Sunday Brunch at Alta: Mile-High Delicious

altalodgesundaybrunch-33-of-332When you think of Alta, what comes to mind? Does it involve powder, skis, and early morning wintry drives up canyon?  How about lush green hillsides, light-as-air pastries, chicken curry, and live jazz?  Welcome to Sunday Brunch at the Alta Lodge: the other side of the mountain, so to speak.

Last weekend, a friend and I went to see what this brunch was all about.  We arrived at 11am (make sure to have reservations!), to the sounds of mellow guitar jazz music (live) from the reception area, and were shown into the dining room, past the stop-in-your-tracks-delicious-looking dessert table.  

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With brunch buffets, having a game plan seems helpful.  We decided to go with breakfast first, then work our way into lunch and dessert.  It took an iron will not to dive into the creme brulee immediately, but we stayed strong.  

Turns out, there were even more options than met the eye. In addition to the spread, our server, Sarah, informed us that we could also order eggs benedict, florentine, scones, and Belgian waffles. This was about the time when we decided to start sharing plates, in order to sample it all.

Before I go into detail about the dishes concocted by Chef Paul Raddon (who's been with Alta for over 30 years), I should mention the ambience.  In keeping with Alta's character, there's no put-on pretension to this brunch. Instead, it's gourmet food, served in a dining room with an arresting view of the mountains, by talented, friendly people.

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We stayed for about two hours and never felt rushed. The dining room filled up, but the buffet was easily accessible. Music was enjoyable but not difficult to talk over. Next to us were two couples sharing a bottle of champagne, celebrating birthdays and an anniversary.

We asked Sarah if most of the folks were guests of the hotel, and she said that actually, many made the Sunday trip up canyon from the city, often to combine brunch with a hike in the cooler mountain air. 

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Back to the food:  in addition to the mentioned specials, we started off trying the cheese blintz, crepes with spinach, almonds, raisins, and a cheese sauce, homefries, bacon, eggs, potato pancakes, and quite possibly the lightest, fluffiest, crispy-sweet-delicious-est danish I have ever tasted. 

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Moving on to more lunch-like items, we sampled the chicken curry with an apple chutney.  It was fruity and mild - not overpowering, and definitely tasty.  Then there were the salads: artichoke broccoli, Caprese, Vietnamese.  Sweet, spicy, tangy, fresh, with attention to detail: hand-fluted mushrooms and beautiful mixes of colors. Chef Paul Raddon told me these are some of his favorite dishes to make.  

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And finally, the desserts.  My one regret is that there was not enough room in my stomach to be able to even *sample* all of them, so I had to pick and choose. We tasted a fruit tart, creme brulee, and a pastry sculpted in the shape of a swan. The chocolate mousse and cheesecake will have to wait for another time.

So, don't wait until next winter to make your next trip up Little Cottonwood: between the mountains and the food, it's a gorgeous destination any time of year.  If you're considering staying at the lodge, be sure to ask about the Sunday Brunch package! For a slideshow of our Alta brunch adventure, click here.

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Details:  Alta Lodge,  (801) 742-3500, 10230 E. State Hwy. 210 Alta, UT. Hours: 9:30 am – 2:00 pm. Adults: $21.95 Children:  ages 7-12 - $12.5, ages 6 & under - $5.50. Sunday Brunch starts in early June and continues through mid-October  (in 2009, the last day is 10/11).