Two Special Aspen Restaurants for an Important Day

Chefs Club with the Chef’s Table in the Background

  1. If you find yourself dining alone on your birthday, you better hope that you land in a lively place that serves up excellent food. I lucked out a month ago when I claimed a spot at the Chef’s Table at the oh-so style-y Chefs Club by FOOD & WINE at The St. Regis Aspen Resort. Although I had my back to most of the diners, six fastidious chefs held my attention throughout an evening filled with fabulous food and drink. Why, I didn’t feel alone at all and I didn’t even mention it was my b-day. (That was highly unusual, since I’m not one to shy away from a fuss.)

I luxuriated at the black marble bar that faces the open kitchen for almost three hours. At one point an elegant woman and her teenage daughter savored coffee and dessert a few seats away, but otherwise I had no interest in glancing around at the tony crowd around me—I was totally consumed by the scene in this bustling beehive of culinary savoir faire. Executive Chef Thomas Riordan, a young man (or am I just getting old), managed his team with nuance and grace. I picked up on a nod here, a word there, subtle directives that facilitated the quick and steady movements of preparing refined cuisine for a room full of diners. I watched as he drizzled extra virgin olive oil over my beef, a Grilled Prime Bistecca Fiorentina served with porcini mushrooms, arugula and fava bean. Chef then finished off this divine piece of meat with a squeeze of lemon. It was perfect.

Chef Thomas Riordan

Dining out should always offer the right amount of entertainment and I was getting my fill here. Considered a “destination restaurant,” Chefs Club at The St. Regis grew out of a longtime relationship between FOOD & WINE magazine and Aspen. FOOD & WINE has made its mark here for decades with the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, a renowned event that draws foodies and wine aficionados from all over the world every June. Not surprisingly, Chefs Club at The St. Regis opened during this year’s festival, a spectacular happening that also marked the completion of the $40. million redesign of The St. Regis Aspen, a five-star resort. From what I gathered, it appears to be the new “in” spot for well-heeled folks in this swanky mountain town.

Chefs Club Precision

Part of the buzz surrounds the concept introduced here:  different “guest” chefs, a select group of FOOD & WINE’s Best New Chefs, curate a seasonly-inspired menu every four months. Not only does it make the dining experience varied, but it’s also fun to see who’s doing what each season. (The chefs’ names are listed on the menu next to their signature dishes.) As I admired the spectacular, wall-sized photography of mountain landscapes that dominate the restaurant’s decor, I learned that they, too, change quarterly. I suppose it’s like going to a new restaurant every season.

I nibbled on my birthday dessert, a Crispy Zeppole, dressed with Colorado honey mascarapone cream, Sicilian pistachio brittle and glaze, while finishing off the rest of my bubbly. The end-of-the-night duties proved just as fascinating as the main act. I watched as the knives were sharpened then carefully rolled up in their knife kits and then stowed away until tomorrow’s show. Counters were tidied and buffed with all the precision of a scientist buttoning up his laboratory. The evening was drawing to a close. I felt super satisfied with my meal and myself for having enjoyed it alone without feeling at all forlorn. Then it occurred to me that I was far from alone, I had feasted in the company of skilled chefs, several very affable servers and one especially charming general manager.

Dining out alone can, in fact, be super special. You just have to choose the right place and the right table. You can’t go wrong with the Chef’s Table at Chefs Club at The St. Regis. And if you’re with a group of friends there are many fine tables that also offer nice views of the open kitchen of this elite club of chefs.

Chefs Club by FOOD & WINE at The St. Regis Aspen Resort is open for lunch and dinner daily; call 970-429-9581 to reserve.

My Birthday Dessert

 

Jour de Fête

Olivier Mottier from Jour de Fête

How apropos that I decided to have lunch at Jour de Fête in Aspen on my birthday. (Jour de Fête means holiday.) And plus, it’s so French. My dad, a longtime, part-time resident of Aspen for many years, actually introduced me to this casual, French bistrot ages ago and I still credit him with knowing how to pick a good restaurant. Here, the food is good, authentic and reasonably-priced. Owner Olivier Mottier serves it up with supreme efficiency and a huge smile. As his card states, Jour de Fête is a bit of France nestled away in Aspen. Mais bien sur, I couldn’t agree with you more—no wonder my dejeuner of quiche and salad tasted fresh out of France.

Jour de Fête, 710 East Durant Avenue, 970-925-5055.

Aspen Skiing Company is committed to environmentally responsible.DEFINITELY eat at Montagna when you’re in Aspen.

 

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