“He who has never envied the vegetable has missed the human drama.” — E. M. Cioran
NEITHER G NOR I HAD EVER TRAVELED THE 330 mile, 7+ hour drive to Telluride, even tho she was born in Colorado and I moved here over forty years ago. But the temptation of the glory of the changing of the colors and the reputed fine dining caused me to make a last minute reservation at the Hotel Telluride, a wonderful facility with the friendliest of staff and very convenient. Actually, the place was perty awesome.
We had recommendations from friends as well as a list of places to try that I had compiled over many years. The list of places where we finally chose to dine were all evening meals arranged in date order.
Allred’s (565 Mountain Village Blvd, Mountain Village, 970-728-7474; www.allredsrestaurant.com). Considered by many to be Telluride’s flagship restaurant. Allred’s sits at the top of the gondola where the most magnificent views of the mountain and the ski slopes and the town itself are yours for the viewing. The food is so good I have to skip most of the ambiance crap (which was great but who cares?) and get right to it.
I had made reservations several days in advance and requested a window table; it was stupendous. We got there early (6 p.m.) so we could watch the sunset over the town. We opted for the three-course price fixe dinner. G started with a Caesar salad and pronounced it as being perfect and perhaps the best she’s ever had. I had the butternut squash soup that blew my mind. That was also the best soup G ever had.
G ordered veal scaloppini, with crispy polenta, creamed spinach, lemon and capers. I had decided on the flat iron steak, but just prior to placing the order, G told me to turn around and look at the dish the gentleman behind me ordered; Colorado rack of lamb. It came with two thick double-bone chops, cooked a perfect medium rare, accompanied by braised lamb shoulder and foo foo. Oh my. Changed my mind like that.
I’ve always loved lamb, but this was so tender and so flavorful and so perfect, I wiped every other meal out of my memory. But then the unusual happened. I was finishing the lamb, chewing on pieces of shoulder and a potato when I noticed a red cherry in the center of my plate, kinda buried under the veggies and bits of meat. “A cherry?” I asked G. She shrugged and so I speared the cherry and bit into it. Oh my. It was warm and not overly sweet. Just wonderful. Never have I had something so unusual and delicious. Long story short, it’s called mostardo, an Italian condiment made of candied fruit and mustard flavored syrup. G brought home a jar of it from the restaurant, compliments of the manager, and also ordered two more jars on line.
For dessert G ordered the recommended toffee and I had the chocolate sampler. Both were very good. I still can taste that maavelous Colorado lamb. Stick that in your pipe New Zealand, and smoke it.
The next nite’s dinner was at 221 S. Oak (221 S. Oak St, 970-728-9507; www.221southoak.com). I’ve had this restaurant on my list to try for years. It’s considered in the top two or three on every list about Telluride. But this nite was not to be worthy of a favorable ranking.
At the W’s recommendation, I ordered a two-veggie soup. I was told it was phenomenal. I don’t consider gray and gold soup very appetizing, and the taste went along with that. The gray side looked like and tasted like salty cement. The gold side was almost as icky. I really couldn’t distinguish between the flavors. The W lied. She turned out to be not very good anyway. She had no warmth, no personality. Just kinda an order taker.
G again ordered a Caesar salad, but unlike the one she had the night before, this was just ok. The leaves were moist and shudda been dry. The taste was missing that special bite that a good Caesar offers.
I had the Maple Farms duck breast with confit; it was cooked perfectly and really excellent. It was just a bit on the tuff side but had lots flavor. G ordered the tenderloin with truffle potatoes and a brandy reduction. The problem was that the chef forgot to reduce anything. The beef was charred nicely on one side and barely cooked on the other even tho it came medium rare as requested. It was almost inedible. There was so much fluid, basically a broth, the roast spuds on one side were sopping wet and flavorless. On the other side they were outstanding. Maybe they served her a steak cioppino by mistake. We didn’t bother with dessert. We went back to the hotel where I had a dark chocolate Milky Way waiting for me with a Diet Pepsi.
The Cosmo (The Cosmopolitan), 300 West San Juan, 970-728-1292; www.cosmotelluride.com. Here is one of two restaurants that chef owner Chad Scothorn owns the other in Durango. Don’t know who was cooking that nite but it sure was maavelous. This was another amazing meal. The hotel and restaurant sit right next to the gondola. We sat at a window where we could see the light rain falling outside and as the sky got darker, the colors changed in intensity. G took literally dozens of pictures of the fall colors. This was probably the best weekend to see the colors in this part of Colorado. But onto the grub.
We again had a terrific server and outstanding food. It’s not a very big place but its perty.
We started with an unusual appetizer, one that typifies chef Scothorn’s approach to dining. It was a lobster shrimp sausage corn dog. Yep, that’s what it was. G e-mailed guess-what-this-is pix of the dish to our kids and the guesses ranged from Antelope ears to tuna-stuffed casserole meatballs. It was absolutely delish.
G ordered a tomato arugula goat cheese salad that was superb. G thinks that arugula and goat cheese is a marriage made in Heaven. I passed on an appetizer to scarf up the fantastic fresh-baked, kosher salt-topped bread. The pastry chef makes all the desserts as well as the bread.
For her main course, G ordered lamb chops, which were remarkably like the ones I had at Allred’s two nites before. Maybe cuz both restaurants bought lamb that week from the same restaurant supplier?? I know they were great cuz, as always, I get the bones to naw on. Best part of the meat. I ordered out-of-this-world short ribs that came with Brussels sprouts and mashies. I normally dislike them things but these were yummy.
Dessert; oh yummy, I ordered amaretto cheesecake with fresh Colorado peaches on top and G had wild blueberry pie with house-made sour cream ice cream. Come on folks, it don’t get any better than that.
It’s gonna be perty soon that we’re back to Telluride for more fine dining and fun times.
Jay Fox has obviously been enjoying other parts of the state, far away from Denver. He’ll be back scoping out joints by the Capitol before you know it. You can reach him in the meantime at: email@example.com.