Sunday, October 12, 2014

Mirror Lake Diner - Kamas, Utah

As a boy, my family had a ranch in Oakley, Utah which was co-owned with my uncle's family. I have many fond memories of the ranch, including going to the Hi-Mountain Drug in nearby Kamas and having a hamburger and then going to a movie at the next-door theater, with tennis shoes sticking to the floor sticky with soda and who-knows-what-else. 

I was in Utah recently for a quick visit and read an article in the Deseret News that named Hi-Mountain Drug in Kamas as having the best affordable burger on the Wasatch Front. That was shocking to me - could not be the same burger I ate as a boy. It gave me a yearning to try it. 

So I called Sam, living in Provo, and arranged to pick him up for a Sunday drive. We drove up through Provo Canyon, Heber and finally into Kamas. Sam was patient with me as I blathered about memories of my youth and experiences in the area, including eating at Hi-Mountain Drug and going to the theater. However, my plans were quashed when we found Hi-Mountain Drug closed for business on Sunday. 

On the drive in to Kamas I noticed a Mirror Lake Diner which was not there when I was a boy and we decided to go back several blocks and try it. It had quite a few cars in the parking lot and I was surprised to walk in and find it full of people, many of them youngish and athletic looking.  When I was a boy Park City was kind of a back-water. Snowbird was the hip place. Now Park City and Deer Valley, not all that far away, are awash with Hollywood glitter and there has been spillover into the surrounding areas. 
Mirror Lake Diner in Kamas.
Mirror Lake Diner was opened in May 2013 by Gabe and Betty Morin. Gabe, a chef from Maine, came to Utah in the early 1990s and worked as a chef's assistant at Alta's Rustler Lodge for 14 years and at Easy Street Brassiere in Park City. He discovered Kamas and decided to open his own shop. It is a far cry from the hamburger and fries in a plastic basket, and milkshake, from the Hi-Mountain Drug of my youth. Menu names include dishes with place names like Slate Creek Corned Beef Hash, Kings Peak Chicken Fried Steak, Mirror Lake Cakes, The Samak, Ledgefork Smothered Burrito, Moffitt Mountain Oatmeal, Trial Lake Biscuits and Gravy, Bald Mountain Bagel Sandwich, Cobblerest Monte Cristo, Crystal Lake Fish and Chips, Wolf Creek Rueben, Ruth Lake Tuna Melt, Left Fork Chicken Sandwich, Pine Valley Veggie Sandwich, Gold Hill Garden Salad, Iron Mine Mountain Quinoa Salad (I'd never even heard of Quinoa when I was a youth) and Duschesne Tunnel B.L.A.S.T. I'm aware of some of these places, but not many of them. Somehow, "Mirror Lake Cakes" sound better than pancakes although I'm not sure how appetizing "Duschesne Tunnel" sounds. 

Then there are dishes named after people. Uncle Dave's Spinach Salad,  Betty's Eggs Benedict, Jamie's Greek Omelet, and Mary Ellen's Omelet. At least the menu sounds like there is a little love and attention going into the dishes.

Sam got the Crystal Lake Fish & Chips with Pacific cod, a lager batter and house-made chips. The chips were definitely made in-house as each chip was a very large, relatively thick, section of deep-fried potato. He gave me a bit of fish and some chips and they were quite good, particularly the fish. 
I got the Bald Mountain Bagel Sandwich which had two eggs (normally hard, but I got them over-easy), bacon, avocado, tomato and cheese. I asked for and got cream cheese on the side with I added to the sandwich. The slices of bacon were long and thick and the egg yolk busted and slathered all over the bun, bacon and avocado. The bagel was fresh and soft. It was a very nice combination. I also mixed in some over-easy eggs with the hash browns and enjoyed that wonderful combination.
The restaurant had a pleasant, easy-going atmosphere, there was fun local art on the walls and we had a nice, pleasant lunch. I suspect it was much nicer than the Hi-Mountain Drug burger, but I may have to go back and try it again.

Sam was subjected to some more reminiscence as we drove by the ranch, then up to Smith-Morehouse Reservoir where I caught a small jack-rabbit as a boy at a fathers and son's outing. The scenery at Smith-Morehouse, on the edge of the Uinta Mountains, was spectacular. The aspen leaves had turned yellow and snow was covering the taller mountains. 
Beautiful yellow aspens mix in with pine several miles from Smith-Morehouse.
I'm not sure what causes the red colors, but it adds a beautiful contrast.
The snow-covered mountains beyond Smith-Morehouse.
Coming back and the snow-covered mountain beyond the other end of Smith-Morehouse.
I had a wonderful trip into the past and Sam survived the trip down memory lane.   


  1. It's always nice to return to the places of your youth and find them as appealing as your memories of them. I agree, I think you need a return trip to Hi-Mountain Drug and see if it's as good as the new diner in town.

  2. Nothing like a parent going on and on and on about his memories, eh Sam? Beautiful scenery. It makes me miss the fall foliage. Dead brown plants in drought-stricken California just aren't the same thing.