Aspen Times Weekly: Good Colorado stock
If You Go..
1909 Dolores Way, Carbondale
Open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday
IT SEEMS AN unlikely spot for a farm-to-fork restaurant, tucked among industrial buildings including a moving and storage company, an auto-parts shop, a furniture retailer, and a CrossFit gym, but the Carbondale Business Park abutting the Roaring Fork River on the west side of Highway 133 is an ideal space for Silo, which has found a cool groove since opening six months ago. Crucially, it’s located next door to Roaring Fork Beer Company (RFBC), an award-winning microbrewery that recently celebrated its first anniversary. There, boozers can order snacks and dishes, often delivered by owner Lacy Claire Hughes and right-hand man Chad Stieg themselves.
On a sunny Saturday around noon, this creative Carbondale microcosm is well-represented by industrious craftspeople seeking fuel: a mellow carpenter and guitar maker who strolled over from his workshop some 200 yards away; the spunky owner of an area real estate firm en route from showing property in Redstone; and three off-duty executive chefs, one from the nearby private boarding Colorado Rocky Mountain School, another from the True Nature Healing Arts holistic kitchen across the highway, and an independent caterer from Aspen. All are here to while away a breezy weekend afternoon with affordable yet lovingly prepared home cooking.
The chalkboard menu has grown to include snacks, sandwiches (a burger; turkey club with aged cheddar, bacon and blueberry saba; grilled cheese with apple and bacon, $9.50 to $11), three flatbread pizzas ($10.50), and a tight list of traditional morning entrées such as pancakes with raspberry compote ($5.50), farm eggs any style ($3), a breakfast burrito and the King of Convenience egg sandwich (both $6), all served until closing around 8 p.m. We enjoyed a crispy thin-crust pie ($10.50) topped with thinly sliced pear, gorgonzola, honey and thyme; kale salad ($7) with fresh housemade ricotta, grapes, and toasted pecans and pine nuts; and The Blue Plate, a thick slice of toast topped with sautéed kale, fresh ricotta and a sunny-side egg. The vegetarian soup ($7) on rotation arrived as a big bowl of shiitake mushrooms, spinach, chickpeas and brown rice in rich umami broth spiked with coconut milk and drizzled with cilantro oil. There are also freshly baked muffins, cookies and banana bread; a dozen gently priced wines by the glass and bottle; and as many beers from Great Divide, Odell, Left Hand and Oskar Blues. Hughes welcomes customers to hang out in the 28-seat dining room or on the small front deck, perhaps with a laptop or one of many cookbooks from a collection on a shelf high above the front windows.
The Silo philosophy is easygoing: serve straightforward American food in the style of a classic European café, with many items à la carte.
“When I cook, I like limited ingredients, simple, fresh food,” says Hughes, who doesn’t claim to cook innovatively or experimentally. “I don’t use a lot of heavy spices or intense cooking techniques. It’s clean.”
Collaboration with area businesses is perhaps why Silo has such a nifty small-town vibe. The Cubano ($10.50) is stuffed with pork shoulder braised in RFBC Slaughterhouse Lager, smoked ham, pickled vegetables and Swiss cheese on freshly baked ciabatta. Griddled sage-blueberry-maple sausage ($4.50) is a must-try, made with ground pork from Rock Bottom Ranch just a few miles away. Cheeses and cured meats ($12.50, chef’s selection) come from Avalanche Cheese in Basalt, and coffee hails from micro-batch, organic Local Cone Coffee, a one-man air-roaster in Montrose.
“We have so many cool farms and purveyors to source food from,” Hughes says, a value she absorbed during four years at Six89 in Carbondale before chef-owner Mark Fischer closed it voluntarily in 2012. “It’s local talent, too: artists, distillers, brewers, coffee.”
In fact, Stieg handcrafted most of Silo’s décor using repurposed materials: tables refinished from salvaged wood; a clever frame for an American flag constructed of wood and metal scraps; pendant lights over the bar that resemble small silos. Stieg also painted the funky, aquamarine mural depicting an abstract grain silo, and a CRMS student from Venezuela made glass bulbs for overhead track lights.
“It’s so cool I can go across the field over there and say, ‘Hey, I need some glassware,’” Hughes says of working with the school’s glassblowing and metalsmith studios.
Regarding ingredients, what’s not sourced locally is prepared by Hughes, Stieg and four other employees. “We try to make as much as we can here: pizza sauce, all of the breads, hot sauces, ricotta,” Hughes says. The menu will expand in coming months to include more salads and vegetarian and gluten-free dishes as produce from Paonia becomes available.
“I’ve had my fill of root vegetables for a while,” Hughes quips. However, the popular sweet-potato breakfast hash, served on its own ($4.50), in the burrito and alongside salad, will stay on the menu. Since Silo caters to the pub crowd at RFBC in the evenings, heartier meat-heavy options make sense, though Hughes often prefers veggie-centric dishes and prepares her soups accordingly.
To cap our meal, Stieg pours samples of two spirits produced by soon-to-open Marble Distilling Company and The Distillery Inn: Moonlight EXpresso coffee liqueur and lemony Gingercello. He’s currently formulating cocktails for the new boutique distillery, inn and tasting room that will be unveiled on Main Street during Carbondale’s First Friday on June 5; twists on classic cocktails may follow suit at Silo this summer, too. (The restaurant recently applied for a permit to serve drinks outside on the spacious back-lot patio shared with RFBC — always a vibrant scene during First Friday.) It’s a handy partnership; Hughes has been commissioned to fashion the menu for the Marble Distilling tasting room as well.
As Hughes worked in private catering for years and while at Six89, she hopes to host more events — possibly even a supper club starting this summer — where she can play with more elevated food.
“It was a great introduction to how Mark runs his restaurants: an all-inclusive team effort,” Hughes says of her stint at Six89. “A small staff, good atmosphere, a really emotional, efficient restaurant.”
In other words, exactly what Silo has become to the Carbondale community.
Amanda Rae is seeking offseason food adventures. Send tips: email@example.com
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Many locations on Basalt Mountain were barren as recently as two months ago. However, nutrients unlocked during the Lake Christine Fire and a wet winter have sparked a remarkable recovery. Aspen Center for Environmental Studies is leading fire ecology tours to discuss the changes.