Cache Cache | AspenTimes.com

Cache Cache

Christina Patterson

First of all, Cache Cache couldn’t seat us until 9:15 on the night we ate there. I thought maybe it was one of those “can’t possibly squeeze you in” ploys until we showed up at 9:15 on the nose. There was one table empty, and that was ours. Wall to wall. You couldn’t get a razor blade in between the people in there on a Wednesday night.

This is a good sign, right? Loads of people on a Wednesday night. We suspected that it was because most other restaurants in Aspen are closed already for the off season, but our server assured us that they had been breaking attendance records nearly every day this summer. This, he told us, was a typical night, off season or not. OK, so that’s an even better sign.

In order to bring fresh adjectives into this column, my companion and I were accompanied by our friend Kevin, a man who is no stranger to descriptive terms. Earlier that evening he was quoting some famous person as saying that plastic surgery doesn’t make you look younger, just permanently surprised. Yes! This is just the kind of sharp mind we need for this assignment.

Let the games begin. We started with seafood saffron risotto cake ($8), wild mushroom ragout with phyllo ($9) and homemade cured gravlox, warm potato salad, caper and sour cream ($9). We did a rotating app system, where we would eat for a few minutes and yell “switch,” thereby signaling that the plates were to be rotated. Kevin’s synopsis: “I can’t give enough superlatives to the risotto,” and “Mmmh” for the gravlox. When pressed for more detail, he admitted that he was considering getting a job at Cache Cache so he could eat it every day..

The thing is, I forgot to mention to Kevin that he was our little food description machine for the evening. He thought it was just a dinner with friends. Sorry.

Other appetizers and salads that we passed over included the Marseille seafood stew with crouton and aioli ($10), zucchini potato cake with boursin cheese and field greens ($8), warm spinach salad with marinated chicken in a sweet balsamic vinaigrette ($10) and warm chevre in nuts, Belgian endives, radicchio and field greens ($8). We were all very upset, but worked through it quickly.

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Just to build up some suspense, here’s what we didn’t have as entrees: From the rotisserie we totally missed the fresh pheasant, spit roasted and served with grilled shitakes, portabellos, leeks and potato croquettes ($26), from the meat menu our limited stomach sizes denied us the grilled tenderloin of pork with apple-raisin-cabbage compote and served with apple-brandy mustard sauce ($19), the tian of lamb with ratatouille, spinach and a candied garlic sauce ($23) and the New York striploin with a rustic peppercorn sauce ($23). Alas.

Oh, and we also didn’t have the honey curry couscous with saut»ed vegetables and harrisa sauce ($16), the angle hair pasta, tomatoes, chevre, sun dried tomatoes, olives and basil ($14) nor did we partake of the grilled salmon with spinach, tomato fondue, basil, olive puree and grilled eggplant ($23). Shucks.

And here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for … we DID have the, get ready now, Chilean sea bass over basmati rice with artichoke and roasted pepper vinaigrette ($19), the ahi with grilled portabello, endive, balsamic vinaigrette and tapenade ($23) and the penne pasta with scallops, roasted peppers, sage and garlic ($16). Here’s the word from Kevin, who by this time was beginning to catch on that he was in the spotlight, and the strain was beginning to show. “That ahi is great! No, it’s much better than that, it’s, ummm…”

Meanwhile, my companion, who had himself just taken a bite of the ahi, was just managing to roll his eyes back to where they belong and mustered up a breathy “Good Lord A-Mighty!” This dish was truly way off the scale.

“I’d eat macaroni and cheese for a week just to eat this once.” Kevin finally said, hoping that I wouldn’t then ask him about the other dishes. We suspended the “switch” method once I got a taste of my ahi, but we did all share little tastes here and there.

The Chilean sea bass didn’t do much for me at first, as I had been unable to totally clear my palate from the ahi burst. Kevin convinced me that they were two totally different fishes out to accomplish radically different things, and to compare was unfair. He was right. I was wrong. I gave him another bite of ahi as a reward.

And how was Kevin’s pasta, I asked, pen poised on paper.

“The, uh, pasta was cooked to perfection, and it had a lot of seafood in it.”

Could you say a little more about the seafood? “Yes. There was, um … a lot of it.”

I eased up on the pressure a little so that he was able to admit that it was a stunning dish.

To say that Cache Cache has an extensive wine list is like saying that Aspen has some nice scenery. We weren’t drinking wine that evening, however, so we were freed up to save our decision making energies for dessert. We’ll save you the trouble and tell you now to order the assorted sorbets with berries and biscotti and fresh mint leaves.

Cache Cache has a bar menu, mostly a trimmed down version of the big menu, that you can order from during regular hours if you are in need of that occasionally comforting feel of a bar seat on your pants.

I called Kevin the next morning to see if he had any new thoughts on Cache Cache. “It was a beautiful place,” he said. “And the food was delicious. It was, uh … hang on, let me get my thesaurus.”

He must have known that I was taking notes.

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