The Lift Cafe in Minturn now open
Sunday’s are waffle day for Minturn resident Alan Holub, and The Lift Cafe is his spot.
The waffle is golden crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, and comes topped with a fresh fruit compote that Holub wishes he could buy in a jar to enjoy at home, he said.
“It’s absolutely delicious. It’s as good as anything I can get at Grouse Mountain Grill or the Ritz,” Holub said. “These guys aren’t buying it in a can from Sysco – they’re making it from scratch.”Holub has experienced most of the valley’s fine dining venues, he said, and one thing he really appreciates about the new Lift Cafe in Minturn is watching the actual owners work behind the counter. Owners Mark Serlo and Jarrod Morrah most recently worked for Kelly Liken, Morrah as the sous chef and Serlo as the marketing and sales director. At times, you’ll catch Rick Kangas (formerly head chef at Grouse Mountain Grill and more recently co-owner of Chef’s Corner in Cordillera) behind the counter. Kangas trades use of the kitchen, where he makes his own line of chips, in exchange for helping the guys out a few hours a week. “These guys all have experience at fine dining. When your morning coffee barista is Rick Kangas, you know this is a pretty high-end operation,” Holub said.The Cafe – located where Harry’s Bump and Grind used to be – has been open since the end of February and is steadily gaining a following. Along with a a new menu, Morrah said they tried to make the space their own as well. Old school stick straight Fischer and Volkl skis line the columns. Caricature-esque drawings of Vail adorn the walls and two ski lifts – a black chair from Keystone and a green one from Breckenridge – bought from eBay sit in the restaurant. “We’re trying to get a Chair 10 one too,” Morrah said.’Sandwiches with a little bit of love’
On a recent Monday afternoon, six of the seven tables were filled with diners. The fresh, high quality food is likely the reason. “The food is really good -the sandwiches are great and I love the soup,” Minturn resident Kelly Brinkerhoff said. Brinkerhoff has held a few meetings at The Lift, she said. “It’s a great gathering place. They’ve done some nice work on the space inside and hopefully they’ll get enough people in there that they can stay.”The menu is fairly simple, with five mainstay lunch sandwiches, plus a daily special. The turkey bacon club sandwich has been the most popular – “some people come back every day for it,” Serlo said. “We have to tell them to try something else.”All of the sandwiches are served on fresh baked ciabatta rolls. Kangas gave the boys the recipe for the bread, along with a baking tutorial. The vegetable and goat cheese sandwich is filled with roasted portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, oven-cured tomatoes, spinach and roasted yellow and red peppers. The sandwich is served warm and a thick, creamy layer of goat cheese oozes around the vegetables.”I like to make sandwiches with a little bit of love,” Serlo said. An East Coast native, Serlo was used to seeing cafes on nearly every block that specialized in homemade sandwiches, he said. “I wanted to bring that idea here and make the same sort of sandwiches.”On the breakfast menu, the burrito is a top seller. Filled with eggs, home-fried potatoes, green chili, cheese and either spinach and tomatoes for the veg-heads or bacon or ham for the meat eaters. “We’re also working on a sausage recipe – a chicken chorizo – but the grinder broke,” Morrah said. And don’t skip dessert. The chocolate meringue cookie, which Kangas baked that morning he said, was heavy on coconut and the perfect balance of soft and chewy.Caramie Schnell can be reached at 748-2984 or email@example.com.