Savor the Summit is one of the most elaborate food events of the summer, gathering people to dine alfresco on one incredibly long table stretching the length of Park City’s Main Street in celebration of the Summer Solstice. The restaurants deck their tables with fresh flowers and, in some cases, extravagant decorations while serving special menus for the evening. Wine is flowing, live music is playing and people are dressed in their summer best. But all this prettiness comes with a price.
What started as a modest event with one Grande Table dinner has grown into a huge party that continues to out-do itself every year. This year one restaurant built an entire bar on Main Street with a ceiling made of patio umbrellas and decorative lamps. (Along with a rumored price tag of $350/person.) Some restaurants continue to keep things to a simple table and menu (with a corresponding tab) but in Park City, some people will always be willing pay for the biggest and the best.
This year, my friend and I Savored the Summit at High West, who featured a four course whiskey pairing dinner for $150/person. Their space was donned in rustic purple with touches of white flowers. High West whiskey barrels served as barriers to our space while doubling as tables during the cocktail hour.
The evening began with a cocktail hour featuring four new refreshing summer cocktails :: whiskey iced tea, peach sour, the Cochise (a grapefruit, lime and ginger mix) and Pimm’s Cup (all an additional $10/each). Meanwhile we munched on Hors d’oeuvres of fried kumamoto oysters with hominy blini and chipotle creme fraiche, whiskey hummus “nachos,” artisan cheeses and charcuterie.
The first course was a summer corn and clam chowder, a refreshingly light soup with a nice mixture of textures thanks to the corn and clams. It was served with a crunchy pepper cheese stick and paired with the Silver Oat Whiskey, High West’s unaged whiskey that has heavy notes of banana and fruit flavors. The pairing was excellent. (And the warm chowder was very welcome on the uncharacteristically cold evening, a strange contrast to last year’s blazingly hot Savor the Summit!)
A spring salad followed with smoked steelhead trout, Utah cherries and crumbled blue cheese. This wasn’t as memorable for me, although the High West Double Rye pairing was an interesting addition.
The main course was impressive in both appearance and taste. The whiskey chipotle dutch oven braised short rib was tender and juicy, with creamy polenta and asparagus. Paired with the Rendezvous Rye, it was spectacular.
We finished with Huckleberry crisp and whiskey vanilla ice cream, served family-style. The whiskey ice cream was phenomenal, so I was disappointed that I only got a few bites because of the family-style sharing. I would have killed to have more! It was served with a whiskey chocolate torte, a densely rich torte with a heavy flavoring of whiskey (amazing!) and a Campfire whiskey salted caramel (superb!) and candied pecans. All were paired with the Campfire Whiskey, which did an excellent job enhancing sweetness when needed or smokiness if necessary.
High West knows how to throw a good party and really does whiskey pairing dinners well. I only wish that we would have got more whiskey; it felt like we barely got a sip! (The menu states the pairings were .5 oz pours.) Because of that, the dinner seemed a little over-priced. However, the food was delicious, the service was awesome (as usual) and the night was fun–even if it was freezing!
Savor the Summit is a great event that I highly recommend if you haven’t been, just keep in mind that you are paying for a lot of atmosphere in addition to dinner. (Restaurants are required to pay a fee in order to participate, which drives prices up, along with the limited number of seats available per table.) The event falls on or around the Summer Solstice every year, but sells out quickly (as in months beforehand), so mark you calendars for 2014 now!
Related :: See fork photos of last year’s Savor the Summit at Silver.