1 of 2
Michael Brandy, Deseret News
Ryan and Colleen Lowder sit in their new restaurant, the Copper Onion, in downtown Salt Lake City on Wednesday.

Several new restaurants may be part of the supporting cast for Sundance filmgoers.

In Salt Lake City, the Copper Onion, 111 E. Broadway, opened Wednesday, just in time to catch some of the Sundance traffic from the Broadway Theater next door. The restaurant is owned by Ryan and Colleen Lowder.

"Three months ago I estimated that we could open on Jan. 20, and it worked out," Colleen Lowder said. "When we were looking, we really liked this space, and we thought the movie theater could use a good restaurant so people could go out for dinner and movie." Chef Ryan Lowder grew up in Sandy, attended the Culinary Institute of America, and soon began working at Jean George, the acclaimed New York City restaurant. Most recently, he was executive chef at the Spanish-themed Mercat and Italian-themed Gusto, both in New York City.

"I've had some good opportunities in New York, but we decided we didn't want to plant roots there," Ryan Lowder said. "I have a lot of friends and family here, and the dining scene is much more interesting that it was a few years ago."

Utah's quality products, such as Creminelli sausages, Amano Artisan Chocolate and Bell Organics, was another selling point.

The Copper Onion specializes in from-scratch cooking, with house-made desserts, sausages and breads (such as a heavenly scented rosemary baguette).

"We're trying to source as many ingredients locally as we can, to be responsible and true to the region we're in," Colleen Lowder said.

Signature dishes include an appetizer of sauteed mushrooms topped with a fried egg and salsa verde and an entree of piquillo peppers stuffed with beef short ribs. Other entrees, ranging from $13-19, include sauteed cod, trout, house-made pasta, steak and roasted chicken.

Seasonal vegetable side dishes, such as broccoli rabe, brussels sprouts and sauteed pea shoots with golden raisins and pine nuts, can be ordered for sharing. The vegetable selection will change with the seasons. Salads are approximately $6, and desserts such as cobbler and cheesecake are $7.

The restaurant's name was chosen because "we wanted something very 'Utah,' and something that would let people recognize that we're pretty vegetable-friendly," Colleen Lowder said. "So we named it after the state mineral, which is copper, and the state vegetable, which is the onion."

The restaurant will be open for dinner Tuesday-Sunday during the next few weeks and then will expand to lunch and dinner. (801-355-3282 or Thecopperonion.com)

Several high-end restaurants opened this fall in Park City, for those who love eating — or at least spending — like the stars.

Those who don't have a membership to the exclusive Talisker Club (located between Deer Valley and Jordanelle Dam) can still dine in style at the club's public facility, Talisker on Main, 515 Main. The 42-seat restaurant and wine bar features the cuisine of Talisker's executive chef John Murcko. He and Talisker's team won the 2009 Ultimate Chef Challenge sponsored by Nicholas Foods.

Talisker on Main has a central dining room, private wine room, year-round patio and garden and an open kitchen. The restaurant is open for dinner (except for a private event on Jan. 22). Appetizers are $11-15 and include lobster hush puppies, braised pork belly and tuna, buffalo carpaccio, and roasted Brussels sprouts salad. Entrees are $28-$37, and include Icelandic Arctic char, buttermilk chicken, stuffed duck breast, filet mignon and sirloin steak (435-658-5479).

The J & G Grill opened in December at the ritzy St. Regis Deer Crest Resort, 2300 Deer Valley Drive. It's owned in a partnership with Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the acclaimed chef who has nearly 30 restaurants around the world. Matt Harris is the chef de cuisine who oversees the cooking.

Just getting there, on a tramlike vehicle called a funicular that travels up the mountainside, adds to the sense of adventure.

Dinner entrees are $22-$52, and include several steaks, salmon, Tai snapper, Snake River Farms pork chops, Niman Ranch Poulet Rouge chicken, and Clark's Farm lamb chops. Pizzas are $10-14 or soups and salads are $9-14. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. (435-940-5750).

High West Distillery & Saloon, 703 Park Ave., is a maker of premium spirits such as its Rendezvous Rye whiskey. But, the saloon also offers "western-inspired" cuisine for lunch and dinner. Families may dine in one of the private rooms (the renovated buildings are listed on the Register of Historic Places). Lunch features soups, salads and sandwiches, ranging from $6-16. The dinner menu features small plates and larger dishes for sharing. High West spirits are used in many of the accompanying sauces. Small plates range from $6-$12, and large plates are $18-$29; The High West Burger is $12. (highwestdistillery.com).

e-mail: vphillips@desnews.com