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Prospect redefines dining at Hotel Jerome.

Eat Chic!

by Linda Hayes | Aspen magazine | December 19, 2012

The landscape of food has changed. You hear it time and time again around the globe. Restaurants (and diners) have gone casual. Home cooking is once again the rage. Go figure.

Still, you live, or have come to Aspen—the little mountain town with the big reputation—in search of something unique. Something real. Something to satisfy the type of hunger that can only be inspired by the great outdoors.

Where do you go? Well, for the first time in a long time, where you eat in Aspen may largely be determined by where you stay. In favor of an ultra-satisfying chef-prepared meal inspired by the surroundings in a carefully cultivated setting? Call the concierge, gussy up and head out to one of these new and noteworthy restaurants.

Element 47 at The Little Nell

Behind the Name In 1894, a 2,350-pound silver nugget, the world’s largest, was pulled from Aspen’s Smuggler Mine. Silver is element 47 on the periodic table. It’s a pinch of local history and a dash of science. Get it? (We like e47, for short.)

Setting the Scene New York-based Bentel & Bentel won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant Design at famed Le Bernardin and The Modern at MOMA, both in Manhattan. Peter Bentel, who led the redesign of the former Montagna at The Nell, notes “Interactivity is everything.” With that in mind, his team opened up The Bar (refreshed with a white-as-spring-snow granite top and a new illuminated glass-encased wine wall) to the dining room, making it a part of the overall restaurant experience, and connected the mezzanine level with a center staircase to encourage flow.

Design Details Wood: Tablecloths were banished. Instead, solid ebonized mahogany tabletops are to chef Rob McCormick’s artfully plated dishes what black velvet is to Tiffany’s sparkly jewels. A series of up-lit, vertical wood staves define doorways. Stone: New York bluestone is the foundation for flooring and steps. Steel: A reference to the metal used on local silver-mine buildings, blackened steel adds detail to the bar.

On the Menu Rob McCormick slides into his second winter season as executive chef, applying his sharp culinary style (with a spin on presentation) to an abundance of regional and global ingredients. A big change comes with an all-new, à la carte-focused menu, where diners can choose from small, medium and large dishes, such as homemade pear and local Avalanche blue cheese tortellini with shaved Emma Farm Wagyu and Rendezvous Farm arugula. A six-course chef’s tasting menu will be offered in January, too.

On the Wine Side Look for Master Sommelier Jonathan Pullis and Sommelier Carlton McCoy to be pulling bottles from the new wine wall, which showcases selections from their Wine Spectator Grand Award list.

Opened Nov. 30, 2012

Prospect at Hotel Jerome, An Auberge Resort

Behind the Name “It’s a lot about what was happening in Aspen in the beginning with the early prospectors,” says General Manager Tony DiLucia, whose own history with the property dates back more than 20 years. “People still come here chasing a dream, a lifestyle—and to see what their prospects
are today.”

Setting the Scene Internationally renowned interior designer Todd-Avery Lenahan, of TAL-Studio in Las Vegas, partnered with Aspen-based architectural firm Rowland + Broughton for the complete nouveau Victorian redesign of the historic hotel. Key to the restaurant overhaul was repositioning the space back to its original location against the terrace wall, brightening it up and offering views of the garden and pool.

Design Details “We had to reimagine what the experience in the restaurant would have been and what it should be now,” says Lenahan. “We made the room an environment that’s figuratively a picture frame around great culinary experiences and service.” Floors are reclaimed oak with polished white stripes. Seating is at deeply tufted Chesterfield banquettes, or in chic wing and saddle-stitched leather chairs. Freestanding center and window-side tables are elm-wood. Mercury urban smoke bell fixtures shed appropriate mood light.

On the Menu Rob Zack is back. Most recently opening chef at Viceroy Snowmass, Zack began his culinary career as a line chef at the Jerome 20 years ago and also worked under Todd Slossberg at various intervals since. In addition to American bistro dishes, like Colorado lamb shank with chipotle and cranberry, we’re looking forward to a refined duet of roasted rib-eye and braised short rib with roasted beets and horseradish.

Side Dish Portending sweet things to come, Aleece Gallagher, formerly of Midland Baking Company in Basalt, where her cupcakes, pastries and artisan breads were local faves, has recently been tapped as Prospect’s pastry chef. A craft beer and wine program in the style of Auberge Resorts will be overseen by wine director Jill Zimorski.

Opened Dec. 15, 2012

Chefs Club by FOOD & WINE at The St. Regis Resort

Behind the Name Menus at this swank new restaurant feature dishes dreamed up by chefs who, over the years, have each been named a Food & Wine Magazine Best New Chef—a very exclusive club, indeed. (And, no, you don’t need to be a member to join in
the fun.)

Setting the Scene Award-winning interior designer Lauren Rottet, of the international architecture and design firm Rottet Studio, brought Chefs Club to life as part of a recent $40 million redesign of The St. Regis Resort. Noting that “Aspen is about being a part of the outdoors by day and engaging in festivities and the social lifestyle by night,” Rottet merged the two concepts with a contemporary attitude, underscored with clever accessories and furnishings.

Design Details It’s a mountain fantasy theme, complete with a suspended snowflake-pattern ceiling and chinked flat-plank walls. Diners may choose to sink into leather club chairs at linen-topped tables, or settle at a lineup of white swirl-back seats that overlook the open kitchen. The room’s playful, dark-and-light color scheme is accented by pops of colorful modern art.

On the Menu Twice a year (spring/summer and winter/fall) the powers that be at Food & Wine select four Best New Chefs to create the Chefs Club menus. The end result is a widely varied collection of dishes that showcases some of the most notable chefs—and restaurants—in the country.

Got Chops Chefs tapped for this winter include Jenn Louis (BNC 2012) of Lincoln Restaurant and Sunshine Tavern in Portland, Ore., Kevin Willmann (BNC 2011) of Farmhaus in St. Louis, Matthew Lightner (BNC 2010) of Atera in New York, and Jonathon Sawyer (BNC 2010) of Greenhouse and Noodlecat in Cleveland. Louis and Sawyer snuck into town early and slipped a few dishes onto the current menu (including sage and lemon fritters, and sorcetti with braised Colorado lamb ragu from Louis; and chicken and duck liver terrine, and “properly butchered” aged rib steak from Sawyer). Dishes by the remaining two will be added in late November. We can’t wait.

Opened June 17, 2012 (during the 30th anniversary of the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen).