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| July 5, 2016 | Food & Drink
Sip tease! In addition to David Burke’s rustic, New American fare, Aspen Kitchen also brings a refined bar scene to East Hopkins with concoctions like the Rabbit Hunter, a heady, Moscow mule-meets-mint julep mixture of Basil Hayden’s bourbon, lime juice, mint, and ginger beer. clockwise from below: More than 5,000 vinyl records get the party going in the downstairs Rec Room; lighter, perfect-for-summer sweets include a lemon meringue mousse with lemon curd and blackberry sorbet; Aspen Kitchen’s 5,535-square-foot space.
Perched atop the Aspen One building on Hopkins Avenue—which houses the stunning retail spaces of Dolce & Gabbana, Theory, and Lululemon—Aspen Kitchen, from the David Burke Group, almost seems out of place. But in this instance, that’s actually a good thing: The high ceilings, open floor plan, exhibition kitchen, ample square footage, and mountain-meets-modern aesthetic all offer a refreshing sense of space in a town where price per square foot often means that “cozy” is the norm.
But the space and décor of any eatery are just the amuse-bouche. The real test, of course, is the food. And it is here that Executive Chef Matthew O’Neill—with a high-caliber culinary pedigree that includes stints at Aspen’s own Ajax Tavern, Boston’s Craigie on Main, and Bar Boulud in New York City—gets his chance to truly shine. There is an inventiveness and playfulness to his menu: From the Duck, Duck, Duck (deviled egg, prosciutto, and crispy duck tongue) and monkfish osso buco (where the fish is cut to resemble the classic cross-cut veal shank) to the squid ink chitarra (served with fennel, sunchoke, sunflower seeds, and an uni emulsion), it is clear that O’Neill is having a good time.
This summer will undoubtedly see the restaurant make better use of its luxurious deck and 180-degree top-floor views of town and the surrounding mountains when it opens for lunch and weekend brunch in June. And its location in the heart of downtown Aspen means easy access to the watering holes that pepper town’s core, especially with the David Burke Group-LDV Hospitality joint venture Rec Room Aspen located two floors beneath the restaurant.
The third in the chain (the other celeb-loved locations are in New York City and Miami Beach), Rec Room Aspen blends a ’70s-style sensibility and NYC’s hip underground essence with Aspen’s laid-back vibe. Think DJs spinning more than 5,000 vintage vinyl records, wood-paneled walls, and plush banquettes. “There’s something about hearing musical genres on vinyl that makes my heart sing and my feet skip a step,” says Amy Sacco, one-third of the nightlife powerhouse behind the Rec Room concept. The two spaces have created an ideal evening flow where dinner patrons use the downstairs Rec Room lounge and bar, with its specialty cocktails and jam-packed dance floor, as the perfect after-dinner digestif. Aspen Kitchen, 515 E. Hopkins Ave., No. 200, 970-300-4525; Rec Room, 515 E. Hopkins Ave., 970- 236-2401
Photography by C2 Photography