Buffet is one of those words that is hard for me to say. It’s like minivan or housecoat: words so frumpy even Lawrence Welk would turn off the bubble machine and call it a night. There’s no way to say buffet without thinking of sneeze guards and all-you-can-eat joints by the airport that are somehow skirting the health department. Even Vegas has given buffets the boot.
But the fact is that there’s no better way to feed a horde of hungry skiers than with a smorgasbord of pre-made foods, with some made-to-order items mixed in. The cafeteria system works and in some cases—thankfully—dishes up fresh ingredients, surprising selections and thoughtful preparations.
Break-FABULOUS: I recently visited the Snow Park Lodge at Deer Valley and left with a completely different view of “buffet.” I could spend all day just talking about the Banana butter French toast (with syrups that change daily), but I’d be remiss to skip the house-smoked salmon omelet, plump sausages, and perfectly cheesy grits. Fresh pastries include flaky bear claws with crisp, thin-sliced almonds; huge, pain au chocolat and fruit and almond brioche toast. I loved the grab-n-go sourdough baguette with raspberry jam and butter. So simple but genius. I also loved that fact that lattes are served in pretty hand-made mugs. The menu rotates but there are always amazing specials and made-to-order entrées. Snow Park Restaurant is located at the base facility and also serves a great lunch buffet with pastas, grill items, carved roasts, soups…it’s kind of endless. Prices vary. Open daily 8:00-10:30.
Lunch Like a Roman (or Norwegian?): Up the mountain at Stein Eriksen Lodge, The Glitretind serves a daily Skier’s Lunch Buffet that is hard to beat. It’s on the expensive side but you won’t be disappointed because the selection, quality and service are all stellar. You’ll find seafood (I loved the mussels), wild game, fresh pastas, roasted vegetables, chili and stews, plus a mountain of desserts including crème brulee and chocolate decadence. I would recommend skiing hard all morning and making this a long, late relaxing lunch followed by an aperitif and a nap. It’s truly a feast. $35 per person. Open 11:30-3:00 daily, with a brunch buffet on Sundays.
Sensational Seafood: The Seafood Buffet is well known, but I couldn’t mention Deer Valley buffets without including it. The offerings vary, but you can expect absolutely fresh, water-crisp, juicy seafood ranging from oysters, crab, calamari, sushi, salmon, tuna. There are other yummy dishes to sample as well, from prime rib to pastas. $64 per person. Open 6:30 - 8:30 p.m, TH-M.