Night Out in Telluride Mountain Villlage

Great Room with a View on a Busier Night

Great Room with a View on a Busier Night

I almost can’t wait for the ski season to end.  The key word there is almost.  I’d love for the skiing to go on and on but I’m also yearning to spend more time at my desk, something that is indeed a big challenge when the slopes lie right outside your door and you’re caught up in the ski fever that grips every mountain town from late November through a good part of April.  Plus I’ve been working a lot on the hill teaching skiing, a very rewarding job that not surprisingly leaves little energy for writing at the end of the day.

Then there’s the near grueling pace of the social life that one must endure in such a happening mountain resort.  No matter how much you try to stay in, there’s always a concert (often free!), a dinner, a party or an impromptu gathering to take in.  Telluride is a culturally rich, increasingly sophisticated town which consistently goes off at the close of the lifts.  

Steve and Me Partaking in Après Ski at The View (note the G.M.'s goggle tan!)

Steve and Me Partaking in Après Ski at The View (Note the G.M.'s Goggle Tan!)

The truth is, too, that a certain man, Steve Togni, entered my life last fall which has inevitably created even more of a distraction for me.  (Oh darn, I knew this would be the case!)  Fortunately he’s tall, dark, handsome, very smart, charming, a hot skier and appreciates much about me, including my writing and cooking.  He’s also a lover of cats, tea and travel.  All this and more makes him well worth the time invested.  He also happens to be Italian which scores him even more bonus points.  I thank Clara, my chubby little cat, for bringing us together since we really connected when I stopped into his lodge one day last September in search of her.  His lodge is Mountain Lodge, a topnotch hotel located just across the ski run from me (how convenient!) that as General Manager he runs with all the efficiency and grace of a Swiss tram gliding effortlessly over the mountain tops.

Although we have had many dates and perhaps even more quiet evenings at home, I thought I’d take the opportunity to report on the fun to be had in T-ride during one of our recent evenings out.  Of course we had to start at Mountain Lodge in its recently opened restaurant, The View.  I timed it perfectly since we sat in the wooded Great Room and gazed out at the peaks as the alpenglow bathed them in a wash that faded from cobalt to sky blue pink to steely grey as the sun set in the distance.  The fire crackled beside us in the immense stone fireplace of the lodge and we both felt particularly giddy, mostly because it had been a powder day that had blanketed the slopes in a glorious cushion of fluff.  It was also one of the first times we were able to sit and relax at the lodge.  (Thankfully I hadn’t made it a habit of “hanging out” there.)

I discovered that The View is known for its flights of wine, a presentation of three samplings of a class of nectars that allow you to indulge in your own private tasting.  I chose the Italian Sparkling Wine selection that I was sure would be quite fine since Paolo and Stefano Cancallini, the operators of The View, are renowned Italian restaurateurs in Telluride as well as importers of fine wines.  Steve quenched his thirst with a frosty pilsner because he had been lucky enough to work it hard all day on the slopes.  (You’ve got to get those powder days when you can, especially at the end of the season!)

We'll Save the Dip at the Lodge for Later!

We'll Save the Dip at the Lodge for Later!

We refrained from ordering some of their tempting apps such as bresaola, a thinly sliced cured beef, served with anchovy-stuffed olives, caper-filled red peppers, garlic cloves in EVOO and marinated grilled eggplant.  We almost folded with the tuna carpaccio served over crostini, but we knew we had to save our appetites for The Onyx, the signature restaurant of the newly christened Capella, the latest luxury hotel to open in Mountain Village, the more modern part of Telluride increasingly known for its chichi places of lodging, restaurants, boutiques and spas.  We didn’t have to travel far since this was to be an entirely Mountain Village soirée which had begun by the two of us crossing the ski slope hand-in-hand, from my place to the lodge.  Steve had his shuttle driver drop us off down the road at Capella and as we stepped inside the high-styled interior of this sleek establishment, I could tell we both enjoyed feeling like tourists in our own town.

The Onyx at Capella

The Onyx at Capella

Telluride has much to offer in terms of dining and it seems as though the standards are raised with the arrival of each new restaurant on the scene.  I had heard many rave reviews about The Onyx in the less than one month since it had opened, so I was eager to experience it myself.  Steve ordered the Creamy Wild Mushroom Risotto as a starter and promptly declared that it was one of the best he had ever tasted.  (Wow, that’s quite the endorsement, especially from an Italian!)  I delighted in a plate of Iberico Ham, served with goat cheese and poached kumquats.  The velvety Barbaresco that Steve selected accompanied this first course and our main dishes beautifully.  The menu places a heavy emphasis on red meat and as much as i was temped by the Kobe beef, I decided to go regional by ordering the Colorado lamb.  Steve settled on the Black Angus Filet that was as tender as first tracks down the mountain in fresh fallen pow.

View of Our Table Overlooking The Onyx Bar

View of Our Table Overlooking The Onyx Bar

We enjoyed congenial, expedient service throughout the meal as the evening passed seamlessly.  The contemporary-styled dining room buzzed with the sort of din that indicated that everyone was having a fine time.  We both marveled at the chocolate-y richness of the chef’s Warm Liquid Spanish Hot Chocolate Cake and almost as though he heard us singing his praises, Chef Kenny Gilbert appeared to say hello.  With a bio steeped in Ritz Carlton experience and stints at some of Europe’s finest restaurants, we came to better understand the breadth of his culinary offerings as well as his often innovative approach.  Then came the candy cart.  Wheeled in like a three-tiered Parisian pastry cart on steroids, this chariot of sweets was stocked with candy store favorites such as jelly beans, sour worms, marshmallows and more.  I almost sniffed at its commonplace offerings until I learned that Kenny gained much of his inspiration for the cart from Paul Bocuse’s candy caddy served up in his multi-Michelin-starred restaurant in Lyons.  (I’m not a snob, but I suppose more than a decade of living in France sometimes prompts me to have snobby moments.)

Chef Kenny Gilbert

Chef Kenny Gilbert

A porcelain plate of chocolate-covered almonds and pretzels, dried fruits and white chocolate shavings was delicately served up for me.  Steve appeared even cuter than normal, respectfully poised in front of his plate of Swedish fish.  We relished every bite with surprising indulgence, savoring little sips of a late harvest Merlot from Colorado with every sweet.  We both greatly appreciated the dried strawberries and blueberries that rivaled any highfalutin house made confection typically offered at the end of such a fine repast.

Our plans to ride the gondola up to the ridge for a nightcap at Allred’s fizzled with our last bits of decadence.  Instead we settled on gazing at the full moon as we padded out of Capella.  We were happy we didn’t have far to go and grateful we had found our bliss in so many different ways in Telluride Mountain Village.

The View, 970-728-2413,

The Onyx, 970-369-0880,; click here to check out some beautiful images of The Onyx and other Capella highlights.

Other Recommended Mountain Village Dining Establishments

La Piazza, 970-728-8283,

The Hop Garden, 970-728-7467,


Note that Telluride Ski Resort has extended its season through April 12.  It’s also possible to find many other great places to ski out West through the end of April.  The spring skiing promises to continue to be fantastic throughout the month.

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