Elevated Experience

The sky’s the limit for high-mountain dining


by Cathy Carroll

Photo courtesy Schweitzer mountain

Nothing heightens a dining experience more than thousands of feet of elevation, bounty from the valley below and the lofty notions of creative chefs. Rise above the rest at these high-mountain restaurants where the views are a feast for the eyes and the food is a feast for the palate.

The Nest Bar & Restaurant
SandPoint, Idaho

Skiers and non-skiers are welcome to ride the Great Escape Quad chair lift to the 6,400-foot summit at Schweitzer Mountain Resort to The Nest Bar & Restaurant. Take in 360-degree views of Canada, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Lake Pend Oreille while warming by the fireplace. Small plates offer a range of flavors such as haute pigs in a blanket, which combine the umami of house-cured pork belly with scallion and sweet apple, pickled onion and maple barbeque sauce, all swaddled in a crepe. Sweet piquillo peppers stuffed with creamy herb cheese are punctuated with breadcrumbs and a tart-sweet balsamic reduction. Crispy potato croquettes filled with Swiss raclette-style melted cheese are perfect with a cornichon remoulade. See schweitzer.com.

The Roundhouse
Sun Valley, Idaho

Glide in a gondola to 7,700 feet on Bald Mountain to The Roundhouse. Serving guests since 1939, the restaurant blends Northwest fare with Old World European flavors. Dip crusty chunks of bread into a melted melange of cheese fondue and gaze out over the snow-covered mountains. Savor well balanced dishes such as the Idaho lamb burger with goat cheese, pickled mustard seed, lingonberry jam, arugula and garlic aioli on brioche. Take a culinary side trip to Asia with entrees such as miso-glazed king salmon with Thai basil, jicama and cucumber papaya salad. See sunvalley.com.

The Crooked Tree Tavern & Grill
Mt. Hood, Oregon

On the northern slopes of Mt. Hood, surrounded by snow-laden ponderosas, the culinary team at Crooked Tree Tavern & Grill expertly connects guests to the renowned local terroir. Organic ingredients from within a 30-mile circle of your table truly shine in the restored, rustic lodge of Cooper Spur Mountain Resort, established in 1885.

Small plates showcase artisan meats and cheeses. Think lusciously marbled prosciutto complemented by sweet fig, peppery arugula, rich Cascadia Creamery Cloud Cap Cheese and tangy balsamic atop house-made flatbread. Citrusy sauces slip over seafood such as seared, wild salmon, and grilled specialties of local, hand-cut steaks appear daily. Burgers drip with juice and melted cheddar on buns straight from the oven. See cooperspur.com.

Cascade Dining Room Ram’s Head Bar and Restaurant
Timberline lodge, Oregon

At Timberline Lodge, 6,000 feet up Mt. Hood, Cascade Dining Room looks south, framing the graceful lines of volcanically formed Mt. Jefferson. Culinary creativity here taps into local bounty for dishes such as duck breast with farro, fava beans and Hood River apple. Massive ribeyes come with oleaginous lardons, rich demi-glace and marrow butter. Ram’s Head Bar and Restaurant, on the lodge’s circular balcony, surrounds a massive stone chimney. Savor satisfying soups, sandwiches, salads and views of Mt. Hood, Oregon’s tallest peak at 11,245 feet. See timberlinelodge.com.