A former breakfast nook has been reborn as a Mediterranean tavern. The Sun Valley Lodge now boasts four restaurants ranging from a retro bowling alley to a retooled Gretchen’s. And what was at alternating times Slavey’s, The Beach, The Roosevelt Tavern and B is now a craft whiskey distillery.
With the regional and national economy finally blossoming, the Wood River Valley is enjoying several new and re-imagined restaurants.
To wit, Scott and Anne Mason snatched up the former Moose Girls’ space across from Ketchum Town Square and turned it into a contemporary take on a roadside tavern. Patrons look out glass doors offering panoramic views of Baldy while nibbling on couscous inspired by Morocco, Spain, Turkey, Israel and Southern France.
The Town Square Tavern sports 10 beers on tap and wines not traditionally found here, as well as a large family-style table at which smaller parties may sit together.
“We have always loved the space and location. When it came available, we wondered whether to move Ketchum Grill there or open something completely different, and different won out,” said Scott Mason, who also owns Enoteca with his wife, Anne. “The grueling part is the birth. If the parenting and genetics are solid, everything will work out okay.”
Just down the road at Sun Valley Resort, chefs John Murcko and Derek Gallegos devised four new menus that reflect the heritage of the 80-year-old lodge while utilizing the fresh, local food so prized today.
The new Gretchen’s reflects that in its décor, which includes memorabilia of its namesake Olympic ski racer, Gretchen Fraser, along with a working table where waiters can pluck live lavender or shave fresh Parmesan from a cheese round.
The breakfast menu is highlighted by crab cake eggs Benedict and Gallegos’ traditional huevos rancheros on blue corn chips topped with New Mexico red chili sauce.
Fish and chips made of beer-battered wild cod is a popular lunch item, while dinner includes such starters as a taste tantalizing seared ahi paired with watermelon and a drizzle of basil oil, lime and jalapeño. Entrées include a rack of lamb flavored with fig and mint because Sun Valley has always been known for its lamb, said Murcko.
The Duchin Room now offers a continental breakfast, along with such appetizers as an in-house cheese ball made of five cheeses and covered with pistachio nuts. Mac Tots—tater tots topped with macaroni and cheese, and Lit’l Smokies—is served up on bamboo plates in the bowling alley. The new Poolside Café features a hamburger made from a combination of meats, including brisket.
A penchant for brewing craft beer led a young California lawyer named Alex Buck to join forces with Ben Bradley, a marketing rep, to create a whiskey distillery in the building that once housed The Roosevelt.
They gutted the brick building and rebuilt it from the floor up with a brewing room that allows passersby to watch brewmeisters shoveling grain into one of nine 310-gallon tanks. Diners can also enjoy a wind-protected, rooftop deck with stunning views of Baldy.
They named it Warfield Distillery and Brewery after a mountain bike ride near Warfield Hot Springs. And they brought on former Globus chef Ryan Stadelman and Dashi’s Rob Jensen to concoct upscale pub fare like nachos served in a cast iron skillet, chicken waffles and a vegetarian sloppy Joe supplemented by homemade chips and buns.
In Ketchum’s light industrial district, Bigwood Bread moved across the street from its original tiny bakery into a spacious barn-like café and bakery that has permitted an expanded breakfast and lunch business.
Head chef Alicia Tejida makes everything from scratch, including Mama Berta’s traditional enchiladas and sopas, fire-roasted grilled chicken quesadilla and chicken chipotle salad. And pastry chef Carley Tempest adds a sweet touch with chocolate croissants and birdseed cookies, along with the French baguettes and sourdough breads that find their way into half the Wood River Valley’s restaurants, all of its supermarkets, and Whole Foods and the Boise Co-Op in Boise.
In Hailey, Billy Olson couldn’t stand the thought of shuttering the Power House restaurant when he was forced out of the 1895 house it had been in. So, he converted an old Mexican restaurant across the street, doubling his restaurant space and moving his bike shop into an old garage on the property.
Hailey artist Nate Galpin built a metal bar and tables resembling bike derailleurs. Olson hung maps of Tour de France, Levi Leipheimer’s bike jerseys and racing bikes on the wall. And Mountain Rescue Pale Ale took its place in a restaurant where the menu features nine pages of beer and two of dishes such as grass-fed Wagyu beef burgers and blackened ahi tacos and truffle fries.
Zou 75’s Rob Cronin and Brendan Dennehy partnered with Brian Kriesen to turn the former McClain’s Pizza into Restaurant 103, one of Hailey’s newest restaurants. They left the kitchen open—“We’re in the entertainment business—people want to see the chefs,” Kriesen said. And they preserved the 100-year-old brick wall, which Kriesen calls “a piece of art in and of itself.”
Then they expanded the menu to feature a variety, including a buffalo Bolognese spaghetti made with bison meat, grilled portobello French dip and pesto pizza with artichokes, roasted peppers and goat cheese.
“Maybe Mom wants a salad; Dad, a burger; and kids, a pizza,” said Kriesen. “Here, everyone’s happy.”
Indeed, in this era of new and exciting dining options up and down the Valley, who wouldn’t be?