Rustique Bistro |

Rustique Bistro

story by Jeanne McGovern photos by Anna Stonehouse
The details: 216 S. Monarch St. • 970-920-2555 • Prices: Lunch, $12-$18; dinner starters/salads, $9-$27; dinner, entrees $36-$44. Ambience: French bistro meets Aspen casual Signature Dishes: Foie Gras of the Moment; duck confit gnocchi in sage brown butter, arugula and sweet orange gastrique; beef “Pot-au-Feu” with fingerling potatoes, root vegetables, mushroom and horseradish creme Not to Miss: Happy hour on the spacious patio; the Rustique Burger, one of our favorites in town; A stop at the Cooking School of Aspen and The Cottage Aspen — all on the same property  

Rustique Bistro is not afraid of change.

In fact, over the past few years, the locally owned restaurant has moved away from its deep French roots in favor of rustic country fare. Now, this summer, chef-owner Rob Ittner is mixing things up once again by moving the focus from Rustique’s charming indoor bistro to its bustling outdoor patio space.

“I want to this to be like you are dining in France, outdoor and indoor, mixing and mingling,” he says. “So we expanded the patio space to give it more of a garden feeling — pots of basil, flowers on the tables, trellises … a little garden cove oasis.”

Even more impressive — a brand-new as of the Food & Wine Classic —is the way Rustique has expanded the indoor bar to seemlessly flow into the patio space — offering guests just about any culinary experience they desire.

Think about the possibilities: happy hour spent with friends gnoshing on crispy frog legs and a crisp glass of white wine at one of the tall tables; or, enjoying a luscious dessert such as proftieroles served with warm chocolate sauce or a Chocolate Pot de Crème with a specialty cocktail or coffee under the lights outside. Looking for something a bit more formal? How about a intimate inside table and a four-course dinner starting with escargot, followed by a basil spinach salad and entrée of Steak au Poivre with a rich glass of red wine, followed by one of Rustique’s to-die-for desserts.

And, of course, you’re always greeted with Rustique’s signature French bread, warm inside a brown paper bag, and served with sinfully creamy butter.

“I think we’ve created a corner in town where people want to be,” Ittner says. “Whatever you desire, we can make it happen.”

Adding the Cooking School of Aspen and The Cottage Aspen to the Rustique portfolio only helps this mission become nothing short of impossible.

“Change is good; it means we’re growing,” Ittner says. “And every change we make is a conscious decision toward growing into something more wonderful for our guests.”