Being Picky in Park City: Chimayo

Last week, on my vacation to Park City, we mostly cooked. It saved money, we had an amazing kitchen and then we got to eat in our undies. Ok, maybe we wore clothes…but it is the idea that I COULD have munched in my underclothes that counts.

On our final night there, we decided to hit up one of the more reputable spots, a place called Chimayo, owned by a mid-size local restaurant group. Sometimes, when I go out with people, I go into review mode and start picking things apart. I think it can ruin meals and I try not to do it, and to just let people enjoy their meal.

Sometimes, though, a meal is very comical and I must start picking it apart to keep myself enjoying it. Let me preface this with the fact that in this instance my food was quite tasty. Someone knows something in that kitchen, I’m just not sure what else was going on. Let me tell the story.

Upon arrival, we were sat. We came bearing a coupon, 2 for 1 entrees. It said, and I quote, “Present when ordering”. When our waiter greeted us, ala TGIMcFunsters (“Hi, my name is Lee, I’ll be your server tonight”) I couldn’t help but giggle. I’m ordering $37 entrees and you still think that you should tell me your name? Oy vey. Nonetheless, we presented our coupon, as requested. “Oh I don’t need that yet. Just keep it” says Lee, in a belittling voice. Ok, so clearly they don’t need it when ordering. Or maybe they do and he just couldn’t hide his dissapointment? I’m usually pretty good about tipping on a prediscounted amount when using a coupon–except if I’m treated like a second class citizen for using it. Sorry, Lee, bad move. As we enjoyed our glasses of wine (served to us from a tray with other peoples stuff on it as well. Hello, serving fine dining 101?), our appetizer, a soft shell crab taco came out. Like I said, someone knows there stuff. This was a unique, extremely delicious take on two foods I’ve had a lot in my life. I loved the creativity and it worked well. Somewhere around now I looked up. My seat was facing directly toward the kitchen, where the pass was located.

Then I saw the dishes. Every entree coming out was at least a foot tall, with another foot of garnish on top of it. Oh no. My eyes rolled. Those are totally our two foot entrees. This is not a good sign. They came to our table, towering near our faces. I inspected what the height came from. Now I know every chef is taught that height is a good thing in dishes. It is. But not like this. And not when it comes from unrelated garnishes. My partner in crime had a BBQ rib dish (tender ribs, those were very good), presented like a crown roast, with a blob of (horseradish?) mashed potatoes balanced on the top of the ribs. They were slightly gluey, but that was probably the only way to keep them atop the ribs. Stuck in to the top of the potatos were here onion rings (not the best), and sticking out of it all was some sort of plant-y garnish, which had to be picked off in order to begin eating the rest of the dish. Oh the absurdity.

My dish was rack of lamb, served just as perfectly rare as I had ordered them. I loved that. They were served in a sea of sickly sweet demi-glace–which is too bad since I’d ordered it due to the ‘spicy’ demi-glace. But again, the presentation. My lamb, sticking straight up in the air, surrounded a (quite tasty) spinach and goat cheese “cake” (quotes because it was really just a mound). Stuck in to that were my one foot garnishes. The green ones were clearly raw chives. They did not match the flavor of the dish at all and were laid to rest on the side of the plate. The others I couldn’t discern. They were the size and shape of uncooked spaghetti, but slightly crunchier. Could they have deep fried raw spaghetti?

Having finished our entrees and asked for the bill, Lee dropped it for us. We opened it and looked at the bill. It had not had the coupon factored in. We flagged Lee and reminded him of the coupon. No, it’s in there, he demonstrated to us, again in belittling voice, flipping behing the bill on top, to a second piece of paper with the reduced amount.

Call me cynical, but that seems like a trick for people not paying enough attention. Without knowing there was a second piece of paper back there, there was no way to tell from looking at the bill. And if he knew that we were using the coupon, why even present the original amount? Or why not present it stapled behind the reduced amount? I left full, satisfied, happy with the food I had consumed, but still unable to control the giggles from the absurdity of the whole meal.


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