The romance of the American West is alluring and I can’t seem to resist restaurants that belly up to the bar with “Western Cuisine.”
Purple Sage, smack dab in the middle of Park City, Utah’s Main Street, calls itself “An American Western Bistro.”
What the heck is Western cuisine? I think of it as a cross between cowboy cooking and Southwestern foods — steak, game, trout and barbecue, chiles and corn.
I think of restaurants that started the movement. Although both chefs have since sold their restaurants (their concepts live on through their cookbooks) I think of Mark Miller’s Red Sage, Robert McGrath’s Roaring Fork.
Purple Sage’s cuisine fits neatly in the gussied up American Western cuisine. Starters like barbecue chicken tamales and blackened sea scallops ($14, pictured) capture the spirit of the West (albeit with the modernity of flown-in seafood.)
The scallops, dusted with red corn meal and spices and drizzled with barbecue sauce, surround a mound of greens dressed in chipotle vinaigrette, smoky from chipotle and bacon. The scallops are plump, juicy and just barely done, the way they should be.
Grilled veal meatloaf ($24), smothered in a tomato-green chile sauce, features two slabs of firm yet tender meatloaf studded with poblano chiles and onion. I only wish the sauce had come underneath the meatloaf instead of on top, so I could see the perfect diamond-shaped grill marks.
Meatloaf wouldn’t be the same without a pile of mashed potatoes, and these are laden with garlic, butter and cream. The accompanying Brussels sprouts are flash fried in butter, resulting in crispy edges, taming the usual bitter taste. It’s a lot to swallow, portion-wise and price-wise. At least the generous portion means there’s enough to take home for another meal.
Pan-seared halibut ($17) is geared toward a lighter appetite. Topped with peppery arugula salad, the fish sits on top of hominy “hummus,” a textured mix of pureed hominy, cumin, chile powder and lemon. Utah pan-fried trout is another “light” option, not counting the jalapeno-lime butter sauce.
Desserts include home-style chocolate bundt cake, root beer float and butterscotch pudding — exactly what you might expect, given the theme.
Park City is a mountain town in the West. It should — and does — have a restaurant that embodies it’s location. Plenty of Asian and Italian restaurants pepper the historic Main Street, but Purple Sage makes the scene seem a bit more authentic amid the glitter and glam of this former mining town-turned- “suburb” 20 miles east of Salt Lake City.
434 Main Street
Park City, UT