It’s no coincidence that many of the country’s finest restaurants are located within a stone’s throw of luxurious ski resorts. After all, skiers build up quite an appetite swooshing down slopes all day long in the bitter cold.
However, ski area restaurants don’t shut their doors after the snow stops falling for the season. The majority of ski areas are also busy during the remaining three seasons and offer their guests plenty of non-skiing activities. Water parks, mountain biking, scenic summer chair-lift rides, hiking and a variety of other options keep people coming back year-round. And these guests need a place to eat. The following restaurants epitomize fine dining by offering creative menu selections, a variety of exemplary wines, and a tasteful ambience.
The Sugar Hill Inn is a romantic getaway known for the art of fine dining. Centrally located in the heart of New Hampshire’s ski country near Cannon and Loon Mountains, along with Breton Woods Ski Area, the Sugar Hill Inn offers skiers gourmet dining in an elegant atmosphere. After visiting their favorite mountain, skiers return to the Inn for tea, hot cider or their favorite beverage from the tavern. Executive Chef Val Fortin welcomes guests to the Sugar Hill Inn’s dining room where a European philosophy about dining is the theme. The table is reserved for the evening so that patrons can take their time to enjoy the candlelight, cozy fire and amazing views with the combination of great food, wine and conversation. Everything is made from scratch using local ingredients when available. The four-course menu offers a well balance symphony of flavors and leads guests through a leisurely, romantic and artistic culinary experience. The chef is careful with portion size so everyone can enjoy all the variety that a four-course dinner offers. The Inn limits the number of reservations and menu items so that everything can be cooked to order and personally served. Appetizers include Sautéed Veal Sweetbreads, Sage Infused Potato Gnocchi with red wine sauce or Ragout of Wild Mushrooms, Cheese Fondue and Sunny Side Up Quail Egg. Innovative entrees include Duck Three Ways; a Sautéed Breast, Confit of Leg and Foie Gras Ravioli, Gingered Cauliflower, Frenched Green Beans and Orange Gastrique. Another sumptuous choice is Rack of Australian Lamb with an Almond Croquette Potato, Broccolini, Carrot Pernod Puree and Maple Rosemary Demi Glace.
The Bistro Brie & Bordeaux near Windham Mountain in the Catskills Mountains of upstate New York features cuisine prepared with the freshest ingredients. Perhaps it’s the wine and the cheese and the bread, the butcher block paper on the tables, or the sunflowers in blue vases that make this a very special place. The Bistro is housed in an 1875 building that was once the original home to the Windham Journal newspaper. Using old photos as their guide, the owners restored the gable roof, put up cedar clapboard siding and used as many of the original dark wood beams inside the restaurant as possible. It was a labor of love which ensured every detail was perfect. With fine art adorning the walls, French music and jazz selections, and the French Country ambiance, it’s quite clear the owners believe that dining out should be an experience, appealing to all the senses. A tantalizing appetizer is Baked Brie Tart with Cherries served with Organic Mixed Greens, or the Maryland Crab Cake with Avocado Salsa and Organic Mixed Greens. A Roasted Tomato Soup in Puff Pastry is superb. Entrees are wonderfully presented and include Risotto with Asparagus, Pearl Onions, Arugula and Parmigiano-Reggiano or Duck Breast with Cassis Port Wine Sauce, Poached Pear and Green Beans. The Grilled Filet Mignon, Green Pepper Cognac Sauce and Mashed Potatoes is a favorite among the skiing crowd.
Brasserie L’Oustau near Stratton Mountain, Vermont brings a new American interpretation of classic French foods served at brasseries throughout Provence, an area of southern France famous for sun-kissed produce and seafood. The owners developed the restaurant to embrace the Green Mountain vistas and feature a variety of locally sourced foods. With a warm and inviting interior, the restaurant’s lofty ceilings, expansive windows and spacious seating surround a central, open kitchen which is reminiscent of the original brasseries found within French countryside breweries. Savory appetizers include Escargot Bourguignon, perfectly seasoned with parsley and garlic in a puff pastry. A wide variety of entrees include Pan Seared Cod with Fingerling Potatoes, Tomato, and English Peas topped by Brown Lemon Sauce, or House Cured Duck Confit with Watercress, Haricot Vert and a Salad of Frisee. The vegetarians in the group will delight in such entrees as Eggplant Caviar, Fromage Blanc, Roasted Tomato Sauce with Basil Puree.