Aspen Public House
Proprietor William Johnson and Executive Chef Nathaniel Putnam recently celebrated the first anniversary of the Aspen Public House at the Wheeler Opera House. In a nod to the last thirsty plus years of history, the neighborhood, “we’re glad you’re here” vibe now melds with a ‘spirited’ bar program, updated riffs on pub-food classics, and tall tables inside and out for observing the pedestrian mall and fountain.
“When we opened, it was important to brand ourselves as a gastro-pub,” says Johnson. “It allows us to have a more creative menu, giving the opportunity for us to have both a curry and a schnitzel on the same menu.”
We can’t speak for the schnitzel (next time!), but the Traditional Chicken Curry, served with coconut rice, is a plate of warm and spicy, comfort-food that’s sure to satisfy on our cool mountain evenings. While a deliciously juicy burger is still a cornerstone of the menu (as well as the righteous Public House Double Stack dinner option), they’ve branched out with more creative offerings. Melt-in-your mouth, house-cured Porchetta and house-made duck pastrami, duck confit, and duck liver pate are incorporated into the menu giving familiar dishes an elevated experience.
“We cook beak to feet as much as we can,” according to Johnson, who likes sourcing good ingredients to make good, creative food.
The duck confit is offered as a stand-out entrée, served with mashed potatoes and a Bordeaux cherry jus, and also accompanies the Duck Poutine, for a perfectly decadent post-hike treat. The duck pastrami is the cornerstone of the Duck Reuben featuring classic Rueben flavors you know and love, with the added complexity of duck breast. Porchetta is a killer addition to Huevos Rancheros and Mr. Hollandaise’s Opus (aka eggs benedict) on the brunch menu, and in the Carbonara Americana and Porchetta Roll on the dinner menu.
Chicken sandwiches have become a point of pride in town, and The Fried Chicken Sandwich at Aspen Public House is ready to give all others a run for their money. A crispy, southern fried chicken breast is served with house smoked bacon, gruyere, chimichurri aioli and caramelized onions on a brioche bun for a sandwich that is truly greater than the sum of its parts. It even comes with a side of fries. The gauntlet has been thrown.
Pair your meal with an offering from their extensive beer and wine lists, one of their three Mule varieties (we vote for the Mezcal Mule) or a wonderfully refreshing gin and vermouth based Cold Smoke with fresh lime, cucumber and mint.
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