We jumped into High West during Sundance last week. I've worked in Park City for a couple of years now but have never stopped into Utah's only distillery so I've been anxious to check it out. We were greeted at the door with news that wait would be "at least two hours" (this was Tebow time, after all). I looked deeply into the hostess' eyes and decided that she was likely trying to scare people away, so we put our names into the had and 20 minutes later had a table.
The experience was a mixed bag from there. We tried a few varieties of the house brand spirits and then turned to the meal. There is a single predominant technique used in the cooking at High West: salt. Sometimes that turned out great. The house salad was dressed with salt and pepper and some olive oil. It looked like the chef salad from my elementary school cafeteria, but getting past the presentation, it actually tasted great.
Our waiter talked me into the special - a Bison wellington served with potatoes au gratin, spinach Florentine and some baked carrots. The Bison was plentiful (32oz) and the Wellington was done right - mid rare and with a nice wild mushroom glaze. Everything else was like thanksgiving in Texas - salt and butter completely overwhelmed the potatoes and the spinach was not edible. If it was just for this dish, I'd say that High West got their hands on some great Bison steaks and that was what kept their chefs from flopping on their faces. But, we had a few other dishes that boosted the overall impression. The black coffee and bourbon glazed cod had a great flavor. If they amped up the presentation, that would be a go-to dish for me. The brussel sprouts with marcona almonds and pomegranate seeds were pretty much flawless. The burgers that a couple of folks ordered were good - nothing stand out but a solid effort.
The Verdict? I will go back to High West. I love their Whiskey and there are a few menu items that I'm itching to try (Whiskey Cheese Fondue for 3... yeah). I'd be aware that they seem capable of doing some very interesting things right next to some failures, but the small plates seem like they were generally all winners.