You can’t throw a canapé at a menu these days without hitting the words “farm-to-table.” Not that using locally-sourced, fresh foods is a bad thing. But it’s nice to be aware of some of the people who have been doing it before it had a name, before Slow Food came out of its shell and urbanites built chicken coops next to the barbecue.
At Collins Grill, from a perch atop the modern glass-and-steel Watson Shelter, Chef Jude Rubadue reigns as the OG of free-range fare and organic goodness. A blue-eyed earth mother, Rubadue speaks reverently yet excitedly of the relationship between chef and farmer, rancher, purveyor. She knows her ingredients well and best of all, turns them into skier fare you crave, like onion soup lyonnaise or herby, savory tarts. Local free range beef becomes juicy hamburgers and lamb becomes hearty stew.
The menu isn’t trendy in the slightest (escargot, s'il vous plaît?) but honors French classics and similarly themed European dishes. For a skier’s sake, however, the plates are light and well-proportioned, just enough fuel to hit the slopes again after lunch. Or, choose to ski longer and have a late, leisurely lunch, sampling the wine list and watching skiers glide by from the floor-to-ceiling windows before taking the short run to the base. I recommend the latter, but that’s just me. Oh, and when you enter Collins, you are offered the option of removing your ski boots and wearing cozy slippers. DO it!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention dessert because the two house specialties are off the charts. I don’t normally go wild for cheesecake, but the Cappuccino at Collins, created by Chef Dana Gray, Jr., is as light as fresh powder and aptly named. With a subtle layer of espresso flavor, almond crust and hint of lemon, the slice is just how I like my shots: with a crème and a twist. Perfection.
The other dessert is homage to an Alta regular named Stuart. Stuart’s Heart of Darkness Cupcake is rich soufflé filled with gooey chocolate. It’s a feat in itself, but baked at such altitudes? Chocolate mission accomplished!
Collins Grill at Watson Shelter
Reservations recommended between noon and 2 pm, especially on weekends and holidays. 801-799-2297.
Hours: 11:30 am - 3:00 pm daily
Chef Rubadue was recently honored as one of Catalyst’s 100 most inspirational people in Utah. Read more about her influence on our community.
For a list of some of the local and sustainable suppliers used at Collins Grill and Watson Shelter click here.
Watson Shelter wasn’t always an architectural gem. The original, constructed in 1939, was made of logs and granite, featuring a fireplace a small lunch counter. It was named for George Watson, the self-proclaimed mayor of Alta from 1937-1953 and one-time lone resident of the town.