Chef Derek Gallegos is one of the most talented chefs around. With him at the helm, it’s time to rediscover Gretchen’s. You are sure to be delighted!
Fall is a feast for the senses. Leaves glow gold, orange, and red. The high mountains surrounding the Wood River Valley look festive in winter coats of snow. Crisp and fresh describe the morning air and the crunch of frosty trails below your feet or mountain bike wheels remind that winter is right around the corner.
At Gretchen’s at the Sun Valley Lodge, late autumn is also a feast for the taste buds. With Chef Derek Gallegos at the helm, Gretchen’s fare incorporates only the finest ingredients, sourced locally whenever possible, and seasonally spot on. Chef Derek has worked to great acclaim throughout the Valley perhaps most notably at his former restaurant, 310 Main in Hailey. Everywhere he goes he attracts accolades and a loyal following and is constantly thinking about novel and wonderful flavor combinations and how to share the best of Sun Valley with guests. Derek is simply one of most respected and talented chefs to ever bring his culinary creativity to the valley and the proof is in every bite.
The very talented Chef Derek Gallegos weaves his magic at breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the Lodge’s signature restaurant, Gretchen’s
Critical to Chef Derek’s philosophy about food is a menu that reflects what is fresh each season, something that is perhaps easier in warm weather climes than in Idaho! However, Derek’s attention to detail and emphasis on quality, delivers a locally-sourced late autumn/early winter menu to please every palate.
The new dinner menu at Gretchen’s is filled with flavors that complement the season. A Butternut Squash Bisque with ginger crème fraiche, pear salsa, toasted pecan, pimenton, sets the tone for the meal. On a cool fall night, nothing tastes better than a seasonal hot soup full of layers of flavor. For an entrée, Derek recommends two Gretchen’s favorites: the Idaho Ruby Red Trout Piccata and the Elk Osso Bucco. The rivers around Sun Valley teem with trout and that is what many crave when they visit the area. Chef Derek’s preparation is an innovative take on traditional piccata and almondine preparations. The fish is pan seared and served with a caper and lemon vinaigrette, smoked almonds, haricot vert, and an artichoke basmati rice. Derek has one word for it, “awesome.” Game is another dish many yearn for when they visit the area and Gretchen’s Elk Osso Bucco is slow-braised with zinfandel and juniper berries, and served with winter vegetable puree, leeks, and roasted carrots. Chef Derek describes his method for this dish as pureeing celery root, parsnips, and cauliflower with milk and juniper berries and butter. “It is super creamy and the dish is so satisfying,” he said.
Gretchen’s lunch and dinner menus feature terrific seasonal salads. This one, a frisee salad with citrus and pomegranate is deceptively tangy and savory – perfect for colder weather
Also on the dinner menu for the season: Pan-roasted Half Chicken with herb-brined poussin, fregola pasta, roasted winter squash, Brussels sprout leaves, cauliflower, apricot chutney, and Riesling jus; and Cinder-brined Prime Rib of Pork, a grilled bone-in chop with rye whiskey jus, sweet potato puree, parsnips, and sautéed greens. Another dish Chef Derek recommends that sounds like it might be my new favorite food is the Tortelli Di Zucca. Gretchen’s prepares hand-made pasta, with butternut squash, walnut and mascarpone filling, wild mushroom sautee, sage, brown butter, aged balsamico. It’s finished with what Derek calls brown butter crumbles which sounds so decadent and delicious I am at a loss for words.
Gretchen’s is spacious and bright, the perfect place for a business meeting or a gathering of friends
Lunch and dinner also benefit from the season with some special salads. I think great salads are one of the hardest things to find when I eat out and after sampling three of Gretchen’s offerings, I could eat these every day. The first is an Orange and Pomegranate Salad, which at first sounds more summery than wintery. But the combination of flavors, a frisee base tossed with watercress, pickled fennel, Asian pear, hibiscus (tangy!), ricotta salata, and a star anise vinaigrette taste like fall. Another choice, the Heirloom Carrot and Apple Salad with toasted walnuts, dates, shaved Brussels sprouts, ancient grains, rogue blue, sherry vinaigrette couldn’t be more fresh. Finally, a Baby Golden Beet and Tuscan Kale Salad with red quinoa, local chevre, pumpkinseeds, dried figs, apricot vinaigrette is autumn on a plate. The colors and flavors of these salads are amazing and they are hearty enough to be a meal.
All of Gretchen’s food is sourced locally wherever possible. Right now, Chef Derek is getting baby carrots, chard, spinach and more from Sherry and Larry Kraay’s farm in the south valley. A close relationship with Purple Sage Farms in Middletown, Idaho, also brings fresh produce to the table. The chevre that appears on the Baby Golden Beet and Tuscan Kale Salad comes from down the road in Kimberly, Idaho. “We really do focus on what’s available right now,” Derek said, “and use super high quality ingredients.”
The Golden Beet and Tuscan Kale Salad is literally autumn on a plate!
And I would be derelict if I failed to mention Gretchen’s fabulous breakfasts that take traditional fare to a new level. For instance, the eatery’s famous Eggs Benedict is built from scratch – literally. The Konditorei’s master pastry chef makes English muffins from scratch, then Derek adds Canadian bacon from pork loin (nothing like those stamped patties many restaurants offer), and handcrafted Hollandaise sauce. Hash browns are the furthest thing from frozen or mass produced. Each batch comes from Idaho Yukon Gold potatoes and are shredded and cooked in-house.
If you think you know Gretchen’s but have not been there for a bit, you really don’t know Gretchen’s at all. With a commitment to preparing only the finest quality fare to meet the fastidious standards of Chef Derek in a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere, it’s time to try Gretchen’s again. Breakfast is served 7 – 11 a.m., lunch 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner 5 – 9 p.m., daily.
Gretchen’s is the new go-to restaurant for a business breakfast or lunch. “Where else can you impress a client with valet parking, enjoy a delicious meal in a spacious atmosphere – there’s plenty of room to spread out and talk shop. If it’s a late lunch, perhaps it makes sense to keep things going at the Duchin Lounge over a five-star cocktail,” Derek said.
The name of the game at Gretchen’s is quality and attention to detail. Make sure you stop in to enjoy a meal and a taste of autumn that only Chef Derek can offer. It’s real, hearty food, locally-sourced, and delicious, all at a fair price.