Ashcroft’s Pine Creek Cookhouse |

Ashcroft’s Pine Creek Cookhouse

Price: Lunch appetizers, $15 to $26; lunch entrees, $17 to $34; dinner appetizers, $15 to $26; dinner entrees, $19 to $49  Ambience: Mountain chic, rustic, scenic.  Signature dishes: Nightly specials; wild salmon (preparation changes throughout the winter); buffalo tenderloin; Colorado elk bratwurst (lunch) with caramelized onion, peppadew pepper salsa, Dijon sauce, pretzel bread roll, farro and kale salad, and jardinière vegetables; Kurt Russell’s Home Run Ranch beef patty melt (lunch) with wild mushrooms, caramelized onions, Gruyère cheese, toasted sourdough bread, arugula and marinated vegetables.

There’s no cell service here in the middle of the Elk Mountains, and that’s only part of the beauty of dining at Pine Creek Cookhouse. When you step off the horse-drawn sleigh, or pop out of your Nordic skis or snowshoes, stop and listen to the sound of silence — the lovely sound of nature, where not even a cellphone ring can interrupt it.

But there is one thing that can enhance the experience: a leisurely lunch or dinner on the Pine Creek patio. Begin with a starter such as the butcher and cheese plate, follow it with the gold-standard Cookhouse salad and then an entree from the diverse menu. Top it all off with good wine and a great dessert.

One thing you won’t find at Pine Creek Cookhouse is foam on your plate. When things started turning molecular in upscale kitchens across the country and in Aspen, Keating knew he needed to move to a place where he could cook simply. And now with friend and fellow chef Bill Greenwood at his side — who among other things is a top-notch butcher and professional forager — you’ll definitely find delicious, hearty food without a lot of fuss.

Take for instance, the selection of meats on the menu, from the Rocky Mountain elk cop to the Berkshire pork porterhouse to the always popular Kurt Russell Home Run Ranch beef patty melt.

Or, keep in mind that Sherpas from Nepal who used to work in the Everest base camps have been members of Pine Creek Cookhouse’s kitchen for decades. Their influences are scattered throughout the menu, but one of the most popular items going 30 years strong are the wild game momos, Nepalese dumplings made with buffalo, herbs and spices.

Pine Creek Cookhouse is one of the area’s oldest restaurants for good reason — there just doesn’t seem to be anything they’re doing wrong here. In fact, they get better with every passing year.

So go ahead, ditch your cell service for a few hours and enjoy a blissful day or evening of Nordic skiing, or the simple charm of a sleigh ride through the Castle Creek Valley, followed by awesome alpine cuisine in the heart of the Elk Mountains.

“When you’re surrounded by Mother Nature, everything else drops off,” Keating says.”

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