Blue Creek Grill
February 10, 2004
Have you ever seen that weird show on channel 6, “Dr. Who?” Remember how he would walk into his tiny little telephone booth-like office thingy and when he got inside it was huge? Far more huge than it could possibly be, given the current laws of physics? Well, even if you don’t remember it, you get the idea-sometimes things can be very different on the inside than the outside may lead you to believe.Such is the case with the Blue Creek Grill in El Jebel. On the outside it looks like the most unassuming of small town diners–not unattractive or run down, just…plain. Those lucky enough to venture inside, though, will find that they have wandered into a culinary oasis. The inside blends elegance with a warm welcoming feeling. Spacious, romantically lit, elegantly set tables, slow turning overhead fans…you may find yourself taking a quick look outside just to make sure you haven’t entered some strange space warp. The menu at the Blue Creek Grill is relatively small-just two pages-but it soon becomes obvious that there is a whole lot of goodness packed into those pages. Notice a theme here?We started with an order of Corn Fried Oysters, which came with something new to my culinary list of “things I never would have thought of but are incredibly good and now I want more of,” –Spicy Fried Parsnips. These are kind of like the Rolls Royce of the french fry family. In fact, it isn’t really even fair to compare them to the pedestrian fried potato, these thinly sliced parsnip slivers are fried in Cajun-like spices and are such a taste treat that I don’t think a ketchup bottle could come within twenty feet of them. The oysters were excellent as well($8.95.)
We also enjoyed an order of Grilled Shrimp which, unless something very unexpected happens, will certainly go down in my annual “Best Of” column as the best grilled shrimp in the Roaring Fork Valley. It is a garlic, chili glazed shrimp served over field greens with lemongrass vinaigrette and a spicy cucumber relish ($6.96.)Also available for appetizers is the Spicy Steak Quesadilla, flour tortilla filled with spicy grilled steak, goat cheese, herbs and Monterey Jack cheese and served with avocado and Pico de Gallo ($8.95) or the Duck and Sausage Gumbo, duck, Kielbasa and vegetables in a dark, rich duck stock ($3.75.)For entrees we had Cornmeal Crusted Mountain Trout, served with a roasted pecan butter, new potatoes and vegetables ($12.95.) Roasted pecan butter, did I say? I did. Add that to the same list I just put the fried parsnips on. Also available for our dining pleasure that evening was Grilled Mahi Mahi served on a bed of sauted spinach, topped with a lemon basil Beurre Blanc and accompanied by garlic roasted new potatoes ($16.95.) What a meal!And for YOUR dining pleasure, there are eight more entrees to choose from, including Colorado Lamb Chops, grilled rosemary rubbed chops with roasted shallot sauce and mint aioli served with mashed potatoes ($18.95), Dry Aged New York Strip served with peppered crimini mushrooms, demi glace and shoestring potatoes with chipolte ketchup (no relation to the aforementioned “ordinary” ketchup), $16.95, or D.Z.’s Campfire Fettucini, a combination of roasted and grilled vegetables; eggplant, onions, tomatoes and zucchini over fettucini tossed with garlic and cream, $10.95.And for your imbibing pleasure, Blue Creek Grill has an extensive wine list and a full bar.For dessert we nearly swooned over just the description of the Chocolate Bread Pudding, which the chef called (quite accurately) a kind of “brownie souffle.” This was the lightest, browniest, puddingiest, whipped creamiest little morsel imaginable. Quick, another list–this one is the “desserts you must try before you can claim to have experienced joy” list…and put the Chocolate Bread Pudding in there. Also available for dessert is a regal Apple Tart served with fresh whipped cream and criss-crossed with a delicate smattering of caramel, and a Creme Brulee. All desserts are $5.95.Chefs/owners Carolyn Fisher and Chris Sapp, just hitting the three year mark with their fine restaurant, have created an amazing little sanctuary in their somewhat hidden El Jebel nook. They also offer catering, which they assure us is even more exquisite than the food at their restaurant. They’ll be closing for the first two weeks in June for a little pre-summer season breather, but will then continue serving exceptional dinners Tuesday through Sunday for, hopefully, a long, long time.