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Sundance, UT - The triumphant return of Chef Adam Kreisel

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Sundance, UT - The triumphant return of Chef Adam Kreisel

Tha Groovin' Gourmet | Dec 13, 2003 08:47 PM

Those of you who read my posts about the dearly departed Globe Cafe By Moonlight in Salt Lake City know of the intensely innovative cooking that went down.

If you don't know of the Globe, do a Chowhound search by name or my posts and read about our single most favorite place to eat and drink ever.

Having attended closing night at the Globe, and staying in touch with friends and staff, we were eagerly awaiting news of where the former executive chef/partner would wind up. Our only hope was that he would go somewhere not so far away that we couldn't enjoy his astonishing cooking at least a couple of times a year.

Needless to say we were thrilled to hear the news that Adam is the new Executive Chef at The Tree Room, the 5-star gourmet offering at Robert Redford's Sundance Resort.

While the 45-minute drive isn't quite as easy as a ride
downtown on the light rail (and calls for judicious alcohol enjoyment), we were eagerly looking forward to our first dinner in Adam's new digs. As you are about to read we were not disappointed.

We arrived at The Tree Room to a crowded vestibule...there's a party of 100 at the resort this weekend, and Friday night was the one night that there were no scheduled food events, so the place was hopping with attendees, including a couple of really large tables.

The room is very warm and inviting, with tons of Southwest art from Redford's private collection.
In addition to the huge tree around which the restaurant was built (hence the name) there is a large display sided by leather banquettes that contains a fascinating collection of Kachinas. With plenty of eye candy all about it made for a lovely setting.

We were seated at a 2-top on the side and given menus and a wine list to peruse. The markup on the wines is pretty heinous (our point of reference is our fave champagne, Veuve Clicquot, which was going for $110 for a bottle of NV). Fortunately they offer a huge selection of choice wines by the glass, or in smaller 2 oz portions for pairing.

We ordered a couple of Ketel One martinis up and dirty (which were perfect except for the puny size required by Utah law) and set about looking over the menu.

Many of Adam's classic dishes from the Globe have found their way onto the new menu, including the ever-incredible Venison Raviolone with Shiaoxing Wine, Figs, Pancetta and Mint.

We opted to go for the 4-course tasting menu, with the chef choosing the wine pairings. Here's the course-by-course rundown:

Amuse - Chilled Golden Beet Bisque with Herbs

Served in a demitasse cup, this little tease was all the proof we needed that Adam is indeed back. One of the standouts at the Globe was always the daily Soup Exploration, and this one was equally among the best of
Adam's offerings. This was like a luscious golden hued vichysoisse, with a generous splash of truffle oil thrown in for good measure. With very subtle sweet and earthy tones, this was indeed an excellent way to prepare the palate for what was to come. After a couple of sips I could sense the inclusion of fennel, one of Adam's tricks when working with vegetable and fruit purées...he uses it to return some depth of flavor lost when veggies and fruits cook down.

1st Course - Field Greens & Jicama with Roasted Fig Vinaigrette, Fried Capers, Apple and Alfalfa Sprouts. Paired with the Martin Codax Albarino, a white from Spain.

Absolutely lovely. The greens were wonderfully tender...an indication of the truly first-class ingredients to which Adam now has access. The jicama and apple slices made for a toothsome contrast to the silky greens, with the fried capers adding little bursts of flavor every now and then. The fig vinaigrette brought a subtle sweetness to things, and the salad was perfectly dressed.

The wine was a perfect complement - crisp, light and dry, but still with enough oomph to stand up to the bites of caper.

2nd Course - Cornmeal Crusted Atlantic with Cardamom Infused Celery Root Purée, Roma Gazpacho and Micro Greens. Paired with the Turley Juvenile Zinfandel.

This was the winner of the evening, beating the next course by a couple of taste buds. The salmon offered a wonderful range of contrasts from the crunchy wisp of crust through firm flesh to the center that was almost like butter. The cardamom in the celery root added an Eastern lilt to the proceedings, with the Roma gazpacho adding a cool, bright contrast to the richly cooked fish. Another standout dish for Adam...maybe it will make the regular menu in its next incarnation.

The wine was really good, lush with some nice dill undertones that were brought out by the fish. Adam came by the table to make sure the wine wasn't overwhelming the food, but we assured him it was spot on.

3rd Course - Black Soy Oxtail Ragout with Braised Escarole, Herbed Crepe, Feta and Oxtail Reduction. Paired with the Jean Luc Columbo Crozes-Hermitage from Rhone, France.

This dish had intrigued me when I saw it on the web site menu (link below), but the wife was a bit worried...she's not really into lesser meats like osso buco and the like. Not to worry...just another kickbutt offering from our favorite chef.

The first bite came off as a bit salty because of the soy, but as we dug into the dish it balanced out perfectly...the bitterness of the greens, the herbs (and some sweetness) in the crepe, the brightness of the feta, all combine for a sum that is greater than the parts. Same things going on texturally...toothsome meat, a bit of crunch from the stems of the greens, the soft crepe and cheese. Awesome, awesome awesome, but not quite as awesome, awesome, awesome as the salmon.

The wine was yet another excellent choice...light and dry, but with more than enough heft to stand up to such a strongly flavored dish.

Dessert - Gingerbread And Apple Strudel with Toasted Pecans, Baby Basil and Cranberry Coulis. Paired with both a Port and a Moscato (sorry - didn't bring the dessert wine list home so I don't know the specific choices).

While I was hoping for the Scharffenberger Chocolate Ravioli from the menu on the web, this did not disappoint. Presented as a couple of cigars, with a phyllo-like crust and a dense filling that was earthy, spicy and sweet all at the same time. The cranberry coulis crisscrossed on the plate for a nice bright counter point to the rich flavor in the strudel. My wife called it "mincemeat without the unctiousness"...I called it kickbutt.

After sharing some sips of the 2 dessert wines the missus decided she liked the port better, leaving me with the moscato which I preferred. Along with some excellent coffee and some killer super-buttery coconut cookies delivered with the tab, an excellent end to an extraordinary meal.

While service wasn't perfect, it was very smooth and professional, as you would expect from an establishment
of this caliber.

Adam's genius and masterful technique, combined with Sundance's credibility and international jet set clientele should gain the recognition he so richly deserves. If he isn't one of Food And Wines 10 Best New Chefs for 2004 I will be amazed.

Link: http://www.sundanceresort.com/tree_ro...

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