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Susan

Aspen Recommendations & Reviews

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I will be going to Aspen next month and was looking for some dinner recommendations.  I really don't think I feel like going anywhere where we have to get dressed up.  I get the impression that some of the better restaurants like Pinons and Renaissance are dressy.  Are they?  Thanks in advance for your feedback.


Susan

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I'm going to Aspen in a few weeks and was looking for some dining recommendations.  I think that some of the higher rated restaurants like Pinons and Renaissance are kind of fancy.  I don't think I want to go anywhere that we have to get dressed up.  I appreciate your feedback.

FYI - Rosie, I posted this on eGullet and haven't heard anything back so I thought I would check with our New Jersey folks.


Susan

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There are two James Beard restaurants listed:

The Century Room

Renaissance and R Bistro

I remember that we ate in a railroad car but it was quite a few years ago and I don't remember the name. Food was very good though.


Rosalie Saferstein, aka "Rosie"

TABLE HOPPING WITH ROSIE

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i've been in the area a few times, and nothing was all too memorable for this weary backpacker. what i DO remember in the general area of aspen, however, is a little place called the "columbine cafe" in leadville. EXCELLENT food, mostly a breakfast place. eggs benedict i do remember as being top notch, and i'm farily picky about the hollandaise sauce. they're open early, are courteous, and it's a cozy atmosphere, definately reminiscent of the town's mining history. i highly recommend it.

-quad

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Leadville's a delightful little town, much more laid back than Aspen or Breckinridge. Many more beat up work trucks than Range Rovers, too.

The owner of the Leadville & Southern railway (tourist line which travels up thru the Pass at 11,000 feet or so), has a 1952 heavy chevy truck on display.


Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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Just came back from a conference in Aspen. My one dinner was the tasting menu at Syzygy.

Corn Chowder: Rock Shrimp, Truffle Foam, Lobster Roe, Chive Oil

Oven Roasted Pork Belly: Belgian Endive, Pears, Caraway Vinaigrette, Vidalia Onions, Toasted Pecans, Fresh Horseradish

Cumin Marinated Ek Tenderloin: Salsa Verde, Sweet Corn tamales, Avacadoes, Toasted Chipolte Oil

Australian Blue Cheese: Sundried Cherries, Toasted Nuts

Warm Brownie Sundae: Caramel, Hot Fudge, Vanilla Gelato

The first two courses were the best. The pork belly was really a salad course, with the pork laid on top. Absolutely delicious. The soup was even better; the flavors--there was a dallop of cream on top--blended beautifully.

The elk was the most disappointment, mostly beause it was a slab of meat without much to make it interesting. The blue cheese was delicious, and the dessert was just fine.

I ordered the wine pairing too, which was a disappointment. The waiter promised that someone would come over to talk to me about preferences, but no one did and they kept bringing things I didn't like very much.

But it was a delicious meal, and I would gladly go back.

Bruce

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I'm going to be in Aspen and possibly also Denver Thursday through Sunday. What's good? I've heard that Montagna and Cache Cache are good in Aspen. If I end up in either town for Thanksgiving (very likely), where should I eat (I will most likely be dining solo but no biggie; I didn't grow up celebrating T-Day and am not that bothered about spending it quietly). However, a few good meals will be essential. Is Matsuhisa as disappointing as I've heard it is?

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Dining in Aspen.

Italian: Campo de Fiori, amzing italian wine list and wood burning oven

French: Rustique, great bistro and comfortable room

Overall ( for me ) Mogador- awesome middle eastern inspired food, interesting, unusual ( for Aspen ) wine list, super cool deco

After hours: Caribou Club, great champagne list

If you will be there for Christmas ( or any body else )Chistmas dinner in Aspen

( click on "events" )


wine is proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy
Ted Cizma

www.cheftedcizma.com

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We are going to aspen and Beaver creek end of month and considering these two restauarants. Would also like a more casual restauarnt for Beaver Creek/Vail.

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I realize there's a thread running on Pinons and Beaver Creek here but I have a somewhat different query; since last summer, July-August, has any new chef taken over any existing restaurant and/or have any new restaurants opened in Aspen that are interesting to try? Thanks.


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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In nearby Carbondale, Chef Mark Fischer of the excellent Six89 opened Phat Thai just down the street.


“When I was dating and the wine list was presented to my male companion, I tried to ignore this unfortunate faux pas. But this practice still goes on…Closing note to all servers and sommeliers: please include women in wine selection. Okay?”--Alpana Singh, M.S.-"Alpana Pours"

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Since I posed the question originally and am always interested in Chef and Restaurant changes, I thought I'd update this Forum on the Aspen situation as of August 2005. Since November, Gusto has had a new chef, Anthony Compagni, whose cooking is quite nice. Takah Sushi has moved into a wonderful new, big space around the corner and has quite successfully increased the number of seats and offerings. Coming into its old space is Zocolito, a terrific Mexican/Latin American place previously sited in Carbondale. And finally, a place we loved in the past, Conundrum has closed and its space now houses a bank, whatever that tells you about Aspen.


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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of all kinds!

i've been going to aspen in the summer since i was a wee babe (1970's)... but this time, i'm bringing my wee babe. whats new? whats 16mo old friendly? whats we got a babysitter & the folks are paying friendly?

please, help a sista out!!

much tia!!

OOOPS!! edited to change dates from 8/29 - 9/2 :wacko:


Edited by dvs (log)

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of all kinds!

i've been going to aspen in the summer since i was a wee babe (1970's)... but this time, i'm bringing my wee babe. whats new? whats 16mo old friendly? whats we got a babysitter & the folks are paying friendly?

please, help a sista out!!

much tia!!

OOOPS!! edited to change dates from 8/29 - 9/2  :wacko:

Check out the thread a bit below. Also Plato at Aspen Meadows is not bad food in a great setting and Merlin's Gourmet Pizza has the best pizza in town; lots of kids there the day we dined.


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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of all kinds!

i've been going to aspen in the summer since i was a wee babe (1970's)... but this time, i'm bringing my wee babe. whats new? whats 16mo old friendly? whats we got a babysitter & the folks are paying friendly?

please, help a sista out!!

much tia!!

OOOPS!! edited to change dates from 8/29 - 9/2  :wacko:

Check out the thread a bit below. Also Plato at Aspen Meadows is not bad food in a great setting and Merlin's Gourmet Pizza has the best pizza in town; lots of kids there the day we dined.

thanks for the info!! much appreciated!!

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.....since last summer, July-August, has any new chef taken over any existing restaurant and/or have any new restaurants opened in Aspen that are interesting to try?

I have the same question again this year if anyone has any insights.

Thanks.

John


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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Since I seem to be the only person who obsesses about Aspen, I suppose it’s only fair to report on our culinary experiences there last week.

As is our wont, we first tried new places or new chefs at old places, of which there were/are eight: D19, Jour de Fete, Texas Red’s BBQ, Dish, Brunelleschi’s Dome Pizza, Plato’s, Ajax Tavern + Crust. We skipped Jour de Fete, because it's a breakfast-lunch place and Crust, a pizza place, because it is at Aspen Highlands, but hit all the rest.

Of the newbies, we thought Plato’s at the Aspen Meadows, in the Aspen Institute complex, with a spectacular vista over the valley, was the best. My 22 ounce “cowboy” ribeye steak was undercooked to perfection and my wife Colette’s gazpacho and mussels were quite good as were the rolls. I thought the brisket, sautéed spinach, fries and coleslaw at Texas Red’s BBQ were pretty good but Colette found the salmon taco tasteless - all the portions were enormous. Likewise, I liked the “giant” duck leg with beluga lentils at Dish, chef’d since June 1st by Matthew Zubrod from Willow Creek, but Colette found the cod with about 20 veggies too salty and cluttered; after sending it back, the second try was not overly salted. The bio wine was great but the foccacia only so-so. Chef Dena Marino, along with her signature Roman artichoke (one of the finest single dishes anywhere,) has moved from the Ajax Tavern to the old Colony space by Wagner Park, now called D19, and for some strange reason, both places seem to have suffered: Ajax’s formerly great Italian cooking is now only passible if judged by the figs in pancetta and marghuerita pizzetta we had; and at D19, while my calamarata with clams and mussels were tasty, C’s minestrone was watery and bland and her limoncello sorbet devoid of limoncello. Luckily the bread was fantastic. Finally, we were so looking forward to eating at Brunelleschi’s Dome Pizza with Ross King’s book in the window and the old wood oven that the prior place – Merlin’s – used to make great pizzas in, but no, both pizzas (shrimp and sausage and mushrooms) were salty and bad.

Of the old places, it’s a tough call to declare the best. Takah Sushi is always a joy and they’ve used the new space well. However, we give Gusto’s a rave review for the second year in a row. The bar menu at lunch, a salad and anything off the menu plus a soft drink for $12 is the best price-quality meal on the continent and their pizza with a huge mound of arugula, overlaid with strips of good prosciutto and topped with parmesan strips was very good, although too big for one person. The wonderfully marinated mushrooms on the rigatoni was splendid. Many folks think Montagna is the tops in Aspen and I like Chef Ryan Hardy’s food, but more at night than at lunch (the menu is simply not as interesting). My fish and chips were quite good and C’s salad with mache, parmesan, mint and zucchini was good, but expensive. Second in a lot of opinions, is Blue Maize where despite the incredibly watered down margaritas and loud din of conversation, we had a fun meal of chips and guacamole and salsa and chipotle chicken with citrus-y sauce on an incredible bed of quinoa with onion, garlic, peas and exploding spices. Then, to Zocalito where we enjoyed the shrimp escabeche and chicken “mole” (at least their take on mole). Finally, the Wild Fig; a place we loved last year (having loved it’s predecessor – Torino – even better) but where the price of wine is vaulting out of sight and the dishes (“Asian” gazpacho and pasta with sausage) was not great enough to compensate.

One final note since in my other life I “digest” French periodicals for the France Forum and appreciate good restaurant criticism, if you are going to Aspen, check out Arts’ Critic Stewart Oksenhorn’s reviews in the Aspen Times, this for example; they’re interesting to read and well-informed.


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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We are going to aspen and Beaver creek end of month and considering these two restauarants. Would also like a more casual restauarnt for Beaver Creek/Vail.

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JUST back from Beaver Creek and enviorns.

Realize this is a late answer to the question posted, BUT, figure someone will go looking sometime in the future, so a few comments.

The WORST, overpriced and overly salted meal that we had was at The Grouse Mountain Grill in B.C. The waiter was mightly impressed with where he was working and when we complained...he told us that different folks have different reactions to salt, and he'd never had a complaint. When all 7 of us voiced the same opinion, and asked to speak with the chef, golly he had just left for the evening. STAY AWAY!

We had not gone to this beautiful country for grand cusine, but we did eat well and here is the list of places where we ATE well. Service ,generally, was casual.

The Gashouse in Edwards

The Wooden Nickel in Crested Butte

Gasthof Gramshammer in Vail

Rialto Cafe (16th St.) in Denver

May Palace (Chinese) in Vail (sometimes one needs a chance of pace from Elk and Buffalo)

Denver Diner (breakfast) in Denver (this place looks like an institution, tastes like one too-good).

No matter where you eat, remember in this enviornment , you are there to be stunned by the glory OR maybe "just" to ski. Have fun.

Ted Task

Rockville, MD

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We're going to Aspen with 6 or 7 other people in February to stay at a friend's vacation home. My funds are meek right now, and if it weren't for this gracious offer, plus cheap airfare on Southwest, I probably wouldn't have chosen Aspen, which I understand is pretty pricey.

But surely there must be some great (ethnic or non) places to eat for a reasonable bill. Any suggestions?

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Although I have not been to Aspen myself, I remembered this short list published last summer in Food & Wine: Where To Go Next - Aspen.

I am fortunate enough to live in the same town as Chef Mackinnon-Patterson's Frasca. Judging by his excellent restaurant, his recommendations for Aspen are well worth a visit.

V.

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Although I have not been to Aspen myself, I remembered this short list published last summer in Food & Wine: Where To Go Next - Aspen.

I am fortunate enough to live in the same town as Chef Mackinnon-Patterson's Frasca. Judging by his excellent restaurant, his recommendations for Aspen are well worth a visit.

V.

We go to Aspen 1-3 times a year.

From that list I highly recommend Montagna, IMO the best restaurant in Aspen, but it's not cheap.

D19 was a dissappointment (dissappointing food, service and also loud) and also expensive.

Our favorite inexpensive place to eat is Hickory House. The baby back ribs are flown in from Denmark and are delicious, as is everything else. The service is fast and its open breakfast, lunch and dinner. It's a local's favorite.

Also good and well priced is Main Street Bakery, also open for breakfast, lunch and dinnerand also a local's favorite. I've only been at breakfast, and, with the exception of grits (what was I thinking, so far from the South) everything has been delicious. I had house-made corned beef hash once. The delicious jam on the table appears locally made and the granola is also made in-house. Address is 201 E. Main St., Aspen, CO, USA Phone: 970/925-6446

Another local's favorite that we've frequented is Bentleys, a great bar with bar-type food like burgers, sandwiches, nachos, etc. at the Wheeler Bldg. It's very, very affordable.

OK, one more: Mezzaluna. Reasonable prices and good Italian food and a hip atmosphere. They usually have an apres ski special (pizza and drink, I think).

None of these places is pretentious in the least. BTW, jeans are acceptable anywhere in Aspen.

On a non-food note, I'm guessing you are skiing or boarding, so don't just do Aspen Mountain (which we never go to), but take the free bus to Snowmass (my favorite), The Highlands (great for 1 day, for us) and Buttermilk (easy skiing and a great terrain park for boarding). Have a great time!

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We're going to Aspen with 6 or 7 other people in February to stay at a friend's vacation home. My funds are meek right now, and if it weren't for this gracious offer, plus cheap airfare on Southwest, I probably wouldn't have chosen Aspen, which I understand is pretty pricey.

But surely there must be some great (ethnic or non) places to eat for a reasonable bill. Any suggestions?

While Aspen restaurants are notorious for their high price tags, most of the upscale dining dens offer exceptional bar rosters -- many of which mirror the dining room menu -- for a fraction of the price. Jimmy's, Mezzaluna, Pinions, Campo di Fiore, and Gusto are just a few terrific spots to eat well at the bar without buring a hole in your wallet, as is the Double Dog Pub, a shrine to all things canine. Even the J-Bar at the Hotel Jerome (you must go) slings a fantastic burger on the cheap -- and the people-watching/celebrity-spotting is worth the price of admission.

Aspen’s centerpiece is the Popcorn Wagon, a near sacred symbol that lures tipsy late-night revelers with hangover alleviating, inexpensive, hot-off-the-griddle crepes.

If you want to splurge on one dinner, make it the Pine Creek Cookhouse, which is not in Aspen at all, but in the nearby town of Ashcroft. Hitch a horse drawn sleigh, snowshoe or cross-country ski by miner’s light to a magnificent log cabin shrouded in majestic mountain wilderness. The cookhouse, which burnt to the ground in 2003 and was meticulously restored in 2005, boasts an expansive outdoor deck affording sweeping views of the Elk Mountains and a rustically elegant candlelit dining room helmed by executive chef Kurt Boucher, whose game-centric menu struts grilled quail, wild boar chops, porcini-dusted elk, caribou medallions and fresh fish creations. A winsome wine list adds to the magic. Warm clothes, reservations and a voracious appetite are essential.


-Midson-

A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart, who looks at her watch

-James Beard-

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