The history of ski racing in Sun Valley is as rich and as impressive as anyplace in the country. And the future is looking pretty bright, too. It is as if the slopes of Baldy and Dollar were blessed by the ski gods, Ullr and Skadi, to groom the fastest and strongest skiers and snowboarders to ever ride on snow. Sun Valley has been home to the best in the alpine sports scene since shortly after inventing the world’s first chairlift back in the 1930s. It’s a tradition that’s staying strong and is proudly on display as Sun Valley hosts events like last weekend...
The verdict is in and the renovated Sun Valley Lodge is the talk of the town! As opening week festivities continued, I again wanted to pop in to be part of the energy and excitement that has included thousands (yes, thousands!) of people touring the historic but beautifully fresh property.
Of course, I popped in right around lunchtime and having already enjoyed both a delicious breakfast and dinner at Gretchen’s Restaurant, it was high time to get up close and personal with midday offerings.
A midday meal at Gretchen’s Restaurant is a feast for the senses, but especially the taste buds
Gretchen’s, located just off the Lodge lobby, is bright, airy, and inviting. When we arrived, the sunlight of a glorious June day shone in through the numerous windows and an open door to the terrace brought in traces of a summery breeze. The warm wood of the tables and soft hues of the upholstery were punctuated by pops of color. The round table in the center of the room is filled with fresh herbs, crusty bread, fragrant lemons and oranges, red onions. Colorful art from local food photographer Paulette Phlipot hangs on the walls, creating a truly appetizing environment. But under Chef Derek Gallegos’ watchful eye and creative ingenuity, food is the true star of the show.
The newly re-imagined Gretchen’s is bright and airy with a true farm-to-table flair
Once again, my favorite server, Shauna, welcomed us and took a drink order. The menu is categorized into Small Plates and Big Plates and our group, after much consideration, ordered something from each. Choosing was not easy. My eye went right to the wild-caught prawns (with avocado, mango cilantro, jicama and tamarind vinaigrette), Dungeness crab cakes (with fried green tomato, sweet corn and creole remoulade) and the summer heirloom tomatoes (with grilled campagna bread, tomato marmelata, ricotta, olive oil, lemon and local greens) – all from the Small Plates menu. I decided on a hot summer day, nothing would taste better than the heirloom tomatoes.
The rest of our party ordered from the Big Plates menu and chose (again, after much deliberation because everything sounds so good): steak frites (with srf bavette, herb salad, home fries, gorgonzola butter and zinfandel syrup), fish and chips (beer battered wild-caught cod, home fries, apple-cabbage slaw and lemon tartar) and the ginger-fried chicken sando (a sandwich with cucumber and carrot slaw, fennel, ginger mayo dressing on a Big Wood Bread bun). Other choices that were batted around included the pork belly Panini, wild-caught Pacific tuna and a B.L.T. salad. I guess we will just have to go back!
My heirloom tomato salad was the perfect repast on a hot summer’s day
Delicious whole grain rolls were brought on request to keep my son from snacking on the loaf at the center of the room as we watched all the excited guests touring the Lodge. One wall of Gretchen’s is open to the hallway leading to the new state-of-the-art spa wing and pool area, incorporating the eatery into the life of the entire hotel.
In short order, our order arrived and each dish was proclaimed delicious and extremely fresh. My tomatoes were farm fresh, their flavor enhanced with Chef Gallegos’ inspirations. I also had to take a bite of my son’s ginger-fried chicken sando and it was sublime. Crunchy and warm but with the added bite of the slaw – delicious!
At Gretchen’s lunch is served both indoors and on the spacious terrace overlooking the iconic Sun Valley outdoor ice rink. Prices for small plates start at $10 for sweet corn bisque or summer gazpacho. Entrees range from $13 for a kale and quinoa wrap to $25 for steak frites. Most large plates fall around $15.
Chose to sit indoors or on the spacious terrace. Both views are pretty great
If you haven’t been to Gretchen’s for a while, now is the time to come back. The room is welcoming and lovely and even though the most sophisticated foodie will love the menu, there is nothing overly formal or intimidating about a meal at Gretchen’s. In a week, I have sampled the crab cakes Eggs Benedict for breakfast, the heirloom tomatoes for lunch and the lobster Caesar for dinner. All excellent. It’s a good thing the Lodge is surrounded by endless recreational opportunities because I think I need a good long hike.
If you have not yet toured the re-imagined Lodge and enjoyed a meal at Gretchen’s (or a snack at the Bowling Alley and Game Room, Duchin Lounge or Poolside Café), now is the time. Everything at the Lodge is first class and you need to experience it for yourself.
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