Chef Derek Gallegos first came to Gretchen’s Restaurant at the Sun Valley Lodge in 2011 but moved on to open the new Konditorei and then create the popular seven-course prix-fixe dinner at Roundhouse Restaurant. But he returned to the flagship eatery and was integral in its re-launch with the opening of the newly reimaged Lodge last summer. He has been on the cutting edge of fine dining with a mountain flair ever since. Simply put, if you haven’t been to Gretchen’s in a while, you haven’t been to Gretchen’s. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day of the year, and the emphasis is always on sustainable, locally-sourced, and flavor intensive fare.
This summer, Derek is serving a salad composed of kale, ripe peaches, quinoa, and sweet corn – all the fresh, wonderful tastes of summer on one plate
Seasonal also plays a huge role in what is served at Gretchen’s. “During the summer, I would say half of our sales are Northwest seafood,” Derek said. “We only offer sustainable, fresh, wild halibut and salmon and only during peak season, which is right about now.” You will not find frozen or farmed fish on the menu, and never shellfish in the summer (but plenty of it in the winter) so if you have a hankering for fish, make your reservation at Gretchen’s by calling 208-622-2144.
It’s not just fish that gets special consideration in Derek’s kitchen. Vegetables are sourced directly from Idaho’s Bounty and local farmers. “We work a great deal with Middletown, Idaho, Purple Sage Farms, for instance,” Derek said. “Right now it’s spinach, fresh herbs, lettuces, mustard greens. We’re always on the phone asking what’s happening right now and incorporating just-picked items into our menu. We also source from Ballard Dairy near Twin Falls, Sweet Valley Organics – right now the berries and mushrooms are amazing -- and Kraay’s Market Garden. From Sherry and Larry Kraay, we have been getting great chard, green beans, snow peas, and greens. We are really lucky to have such great relationships with local growers.”
Meat gets the local treatment, too. Derek said lamb is sourced from southern Washington, pork comes from the Golden Valley Hutterite colony in Montana (where they raise all the feed for their animals themselves), and beef and veal are from the Montana Meat Company and Snake River Farms.
Dinner choices, in particular, are based on what is available at any given moment and the menu changes every three to four months with the seasons. “The breakfast and lunch menus tend to stay more static, as people have their favorite dishes,” Derek said. Even so, salads change seasonally. “You won’t find a berry or watermelon or peach salad in the winter but those ingredients are at the height of freshness right now. For instance, this summer we are offering a kale salad with sweet corn, quinoa, and peaches that is really popular.”
Even if the menu for breakfast and lunch isn’t always changing, Derek said the quality of the offerings distinguish them, no matter the season. Breakfast includes delights like Eggs Benedict that are elevated because of the ingredients. “We use Konditorei baked English muffins and Canadian bacon that comes from a whole smoked pork loin. It’s a far cry from those perfectly round slabs of ‘Canadian bacon’ you often see,” he laughed. “Our Hollandaise is always fresh-made and gets raves.”
And don’t forget dessert. Sweets are also made in-house and feature favorites like Derek’s famous secret recipe chocolate cake, crème brulee, and seasonal fruit cobbler.
Gretchen’s is more than just great, food, though. The one-of-a-kind setting of the restaurant makes dining a true experience. Indoors, the bright, airy space connects seamlessly with the soaring surroundings of the Lodge and the expansive patio overlooking Sun Valley’s iconic outdoor rink, (always shaded and cooled by awnings even on the hottest days), provides a meal and a show.
Now is a wonderful time to enjoy the Sun Valley Summer Symphony followed by a beautifully conceived meal at Gretchen’s. Seatings following concerts are very popular, though, so be sure to make a reservation.
Derek actually serves as Chef of the Lodge, meaning all the hotel’s food offerings are under his careful consideration. He oversees the casual, fun food at the Bowling Alley, Room Service, the sophisticated snacks at the Duchin Lounge, and the healthy and eclectic offerings at the Poolside Café.
Whether you are enjoying a special dinner at Gretchen’s or a light meal or snack at another Lodge restaurant, rest assured Derek Gallegos’ busy kitchen is working tirelessly to serve the freshest, most delicious fare available
“In the summer and winter peak season, we have 30 people working in the kitchen, about triple the staff of shoulder season,” Derek explained. “They are very well trained and operations have been very smooth this summer.” The front-of-the-house staff is extremely knowledgeable, professional, and friendly, too, whether you have questions about the menu or the perfect wine pairing.
“The game has really been upped at Gretchen’s and with the food throughout the Lodge,” Derek said. “Please come join us for a meal and see the difference for yourself.”