complete without going out to Trail Creek Cabin. Rent a bike from Pete Lane’s, hop on the bike path, and pedal out for light fare and a signature huckleberry mojito on the peaceful creek-side deck. Or make a reservation for the whole family or a romantic dinner for two on the lawn and enjoy Chef Little’s carefully crafted fare that incorporates more than just a bit of true Sun Valley flavor!

Happy Fourth of July weekend!

–RES

The deck on the banks of Trail Creek -- there is no nicer spot for a glass of wine and a light bite

The deck on the banks of Trail Creek -- there is no nicer spot for a glass of wine and a light bite