Alpenglow Stube: 300 Bucks For An Atmospheric Cable Car Ride!
This is good food and no doubt about that, but...hmmmmm! Here's the buts: Food can be technically good and there was no problems here with the technical aspects of the cooking AND there were some superb flavours in the various dishes that myself and my companion enjoyed, but...
Something just wasn't right, I can't actually point out exactly what was naff but the ambience was wrong to start Although all of the staff were friendly and helpful, there seemed to be a forcedness about the whole affair - professional people doing a professional job both from the back kitchen and out-front. But that was that, a pro job without any enthusiasm for making the sales, without any personal pride in what they were doing.
I was somewhat surprised that on ordering coffee, whilst still eating dessert, the check arrived almost simultaneously! Personally, if I'm spending this sort of money, the last thing I expect is to be rushed - no offer of a digestif!!!!
Favorite Dish: As I have said, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the food and Katherine raved about the "Blue Crab Ragout". My char-grilled prawn and scallop combo was excellent as was the Yak tenderloin. The meal was interspersed by a couple of unexpected amuse-guilles, but those were pretty superfluous, tasty though they were.
Ask me if I will go again and the answer will be no.
The cable car ride was quite interesting though but it was dark!
- Food and Dining
- Wine Tasting
- Luxury Travel
The Ski Tip Lodge: 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.
Favorite Dish: 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 :)
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Food and Dining
- Wine Tasting
Alpenglow Stube: 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!)
Favorite Dish: 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.
- Luxury Travel
- Skiing and Boarding
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Pizza 101: More Delivery
We recently discovered Pizza 101, which delivers all year long for no charge. I haven't even seen a menu but upon calling the restaurant place a pizza order to my specification. The large pepperoni and mushroom arrived hot and excellent tasting in about 45 minutes. We also ordered a side of buffalo wings that were nicely spicey.
I think I like the pizza here most of all I've tried in Keystone
Papa's Pizzeria and Deli: Delivery!
Now that I'm a local, I am a big fan of supporting the small business owner. It can be a real struggle to operate a business in a resort that is not part of the resort. Papa's opened about 18 months ago, and has been doing a great job of meeting customers' needs.
The restaurant offers great pizzas and sandwiches as well as the regular spectrum of appetizers. I'm a fan of the Hot Wings.
Favorite Dish: During the winter and summer seasons Papa's will deliver. This is a great way to go on that first night in town when I haven't had a chance to shop yet.
Zambonis: Rink Side munching
What else would you call a Bar and Grill that overlooks the 5 acre ice skating lake? Recently christened, Zambonis, this used to be Ida Belles and served up Mexican Food. Today the fare is more bar and grill food; spicy buffalo wings, nachos, potato skins, poppers, sandwiches and burgers. Decent prices and ultra casual atmosphere, flat screened TVs dot the walls and show sports events.
Patio seating available.
Favorite Dish: I enjoy sitting by the fire place and window, watching the more industrious ice skaters while I sip a hot alcoholic beverage (a long menu of speciaties is available) and munch on hot wings.
Pisanos: Italiano in the Ski Village
Paisano's has recently been taken over by Vail Resorts and now provides a lower price alternative for family dining, without sacrificing taste or quality.
Patio dining available.
Favorite Dish: I've eaten at Paisano's sevaral times and there are a number of great pasta and salad alternatives. On a recent visit I tried the Italian burger, a tasty and generous beef patty served on foccacia bread with provolone cheese and maranara sauce. Chips and pasta salad accompany sandwiches and burgers. Another favorite is the portobello on focccia.
My lunch with Irish Coffee and tip was $15.
Big Horn Steakhouse: Relaxed Atmosphere, Great Food
Keystone Resort has no shortage of great restaurants and the Big Horn Steakhouse has traditionally been the one we choose for our first night in town. With the flight and shuttle ride taking a few hours, it's a pretty safe bet that we skipped lunch and we have saved our calories for some of the pleasures that await us at the Big Horn.
Located downstairs in the Lodge, the Big Horn has wonderfully comfortable booths and friendly accommodating service. The menu is varied, and while steak and prime rib are the featured items I have had some wonderful seafood, excellently prepared. My favorite was a herb crusted sea bass that literally melted in my mouth. All meals include trips to the salad and soup bar, and it would be easy to eat one's fill on that alone. There is also a very good choice of wines by the glass. Eat your fill because you will need the strength for whatever adventures are in store for you on your vacation in Keystone.
Favorite Dish: The Big Horn has the best salad bar in Keystone.
Der Fondue Chessel: Waiter there's a stick in my chocolate
You're decidedly happy when the attendant by the Gondola hands you a blanket for your ride from 9,400 feet to 11,600 feet. And then you walk across a mountain top to board the next gondola which whisks you to the next mountain top. It's all part of the adventure of dining at der Fondue Chessel.
The big cavernous log and stone room has a definite Bavarian Beer Hall feel. Guests are seated at long plank tables and the roving Polka Band plays lively tunes to accompany your meal. Select a main item from the menu and then be prepared for a long evening of feasting and fun. You'll start with a delicious cheese fondue into which you can dip bread, apples and asparagus spears. Caesar salad comes next and then the instructions for how to manage the Raclette process. A platter of main dish items as well as assorted cheeses to melt on the little wooden paddles and drizzle over roasted potatoes or bread. Grill your shrimp, chicken, steak, scallops, sausages, or other choice of items on the grill and dip in an assortments of sauces.
When you think you can't eat anymore, out comes the grand finale; a huge pot of chocolate fondue in which to dip bananas, cookies, cake, apples, strawberries..... Yikes!
Favorite Dish: Naturally it's the chocolate fondue which grabs the attention of my daughters and myself. I'm told that Bavarians never have chocolate fondue and think it odd. There are places in Switzerland that have added it to their menus to appease American travelers. Smart move, I say!
Sleigh Ride Dinner: Take a sleigh ride to dinner
This is one of my favorite Keystone dining esperiences. Guests meet at the Keystone Activity Center and board a bus to the old Keystone Ranch neighborhood. At the end of the Ranch you will climb aboard one of two huge sleighs that accommodate about 20 people.
Pulled by two gigantic Belgian Workhorses, the sleighs take you through an incredible snow covered valley. Take the early seating for the best sunsets. Each passenger gets his or her own blanket to keep the cold at bay. Across a long valley (a golf course in the summer months) and out to an old "barn" you go. The driver tells his passengers about the interesting history of the settling of the Smith Ranch.
Favorite Dish: Upon arriving at the barn, diners find tables set with kettles of hot barley soup, a thermos of hot cocoa, water, and home made biscuits. Dinner is a choice of bbq steak or chicken, garlic mashed potatoes and vegetables. Your choice of beverage; sodas, wine or beer, are included in the price. And when it seems you can eat anymore, dessert is hot apple cobbler with ice cream.
A guitarist plays and encourages guests to sing along. When everyone finishes, you board your sleigh again... this time very glad of the blanket... and head back across the dark, snowy valley. I saw a shooting star, a good omen to end a wonderful meal.
The $55 per person includes dinner, drinks, tip and tax.
Ski Tip Lodge: 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.
Favorite Dish: 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!
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