Aspen Recommendations & Reviews
Posted 13 March 2008 - 04:31 PM
Just to say, by happy coincidence, I will be celebrating my 40th Birthday week after next at the Montagna in Aspen, before repeating the celebrations this side of the pond at L'Ambroisie. So I very much hope to be posting on both 'your' boards !
The plan is a cunning one. I wake up on the morning of my 40th Birthday and decide then whether life is still worth living. If it is, I drink a glass of champagne whilst admiring the mountains; if it isn't I throw myself off one.
Having the booking at L'Ambroisie for 3 weeks later is designed to try and ensure that the answer is "yes, life is still worth living" - if only to prevent an unseemly fight amongst my relatives over who gets to inherit the reservation in my will.
In the meantime, thanks to you (and the others) for the recommendations on here. I've only been to Aspen once before and the posts have offered up a wealth of new places to try. Didn't get to Takah Sushi last time (was booked out the night I tried) but liked Kenichi which scored major bonus points for offering the option of fresh wasabi.
Posted 30 April 2008 - 11:26 PM
I'm visiting Aspen next week for a conference, and was wondering if I could get a recommendation or two. I've never been there before, and would appreciate suggestions for a nice dinner place as well as where to find a good burger. Thanks!! :)
_Jesse Williamson ;-};
Posted 03 August 2008 - 11:45 AM
The owner of the two Buenos Aires restaurants in Denver opened the Buenos Aires (Fusion) Restaurant in the old Blue Maize space 1 ½ weeks ago and it is now open for lunch and dinner. I thought this place was super, just what the doctor ordered, but Colette found the mound of meat too much. I started out with crispy grilled sweetbreads with chimichurri sauce (there are two here, the classic and the Denver-revisionist with tomato) which must have been the best dish I had this week. Then she had risotto with seafood (shrimp, scallops, clams and calamari) and veggies (green onions, spinach and tomatoes) and I a rack of lamb (musta been 10 of the mothers) dusted with dry chimichurri sauce and cooked the way I asked (nigh-raw) with tender big green asparagus stalks. Dessert was a super flan. With a bottle of wine, no bottled water and no coffee before the tip = $109.69.
39 Degrees in the Sky Hotel (a Kimpton property) is not new but was new to us. Although I go by it every morning on my limpies in Aspen, I’ve never noticed the menu until today. We had a more than alright lunch there. Colette had what they called a menage a trois: OK gazpacho, fine mixed salad and a terrific grilled cheese panini with pesto while I had fried calamari with nice aioli sauce and salad greens with pickled lengthwise sliced carrots that were divine. Our bill with just tap water, before tip = $26.06
Sabra’s Deli, where the old Bagel Bites at Clark’s market used to be, is really misnamed. It’s really a pan-Middle Eastern schwarma/gyros/couscous/salad and pita shop, hardly a deli. It was described as “new, and….real good” by Stewart Oksenhorn, fine food finder for the Aspen Times, and I have to agree. For a hole-in-the-wall place, it has a large menu, three chefs, almost as many front-room folks, and an atmosphere of quiet competence. Colette had the Israeli salad of chopped cukes, lettuce, tomatoes, onion, etc with pita and Baba ghanoush and I the gyros plate (instead of the schwarma) with fries that had an intriguing tang. Our bill was $20.90 without dessert or drinks or coffee.
Tang, which is in the ex-ChinaThai space, which took over Little Ollie’s, changed its sign this summer but has the same crew and food so is not really new. It’s fine Thai and Chinese chow though; a cucumber salad, beer, Pad Thai and a Thai chicken ran us $35.24.
Social, next door and upstairs from Elevation, calls itself an Asian-influenced tapas bar. We wanted to sit outdoors and they have two areas, one on the street, the other upstairs, which are quite nice. The menu is eclectic and interesting sounding. Colette ordered 6 brochettas, 3 of pesto and tomato, 3 of fava with peccarino – all OK. I had as my first course some piquillo peppers stuffed with artichoke mousse – a great idea but its taste was undistinguished. Then she had two double soft tacos with bits of snapper – quite so-so and I had shredded duck confit quesadillas which were barely OK and unfinishable. At this point I had written in my notes: “Alright, no home runs, no need to go back.” Getting the check was dicey since one of the two well-clevaged wait-dames was busily chatting up two friends and the other was d’hors combat. When it arrived I had one of those head-snap-back moments – the wine we’d ordered a bottle of, was $38 a bottle, while it was listed by the carafe (I assume 1 L.) as $34; so by my calculations, I figure it was 50¢ a cl by the bottle, but 34¢ a cl by the carafe – a huge difference - thus here, it pays to order the same wine by carafe. The waitress had the chutzpah to tell me I’d gotten the bargain.
Lulu Wilson, which I described last year as an Aspen Ze Kitchen Galerie, wasn’t quite that on this visit; but it was very good. Two local old friends we ran into at the Music Festival asked what was my current resto fave and I said “I think Lulu, we’ll see” and he said “I think so too.” We had 2 appetizers and 2 small plates and there was food left over, so no need to go hungry here. Colette had burrata mozzarella with local peaches, fried capers (that’s right fried), and arugula which we both agreed was superb; I had a Colorado mixed salad with the usual veggies plus shaved turnips, equally good. Then she had gnudi (ricotta gnocchi) with a tomato and artichoke sauce and greens and I had Hickory smoked BBQ short ribs, spicy and scrumptious with a bit of slaw atop and three giant friend curried onion rings. The bread had a super crisp crust, the butter was properly herbed, the wine guy knew how to pour just enough to breathe and be appreciated (a first in Aspen in 60 years) and the welcome was most warm, especially in contrast to last night’s F***You at Social. Our check with one bottle of wine, no desserts or coffee and certainly no big plates = $102.10 before tip.
Plato’s space at the Aspen Institute has been, in one incarnation or another, an acceptable safe harbor when seeking a good meal between events at the Music Tent and Movie Festival. The relatively new chef, who revived the place a year plus ago, seems to have lost interest. Things started out a bit roughly; the music (jazz) in this center of intellectual fervor was blasting, the amuse-bouche of oyster with veggies and parmesan was a nice try but both bad product and execution and the lettuce in my Colorado green salad had browned stalk cuts (no charge after I conspicuously cut them further off and pointed them out to our waitstaff) Since the chef was in the salle chatting up one table of notables while my salad was being prepared, it is possible the salad guy just got lax and he (the chef) did not pass on the final plating, but one of the waiters should have caught it. However, once the chef returned to the piano, things picked up: Colette’s Colorado peach/champagne soup was pretty good, I loved her lamb (short) riblets with mint BBQ rub and tolerated my angel hair pasta with nice pancetta on a bed of “parsley pesto.” Our bill with wine before tip with no coffee or dessert was $66.25.
Takah Sushi has gone very upscale very fast in prices and come down very much in generosity in just 12 months. We’ve been coming since the turn of the century and what a change. Edamame and a bowl of rice are now $4 each, miso soup is $6 and the sashimi combo for $20+ provides only a few miserable slices. I realize that their clients are all rich these days but what happened to the old price-value ratio? For one dish of edamame, a bottle of Muscadet, a sashimi combo and a crab Viet lettuce wrap, no miso, pickles, salad, dessert, coffee, tea or tip, our bill was $105.38. Nice, cross-table-working waitstaff though.
DishAspen is supposed to rest its reputation on fresh product, well prepared, (Slow Food take that!) and has just opened for lunch. Colette had a cup of (good) gazpacho and a salad with 4 ingredients (goat cheese, tomatoes, cukes and fava beans) which came with several possible dressings (none of which she took a cotton to) and I had a chiabata sandwich with blackened fish and a tasteless “tartare” but great chips. Our bill with one glass of wine, no desserts or coffee or tip was $44.95.
blog John Talbott's Paris
Posted 11 August 2008 - 09:57 AM
I will be celebrating my 40th Birthday week after next at the Montagna in Aspen
How funny, I was just searching threads here to figure out if my husband and I want to spend OUR 40th birthdays in March (3 days apart) at Aspen, and so far Montagna sounded like the place to go.
Thanks especially to John for keeping this thread updated. We will already be in CO, at Copper Mountain, for a family reunion/ski trip, and I'm just trying to figure out if its worth heading to Aspen after that for our birthday celebration (it's spring break and everything is extra-pricey). My initial feeling was that for the same $$ we could have a weekend in NYC and really eat well, but it sounds like there are quite a few good choices in Aspen (I had figured it would be largely bad touristy food, but it sounds like I'm wrong).