Char Christensen, Salt Lake mother of six, longs for an occasional escape from the everyday routines of her life.

But it never crossed her mind to suspect her husband, Jim, of orchestrating the escape.Jim knew he and Char needed a break. A radio ad for dinner and a sleigh ride fit perfectly into his getaway plan.

Jim and Char were among a sleigh full of guests winding up the Moonbeam run at Solitude, towed by a snowcat to the Roundhouse.

Jerry and Lois Holcombe, Huntsville, Ala., explored the ski resort in the late-afternoon sun, then lingered for dinner.

"I work as a travel agent back home, and we have a surprising number of Utah destination skiers. I needed to see this mountain country firsthand, and what better way than by moonlight," Lois said.

Moonlight lends a romantic touch to the mountain dining adventure.

But for Scott DeSeelhorst, manager of the newly renovated Roundhouse, romance comes in love for innovative food presentations.

Innovation is not limited to menu offerings at the mountain retreat.

"It's an adventure to get the food up here at all," DeSeelhorst explained. "The food must be up the hill before the lifts open at nine - that's both lunch and dinner supplies. If we forget something or run out, it's ski down and transport it in a backpack on the lift."

The Roundhouse is a landmark on the Utah skiing skyline. Originally built in 1958, the building is a unique angular design, crafted of native stone and glass.

Though closed for 17 years, the midmountain eatery reopened this season. Extensive renovation updated the memorable location without loss of the long-familiar ambience.

The original 8-foot circular fire pit was created from an old steam boiler and lends the coziness of a crackling fire to the dining area.

And for the Christensens, the high-altitude dinner provided the perfect change of pace: a glimpse of romance before returning to the everyday routines.

Note: Sleigh-ride dinners are available on Friday and Saturday evenings through the ski season. Midmountain dining will be offered during the summer as well. For further information call Roundhouse, 649-8400.

Round House Beef Tournedos with Dianne Sauce

8 beef filets (4 oz.)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter


2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced

2 tablespoons shallots, minced

1 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced

1/4 cup yellow onion, diced

1/4 cup beef base

2 cups whipping cream

2 tablespoons brandy, optional

2 tablespoons cognac, optional

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Melt butter for sauce; saute garlic, shallots, and onion; add mushrooms and remaining ingredients. Reduce over low heat until thick and creamy.

Saute filets in butter to desired doneness. To serve, smother with Dianne Sauce. Makes 8 servings.

Flourless Chocolate Macadamia Cake

7 tablespoons unsalted butter

14 ounces bittersweet chocolate

9 eggs

1 1/2 cups minus 1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup macadamia nuts, finely chopped

3 teaspoons brandy or rum, or 3/4 teaspoon rum flavoring plus 21/4 teaspoons water Melt butter and chocolate together over simmering water. Separate eggs; beat whites until foamy. Slowly add sugar to egg whites; beat until stiff peaks form; set aside.

Beat egg yolks until thick and lemon-colored. Mix in flavorings; blend in butter/chocolate mixture. Fold in egg white mixture. Divide evenly in buttered, floured, 10-inch cake pans; sprinkle with chopped nuts. Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes then lower the temperature to 275 and continue baking for 55 minutes. Remove from oven; cake will fall as it cools. Serve dusted with cocoa or powdered sugar. Makes 2 cakes; 16 servings.

Gingered Carrot Matches & Broccoli Flowerettes

2 large carrots, julienned

1 stalk broccoli, cut in flowerettes

1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, finely grated

1 cup chicken stock

Pinch salt

Pinch pepper

1 tablespoon butter

Melt butter in large saute pan. Add all ingredients; cover and simmer until desired doneness. Makes 4 servings.

Solitude Potatoes

4 large white potatoes, peeled

1 large yellow onion, julienned

4 tablespoons butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Cut potatoes in 1-inch pyramids and saute in butter until translucent. Place potatoes in sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown. Combine with sauteed onions and season to taste. Makes 4-6 servings.