Monday, February 3, 2014


Chimayo is one of the anchors of Main Street Park City.  I love the way Park City, UT brings dollars into our economy.  I love the way Park City keeps skiers away from the good skiing, leaving locals to fight it out for the goods up Little Cottonwood.  I enjoy the presence of a town whose air is breathable year round.

I cannot, however, understand why anyone would spend their dining dollars in Park City, Utah.  Chimayo is a perfect case study in why I feel this way.  We had a gift certificate to the Bill White Restaurant Group and decided to try out Chimayo as a result.  I started off with a house margarita made with Herradura Silver.  It was a sugar bomb - not terrible but definitely not what I would expect to get from a decent mixologist.

The appetizer we ordered was the highlight of the meal for me - a poblano pepper stuffed with goat cheese and mozzarella and served with pumpkin seed pesto.  Presentation was A+ and the lightly battered poblano was crisp and complemented the filling well.

After the appetizer we moved to salad and soup courses.  I went for the tortilla soup and this is where things began to crumble for us.  The tortilla soup at Chimayo does not compare favorably to the Campbell's variety - it is sweet to the point of being offensive and totally lacking in complexity.  I ate a couple of spoonfuls and my wife also tried it.  It went uneaten.

The baby spinach and pear salad was topped with Cabrales blue cheese, candied walnuts, bacon bits, and warm ancho chili vinaigrette (plus pears... and baby spinach... of course).  This wasn't bad, but it was forgettable.

My entree was the nadir of the experience.  I ordered the halibut “Sea of Cortez Style”, which is
coconut and corn encrusted halibut with wild mushrooms, asparagus, cippolini onions
and spaghetti squash.  Fresh citrus and serrano chile sauce top the entree.  The fish was room temperature when it arrived and the breading was a soft, flavorless crumble that reminded me of Gordon's frozen fish sticks.  The fish was sauced in a heavy cream sauce reminiscent of the powdered cheese sauce that my mom put on broccoli in 1985 to get vegetables into children.  Overall this dish should not have left the kitchen - it was that bad.

My wife, secretly delighted to have won the ordering battle, received a rack of ribs that was over her head in height.  Served rolled and stacked on end, the rib dish is filled with mashed potatoes and is really nicely cooked.  The entree is also enough for three lumberjacks to have their fill, so if you're headed to Chimayo, save yourself some disappointment (and dollars) and split the ribs.

In sum, we had a couple great items and a couple utter failures.  That isn't normally a bad batting average when ordering off an unfamiliar menu, but this is where Park City comes back into the equation.  This meal was expensive.   Our entrees were in the $50 range.

I'd love to be schooled on the economics of running a restaurant on Main Street, but regardless of the rent, I believe that when you take $250 from two people for a meal, you owe some excellence in return.  While our ribs were good, Pat's or Sugarhouse Barbecue could certainly approximate the experience for 1/5th of the price.  The problem with Park City is that nobody is providing value, and tourists would behoove themselves to start making the 20 minute drive into the valley if they are looking for some of the more interesting dining options in mountain west.

The Verdict?  Don't waste your money.  Main Street today is for beer, tex-mex, pizza and pub food.  If you're looking for a dining experience, you're going to have to descend into the inversion.  I'm hopeful that a few of the new entries that I have not tried will change my opinion here, but in any case I strongly recommend avoiding Chimayo.
Chimayo on Urbanspoon

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