Alison Berkley: Hit up mom for the perfect date
To this day, the most perfect date I’ve been on in Aspen is with my mom. How pathetic is that? Unlike all my friends who are knee-deep in credit card debt after staying in Aspen for too long, she can afford to take me to the kind of places I like to go. In that sense, it’s really her fault. She’s the one who raised me to have such good taste in the first place. Instead of breast-feeding, she took us to a fancy restaurant. What more need I say? Unless I’m with my friend Emily, who gets the good-looking-girl discount wherever we go (like, 74 percent off and an endless supply of drinks from whoever is trying to get us shit-faced), I simply cannot justify spending $50 a person to go out to dinner in this town. It pisses me off that there’s no cool, moderate places to eat. No, I do not consider the Popcorn Wagon and New York Pizza to fall under that category. Unless I’m drunk off my bootie and need to cushion my hangover, I would like to be waited on and eat indoors, thank-you-very-much! The J Bar comes pretty close to balancing out the value-to-cost ratio if you love hamburgers and don’t mind the consortium of frat boys who gather around the big-screen TV to worship the steroid-fed athletes playing on ESPN (I have not yet decided if the whole sports-fan thing is a religion or a disease). Big points for the free pretzel barrel and delicious salads served on oversized, hard-to-finish plates, even though I would kill to see one salad in this town that is under $10, because we all know that lettuce is not that expensive. Speaking of overpriced vegetables, someone please tell me why there is no Wild Oats in Aspen. I want a gourmet salad bar, goddamnit. Enough of this ranch dressing and bacon bit crap already.I want goat cheese and grilled tofu and fresh, chopped basil and homemade croutons. I want farm-raised chickens and wheat-free, dairy-free muffins and Kamut bread. This is Aspen people, not Iowa! But when mom comes to town, I can kiss the jocks and beer drinkers and crappy salad bars goodbye. It’s a total field day, a no-holds-barred survey of Aspen’s finest restaurants. I start by taking her to all the places I’ve been on the Emily discount: the hip, wish-I-were-in-Europe sort of joints where everyone goes to be seen. You know, the ones with herbed olive oil in oversized bottles that play techno music all night long so that you have to shout while you are eating your gazillion-dollar dinner. The places that have seared ahi (because they all do), candles in the bathroom and waiters dressed in black. L’Hostaria is one of my favorites among these hip Aspen eateries because they have a great bar menu with a bunch of small interesting dishes meant to be shared and sampled. Like my brother likes to say, “Those were great $50 appetizers, let’s go get some pizza.” Far be it from my bro to appreciate the value of good salmon ahi tartar. It looks like something old people would eat, all ground up and raw, but tastes like a perfect French kiss, soft and supple and slightly salty. Along those lines, cute waiters are also a plus, so be sure to ask for Kevin. If you’re looking for curb appeal, Jack’s at the Sardy House totally seduced us with this “half price” scam we saw on the menu posted outside. What they don’t tell you is the discount only applies if you buy an appetizer or salad for $9 and up. In the end, you only save a few bucks, but the dish I ordered – yet another version of Aspen’s beloved seared ahi – was one of the best I’ve ever eaten. Since we were on the good restaurant tour, I decided to give Takah the chance to redeem themselves after the manager treated me like shit on my birthday. Granted, it was during Comedy Fest and super busy, so slow service was to be expected. But it kind of bummed me out because it took so long we had to cancel our order before we even got to dessert, and I was really looking forward to being humiliated by the whole banana tempura and ice cream dick-and-balls dessert thing. I spent half the meal trying to decide if I would seductively slurp the strawberry off the top, or bite off the end just to freak out all the guys at my table. When I told the manager about my phallic dessert depravation syndrome, he told me that “we had taken too long to decide what we wanted.” I ended up apologizing to him like it was all my fault. How does that saying go again? Oh, yeah. The customer is always right. Regardless, I am not one to turn my back on atomic shrimp, so running back to Takah I went, like seducing an ex-boyfriend just because it’s just that good. Mom thought so, too, even if she broke the record for the cheapest bill ever after ordering only four items. The sushi chef guy was like “What!?” when I told him we were finished, but mom said she was full and I didn’t want to look like a pig, so I pretended I was too. Takah is definitely worth the money for every mouth-watering bite, so I hope they’ll be nicer to me the next time. I’m sure the only reason the service was so bad during Comedy Fest was because there were probably some very famous people eating there who are much more important than little old me. It’s like hey Mister Grumpy Manager Man, don’t you know who I am? Maybe now you do. The Princess has never been to Renaissance and would be happy to review it, were she to receive an invitation at email@example.com.
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Sean Beckwith is taking advantage of his column space this week to inform the public of the Best in Jest.