Chez Betty, Chez Magnifique
Fantastic food, unpretentious ambience come together
By Vanessa Chang
Special to The Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated:07/25/2007
PARK CITY - "I'm gonna use my fingers for this lamb chop," my friend announced to the server. He
was gripping a juicy, ruby piece with his thumb and index finger. The tone of his voice was part
declaration and part schoolboy dare. Our server smiled approvingly. "That's exactly what we like to
see here," he said. And with that my friend unapologetically dug into the succulent meat, getting
all the lovely, caramelized bits hugging the bone.
Perhaps at any other restaurant, especially in Park City, he would've been too self-conscious to
entertain the thought, let alone declare it to a server. But we were at Chez Betty, where the
unpretentious, yet professional vibe is as refreshing as air conditioning on a sweltering day.
It has a fiercely loyal clientele of seasonal residents who look forward to smoked salmon ravioli
when visiting their Deer Valley home and locals who savor the beef tenderloin when escaping the
Salt Lake valley haze.
The spot-on service is just one of Chez Betty's charms. Servers here are pros: Between fun banter
and good advice, they seamlessly decrumb the table, reset place settings for entrées and keep
water glasses full. Many of them have been with the restaurant since owners - and brothers -
Executive Chef Jerry Garcia and General Manager Tom Bell set up shop on the first floor of the
Copperbottom Inn in 1991.
Bell oversees the impressive service team and manifests his passion for wine in an equally superb
wine list. By-the-glass options are varied and plentiful. Bottles by the region help indecisive diners
decide whether they want Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon with that rack of lamb.
When it comes to décor, some may find it cozy. Others may find it bland. This isn't scenester
territory with a techno music soundtrack or moldings of galvanized steel. Rather, a low ceiling
punctuated with recessed lighting, walls in warm, buttery hues and piped-in Muzak give the
dining room an almost homey feel. A fan of Chez Betty once admitted that the ambience wasn't her
thing. "But the food," she assured, "is fantastic."
The four-course chef's tasting menu ($52; $72 with wine pairings), featuring dishes such as
fragrant Asian gazpacho or blue crab salad with fiddlehead ferns and À la carte items such as basil
pesto-saturated panzanella salad ($14.50) and a special soup of velvety vichyssoise ($9.50),
displays an acknowledgment of the seasons.
Only when the menu strays from straightforward does it lose its appeal. A mild, but perfectly
cooked, fillet of Atlantic salmon gets lost in a jungle of pickled ginger, hoisin sauce and wasabi
mashed potatoes ($29; $15.50 petite portion). Dry pork tenderloin in a pepita crust ($31; $16
petite portion) was rescued by a hearty poblano, yam and goat cheese chimichanga. The fried
mini-burrito made a sequel appearance in the house vegetable plate alongside whole-grain
mustard-kissed cauliflower florets, green beans and baby carrots (cooked barely al dente) and
mashed potatoes topped with sautéed greens. Good, sure. But for the $23 price tag, I would've
liked an extra helping of originality to gussy up the same vegetables I saw on my companions'
You really develop a love for Chez Betty in its entrées. And I'll quote the brilliant Homer Simpson
for a guiding rule: "Meat, good." Red meat, in particular. Beef tenderloin ($34) lives up to its name
- a fillet perched atop a crispy potato cake that smelled blissfully of bacon fat. And the onion
demi-glace hardly ruined the crunch of a garnish of fried onions.
Hanger steak ($29) rarely gets any play on local menus. But when the kitchen expertly grills it,
slices it, stacks it with sweet onion jam and serves it atop mushroom-brie bruschetta, I'm glad it's
on Chez Betty's.
And, of course, that rack of lamb ($38; $20 half-rack). It hails from New Zealand, pleasing
mild-meat lovers. But it'll leave other lamb aficionados lusting for more earthy overtones of
Colorado and Utah lamb.
Being full at the end of a meal won't be the problem. Making room for desserts just might. But it
would be a mistake to miss out on the crème br lée ($9). A shallow pool of ethereal, vanilla
bean-flecked custard topped with amber-hued burnt sugar will have dessert cynics believing again
in classic simplicity. I think it's the best in the state.
But if you insist on some presence of fruit, the strawberry sorbet shortcake ($9) is a fine option.
The ripe berry's sorbet and compote render it refreshing. Crème anglaise and the crème chantilly
make it luxurious.
Being the caffeine fiend that I am, I have to love a place that devotes half the dessert menu to
coffee, including tasting notes you'd usually find in Wine Spectator. A French press ($9.50) of
bittersweet Mocca Java or buttery Sumatra, among others, arrives with an hourglass timed for
We finished a bottle of 2003 Altamura Sangiovese, gnawed off the last bits of the rack of lamb and
licked the crème br lée dish clean. We were full and completely at ease. And in the dining room,
that's exactly what I like to see.
* IN A NUTSHELL: When the service is this good, it's easy to enjoy the consistently good food. It's
worth the visit for the beef tenderloin, hanger steak and rack of lamb. And don't miss the crème br
lée. Entrée half portions available.
* WHERE: 1637 Short Line Drive, Park City; 435-649-8181
* HOURS: Thursday to Monday, 5 p.m. to close; open nightly December to March.
* WEB SITE: www.chezbetty.com
* PRICES: $$$$
* LIQUOR: Full service
* CORKAGE: $15
* RESERVATIONS: Recommended
* TAKEOUT: No
* WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes
* OUTDOOR DINING: Yes
* ON-SITE PARKING: Yes
* CREDIT CARDS: All major