Review: Michels Christiania Restaurant, Sun Valley, Idaho
I took my wife to Sun Valley Idaho for our anniversary this year. If you’ve never been there, Sun Valley is a quaint little mountain ski resort town situated in the Sawtooth National Forest of South Central Idaho about 2.5 hours away from Boise. Sun Valley mostly just consists of the Sun Valley Lodge, golf course, and a few houses. The real town is Ketchum, and the two towns blend into one. Despite the small population of only a few thousand, Sun Valley/Ketchum is one crazy money trap. Tourists, celebrities, and the extremely wealthy make Sun Valley a favorite destination spot. The amount of wealth seen there is a bit sickening, and I think anyone other than Bill Gates may leave feeling like their earnings are completely insignificant. But despite the money-pride aspect of Sun Valley, you’ll leave glad you visited, and will be filled with some memories to put a smile on your face later.
For our weekend celebration, we cruised up in the morning, enjoying some good music on the stereo, laughter and stories, and views of sage brush and high valley fields. And though a person can fly right into Sun Valley (and from all the private jets lined up at the small airport, I’d say plenty do), for us, the drive was just part of our anniversary time together.
Romantic French Restaurant in Sun Valley
After a fun-filled day up on Bald Mountain, I wanted to take my sweet bride out for a special dinner. I had done plenty of research before hand, and was torn between several restaurants in the Sun Valley area, but ultimately, I chose Michels Christiania, both for their ambiance as well as their food. Michels was the perfect pick.
We chose to sit on their beautiful patio outside, and got a seat right next to the fountain. The sounds of flowing water from that fountain and the rustlings of nearby aspen tree leaves from the occasional light breeze as I gazed into my wife’s innocent blue eyes was something movies are made from. We were in the mountains, we were in France (sort of), and we were in love. Nothing else mattered.
As our server brought us the menu, I anxiously tugged at the crisp white linen table cloth touching my lap, hoping that my wife would enjoy her French dining experience as much as we were enjoying being together. Just then, a table near us received a heaping pile of pommes frites. Our eyes grew as the faint breeze carried their smell of deep fried elegance to our table. We looked at each other, and without saying a word, promptly made the decision to get an order ourselves. French fries at a French restaurant…..how fitting for an anniversary celebration!
Just look at these perfectly golden straws of delight! We loved their presentation in their stainless steel housing. They were beautiful, and they smelled of fresh oil, salt, and potatoes. But it wasn’t until we sank our teeth into them that we realized we had just been served perfect French fries. Exceptional! They were perfectly crunchy on the outside, steamy and fluffy on the inside, perfectly seasoned, and not greasy at all. They were truly amazing, and it almost seamed barbaric to dip them into common-placed ketchup (but we did anyway). We were tempted to order 2 more batches and call our meal done, but the allure of fine French cooking was too much to resist.
Eating Escargot in Ketchum Idaho
I’m not sure if I should call it “classical” or “cliche” to order escargot at a French restaurant, but we went for it. I’ve had snails many times, but Sadie had yet to have the opportunity. So we ordered a round so she could try them.
Michels version was prepared in the traditional garlic, bay, and butter bath, but also added a high quantity of finely chopped parsley. The parsley added a nice freshness that I haven’t experienced with other snails before. It was actually pretty nice, but was a bit overpowering. The snails were average quality, coming from a can as most US snails do. But they had a nice soft texture and were not rubbery or chewy like so many other snails often are. All in all, these were pretty good snails. Sadie liked them, and we loved the experience.
Gourmet Dinner Entrees in Sun Valley Idaho
Salmon, trout, chicken, beef, veal, lamb, and pasta all made their delicious appearance on Michel’s menu, but for whatever reason we had mushrooms on our minds. Maybe it was because the snails we just ate looked like mushrooms, or maybe because we were meeting my mushroom hunting cousin the next day, or maybe because it was that rare time of year in Idaho when both morels and chanterelles are available fresh in our forests. But whatever the reason, our entree selections both included mushrooms. Sadie ordered the Poitrine de Poulet aux Morilles, or Sauteed Breast of Chicken with Morel Cream Sauce.
The chefs at Michels nailed this chicken. It was perfectly roasted. For being a breast and wing, it was juicy and tender inside, and had such good flavor throughout I wondered if it was brined. The skin was left on and was super crispy from the high-heat roast. It was seasoned simply with salt and cracked black pepper. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. The morel cream sauce was rich and earthy. The morels were very strong, either from being reconstituted dried morels, or from being very old morels when picked fresh. I couldn’t tell for sure, but either way, they were a bit too strong for my liking. Sadie loved them though. The mushroom cream was delicious with the chicken, and we both greatly enjoyed this beautifully presented dish.
I ordered the special of the night; braised veal steak served with a chanterelle brown sauce.
Oh man was this good! The veal was extremely tender of course, and had a very mild beef flavor like all veal does. But the highlight was the brown sauce. It was extremely flavorful, the kind of flavor that only comes from hours of care making a brown veal broth, then duplicating the process with the broth to make a highly concentrated flavor bomb that has layers of depth to it. Finished with fresh button chanterelles, thyme, and butter, the sauce made my eyes close in taste delight. Sadie loved it too, and we ended up trading entrees half way through so we both could enjoy our two delectable entree choices.
The accompanying potato square was nothing special. It was essentially just sliced potatoes, cream, and salt. The baked tomato with fresh rosemary was more pleasant to look at than enjoyable in the mouth. Too bad, because it could have been delicious with a little more olive oil, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. The vibrant haricots verts (green beans) we perfectly tender with a slight crunch. They were the best side served.
The Bald Gourmet Enjoys Fine French Dining at Michels Christiania Restaurant in Ketchum/Sun Valley, Idaho.
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