Mountain Mayhem: The winter pivot
Albert Einstein once said, “You can’t solve a problem on the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level.” I’d say this thought certainly applies to the challenging times of today, especially so for restaurants, times that breed innovation. With restaurant capacities scaled back to 25% and a concern for keeping guests and employees safe, businesses have had to come up with ways to work within new limitations, many of which are rather creative.
The igloos installed on Aspen Mountain at Bonnie’s Deck and in Basalt along the Frying Pan at Dallenbach Ranch Dinner are two such examples. Bonnie’s offers daily seating for private groups for lunch, while Free Range Kitchen in Basalt is hosting private igloo diners on Jan. 13 and 27, Feb. 10 and 17.
Nakazawa Aspen is a pop-up restaurant and hot new dining destination led by Michelin-starred chef Daisuke Nakazawa, general manager Shota Nishimura, chef Wei Chen, beverage director Dean Fuerth and a talented team onboard. As the story goes, Mr. Grey owner Ryan Chadwick sent Daisuke Nakazawa a direct message on Instagram to consider bringing his cuisine to Aspen this season. The made a deal and now Aspen benefits from having his chef’s tasting and a la carte menus each night.
Two new wine bars enter the scene this ski season. Joonas will debut soon offering tapas and small plates in a completely rebuilt and visually stunning subterranean space on Restaurant Row beneath its sister restaurant, Bear Den. The Wine Bar at The Nell opened last weekend to enthusiasm from guests who were settled into private booths, served by an all-sommelier staff. On offer are wines by the glass and bottle, a bar menu with savory ingredients from wagyu to caviar and the opportunity to watch your win-tender slice a bottle by request with port tongs. The alternative to sabering with a sword, this tool is heated till piping hot, placed around the neck of the bottle for half a minute, then a cold cloth is put in its place to slice the glass sans any splintering due to the temperature difference. And adding to the ambiance, DJ Dylan Regan spins vinyl in his custom built-out booth.
Three cheers to creativity.
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After taking a leap of faith, Alpine Wine Design, who has a booth at the Aspen Saturday Market, makes good use of old barrels and boxes for unique offerings