The only thing I enjoy as much as eating is skiing. And what a pair they make. After a couple of hours of schussing down frozen fluff under a bright blue sky, there's nothing like a hot bowl of chili to thaw my grinning lips and a cold Corona to take my mind off two aching knees. Boise is located within 100 miles of some of the best snow in the country, as well as some of the best food to be found on slopes anywhere thanks to above-average menus at the new Tamarack Resort in Donnelly and the lodges on Bald Mountain in Sun Valley. Basic ski mountain menus still prevail at Boise's Bogus Basin and Brundage in McCall.
The village at the nation's newest winter resort may still be under construction, but that hasn't stopped its trio of restaurants from opening their doors. The classiest of the three, Morels, opened in December 2004 and has been located inside the luxuriously rustic Lodge at Osprey Meadows since January '06. The menu changes seasonally and strives to be worthy of all the hullaballoo the new winter playground has sparked. Morels is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and Executive Chef Gary Kucy offers fresh sushi every Thursday from 5-7 p.m.
From the outside, the two more casual restaurants, Canoe Grill and the Seven Devils Pub, look more like big white circus tents than dining rooms. Yet, current construction limitations have not had an effect on creativity at Canoe Grill, where "Destination Dinners" allow diners to sample a different ethnic cuisine and entertainment every month. One past dinner featured a Mexican night with guest chef Lulu Pedraza in the kitchen and Latin Grammy nominee Myrza Maldonado singing for the crowd. As for the food, the gyro platter is popular, as is the custom wok bowl station, where you pick the ingredients and the chef whips up an Asian dish right in front of you. Homemade soups, chili, panini, burgers and pizza are also on the menu. Canoe Grill is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can also find breakfast and lunch in the sports dome at Hot Shots Espresso & Pastry Bar.
Seven Devils Pub is winning fans with upscale pub fare like steak souvlaki made with Double R Ranch all-natural strip loin, and Snake River Farms Kurobuta pork baby back ribs. Deep-fried pickle spears, burgers, sandwiches, homemade soup du jour, salads and pasta dishes are also on the menu. The pub is popular for lunch, dinner and apres-ski.
The folks at Tamarack are also combining my two favorite pastimes: skiing and eating. Don't miss the upcoming Moonlight Tour-Thai Moon on December 22, when $50 gets you a Thai dinner, plus equipment and trail access for snowshoeing or crosscountry skiing in the moonlight. Also check out the season-ending Tamarack Taste of Chocolate on April 5, 2008, when for $20, your afternoon of fun in the snow will be followed by a chocolate banquet by campfire. With so many events coming up at the resort, it's best to check TamarackIdaho.com for updates.
As you approach the Warm Springs Lodge at the base of Bald Mountain in Sun Valley, you cannot help being impressed by its hefty timber-and-stone facade. The other two lodges on the mountain, River Run Lodge and Seattle Ridge Day Lodge, are no less impressive. All three are outfitted more like hotels than mere ski lodges, and their menus suit the expectations of the $79 lift ticket crowd. Breakfast is available at Warm Springs and River Run, which are both located at the base of the mountain's front side. Watch the chef whip up a custom pancake, waffle or egg dish, or help yourself to a buffet of fresh fruit or dry cereal. Both lower lodges are open for breakfast, lunch and apres-ski.
The lunch menus are similar at all three lodges. Sure you can get a burger, but why not have a baker topped the way you like it at the potato bar, or a custom-built salad? Rotisserie-cooked meats, mesquite-grilled entrees, pasta dishes and fresh soups all vie to warm your belly after your session. All three lodges bake their pizzas in wood-fired pizza ovens—a feature that is uncommon in most pizza restaurants, let alone a ski resort. The Seattle Ridge Lodge serves lunch only and is perched at 8,800 feet with spectacular views of the mountaintops beyond it and the Wood River Valley below.
The most unique restaurant on Bald Mountain is the Roundhouse, which opened in 1939 as the first day lodge at America's first ski resort. Open only for lunch, it features sit-down service you'll be grateful for after climbing the 88 steps that lead to the entrance. Although the Roundhouse is situated mid-mountain near the top of the Exhibition chairlift, even non-skiers can buy a foot-traffic pass and head up to dine with friends. Last year's Austrian-influenced menu included cheese fondue, Wiener schnitzel, and sauteed elk loin for lunch, and Sacher torte or chocolate fondue with fruit for dessert. Wine and beer are served and reservations are recommended, especially on weekends and holidays.
Bogus Basin Mountain Resort
If pricey lift tickets and a pampered palate are beyond your budget, you'll be glad to know that at Bogus Basin, the fanciest menu item is the new smoothie bar. You can pick from a menu of flavors, made with either yogurt or a fruit base, and nutritional add-ins like protein powder or chromium picolinate. Still too fancy for you? Then grab a burger with fries, a slice of pizza or a bowl of soup or chili at either the lower Simplot Lodge or upper Pioneer Lodge. Both are open daily for lunch and apres-ski. The daily breakfast menu at Simplot Lodge includes eggs, potatoes, pancakes and cereal. Pioneer Lodge serves simple egg-and-sausage breakfast sandwiches and cinnamon rolls just on weekends and holidays, which are easy to stuff into a pocket and eat on the next chair ride (don't litter). Mexican fare like nachos, combo platters and Mexican specialties will be available on the third floor of the Pioneer Lodge this year but only on weekends and holidays.
You'll find a similarly basic menu at the Brundage Lodge in McCall. The three-story building has a family-friendly cafeteria on the third floor and Smoky's Pub on the second. Burgers, hot dogs, chili fries, pizza, salads and sandwiches are available in the cafeteria, while buffalo wings, sweet potato french fries, sandwiches and salads are on the menu in the pub. You can also get a basic diner-style breakfast in the cafeteria daily. Choose from eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, yogurt or dry cereal to get you going before heading up the lift. But what good is all this food if there's no snow? Pray for snow, dear reader, so we can all eat, ski and be happy.