Cordillera’s Mirador: Fine food with creative twists
Special to the Daily
GROUSE ON THE GREEN
& MIRADOR AT CORDILLERA
2205 CORDILLERA WAY
LODGE & SPA AT CORDILLERA
CORDILLERA — The views are what first catch my glance, great sweeping vistas that are visible from almost every corner of the dining room. Then the menu stops my glance, and I find myself intrigued by unanticipated options in a classic menu. I look around, wondering into what sort of Wonderland I’ve wandered.
Chef Collin Smelser joined the team at Mirador, located at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, less than a year ago, but he’s been putting his mark on the menu and on guests’ taste buds.
Make no mistake — those searching for the classic options like prime rib or salmon will not be disappointed — Chef Smelser knows how to keep his clientele happy. But before deciding on something safe, take a closer look and discover Smelser’s additions, dishes like marrow bone with parsley caper and preserved lemon salad or chicken and waffles: a bacon cheddar waffle served with collard greens and a honey Tabasco butter.
“Yes, those are mine,” Smelser admits with a smile. “I try to slip those kinds of things in.”
But Smelser is putting his mark on established dishes, too. The pan-roasted duck breasts are served with duck confit farro risotto, roasted patty pan squash and a cherry ginger jus. Instead of the usual Arborio rice, the farro adds a toothsome texture to the mix; the duck confit just furthers the savory goodness of the duck medallions. But it’s the ginger in the jus keeps me taking “just one more bite,” with the slight spiciness that marries so well with the cherries. Overall, it’s dark and woodsy and the culinary manifestation of a Currier and Ives print.
Keep an eye out for other unusual collaborations on the menu, like the duck poutine, a new twist on a classic Canadian dish. Or try the crab and artichoke pizza. Crab on pizza? Absolutely.
“I’m from Baltimore,” explains Smelser. “I thought, why not put crab on a pizza. You can put anything on a pizza.”
The result? A decadent pie with huge chunks of rich crab meat that’s balanced with the artichoke hearts and light white sauce. That pizza alone is worth a visit. But then you sample the blackened lamb “lollichops,” or the sesame-seared salmon with shrimp fried rice and an incredibly complex unagi-based sauce. Each bite had me torn between savoring and scarfing.
“People seem to think that we’re really far away,” says Smelser. “We’re not — it’s only 30 minutes from Vail.”
GROUSE ON THE GREEN
There are certain elements that must be present in an Irish pub. Guinness on tap? Check. Cozy booths and a cheerful fireplace? Check. Hearty and satisfying comfort food like fish and chips and Shepard’s pie? Check. Expansive views of the Continental Divide and rolling golf greens? Bonus.
Grouse on the Green is an authentic Irish pub, brought stone by stone from Eire to rest in Cordillera. And, while the views are different from what was seen in the homeland, the warmth and cheer is just as authentic as the architecture.
Chef Smelser is keeping an eye on the accurate in the Grouse with items like Scottish eggs and chips and curry on the menu.
Pick a perch on the bar and order the Grouse nachos to start. With homemade, thick-cut “crisps” (chips are actually fries in Ireland), bacon and Gorgonzola cream sauce, these nachos are one part tangy, one part smoky and all parts delicious. Take a friend or make one quickly as it’s a big portion for one but a shame to waste. Or pack an appetite and order the Rueben, with house-made corned beef, thick cut marbled rye and tangy sauerkraut.
Grouse on the Green has a different special almost every night. Take Fido and enjoy Pets and Pints on Sunday evenings
This story first ran in EAT! Magazine, available in stand-alone locations throughout the community. The stories are sponsored by each restaurant.