Evening dinner restaurant review
Snowbird was our temporary home last weekend. With the yearly bluegrass festival in it’s 20th year, the mountain air was full of guitars, fiddles and cowboy hats aplenty. We were there to enjoy some great music and maybe even escape the valley heat for a weekend. After we had the pleasure of a truly awful hamburger (processed frozen junk) for lunch the first day, we decided we needed to splurge and enjoy a great meal. As we were staying at the Cliff Lodge, we decide to do just that in their fine dining restaurant, The Aerie.
Located on the 10th floor of the Cliff Lodge, the Aerie possesses a formidable view of the resort mountains. 15ft-tall floor to ceiling windows line one whole length of the space. We were lucky enough to be seated right next to the window:
The restaurant itself has a somewhat 80’s feel, plenty of chrome and black, yet it still feels stylish. Considering the view, they really could have done anything with the space and no one would probably notice. The restaurant itself is comprised of three sections; the lounge/bar area, a sushi bar and the main dining area.
Our reservation was quite early at 6 p.m., so we were one of the first tables seated. Our server arrived shortly after we were seated with the wine and meal menus. Although not as impressive as the mountains outside, the wine list was still considerable. The whole gamut of the wine world was covered, with bottles ranging from the $30 range way on up to $500 and above. After a short debate, we settled on the Archery Summit, an Oregon Pinot Noir ($119.00) and bottle of still water ($8.00):
The DABC site lists the store price of the wine at $44.99, so it appears a rough mark up of 2.5 times is employed. Our server had enjoyed a recent visit to Oregon, and offered some interesting insights into Oregon wines. A little warm bread and butter followed while we chatted and waited for our appetizers:
Frankly, we both had a hard time deciding what to order. There were lots of delicious sounding options on the menu, ranging from a seared tuna salad appetizer to a swordfish entree special on offer that night. Wendi finally decided upon the Strudel (Goat Cheese, Wild Forest Mushroom, Micro Greens, Orange Poppyseed Vinaigrette, $10):
Not being a large fan of cheese I declined a sampling of the dish. however, Wendi mentioned several times that she really enjoyed the dish. She also mentioned the micro greens offered a nice contrast to the creaminess of the strudel.
I chose the Grilled Lamb T-Bone (Rosemary Balsamic Glaze, Mache Salad, Mint Yoghurt Sauce, $15):
The T-Bone was admittedly on the small side. For $15, a larger serving would have been welcome, even for an appetizer. The lamb itself was of great quality and cooked perfectly. The mint yoghurt sauce was a great creamy foil to the lamb, although I thought the mache topping was a little extraneous. I really enjoyed this dish, it was just a shame there wasn’t more of it.
For her main course, Wendi ordered the Napolean (House Made Black Pepper Pasta, Grilled Summer Veg, Ricotta, Basil Ragout, Olive Focaccia Crouton, Pecorino, $22):
Wendi’s second choice was another layered cheese dish, so I opted out again. In particular she raved about the house made black pepper pasta, saying it provided a welcome spicy kick to the dish. Wendi was a little less enthused by the dominating ‘crouton’, which she felt would have been more manageable, in smaller sections.
I selected the Roasted Kurobuta Pork Chop out of a little nostalgia (Black Fig and Onion Marmalade, Shallot Mash, Meyer Lemon Au Jus, $32):
Many moons ago. The Aerie was actually the first restaurant where I was asked how I would like my pork cooked. At that time, the question caused me some degree of confusion. Until later investigation, I was quite unaware that quality pork could be eaten less than well done. Over the ensuing years, the question of pork doneness has become a common one. So, it was with no end of delight that I request my pork medium, hoping it retain a good amount of juiciness.
The pork came to the table slightly more cooked than I would have liked, but it was still plenty moist and exceedingly tasty. It had been some time since I have ordered pork in a restaurant and after one bite, I was very pleased to have rectified that. The fig and onion marmalade was also a wonderful accompaniment to the pork. Although a simple side dish, the mashed potatoes were good. I don’t seem to recall tasting lemon in the au jus though, perhaps a good thing as it could have proven overpowering.
For dessert, we each ordered a coffee ($2.25) and decided to share the Chocolate and Grand Marnier Mousse ($9.00):
A very pretty looking dessert, and thankfully, it tasted as good as it looked. The mousse was deliciously light and rich in flavour. The biscuit base and chocolate stick added some bite, a good end to a quite enjoyable meal. Intriguingly, looking back over the pictures this was the only course that did not come topped with some form of greens. I don’t know if we picked our dishes just right or if the kitchen has a penchant for green toppings.
Our server was excellent throughout the course of our meal; she balanced the fine line of professional service, yet remaining friendly and affable. She happily indulged us and when appropriate, offered a little interesting tale or two of her own.
Overall the meal was a great experience, and a wonderful respite from the hustle and bustle of the festival. My only complaint was the price, which I felt was on the high side. The most prominent example of the elevated pricing was the “Aerie Sushi Roll: Chefs daily creation”. This had a fixed price of $17, regardless of the days creation. $17 for a 6-piece maki roll is crazy expensive in my book, especially so on our visit where the daily special was described as eel, avocado and cucumber. A similar roll down in the valley would not be out of place around the $6-$8 mark.
If you happen to be up in Snowbird this summer, and are looking for a splurge like us, you could do far worse than give the Aerie a whirl. Weekends see live music in the lounge, which is open till 11. This could make for a great evening break, just bring a credit card or two.
Hi, I’m Stuart, nice to meet you! I’m the founder, writer and wrangler at Gastronomic SLC; I’m also a former restaurant critic of more than five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune. I’ve worked extensively with other local publications from Utah Stories through to Salt Lake Magazine and Visit Salt Lake. I’m a multiple-award winning journalist and have covered the Utah dining scene for more than a decade. I’m largely fueled by a critical obsession with rice, alliteration and the use of too many big words I don’t understand. What they’re saying about me: “Not inaccurate”, “I thought he was older”, “I don’t share his feelings”.
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