March 17, 2013
Leave a Comment
September 27, 2012
Leave a Comment
On the Road to Crested Butte
A real mix of weather as we drove from Denver to Crested Butte, Colorado today. Sunshine as we left Denver, the clouds and rain in the city’s forecast had already reached the foothills with periodic sun breaks. While the groves of aspen on Kenosa Pass are past their prime there’s still some nice color when we catch one of those sun breaks. As we turn south at Fairplay we’re thankful we’re not headed north across Hoosier Pass to Breckenridge – clouds are thick and black. Mountain peaks and ridges dusted with snow warn of the coming winter.
Enjoyed a beefy lunch at Quincy’s in Buena Vista. Although the menu is limited the quality is very good. They were slammed with noon hour business but our waitress couldn’t have tried harder. We’ll definitely stop here in the future.
Aspen, willows and cottonwoods in autumn glory graced the slopes as we headed up Cottonwood Pass, west of Buena Vista. A short side road ramble to Cottonwood Lake rewarded with great color, smooth dirt road and little traffic. Temperature atop the pass was a nippy 43 degrees with a stiff breeze and threatening skies along the mountain ranges to the northwest.
By the time we reached Taylor Reservoir the sun had won the battle. Road construction through the Taylor Canyon seems to always be a given. This year’s project stretches for eight miles, today requiring slowly following a pilot car. At least we lucked out and only had to wait a few minutes for our turn through.
The final ten miles into Crested Butte offer a sunny promise of the outstanding scenery and color we’ll enjoy in the coming days.
Son, Eric, joined us for fried chicken dinner at Slogar’s, a long time Crested Butte favorite. (See a full review at The Slogar…) The family-style service includes relish tray including spiced pear slices, cottage cheese, slaw, homemade tomato chutney, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn in cream, warm biscuits, honey butter, strawberry jam and, of course, skillet fried chicken. We waddle away from the table nearly in a food coma but oh, so satisfied.
July 18, 2012
Trading Post Cafe
Ranchos de Taos
We joined friends Dolores and Orell for dinner at the Trading Post Cafe tonight. Unbeknownst to any of us the Italian restaurant offers Mangia Festa, 3 course meals between 4- 6pm, Tuesday – Thursday for only $12. Such a deal!
The Mangia Festa features a cup of soup of the day, salad and the choice from six pasta entrees or pizza of the day. Pasta offerings include farfallel primavera, pasta bolognese, fettuccine alla carbonara, angel hair pasta with chicken and mushrooms in gorgonzola cream, portabello mushroom raviolis and penne arrabbiata.
Tonight’s soup was a chilled cream of avocado which Bob (surprisingly) really liked. Next was a fresh green salad with creamy Italian dressing. Bob and I both ordered the carbonara, on the advice of local friends, and were not disappointed. Dolores and Orell had the angel hair pasta dish. The servings were not large but the three courses were a very nice balance.
When Bob and I had dinner here on Saturday night we indulged in the marvelous flan. Because I baked a peach and cherry crostada today we bypassed the Trading Post desserts – with regrets.
They have an excellent pastry chef and there are many selections each day. If I’d known we were going to the Trading Post Cafe I would have put off my baking until tomorrow. Although that might not have worked because Bob says he’s going back tomorrow night for round two of Mangia Festa!
July 16, 2012
Leave a Comment
Art & Photos
Bob started the Stephen Kilborn week-long painting workshop today. Visit Art by Robert Yackel to follow the week’s workshop activities.
My favorite Taos restaurant was tonight’s destination, hard to believe we’d been in town and hadn’t had our first Orlando’s fix. We studied the menu over salsa, chips and guacamole even though I knew before I left Denver what I would order – the shredded beef burrito smothered with green chile with sides of beans and posole.
Bob selected the shredded beef chimichanga. Orlando’s shredded beef is not for the weak of heart or tastebuds – it packs a real punch. So delicious. Smooth flan soothes any lasting zing.
Evening photos were on the agenda after dinner. Stopped by Ed Sandoval’s studio of pictures of his antique trucks.
As the sun set we strolled the historic mabel Dodge Luhan complex, lots of ideas for future paintings. Just as the pigeons flock in to roost for the night we head to the casita. Day is done, gone the sun.
May 23, 2012
Leave a Comment
Day of Surprises
While traveling from Moab to Torrey, Utah we encountered several pleasant surprises.
Somewhere I’d seen a brief reference to a river museum in Green River. We stopped at the John Wesley Powell River History Museum expecting to have a quick look/see. We left 1 1/2 hours later. Our introduction came via a 20 minute film, Journey into the Great Unknown, which chronicles Powell’s first voyage from Green River, Wyoming through the Grand Canyon. The extremely well done film with surround sound and presented in a comfortable theater was worth the price of admission. In addition to river related exhibits there’s an art gallery featuring the work of Utah artists, dinoaurs including one that was found just miles from the museum, the River Runners hall of Fame and museum store. Appropriately, the museum sits on the banks of Green River.
While exploring the Fruita Historic District in Capital Reef National Park we found that in the heritage homestead Gifford House they sold fresh-baked pies and scones. An unusual feature in a National Park. At a shaded picnic table we eagerly dug into a mixed berry crumb-top pie for two. Excellent!
Without knowing anything about the restaurant we chose Cafe Diablo for dinner. The imaginative menu was a surprise but the real surprises came with the extraordinary artistic presentations and inspired culinary creations. Attentive and friendly service added to the enjoyment. We learned that Cafe Diablo has an international reputation and following. Who would have guessed you could find something like this in a town with a population of 182 in the middle of Utah? Surprise!
A day of pleasant surprises!
May 19, 2012
Leave a Comment
Vance Johnson’s Outlaw Ribbs
If you cheered for the Denver Broncos twenty years ago you remember the most flamboyant of the Three Amigos – Vance Johnson. Wide receiver Johnson played from 1985-1995. A few years ago a friend told us about a good barbecue restaurant on Colorado’s Western Slope in the small town of Parachute. Since the friend was a Kansas City native we figured he had a credible recommendation. Since then we’ve stopped several times for lunch at VJ’s Outlaw Ribbs.
I don’t think we would have ever paid attention to the unassuming building right along Interstate 70 but now we know to turn off at Exit 75. VJ’s opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Today’s breakfast special was a jumbo smoked sausage, 2 eggs, home fries and toast. Besides the typical breakfast fare selections include Toby’s Burrito, a Denver Omelet, grits and bone-in ham slice.
The lunch special was pure southern – catfish platter with blackened peas, rice, collard greens and cornbread. I note most of the locals were indulging in the special. I bypass the catfish for a shredded smoked pork sandwich with their basic barbecue sauce and a side of beans. Bob opted for the pulled pork on bun – Southern style (hot and spicy) topped with coleslaw. There is also a tangy barbecue sauce.
If you’re with a group order “The Trough” which VJ’s promises to feed four or more. There’s baby back ribs, St. Louis ribs, smoked sausage, pork, brisket, whole chicken, 6 sides and garlic toast. Pull up a chair and dig in.
Fresh cut prime rib is on this weekend’s special board plus live 70s music on the patio. Every time we’ve stopped at VJ’s locals greatly outnumber the tourists. There seems to be a loyal following of gas and oil field workers, ranchers with their brand on their license plate and those just shooting’ the breeze. I’m happy we didn’t just breeze on by.
August 3, 2010
Leave a Comment
Family-Style Fried Chicken & All the Fixin’s
Grandma’s Sunday fried chicken dinner is a treasured memory from my youth. When visiting Crested Butte, Colorado we’ve established the tradition of Sunday night dinner at The Slogar for family-style platters of fried chicken and all the fixin’s.
The weathered building was built in 1882 when it was one of 18 taverns in the mining town of Crested Butte. The Slogar was the first one the miners came to each evening as they came down from the Big Mine on the Bench. Stepping into he 21st-century Slogar feels like stepping into a 19th-century movie set. The antique bar, back bar and red upholstered Victorian furniture set the stage.
As soon as we’re seated our cheerful waitress, Kelli, brings bowls of cottage cheese, tomato chutney and a relish tray with celery and carrot sticks, butter pickles and cinnamon pear slices. My favorite is the sweet/sour coleslaw made from an early 1800s Pennsylvania Dutch recipe. Is this like Grandma’s, or not?
Kelli soon returns with our drink order and a basket filled with homemade baking powder biscuits accompanied by crocks of honey butter and homemade strawberry preserves. After tasting the preserves you’ll want to purchase a couple of jars to take home. Wish I could make biscuits as good as Slogar’s to go with the strawberries!
Our waitress offers to refill any of the dishes; but, knowing what’s ahead we decline. After clearing the debris from the first round Kelli brings out a platter piled high with crispy skillet fried chicken – four pieces per person. The flavorful recipe dates back to 1915. Since I prefer dark meat I negotiate my breast for Eric’s thigh – chicken pieces, of course. We pass around the dishes of mashed potatoes, gravy and creamed whole kernel corn. Once around and the mashed potato bowl is empty. Kelli quickly brings a refill as well as more biscuits.
Our table falls silent as we dig in; after all, we’ve eaten lightly all day saving up for The Slogar. We note that the same thing happens at other tables. As soon as the main course is served conversation ceases, eating is paramount.
My only complaint is the thin gravy. Our family has always made a thick cream gravy with the chicken pan drippings; it’s hard to change expectations. Also, if they provided a bread plate one wouldn’t have to work so hard keeping the biscuit from getting soaked with thin gravy and corn cream.
As we sit back with satisfied sighs Kelli brings individual dishes of rich vanilla ice cream. We like to top the ice cream with any leftover preserves. Yum! Eric gets the doggie bag of four chicken pieces and biscuits for tomorrow’s lunch.
When You Go: The Slogar Bar and Restaurant is open nightly 5-9pm. Steaks ($26.95) and a vegetarian entree are offered in addition to the fried chicken dinner. Specialty beers, wine list and full bar are available. The chicken dinner is $15.95/adult, $8.95/children 2-12, and includes ice cream, tea coffee and milk. The restaurant is located at 517 2nd St., at the corner of 2nd and Whiterock. Reservations strongly advised, 970-349-5765.
The Slogar changed ownership a couple of years ago. All the positives including traditional recipes remain. The reception, attitude and cleanliness are much improved.
July 3, 2010
Naughty Moose Munching
The name made we smile, the recommendation was glowing, location and timing were perfect for Friday dinner at the Naughty Moose in Conner, Montana. Located in the Bitterroot Mountains of western Montana, Conner is located 76 miles south of Missoula and 21 miles north of Lost Trail Pass – the Continental Divide crossing between Idaho and Montana.
Our B&B host exalted high praise when suggesting the Naughty Moose. From the exterior the log building appears more bar oriented than cuisine centered. Happily we found that not to be the case. Locally-made log furniture and an array of antlers, horns, skins and mounted trophy heads decorated the two dining rooms.
A very good margarita eased the day’s road pain as we ordered and awaited our salads and “Naughty” buns. The salads were fresh and attractively presented with spring greens, cherry tomato, mandarin orange slices and dried cranberries topped with shredded carrots and cheddar. The house dressing, a creamy garlic parmesan proved an excellent choice. “Naughty” buns are lightly glazed cinnamon buns. Since they aren’t excessively sweet they made a tasty accompaniment with the salad.
Main courses arrived hot from the kitchen – the Friday night special, all-you-can beer battered cod, for Bob and the 10oz. cowgirl cut prime for Nancy. A very generous 10 ounces presented au jus. The 16oz. cowboy cut is served on the bone. We both had a generous portion of southern style green beans and doctored up large Idaho baked potatoes. The initial four large pieces of cod more than satisfied Bob’s hunger pangs so he turned down the offer of additional pieces. Almost fork tender, my prime rib was served what I consider a degree below medium doneness as ordered. I didn’t send it back and did find it delicious; however, next time I would probably ask for medium well. I heard a waitress tell another table, “The beef tends to be cooked on the rare side.”
The panfried chicken dinners were extremely tempting, longing to once again savor fried chicken like my Aunt Ellen’s. Because the chicken is panfried the old-fashioned way, orders take at least 45 minutes. We were too hungry and still had too many miles to drive to wait.
Totally satisfied after our entrees we passed on the dessert offerings. Or, to stop in the bar and listen to the live music. A trio, Code of the West, was playing and I believe we would have enjoyed hearing a set. By the time we left the dining rooms were nearly full, many of the tables taken by three generations of families starting their holiday weekend.
Hopefully our return trip through Montana will include another tasty meal at the Naughty Moose – perhaps the panfried chicken.
When You Go: Naughty Moose, Mile Marker 21, Highway 93 South, Conner, Montana, 406-821-9955.Open Daily 2-9pm, Breakfast Sat. & Sun. 9-noon. Full bar, beer and wine. Prime rib served nightly.
March 5, 2010
Leave a Comment
The 3 O’clock Lunch
I love a restaurant where I can have a full lunch or dinner in mid-afternoon. I’ve frequently threatened to write a book focused on The Colorado 3 O’clock Lunch. I’m a late breakfast eater and often skip lunch. About 3pm the hunger pangs hit, I can’t wait till dinner but don’t want to fill up on snacks or junk food. If I eat at three I can skip dinner and finish the day with a piece of fruit. But, where to go that’s serving a full menu, not just a bar menu or fast food.
For today’s late lunch/early dinner we headed to downtown Littleton and Merle’s, serving the same menu from opening at 11am until 9pm and then a late night menu till closing. We started with a basket of yam chips served with a generous bowl of guacamole. The chips were crisp with not a hint of grease. I asked if they were made in house; our waitress said everything they serve is start from scratch.
We both opted for soup (New England Clam Chowder) and 1/2 sandwich. We chose the BLAT – bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato – served on sour dough. A couple at a nearby table were enjoying entrees of Ginger Salmon and Smoked BBQ Ribs.
Our “No worry” waitress was cheerful and efficient, not something guaranteed at that time of day. Too frequently the wait staff is tired from the lunch shift and seem disgusted you’re interrupting what they consider their break.
Merle’s completely satisfied our Friday 3 O’clock Lunch need and would definitely be in my book.
Previous Post – Merle’s – Littleton, Colorado
February 20, 2010
Leave a Comment
Denver’s “Mile High” Special
February 20 – March 5
The highly successful Denver Restaurant Week returns with a bang. Diners reap the rewards from the program’s popularity with two weeks of Mile High specials in 2010. Not mile high as in extravagant but mile high in reference to Denver’s 5280’ altitude – A Mile High. More than 260 (281 at last count) metro-area restaurants will offer multi-course dinners for the price of $52.80 for two or $26.40 for one. Price does not include tax or gratuity. Restaurant “Week” runs from February 20 – March 5, 2010.
Join in the culinary celebration by trying a newly opened restaurant, returning to an old favorite or finally getting to one that’s on your wish list. Geographically the range stretches from Longmont (Terrior Restaurant), Niwot (Colterra) and Boulder (Q’s and Laudisio) in the north Metro area to Sedalia (Gabriel’s) and Parker (Trappers Chophouse) in the south, and from Conifer (Raven’s), Evergreen (Aspen Grill) and Kittredge (Black Hat Cattle Co.) on the west to the eastern edge of Aurora (Wine Experience Cafe).
The variety spans the culinary world from steakhouses such as Elway’s and Del Frisco’s to Nick-N-Willy’s take and bake pizza in Highlands Ranch. Looking for ethnic? Here is a sampling of ethnic options:
- Brazilian – Fogo de Chao Churrascaria
- Caribbean – 8 Rivers Modern Caribbean
- Chinese – Jing Restaurant
- Cuban – Cuba, Cuba Cafe & Bar
- French – Le Central French Restaurant
- Indian – India’s Pearl
- Irish – Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery
- Italian – Brio Tuscan Grille
- Japanese – Sonoda’s
- Latin – Samba Room
- Mediterranean – Rioja
- Middle Eastern – Phoenician Kabob
- Mexican – Tamayo
- Spanish – Ondo’s Spanish Tapa’s Bar
- Vietnamese – Saigon Landing Restaurant
Browse Denver Restaurant Week for the $52.80 specials offered by each participating restaurant. Reservations strongly advised. Bon Appétit!