Idaho Potato Pillows with American caviar tempt at the LDR
The Lodge Dining Room (or LDR to those in the know) holds a special place in my heart. For years and years, one of my family’s foremost holiday traditions was dinner at the Lodge Dining Room every December 23. Through the decades, our ever-growing clan (boyfriends and girlfriends, then husbands and wives, then one … two, finally seven grandchildren) dressed in our holiday finest and journeyed to the Lodge for a wonderful meal, live music and a serenade from Sun Valley’s storied carolers. When the LDR closed for dinner a few years ago, my mother was visibly upset – one of our most treasured traditions was no more.
Her smile has returned because the LDR is again open for dinner and we managed to reserve a table for eight on the 23rd. With the return of the tradition, though, come some exciting changes. In fact, at last night’s grand re-opening of the history-rich restaurant, while I obviously knew I was seated in the room where I had dined many times, I found myself doing a quick reality check – the food was so sophisticated, so new. Was I still in Sun Valley?
But I am getting ahead of myself.
The doors to the Lodge Dining Room are open once again
For weeks, I have been hearing about a fantastic new chef who is transforming Sun Valley into a foodie Mecca. Who is this shining knight? His name is John Murcko, a man credited for single-handedly elevating cuisine in Utah from pedestrian to gourmet. With an emphasis on quality, creativity and professionalism, Chef Murcko’s vision and execution is transforming food in every Sun Valley venue; from the mountain day lodges to the elegant LDR.
A dish you don't see every day in Idaho -- Lobster Thermidor
But I am getting ahead of myself.
The LDR is the fine dining jewel in Sun Valley’s culinary crown and anticipation was palpable last night as the doors opened. Would the food live up to the hype? Would Chef Murcko usher in a new era of Sun Valley dining? The short answer is yes. When my best friend and I were comfortably seated next to the picture windows, an amuse bouche arrived at our table. The combination of perfectly cooked scallop and crunchy accoutrements was a leading indicator that things really have changed for the better.
I am, by all accounts, a picky eater who favors fish, vegetables and lighter fare. Often, in a mountain town, I struggle with menus filled with wild game, red meat and lots of starch. This menu, however, delighted me. At first glance (with the help of a candle – the hostess did say they plan to print the menus in a darker ink that is easier to read) I saw numerous items I wanted to try, not just one or two appealing choices. For starters, I had a hard time deciding among the Forest Mushroom Tart, the Idaho Potato Pillows, the Diver Scallops and the Tomato and Sunchoke Bisque. My inner picky eater rejoiced! Each of the four salads also looked tantalizing and entrée choices included everything from Ricotta and Butternut Agnalotti to Classic Osso Bucco, Braised Rabbit and Butter Poached King Crab. The menu offers something for everyone.
The Black Cod was full of flavor and beautifully presented on Sun Valley signature china
After much consideration, I opted for the Idaho Potato Pillows with caviar, crème fraiche and chives and a Black Cod with artichoke barigoule, smoked tomato, red wine reduction and petite herbs. My friend decided on the Seared Foie Gras with toasted brioche, Idaho huckleberries and bittersweet chocolate and the Lobster Thermidor. From these selections, you can probably tell that the menu emphasizes many local, seasonal and very fresh ingredients. The choices we made were flavorful, inventive, beautifully plated and well portioned. Evidently, Chef Murcko’s reputation is well deserved and kudos to LDR Chef Adam Findlay for preparing our memorable meal.
And the truth is, everything tastes even just a little better in the beautiful LDR. The elegant two-tiered space, twinkling with crystal chandeliers, polished brass, rich fabrics, crisp white linens and sparkling silver features a repeating pattern of circles. Half moon banquettes line the back walls, scalloped railings delineate the boundary of the upper “tier” and marble steps lead into the lower portion of the room, marked by the curving exterior walls. All this rounding draws your attention and eye inward, making the room very intimate. For the holidays, the Sun Valley elves have outdone themselves, turning the LDR into an elaborately wrapped present. Oversized ornaments provide a sparkling overhead canopy; trees and holiday lights twinkle with thousands of tiny white lights; a stunning tree wrapped in what looks like crystal casts soft light onto surrounding tables.
The halls are decked for the holidays
From the smiles, laughs and exclamations of pleasure emanating from around us in the full dining room last night, it seems that everyone is excited that the LDR is once again open for dinner — just in time for the holidays. Don’t miss this memorable culinary opportunity. For reservations, call 208.622.2019 or book on online by clicking here.
Renown ski patrolman Whiz McNeal and his lovely wife, Beverly, enjoy opening night
Let’s face it, if you are a Mountain Diva, you are a busy girl! It’s a festive time of year and the Holidays only raise the bar, thus lowering the amount of R&R for yourself.
And it doesn’t matter what keeps you busy: whether it’s the constant social circuit (a glass of champagne here…a bikini martini or a hot toddy there) or the steady schedule of family fun and kids activities that you are working to coordinate during this busy time (ice skating, ski lessons, tubing at Dollar). But if you feel like an air traffic controller that has just landed 18 jumbo jets on conflicting flight patterns (at night and in a snow storm), it’s time for a course in pampering yourself 101.
Read on, darling diva, as the following 10 quick fixes are geared towards helping you find your inner goddess once again.
1. Pamper Your Body
Every diva knows that the quickest way to complete bliss is through a relaxing and rejuvenating body treatment. Lucky for us, the Sun Valley Salon and Day Spa offers a wide array of options: everything from acupuncture and herbal body wraps to "hot stone therapy" and traditional massage. Just remember that there are hundreds of different techniques, so be sure to be specific on your needs (and aches or injuries) so that your treatment can be tailored to your specific needs–whether it’s a more relaxing in-room massage treatment (you don’t even have to get up and look presentable) or an invigorating sports massage or shiatsu treatment to help those quads recover from multiple days on Baldy. Can’t decide, call 208.622.2160 to get a recommendation on the perfect spa package (they can build in facials or salon services as well) or view the full brochure of spa services here.
2. Drench Your Skin
No time for a full massage or spa package, book a Petite Facial and enjoy 30 minutes of quiet time that includes a thorough cleanse and exfoliation, along with a moisturizing mask to rehydrate and refresh the complexion. You’ll look as good as new in no time! Of course, feel free to splurge with the Spa Prestige Ogenage Facial (for 80 minutes of heaven and a totally renewed, revitalized, and dare we say reconstructed complexion that works days after the facial). You can also enhance any of the standard facials–like the Aqualift Anti-Wrinkle Facial or Ultra Moisturizing Facial or the Classic–with a marine eye-lift or specialty concentrate treatment. Call 208.622.2160 to book your facial.
Poolside cocktail service at the Lodge pool
3. A Soak in the Lodge Pool
What could possibly be better than a following up your massage or facial (or full spa package) with a relaxing soak in the Sun Valley Lodge pool …? We can answer with complete confidence: Nothing can compete. There is simply no better way to finish off your massage than with a glass of champagne or a bartender’s margarita delivered poolside while you lounge in an outdoor pool that is heated to a soothing 100-102° (make sure you drink your water first so that all that pampering from your massage doesn’t go to waste). Come to think of it, this is the perfect way to end any aprs ski day, no matter where you have been (on the slopes of Baldy, exploring the backcountry with Sun Valley Heli Ski or wandering the Nordic trail system).
The bench seat extends around the entire perimeter and watching your drinks arrive via poolside cocktail service through the steam is a rare luxury. And don’t forget the Inn Pool, which offers breathtaking views of Baldy.
4. Pamper Your Toes
Short on time, book a manicure / pedicure and treat your hands and feet. The Sun Valley Salon and Day Spa even offers a reflexology add-on (30 minutes) to help add to the experience. Looking for a little extra sparkle, zip down to Chic Nail Boutique in Hailey for the Glitter Toes, a treatment that melds real glitter to any color for that added holiday glam.
5. Indulge in Sunday Brunch
Plan a decadent Sunday brunch at the elegant Lodge Dining Room on the second floor of the Sun Valley Lodge and indulge in what many consider to be the Northwest’s finest Sunday Brunch. A lavish display of breakfast specialties including omelet and crepe stations, seafood, an array of gourmet salads and a symphony of desserts await, along with the accompaniment of pianist Leana Leach. Open every Sunday for Brunch from 10 am to 2 pm. Sorry, no reservations for the Sunday Brunch.
6. Lunchat Your Leisure
Lunch at the Roundhouse
Enjoy a leisurely lunch at the Sun Valley Club, surrounded by huge glass walls overlooking the Nordic trails meandering along Trail Creek Golf Course. The sliders are to-die for and the lunch menu has something for everybody. Looking for something a little more quaint, then don’t miss a European breakfast or indulgent lunch at Cristina’s Restaurant (of Cristina’s Cookbook series fame). This quaint little cottage in Ketchum beckons with old-world charm and offers a menu of delicious treats that changes daily.
And for that WOW factor, a gondola ride up the mountain for a full table lunch service at the Roundhouse can not be beat–just don’t miss drinks or fondue at Averell’s before you sit down (and enjoy the incredible views of town and the surrounding Pioneer Mountains)! Plan ahead (and get there early) as parties are seated on a first-come, first served basis; although large parties of 8 or more may make reservations by calling 208.622.2800.
More than 15 shops beckon in the Sun Valley Village
Over 15 unique shops offer everything from technical sportswear and footwear to the latest in designer styles, fine gifts, jewelry and home dcor. Designer lines include the latest from TSE, Juicy, Diane von Furstenberge, Velvet, Juicy, Kjus, Bogner, Toni Sailer, Ralph Lauren, Moncler, Arc’teryx, Lole, Nils, Patagonia, Burton and more. There is even a toy store for unique toys and gifts and Silver Creek Outfitters….so you can get something for everybody on your list.
For a more cultural experience, visit one of the amazing art galleries in town (the Sun Valley Gallery Association sponsors monthly gallery walk nights), featuring nationally and internationally recognized artists showing as part of a sophisticated and thriving arts scene–there is even the U.S. premiere of the Papunya Tula aboriginal artists from Australia this February at Harvey Art Projects in Ketchum.
8. Escape into the Solitude of Nature
Nordic and snowshoe trails offer beauty and solitude
Want to just get away from it all and enjoy the peace and quiet of a high alpine landscape beneath a blanket of freshly fallen snow? Head north out Trail Creek to the Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center, which is located in the glass-walled and river rock Sun Valley Club, nestled along the sprawling Trail Creek Golf Course. With over 40 km of trails groomed daily for skate and classic skiing, the trail system offers gently sloping terrain with challenging hills that offer incredible vistas without leaving you gasping for air. For a round up of other local snowshoe trails, from easy to insane, check out Sun Valley Magazine’s "Walking in a Winter Wonderland." Cap your afternoon adventure off with a hot toddy in the Sun Valley Club.
9. Dinner and a Movie
Treat yourself to a movie at the historic Opera House. Built in 1937 and located in the heart of Sun Valley Village, the Opera House is a charming 340-seat theatre that features the newest releases, along with regular showings of the classic "Sun Valley Serenade" (every afternoon at 4:30 and admittance is always free).Sun Valley restaurant guests can also enjoy a FREE movie after dining at the following Sun Valley restaurants: Bald Mountain Pizza, Trail Creek Cabin, The Ram and Gretchen’s. Movie passes will be available to each diner for a movie on the same evening. Please ask your server for more information. Ketchum’s Magic Lantern Cinema also offers current films nightly and matinees most days.
Comedy and live music are all part of the winter calendar
10. Ladies Night Out
Looking for a little more excitement. Start with some aprs ski fun by checking out Sun Valley’s Calendar of Events to see who is playing at the base lodges–both River Run and Warm Springs. There is often entertainment in the Sun Valley Village as well, with details on times and performers online–the Duchin Lounge has the best live jazz in town and the Boiler Room offers a comedy series and special appearances, along with the farewell season of Forever Plaid this year! There is also live music most nights somewhere in town and Whiskey Jacques has a full calendar with a great lineup and most shows with only a $5 to $12 cover.
Just remember that if you stay out too late…you may have to begin at the top of the list with #1 and start all over again.
Sun Valley Resort has wrapped a very special Mother’s Day Package this Friday- Sunday, May 6-8.
For only $99 per night (per person double occupancy), spend the night in the Sun Valley Lodge or Inn, enjoy a complimentary Sunday Brunch for two AND treat Mom to a one-hour massage. A second one-hour massage is also offered at a discounted rate of $50.
Please call 800-786-8259 to make your Mother’s Day Package reservation.
Or just bring mom and your family to Sunday Brunch at the Lodge Dining Room from 9am-2pm on Sunday, May 8.
Prices: Adults $26.95 / Kids (under age 12) $18.95
Sleigh your sweetie this Valentines Day.
What could be more romantic than an horse-drawn sleigh ride to dinner with your sweetie? Trail Creek Cabin will be open on Monday, February 14 from 5-10pm. For sleigh and dinner reservations please call the Sun Valley Recreation Center: (208) 622-2135
The Lodge Dining Room will also be open for an exquisite 4-course dinner from 6 – 9:30pm. Cost is $190 per couple and $37 per child age 12 & under. Enjoy romantic standards with Jazz Pianist Brooks Hartell and talented vocalist duo, Melodie Taylor-Mauldin and Teddy Cunningham. Dinner reservations: (208) 622-2800.
All other resort restaurants (except Roundhouse) will be open for business. Ladies who have dinner at The Ram and The Lodge Dining Room will receive a complimentary rose.
Sun Valley Playschool will also offer evening child care on February 14 from 6-10pm for children ages 3mos. to 6 years old. Fun activities for your kids while you spend some alone time with your sweetie. Advanced reservations required- please call: (208) 622-2288.
Cost is $15 per child per hour. Bald Mountain Pizza dinner is an additional $8.
Sun Valley Resort celebrates its 75th Winter Season this year and one of the commemorative events will be a Celebration Gourmet Dinner in the opulent Lodge Dining Room on Tuesday, December 21 fro 6-9:30pm. The menu will offer new favorites as well as special entrees from opening night in 1936.