New chef and new menu at Buffalos in Bachelor Gulch
If you go …
What: Buffalos restaurant.
Where: Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch.
Hours: Open daily; breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m.; lunch and dinner from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Price range: Starters $14-$16; Entrees $16-$48.
• Wild mushroom and farro burger with housemade chips, truffle aioli, caramelized red onion, smoked Gouda cheese, frisee lettuce, $16.
• “Mason Jar” winter beet salad with winter chard, honey almond crisp, local goat cheese, orange confit, aged balsamic, pistachio crumble, $15.
BEAVER CREEK — Hungry diners stopping in at Buffalos between runs this season will find a new look and a new chef.
The restaurant, located inside The Ritz-Carlton at Bachelor Gulch, underwent a full remodel and reopened in December of 2013. The former Buffalo Bar and a grab-and-go deli were combined to make room for the eatery, which has a contemporary-meets-rustic aesthetic.
The hotel’s executive sous chef Ben Christopher took over at Buffalos nearly six months ago. Prior to his arrival, he called Washington, D.C., home for two years; he was the executive sous chef for the Renaissance Arlington Capital View.
“It’s a big change of environment, from the big city to big mountains,” Christopher said. “I love it up here; it’s so beautiful.”
The restaurant has a long, stone bar that’s lit underneath and a beautiful open kitchen, which helps diners to work up an appetite.
“People definitely love it,” Christopher said. “Some of the guests will come up and watch and see what’s going on. The guests like it, and the cooks like it because they can interact with diners and answer questions.”
Christopher and restaurant chef Steven Sterritt collaborated on the menu.
“We wanted to keep the local mountain feel and pull in as many local, indigenous components as possible,” Christopher said.
Last summer, The Ritz-Carlton hosted a farmers market on the terrace behind the hotel every Wednesday. “Local farmers would come. I tried to partner up with them, and kind of build that relationship through our winter months, highlighting their flavors and products and incorporating them into the menu.”
For instance, Potter Farm in Carbondale supplies the restaurant with eggs and some of the beef. K&M Meat Company in Rifle is doing a custom burger blend for the Buffalo’s burger.
“They’re producing it just for us,” Christopher said. “They took my burger recipe, which is a blend of beef chuck, brisket and bacon that has a real nice flavor to it. It’s unique to the property and to the area. I’m really proud of that one.”
‘FOOD YOU WANT TO EAT’
While the menu has some comfort food components — rich French onion soup and poutine decked out with melted cheese curds, gravy, scallions and shredded duck confit both come to mind — it’s refined as well.
“It’s food you want to eat,” Christopher said. “It’s not overly manipulated. Just good quality ingredients from start to finish.”
Start with the winter beet salad. Salt-roasted red and gold beets are served in a Mason jar alongside the salad’s base — thinly sliced Swiss chard with orange confit and goat cheese from Avalanche Cheese Company in Basalt. Pistachio crumble and honey almond crisp adds textural contrast.
“It’s an interactive, deconstructed-type salad that’s a little sweet and a little savory,” Christopher said.
Two standout menu items both happen to be vegetarian: the vegan Brussels sprouts, which are offered as an entree, and the wild mushroom and farro burger, which is worth a return trip alone.
“I’m not vegan or vegetarian, but I love this dish,” our server practically gushed when I visited.
Cooked farro and ground mushrooms are bound with Boursin cheese, egg yolks and panko breadcrumbs to create the burger, which is then topped with truffle aioli, caramelized red onion, smoked gouda cheese and frisee lettuce. It’s served on a brioche bun from Avon Bakery.
“A lot of people will do a black bean burger. Farro (a type of grain prevalent in Italy) has been popular recently so we wanted to use that,” Christopher said.
So far the burger has been liked by veg heads and meat heads alike.
“We’ve sold quite a few,” Christopher said.
The bar menu includes a craft beer list that’s made up of exclusively Colorado brews and a list of cocktails that use Colorado liquors, many of which are infused. The S&S Margarita is a sweet-and-spicy number thanks to tequila infused with mango and habanero peppers. Leopold’s orange liqueur, some lime and a bit of Agave nectar smooth it out. The Ginger Sazerac is made with locally produced 10th Mountain Division Rye Whiskey. Cheers to that.
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