Paul E. Anna: High Points
Same as it ever was. Only better. That was my take on a recent Wednesday night at the newly minted, or semi-newly re-minted, Pitkin County Steakhouse & Tavern. If you don’t know, the Pitkin County Tavern is the old Double Dog Pub that sits down a flight of stairs on the corner of East Hopkins and Monarch. You know, next to the old Steak Pit which is now the Pitkin County Steakhouse. Got that?The Steak Pit was a venerable Aspen institution that had a 50-year run in a town where lasting a single season is an accomplishment. But when the previous owners Bob and Cindy Glowacki closed for good at the end of April, a door opened for longtime local food visionary Rob Seideman, who took the space and rechristened both establishments. Seideman, who ran the Cooking School of Aspen in another subterranean space awhile ago, and who also pens a fine column on cooking for this town’s other paper, cleaned the place up to reveal a new sheen. But little else has changed. A few photos came down, a couple of others went up. But for the most part, the dcor remains the same.The Tavern is exactly what a tavern should be. A dozen good beers on tap, a quartet of televisions showing football, baseball, hockey and whatever other athletic competition rides the airwaves, and a menu of fresh and fried foods that compliment both. The Wednesday that I went was the debut of a longtime Aspen tradition, the $5 Burger night. For five bucks I got a great house burger with cheddar cheese and a basket filled with crispy fries. It is the kind of special that is tailored to the times.The Tavern also hosts nightly live music from longtime favorites like the Crowlin’ Ferries (Tuesdays) and Dan Sheridan on Wednesdays, who, I assume, can sing anything he damn well pleases. The crowd is a mix of locals and tourists, and the vibe is just plain cozy. I have yet to pair some onion rings or spicy fried calamari with a Deschutes Mirror Pond Ale, but I plan to soon.Over in the Pitkin County Steakhouse the rib eye would appear to be the cut most appropriate for pairing. Prime, dry-aged and cooked over a hot grill, it would seem a good accompaniment to many of the wines selected by local wine guru Jay Fletcher for the list. The old Steak Pit favorites still dominate the menu. The prime rib, the filet mignon and the sirloin were just too good to lose. And the salad bar is better than ever as Rob enlisted the help of Paonia’s top purveyors to get fresh, local veggies and lettuces in the mix.There will be numerous opportunities for locals to sample the Pitkin County Steakhouse and Tavern. Aside from $5 Burger Wednesdays in the Tavern, tonight is King Crab Night, where the delicacy of the sea goes for half price and this Saturday the steaks are a steal at 50 percent off as well.It’s great to see Rob back in business, and it’s even better to have a great locals spot fired up again.