Fine Dining Dreams

Shannon Asher
Asher on Aspen

I changed my outfit probably four different times before I eventually settled on a look that I was pleased with.

My sense of style doesn’t even compare to the fashionista that I was getting ready to dine with. I sported my best “mountain chic” outfit and headed out for an upscale evening in town. A velvet, floor-to-ceiling curtain at the end of a staircase stood as the entrance point, then my friend and I casually breezed past the curtain and entered Betula Aspen.

We were immediately greeted by a friendly waitress who was dressed in a chambray button down shirt with camel-colored pants. Looking around, this appeared to be the uniform. She eagerly led us to our table on the patio and assured us our waiter would be there shortly. I nestled up in the booth and gazed around to take in the scene of what felt like an opulent garden terrace.

Betula is known for their French Pan-American cuisine from chef-owner Laurent Cantineaux, recognized for his innovative cuisine crafted with French techniques. Opened in December 2018, the restaurant appears to be growing in popularity.

To start, my girlfriend ordered one of the cutest, most well-known cocktails in Aspen: the yellow paloma. This Casamigos-based drink contains yellow bell pepper juice, grapefruit and ginger syrup, cilantro tincture and lime juice with a savory salt rim and is served in a bird-shaped cocktail glass (An Instagram-worthy snapshot, indeed!) I opted for a hot toddy instead, as it was especially chilly out.

To get the most out of our experience, my friend and I decided to order two of everything — two appetizers, two entrees, and two deserts that we would both share. For the appetizers, we tried the ceviche bonito (striped bass, sweet potato, cilantro, leche de tigre, red onion, canchas, choclos, and ají limo) and the tuna ceviche (nikkei sauce, crispy balck rice, and guacamole). Both dishes tasted fresh, tangy, and delicious.

Looking around, we both agreed that Betula boasts the perfect date night vibe. Twinkle lights hung from the ceiling and candles flickered at every table—creating an intimate and romantic atmosphere. The music was at a conversation-friendly volume, yet it still created a hip vibe. The resident DJ, Ronin Gentilini, played a unique variety of energetic Nu-disco and deep house music from her booth in the living room area next to the fireplace. She made the restaurant come to life.

For the main course, we decided we were both in the mood for fish. We tried the seared Chilean sea bass (served with yuzu black bean garlic sauce, cucumber, bok choy, mushrooms, and asparagus) and the crispy skin striped bass (served with snap peas, forbidden black rice, and coconut curry sauce). I favored the sea bass more as I thought that it was cooked to perfection. I paired both these entrees with a nice sauvignon blanc.

Finally, for dessert, we indulged in the royal chocolate cake served with hazelnut praline, chocolate mousse, light chocolate whip, and hazelnut ice cream. This was rich and fluffy, and it almost tasted like cheesecake. We also tried the warm caramelized apple napoleon—a fresh baked puff pastry served with caramelized apple, hot caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. Needless to say, both plates were scraped clean.

We left full, but not stuffed. It was the perfect amount of food to leave us feeling satisfied. The ambiance was incredibly relaxing, unpretentious and inviting – the perfect environment to catch up with an old friend. We felt like we were at a dinner party with good friends. The restaurant’s cozy warmth and promising gastronomic experience was one I will be returning to very soon.

Aspen Times Weekly

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