Tag Archives: food and beverage

Merry Go Round at Aspen Highlands

If you live in the Roaring Fork Valley, you have good reason to consider Wednesday your favorite day of the week. Starting tomorrow (January 14), Aspen Snowmass will once again be having a local’s appreciation day every Wednesday at Aspen Highlands, which includes such Hump Day bennies as free parking at the base, and lunch and beer specials at the Merry-Go-Round.

But here’s the best part: even if you aren’t a local, no one cares. Everyone is welcome to enjoy the perks of “the local’s mountain” on Hump Day (local’s can simply enjoy it every week because, well, they live here).

Last week was a dry run for the festivities at Merry-Go-Round, and being the resident foodie, I felt it was my obligation to head up the Exhibition Lift shortly after 9am, burn through as many groomers as I could (you know: to work up an appetite), and offer a taste test of the Hump Day Grill which they set up on the patio.

Here’s what my investigation turned up:

Golden Horn and Thunderbowl: Still Untouched at 10am

Gunbarrel run at Aspen Highlands

At 9:40am, there were only two sets of tracks on Gunbarrel below the Cloud Nine lift.

I was celebrating Hump Day by taking it easy a bit, so groomers were the order of the day. After a few warm-up runs off of Cloud Nine, I worked my way over to Golden Horn and Thunderbowl. It had been two days since the last snow, and I was still finding fresh places to turn at the top of Golden Horn Woods and even when I cut over to Limelight near the base. Look: free parking is nice, but finding stashes days after a storm is the really reason to hit up Aspen Highlands.

Brats + Sunshine & Beer = Appreciation

Tommy Knocker Brat at Merry-Go-Round, Aspen Highlands

The Tommy Knocker Ale Bratwurst at Merry-Go-Round. Not pictured: beer to wash it down.

At lunch, I went over to the Merry-Go-Round where they had set up an outdoor grilling station for the day’s Hump Day special.

Each week they will be changing up the special, but you can always expect that (a) it’ll be grilled, (b) it’ll be $8 for a main and two sides, and (c) there will be $4 beers to wash it all down.

Last Wednesday, they were offering a choice between Kielbasa, a Tommy Knocker Ale Bratwurst, or a more traditional Pork Bratwurst, each served on a pretzel bun. And of course — this being Aspen Snowmass — there was even a mustard menu. I went half-and-half: whole grain on one side, truffle mustard on the other.

The Merry-Go-Round terrace is perfectly positioned to absorb the sun rays at that hour. A catnap just about happened.

A Glass of Red at Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro

There isn’t really a lunch hour at Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro; it stretches from noon until the lifts close. This Swiss-inspired restaurant — which doles out pots of fondue and raclette — has long been a hot spot for locals and out-of-towners alike, who often order bottles of Veuve Clicquot and by 2pm, start dancing on the tables.

Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, Aspen Highlands

The place to be in the afternoon on Hump Day (or any day for that matter).

I was more interested in a glass of wine and the lounge chairs on the deck, which takes in a stellar view of Pyramid Peak and the Maroon Bells.

Wine at Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro

Opening a bottle of Beaujolais Cru at Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, because, why not?

As an avid wine drinker, one thing I appreciate about the on-mountain restaurants here is the well-curated wine lists, even by the glass. As I bellied up to the ice bar, I expected to find the usual suspects: a Napa Cab, a Sonoma Chard, maybe a Super Tuscan if I was lucky.

But instead, they were offering a handful of under-the-radar gems: an Oregon Pinot Noir from Domaine Serene, a Nebbiolo Langhe from Barbaresco producer De Forville, and even a Morgon, one of the top Crus of Beaujolais. It was like hearing a bunch of B-sides on the stereo instead of the greatest hits.

I noticed the Morgon was unopened. “No one is drinking the Beaujolais Cru yet?” I asked.

“Nope,” the bartender noted. Then he smiled: “Let’s open it.”

Such is the spirit of afternoons at Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro.

Lynn Britt Cabin Chuck Wagon Dinner Snowcat, Snowmass Mountain
Lynn Britt Cabin Chuck Wagon Dinner Snowcat, Snowmass Mountain

Loading up for our trip to the Lynn Britt Cabin at the base of Snowmass Mountain.

If you are a parent who is planning a ski trip for your family, odds are you’ve wrestled with what to do after the slopes close, especially if your kids are under 10 and if (how should we say this?) sitting still in a restaurant is not their forte.

I was thinking about this conundrum last Wednesday as I approached the Lynn Britt Cabin at sunset, riding shotgun in one of Aspen Snowmass’ snowcats. I had been invited to join eight families for the cabin’s weekly Chuck Wagon Dinner, a family-oriented evening of good food, sing-alongs and playful fun halfway up Snowmass Mountain.

While my four-year-old daughter couldn’t come along with me this go around, I couldn’t help but see the whole event through her eyes.

Stepping out onto the snow, our group was greeted by the sweet smell of a campfire. Above, pastel-pink clouds were making way for the purple darkness of night, and before us, the cozy cabin was lit-up in holiday lights, exuding a warm glow from the inside.

Lynn Britt Cabin Chuck Wagon Dinner Snowcat, Snowmass Mountain

Arriving at Lynn Britt Cabin via snowcat.

As I watched a few kids make snowballs (only to toss them into the campfire), I thought back to how I spent my evenings on ski trips from my teen years: This sure beats ordering a pizza and a pay-per-view movie, I thought. The ride in the snowcats, the Western cabin, the quiet ski slopes under a rising moon … These kids will probably remember this night for a long time to come.

Lynn Britt Cabin Chuck Wagon Dinner Snowcat, Snowmass Mountain

Kids walking into Lynn Britt Cabin for a night of sing-alongs and good food.

As we were seated inside the cozy restaurant, we were introduced to the Harmony Sisters, Susan Anderson and Barbara Cyr. They have been performing for chuck wagon dinners on Snowmass for 16 years, dating back to the Burlingame Cabin days, and each Wednesday they serve as MCs for the Lynn Britt Cabin family dinners.

Roasted Chicken and Pan-Fried Trout, Lynn Britt Cabin Chuck Wagon Dinner Snowcat, Snowmass Mountain

Roasted Chicken with Pan-Fried Trout, Whipped Potatoes, Green Beans

They immediately had kids singing along to a handful of campfire classics as well as a few requests from the parents, like Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl,” which a father dedicated to his daughter. A box of musical instruments was set out, and soon the room was filled with the kind of joyful noise that only a band of kiddos can create. Parents beamed and passed around a few bottles of wine while the first and second course were served.

Speaking of the food, it was a delicious yet rustic take on Western classics. After warming up with an apple cider, we were served tomato soup with corn bread muffins, and a family-style salad comprised of local organic greens, candied pecans and dried cranberries. Roasted chicken was complemented by pan-seared trout (which was substituted by mac-and-cheese on the kids’ servings). Then came the decadent, apple-raisin bread pudding which seemed perfect for this cold winter’s night. When no one was looking, I went back for seconds.

After a little storytelling and a chance for the kids to enjoy the outdoor campfire a little more, the team fired up the snowcats for the return trip down the mountain. I asked our snowcat driver, Peter, if it takes a long time to round up the kids at the end of the night.

“No, not at all,” he said. Then he smiled. “It’s the parents we have a hard time wrangling.”

The Lynn Britt Cabin Family Chuck Wagon Dinner is served every Wednesday night through the ski season. $65/adult (excluding alcohol) and $35/child includes the 10-minute snowcat ride and free entertainment. Call 970-923-8715 or 1-800-525-6200 ext. 4715 to learn more information and to make a reservation.


 

Pizza at Elk Camp, Snowmass

panini at elk campSome days, an hour-long lunch just doesn’t feel right. All morning long you’ve been skiing in choice conditions, and despite your grumbling stomach, you just want to keep going. Continue reading

Lynn Britt Cabin, Aspen/Snowmass
Lynn Britt Cabin, Snowmass Mtn

© Paul Morrison/Aspen-Snowmass

On a recent powder day, my wife and I, along with some friends, enjoyed a late lunch at Lynn Britt Cabin. We’d spent the first four-and-a-half hours of our day covering Snowmass from top to bottom — blasting down runs in the Elk Camp, Two Creeks, Alpine Springs, Big Burn and Sam’s Knob sections of the mountain.

By 1:30pm, we were famished, and yet — to be totally honest with you —it took some convincing for me to stop and have lunch at Lynn Britt Cabin. It had nothing to do with the restaurant … and everything to do with just “sitting down” for lunch.

You see, ever since I learned to ski, lunch has always been a grab-and-go affair. Load up, refresh, resume. If its warm and ready now, I’m there. Finger foods? Even better. Until this day, that was just how it was done for me.

But 90 minutes after we ducked into the small cabin set against a small grove of aspens, I was rethinking what “on-mountain dining” could be. Heck: I was rethinking what defined a great day on the mountain.

Here are a few quick reasons to love this gem of a restaurant.

    1. The Colorado Twist to the Cuisine – This being Colorado, it only makes sense that Chef de Cuisine Robert C. McConnell would emphasize game and locally sourced ingredients on his menu. As it snowed outside, we all opted for the three-course prix fixe menu. My main course was a toss-up between two dishes: Butternut Squash Agnolotti or the Tuesday special, Bison Meatloaf. At the last second, I changed my mind, going for the Elk Stroganoff. No regrets: it was divine.
Cuisine at Lynn Britt Cabin

©Dan Bayer / Aspen/Snowmass

  1. The Cozy, Ranch Cookhouse Feel – Intimate only begins to describe the interior of Lynn Britt Cabin. Vaulted wood ceilings and rustic log-backed chairs are nicely contrasted with white-linen tablecloths and elegant place settings. Western memorabilia and art lines the walls, and picture windows bring the beauty of Snowmass Mountain indoors. The cozy setting was enough to make me linger: “Sure, we’ll stay for a hot chocolate.”
  2. The Backstory – Lynn Britt Cabin is inspired by the homesteaders’ cabins that dotted Snowmass Mountain in the early 1900s (one of these homes — Burlingame Cabin — is now another popular restaurant on the mountain). It is named after a popular Snowmass ski instructor who lost his battle with cancer in the 1980s.
  3. The Encore: Snowcat Dinners – We breezed out of Lynn Britt Cabin and squeezed in a few more runs before the lifts closed. However, you can enjoy this charming little spot afterhours with a snowcat-chartered dinner, every Tuesday and Thursday night in winter. Live entertainment, a special four-course meal, undisturbed views of the stars, and the unique thrill of a snowcat ride up the mountain make it a stand-out highlight for many skiers’ vacations.