28 Jun 2012, 12:06pm
Colorado Restaurants Telluride:
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Favorite Telluride Restaurants

The Ever-So Lovely New Sheridan Hotel and Chop House

As a resident of Telluride, Colorado, visitors are always asking me about my favorite restaurants in town. And that’s before I even have a chance to tell them I’m a travel writer! No matter where I meet people—in the gondola, on the chairlift or even just out and about nursing a drink or a coffee—the most frequently asked question concerns restaurant recommen-dations. Come to think of it, that’s what I do when traveling as well.

No matter how much you read up on a place, no matter how many online reviews you peruse, smart travelers always want to hear it from the source, a local that exudes enough confidence and soave (moi!) to reassure the visitor that he or she will be pointed in the right direction. When I mention I’m a travel writer who lived in Paris over a decade and nearly as long in Telluride, they practically shout bingo.

Of course I’m prepared to give a full dissertation on all the wonderful eating establishments we enjoy here in Telluride, however, I seemingly always begin my suggestions with my two favorites:  New Sheridan Chop House and Cosmopolitan of Telluride. Both seldom disappoint and more often than not, diners walk away feeling supremely satisfied by all the essential elements of fine dining:  food, ambiance and service. I would add that the price/quality relationship is always right there where it’s supposed to be—that’s to say the amount you pay is worth every penny of the culinary experience these restaurants offer.

Before the summer season kicked off (the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, the official starter, was held last weekend), I revisited my two faves with a more discerning eye and palate. I was there to review and most of all consider all like a visitor to Telluride, a discriminating person that wants to make sure that the nights out of their well-deserved vacation create memorable moments.

Chad Scothorn from Cosmo

At Cosmopolitan of Telluride—affectionately known as Cosmo—Chef Chad Scothorn sent out a few dishes that I normally wouldn’t have ordered. Two stunningly beautiful plates of sushi were among them. I love sushi, however, I wasn’t associating it with Cosmo, a sophisticated restaurant, known for its elegant continental cuisine. What a surprise! Steve (my partner in love and dining here) and I practically swooned over their sushi, a gorgeous fusion of taste, a sort of east meets west take on traditional sushi where different creamy sauces accent the rich flavor of the fish and seafood. Their Scallop Volcano Roll prompted Steve to exclaim “there’s a lot going on in this little sushi roll.” Indeed, the medley of flavors is so delicate that it’s no wonder soy sauce is not served on the side. Cosmo works with Honolulu Fish, so the fish served here in the heart of the Rockies is overnighted-in and is as fresh as anything you’d fine in high-end restaurants in New York or L.A.

Chad, one of Telluride’s top chefs and arguably this town’s most notable restaurateur, also sent out his Finchville Ham starter, a plate filled with savory ham, artichoke salad, local broccoli sprouts, French olives and goat cheese-filled burrata. The latter, made in house like just about everything else here, tasted more like a fresh, creamy mozzarella. I slathered it on thick on the rustic bread served here along with a thin slice of the Finchville Ham. Hmmmm, that along with a few sips of French Chardonnay, made me feel as though I was dining in one of my favorite country inns in Burgundy. Or perhaps it was Provence?

Cosmo’s Fine Dining Room

By now Steve and I felt fully embarked on our gastronomic adventure. We paused to admire the style-y diners within Cosmo’s sleek interior. Were it not for the rumble of the gondola entering the station heard through the open windows, we could very well have been in a well-heeled setting within anyone of the world’s great cosmopolitan centers.

Next up, Steve reveled in his Roast Alaskan Halibut which featured a succulent piece of fish, melt-in-your-mouth lobster poached in butter, gnocchi, arugula, carrot reduction and tomato. Truly gorgeous. As usual, I ordered more regional and indulged in Colorado Lamb Two Ways, an aromatic choice composed of grilled lamb chops, braised lamb shoulder, grilled eggplant, parsnip purée, local spinach and grain mustard sauce. Loved it. Fortunately I was not in France, so it was totally acceptable for me to take the rest home in a box, formerly known as a doggie bag. (In France, you never ask for anything to be wrapped—how rude! Actually French portions are small enough that you rarely leave anything on your plate.)

Clearly we could have passed on dessert, however, that would have seemed near sacrilegious, especially since I was here to sample. I sipped the remainder of my glass of Bordeaux red and pondered the choices. We passed on the perennial favorite, Cosmo’s “Coffee & Donuts,” and opted for the Mini Dessert Sampler which consists of lemon cake with raspberry filling, coconut cheesecake with fresh fruit and chocolate orange confections. Perfect combination of flavors, perfect portions. Truly a perfect ending to an evening punctuated by superb cuisine and flawless service.

Cosmic Food at Cosmo

One of Cosmo’s Heavenly Desserts

A week later, I decided to do more of a night-out-on-the-town with my girlfriend, Mary Dawn. Our destination was the New Sheridan, truly the hub of Telluride for more than a century, comprised of the New Sheridan Hotel, the New Sheridan Bar and the New Sheridan Chop House, this historic establishment’s signature restaurant. Several different dining options are offered within the hotel and the Chop House. You can dine within the oh-so sumptuous decor of the Chop House, or at the Chop House Bar or at the Parlor, a new, more casual gathering place that emerged from the hotel’s recent eight million dollar restoration orchestrated by renowned interior designer Nina Campbell. (Another section was added to the Parlor this past spring, creating even more great seating for parties of every size.)

Two Good Catholic Girls Out to Dinner at the New Sheridan’s Parlor

MD and I vied for the Parlor where we knew we’d be in the thick of it all (great for people-watching and random encounters). Here we were able to order off the Chop House menu. We chose one of the cushy velvet window banquettes and settled in to the Parlor’s warm, russet-red decor. With backs to the window, we faced into the room from this vantage point where we could keep one eye on the doings, the other on our plates.

We began with one of the New Sheridan’s new featured cocktails, an Aperol Spritzer, comprised of Aperol Italian Bitter Orange Liqueur and a splash of Prosecco, served on the rocks. This light, fresh, orange-flavored concoction set just the right perky tone for the evening. Balance is key—not too sweet or dry. Clearly we were off to a great start.

Classic Chop House Fare

Typically at the Chop House, I go for one of their Certified Angus Beef steaks, grilled to perfection and oozing with herb compound butter and roasted garlic. Usually it’s just a matter of selecting which cut of meat I desire and the sauce and side that would best accompany it. This time, however, I wanted to try one of their new menu items, so I ordered the Seared Scallops. MD opted for the Alaskan Halibut.

My Seared Scallops Served with Sweet Potato Confit, Frisée, Fresh Figs, Grain Mustard and White Wine Sauce

We both enjoyed their Wagyu Beef Carpaccio and a soup and salad as appetizers. A bottle of Brancott Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough was opened, a crisp and delicious wine with subtle effervescence that complemented our bubbly girl talk like icing on a cake. The wine opened up with our entrées, delectable, innovative dishes skillfully prepared. I marveled at the translucency of my scallops and how they were cooked to perfection. MD also ordered one of the new menu items, an alaskan halibut, dressed with truffled mâche, fennel and gnocchi salad, Heirloom roasted tomatoes, spring garlic and lemon aioli. Mon dieu!

Dessert was graced with Milk Chocolate Mousse, drizzled with balsamic syrup, cracked black pepper and mixed berries and the presence of Chef Erich Owen, the top gun wielding the culinary baton within the kitchen of the Chop House for a good many years. I love hearing chefs talk about their work and with Erich—as is the case with many top chefs—much of the conversation revolved around the carefully-selected ingredients that form the foundation of most of the restaurant’s offerings.

“We got some sunchokes the other day,” he began. “We served them with sea bass in a purée. They’re like jicama although not as fibrous,” he continued. I also heard about the arugula, beets and greens that Erich sources from seventeen different local farms. “It’s pretty amazing for the Rockies,” Erich added. And I’m now yearning to try what he deems as “the best chicken in the world,” a soybean-fed bird from South Dakota. On the menu it’s presented as a Hickory Smoked Organic Chicken, served with marscapone polenta, grilled asparagus, dijon and thyme jus.

Well, thank goodness I live here, since this chickie is now calling my name. I’ll never forget the pilgrimage I made to L’Ami Louis in Paris with my mom many years ago for their famous chicken. I’ve been looking for one that could rival theirs ever since.

Fortunately the New Sheridan Chop House is just a gondola-ride away. Same can be said for Cosmo. Wow, this little mountain town is so blessed with fine dining. The Chop House and Cosmo are just the beginning. Visitors and locals alike are not only spoiled by our breathtaking vistas but also by our exquisite dining opportunities.

No wonder this town draws discerning travels from all over the world.

Cosmo, 970-728-1292; open nightly for dinner.

New Sheridan Chop House, 800-200-1891; open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner and lots of libations in between.

Be sure to reserve well in advance at both restaurants during busy times such as Christmas, spring break, summer weekends, etc. Note that the New Sheridan Parlor does not take reservations and people are seated on a first-come basis.

Read New Sheridan Hotel:  Telluride’s Historic Gem to learn more about the beloved New Sheridan Hotel, Chop House and Bar.

For some other lovely dining suggestions in Telluride—this time in awe-inspiring outdoor hotspots in Telluride Mountain Village—go to Great Rocky Mountain Decks:  Spectacular Views Year-Round.

Allred’s, an iconic restaurant situated between Telluride and Telluride Mountain Village, should also be considered. Read about it, The View at Mountain Lodge and another Mountain Village dining establishment at Three Men, Three Telluride Mountain Village Restaurants.

Check out Denver à la Française:  A French Whirlwind in the Mile-High City to read about another night out with Mary Dawn. I sense a theme developing here.


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