Ashcroft’s Pine Creek Cookhouse |

Ashcroft’s Pine Creek Cookhouse

story by Jeanne McGovern photos by Anna Stonehouse
The details: 12500 Castle Creek Road, 970-925-1044, Prices: 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; sauteed ruby red trout and pan-roasted wild salmon; 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 Not to Miss: Spectacular scenery from the 5,000-square-foot custom patio; Fresh, innovative cuisine — including a newly imagined Alpine Mountain dessert menu — inspired by owner Juliet Wilcox; No cell service means you can escape for an experience that is purely your own.  

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 your bike, or out of your hiking shoes or waders, 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.

“We decided it would be great to up our dessert game this summer,” says chef Chris Keating. “Just think about how lovely it would be to sit here for an hour with a Prosecco or coffee enjoying a decadent dessert.”

On the menu are such offerings as a traditional trifle, a s’mores bread pudding, apple crisp and more.

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. At Pine Creek Cookhouse, you’ll find delicious food without a lot of fuss.

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.

So go ahead, ditch your cell service for a few hours and enjoy a blissful day or evening of hiking, biking or fishing, or a simple road trip 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.”