My Favorite Meal in Keystone
The Ski Tip Lodge is actually an old Wells Fargo Stage stop that has been converted into a beautiful, cozy Bed and Breakfast. It is also home to one of the most creative and talented chefs in Summit County.
The Four Course meal is a pricey $62 per person, before drinks but the experience is worth every penny. You begin your meal with a choice of soups and a basket of homemade breads. The next course is a salad or appetizer that has rich and wonderful choices like Pan Seared Foie Gras or a Toasted Herb Brioche Autumn Mushroom Glace de Viande. The entree choices are varied and usually include some seasonal and local specialties; boar, venison, elk, as well as creatively prepared salmon, trout, lamb and poultry.
But the icing on the cake is dessert. As you take a breather and contemplate whether you will ever eat again, the server will run through the options for dessert. Ugh! And then you will be asked if you would like to take your dessert in one of the two lounges. Both have wonderful plush couches and chairs and you can sit in front of a huge crackling fire.
The night is not over until the "fat lady sings" (I'm singing at the top of my lungs after this meal!) and your check comes under huge chocolate covered strawberries. I've never managed to even touch one of those strawberries! But the Lodges staff always calls one of Keystone's free shuttle busses and roll me out to the shuttle for the ride back to my condo. Update: I took my parents here last week to celebrate their first visit to Keystone. The meal did not disappoint. We took our desserts in the lounge and enjoyed a fantastic floor show: outside the windows, just beyond the patio and gardens two beavers were gnawing down branches and dragging them across the pond. Beaver DYI on their own "lodge".
The chef came out to see how we enjoyed our meal (and give me some high-altitude cooking tips) and filled us in on the ecology of the area beaver ponds.
My parents were tres impressed!
Pssst, don't spread this around!
This is special - if you don't know it's there, you'lll never find it by accident, tucked away just off Montezuma Road, and not particularly well signposted - it's a little gem awaiting discovery.
Shucks, I just am too good to you guys here on VT, sharing my new-found little secret!
Think of everything you could ever want from a restaurant, double it, and then half what you would expect the bill to be.
"Welcome to the Ski Tip Lodge" - That's how the menu starts and then ends with: "Menu items subject to product availability and poetic license".
This place just blew me away - the warmth, the cosiness, the superb food, and once we got rid of the obnoxiously loud Englishman, the relaxed atmosphere. This is fine dining as it should be, no stuffiness, waiting staff who not only know what they are selling but are genuinely proud to be selling it and post-prandiallly sitting in the lounge in front of the open fire with coffee and desserts and chatting to interesting people - what more could I want from a restaurant?
Yep, OK, another very draughty smoking room, but I did have thermal long johns on so that wasn't too serious a fault, also a walk in the fresh air after the four courses wasn't actually that unwelcome. From what I gather the menu changes from a day-to-day basis, but what really stood out to me was the "Pepper Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras" accompanied by duck prosciutto, garlic crostini, chevre blue and vintner's reduction - all flavour and texture - flawless!!!
Hickory smoked rack of lamb which my dining companion had for a main course was delish also, as was my Nebraskan Bison New York strip and all the accompaniements were relevant - this is serious cooking.
Minor flaw: the "Sushi" of whatever it was as a dessert didn't really work, but was interesting, a little developement on that could turn it into a stunning dessert - Hey, my consultancy fees are very reasonable!
If I was rating this as a dining experience it would be 9.9, 9.9, 9.9, 9.5 and 9.9 for overall satisfaction - as close to perfection as is possible :)
At 11,666 feet, the highest in North America
The Alpenglow Stube has been on my radar screen for several years, but quite frankly out of my price range. This AAA Four Star rated restaurant is also determined by Zagat to be Colorado's seventh top dining experience.
You begin your dining adventure by taking two gondolas to the top of the mountain. The trip takes about 40 minutes and can be mighty cold on a December night. Diners bypass the skier line (Keystone has extensive night skiing) and are given blankets prior to stepping aboard their gondola. If one can get past the cold, the views as you are whisked up the mountain are stunning.
It's hardly surprising to find that the restaurant, at 11,666 ft. elevation, is the highest fine dining establishment in North America. Stepping inside, one is immediately greeted by a hostess dressed in Bavarian garb and offered the opportunity to give up your shoes in exchange for a pair of fur-lined slippers. (It is a decidedly bazaar sensation to walk through the very nice restaurant in slippers!) Diners choose between two menus; the six course pris fixe menu, with wonderful creative selections, or the "Degaustation" (French for tasting) menu, allowing the Chef to send seven courses of his/her choice selections to your table. Last week I chose from the menu, while my dining partner, a self-described "foodie" opted for the Degaustation menu.
I made selections from a slate of 5 or 6 choices for four of the courses. The starter, a platter of several spreads and tasties with pumpernickle toast triangles was garnished by a decorative salt sculpture of a duck in flight. A pallet clearing sorbet of passion fruit was also predetermined by the chef (my friend had prickly pair sorbet). My favorite was the ragout of blue crab (which I almost skipped for the butternut squash tart, or the squab) but my lamb entree was equally delicious. I only managed a couple of bites of my Viennese Sacher Torte, before donning my own shoes, coat, hat, and gloves to head back down the mountain.
Alpenglow Stube is a pricey alternative with the menu at $85 and the Degaustation Menu at $95. Watch for occasional 2 for 1 coupons in the local newspapers.
Update: I returned to the Alpenglow again last night with VT memeber JohnGayton. Check out his Keystone pages for a thorough review of the experience. Net, net bottom line, I think we both agree the Ski Tip Lodge is a much better dining experience.
Winter in Summit County
"Icycles from the roof"
In the winter temps drop well into the minus degrees (-10F is not unusual). But it's a "dry" cold. Maybe it's the elevation, maybe the dry air... it just doesn't seem so bad.
"An old wagon"
This old wagon sits next to the Ski Tip Lodge, today a B&B but formerly an actual stagecoach stop.
"The Snake River"
A very nice fire road runs along the river. This is my favorite place to go on my cross country skis.
"Take a hike"
A hike up this hill pays off with a fantastic view.
And here's the view!
The Lovely Ski Tip Lodge
Ski Tip Lodge
Hydrant Outside Ski Tip Lodge