Snake Creek Grill: Locally Sourced

Chef Dean Hottle Keeps It Close To Home

There is something to be said about a familiar place to eat. Friendly faces that greet you every time, consistently amazing quality of food and service, and not to mention the fresh aromas that delicately permeate the air as you walk past the kitchen. For many in the valley, this familiar place is Snake Creek Grill.

When asked what his favorite thing about owning a restaurant is, Dean Hottle (who is also the head chef at Snake Creek Grill) replied, “I love working with and seeing my regulars, as well as new faces coming through the door each night.” That attitude and passion is what Hottle puts into every entrée and dessert at his beloved restaurant.

Hottle takes great pride in the freshness and quality he provides at Snake Creek Grill, right down to the hand-butchered beef tenderloin he serves with an incredible whiskey cream sauce and wild mushrooms. It is clear that he takes pleasure in making sure that his ingredients are harvested at the peak of their season. “I am always sourcing anything and everything locally that I can,” he said as he presented Morgan Valley Lamb chops to a regular.

His lamb chops are just one of many items he sources locally. He has served farm-raised elk meat for over six years and loves the diversity of his menu. Hottle pairs his elk — which has a distinct and earthy taste — with roasted root vegetable risotto and hearty seared greens; perfect for an early fall entrée. This practice and philosophy of locally sourcing make his flavors clean and bounce off your pallet.

At Snake Creek Grill there is a consistency that is unlike other eateries here in the Heber Valley. Hottle attributes that to the incredible group of vendors he has cultivated over the 15-plus years he has been with the restaurant. “I am always so pleased to feature locally-grown produce from our valley… Chris from Rustling Aspen Farm in Midway has been supplying us with the freshest and most beautiful produce all summer,” Hottle said.

Along with Rustling Aspen Farm, Hottle harvests all his rhubarb, peaches, beef and buffalo locally. He explained, “Even if the price is more, I will pay for locally-produced items to serve to my guests.” It is also typical for him to go to Buffalo Run Ranch and pick out a couple bison to be harvested for the restaurant — something that you really only find in European cuisine.

 

“I am always so pleased to feature locally-grown produce from our valley.”

Hottle loves playing with a wide host of textures in his food. From the velvety beef tenderloin paired with mashed potatoes and sautéed fresh vegetables, to the wildly popular fresh calamari with fresh Asian slaw, the menu is filled with one knockout after another.

To create a varied menu, you have to have the salty and sweet coupled with the savory and acidic; something that will brighten the flavor profile and allow the entrée to dance across your tongue. He accomplishes this by skillfully using fresh lemon or lime juice, or if needed, a splash of balsamic vinegar. This play on flavors and textures is paramount in the cuisine at Snake Creek Grill.

Snake Creek Grill was started by Barb and Mike Hill and opened on Nov. 19, 1998. Hottle worked with the Hills for six years before buying the restaurant. He kept a lot of the original recipes but has added some incredible items that incorporate his own style and flair. The best way to classify Hottle’s cuisine would be “comfort cuisine.” As clichéd as it is, it is very much accurate.

This coming spring, Hottle will have owned Snake Creek Grill for 12 years. As he continues to add new items, delicious wines and familiar faces to the Snake Creek family, locals and guests of the valley can always count on Hottle for a delicious meal that’s locally sourced and served with the same passion he puts into every bite.

Imagine yourself on a warm summer evening, dining al fresco under twinkly cafe lights with a light breeze blowing. A bearded man plays a recognizable tune on his guitar from the corner of the patio, softly serenading you as you dine on dish after dish of delectable cuisine. The sun is setting beyond the trees, a lush green lawn spreads out beneath you like a blanket, and the glow of chandeliers from inside is illuminating your table as the stars slowly start to appear.

Now imagine that you don’t have to imagine it at all! You can find all of this right in our valley at Midway’s The Corner Restaurant. Although a new fixture on Midway’s main drag, The Corner Restaurant carries a long history. Longtime residents may remember when former mayor Gene Probst and his wife Darlene owned the Burgermeister restaurant in the heart of Midway. The Burgermeister (which means “mayor” in German) was a cozy gathering place where people could eat good home-cooked food and make memories, and many people did until 1997 when it closed down. The couple’s grandson, Burkley Probst, grew up at the Burgermeister and really missed Midway’s family gathering spot. He decided in 2017 that Midway still needed that sort of community place where friends and family could gather together and make memories over a table of great food. Together with his dad, Karl, he opened The Corner Restaurant.

In 2018 when plans to renovate an old home into a restaurant were deemed implausible, Burkley and Karl enlisted the expertise of local architectural firm Lythgoe Design to build from the ground up. Together they created a new space with elements of community and family thoughtfully incorporated into the building. The result was a restaurant with sleek design that was both welcoming and meaningful. Visitors can instantly pick up on the warm decor and inviting space that The Corner Restaurant provides, but most don’t know the effort that has gone into creating all the special touches housed within the building. For example, the front door faces the Midway Town Hall, which the majority regards as the heart of the town. The stone on the front of the building is potrock, a stone native to Midway, found when excavating the site where the building now stands. Even the gladiolas at the counter when you walk in pay homage to Darlene Probst, Burkley’s now deceased grandmother and original owner of the Burgermeister. They were her favorite flower.

Their menu is rife with comfort food and good ole’ Americana cuisine, but with a strong foodie influence. A touch of paprika oil gives that extra something to the clam chowder, and a blackberry chipotle barbeque sauce brings a sweet and savory kick to their chicken drumettes. Those who remember the original Burgermeister Ham & Swiss will not be disappointed, because it’s on the menu too! Years of history in the making blend the old and new into The Corner’s menu, and you can feel the perfect balance of old and comfortable with new and trendy.

My favorite thing about The Corner Restaurant is the ambiance. Inside, the natural woods and chandeliers warm the space. The staff has taken care to ensure that surfaces are sanitized and that they are adhering to all health and safety recommendations. Now, in the age of social distancing, the patio is the perfect place for those who feel safer in the open air of outdoor dining. Those adhering to stringent precautions can still enjoy The Corner’s delicious food by partaking in the extensive take-out menu. You will miss out on the twinkly lights and the cool breeze, but you can still enjoy a hearty stroganoff or a nice steak dinner without having to do the dishes.

The Corner Restaurant is a family. Burkley is the front-of-house manager, and Karl is the pastry chef, baking those delicious bread rolls (his wife’s recipe) and whipping up cream pies. Cousins, Carol and John, work with the financials. Burkley’s wife and Karl’s wife and daughter are also part of the team. And those who are not blood-related are part of the family as well. Everyone who works there loves talking with the patrons and hearing their stories, sharing the delicious home-cooked family recipes, celebrating their birthdays and anniversaries, and welcoming them to the family.

The Corner Restaurant is located at 195 West Main Street in Midway. For more information, check out midwaycorner.com.