The next era at the Limelight Snowmass Lounge unfolds
The Limelight Snowmass is the newest ski-in, ski-out lunch spot in Base Village
Under normal circumstances, few restaurants would bemoan being too busy. But with the coronavirus pandemic still upending America, overcrowding is a real threat. In warmer climates, restaurants solve the problem of reduced or eliminated indoor dining by adding or expanding outdoor dining. Wintertime in the Rocky Mountains, not so easy.
The Limelight Snowmass, for one, enjoyed a robust summer as visitors (and plenty of incoming residents) flocked for hiking, biking, and fresh alpine air as a socially distanced escape. “Then winter hit, and it was like, What do we do with all these people?” says general manager Lindsay Cagley. “We can’t have them all inside.”
Thursday, Jan. 7, marks the beginning of the next era at the Limelight Snowmass Lounge: lunch service.
In an effort to spread hungry skiers and snowboarders comfortably across mountain venues to comply with Pitkin County’s 25% capacity regulations as of press time (which counts staff as well as diners), the hotel is launching its new, all-day menu starting at 1 p.m.
“We’ve never served lunch at a Limelight before, because ultimately our goal is to get people out into the community exploring,” Cagley continues. Hence, Limelight properties are found in “active” destinations: on Monarch Street in Aspen since 2008 and within a mile of the closest Sun Valley Resort chairlift in Ketchum, Idaho (opened January 2017), owned and operated by the Aspen Skiing Company.
“The purpose of (lunch) is to help take pressure off the mountain, and open up more seating,” Cagley says. “We need to make sure that guests have a place to eat—options, choices.”
Befitting our collective penchant for comfort food, the Limelight Snowmass expanded menu appeals to universal appetites and cravings. Fans of the Limelight’s signature, wood-fired pizza will find favorite standbys (prosciutto crudo; fennel sausage; Greek), plus a few novel combinations. Worth making a trip ASAP: the only-in-Snowmass Loaded Baked Potato Pizza.
An homage of sorts to former sous chef Taylor Rumble, who worked at the Limelight Ketchum and tried in vain to bring this pizza to the Snowmass property until his recent departure, the creation layers thinly shaved potatoes, smoked bacon, cheddar and mozzarella cheese, and green onions on a sour cream base with a ranch-dressing drizzle. Cagley calls it a thin-crust version of the New Potato Caboose from Crested Butte’s Secret Stash—light enough for folks who plan to return to the slopes for afternoon turns.
Though only at the helm approximately two weeks, Limelight Snowmass executive chef Nate Kargman has been busy putting his spin on the menu, which features more salads, sandwiches, small bites, and now entrées. Kargman pairs pan-seared salmon with carrot purée, orange reduction, winter vegetables, and farro; his nine-ounce steak frites platter gets demi-glace and pickled peppers. A grilled vegetable “muffaletta” layers hearty portobello mushrooms, squash, and peppers with provolone cheese and olive tapenade on a sub roll; carnivorous counterpoints include the double cheeseburger and classic grilled chicken sandwich. Oh, and there will be fondue!
“We want to keep it seasonal,” says Kargman, formerly of the Aspen Meadows Resort, with “some healthy plates but also more decadent plates.” Case in point: chicken and dumplings boosted with duck fat, lemongrass, and fresh oregano (available in a cup or bowl) and a kale-arugula-quinoa salad with garbanzo beans, dried apricots, and red wine vinaigrette. The best-selling honey-Parmesan Brussels sprouts share MVP status alongside French fries (with duck fat aioli and optional truffle add-on, natch) and cheese pizza, appealing even to kids.
Quenching thirsts during Limelight’s trademark extended happy hour (3-5 p.m. daily; also in Aspen) are chilled cocktails infused with warm spices (whiskey-based A Long Winter’s Day; Chai White Russian); s’mores kits are always available to take outside for a marshmallow roast over fire pits. A tall wedge of coffee ice cream, gooey fudge, and whipped cream on chocolate cookie crust, known as the Mile High Mud Pie, reportedly satisfies even a family of four with a few rich bites each. “When it crosses the room, it gets noticed,” Cagley quips.
Lunch at the Limelight Snowmass (which kicks off later than usual, at 1 p.m., to coincide with current staffing) is already anticipated to continue this summer.
“Base Village is coming into a new phase” of dining, Cagley explains. This summer, Kenichi will open in the spot formerly occupied by Sake; another “recognizable” group will announce plans in coming weeks.
Until then, the Limelight will continue to embody the spirit of hospitality.
“If the county moves forward with restaurant closures as part of Level Red, the lounge will remain open (with) takeout (and) patio service,” confirms food and beverage director Katie Blastos. “We are very fortunate to be operating in a hotel. Most guests will join us for dinner at least once during their stay. Especially during COVID, people are interested in staying close to their ‘home base.’”
Anchored by the ice rink and dotted with fire pits just steps from the Limelight on one side and The Collective multipurpose building on another, Base Village will easily accommodate lunch-goers on sunny days if indoor dining is nixed. For now, visitors and locals may also choose among “distanced dining options” for rent, such as a private dining room near the Limelight Lounge; the ski-in, ski-out Owl Creek Day Chalet lounge and patio; and two tented “igloos” on the Limelight terrace, pre-stocked and reservable for up to eight people at 5:30 or 7:30 p.m. Plus: contactless online ordering for takeout until 9 p.m. Loaded baked potato pizza, anyone?
Amanda Rae is the editor of “The Aspen Cookbook” (Nov. 2020), which features the Limelight’s signature pizza dough recipe. AspenCookbook.com
Lunch daily at 1 p.m.
All-day menu until 9 p.m.
Happy hour 3-5 p.m.
65 Wood Rd.
Snowmass Base Village
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Glenwood Springs native Mike Vidakovich started distance running in 1980 and with every mile he’s completed since then, he’s learned a lot about the sport and the crowd that comes with it.