When Wendy Mitchell sold her burrito franchise in Texas and relocated to the Roaring Fork Valley to start Avalanche Cheese Company in 2008, she vowed never to open a restaurant again. But now that her award-winning artisanal goat cheeses are ubiquitous on local menus and a surefire sellout at the Aspen Saturday Market, Mitchell felt compelled to do just that.
Meat & Cheese Restaurant & Farm Shop (meatandcheeseaspen.com,970.710.7120), the forty-seat eatery, butchery, and grocery Mitchell opened on Hopkins Avenue’s Restaurant Row in October, recalls epicurean haunts from places like London, Copenhagen, San Francisco, and Houston.
An industrial-farmhouse atmosphere comes from oxblood leather banquettes, sparkling white subway tile, dark-stained hickory flooring, and old fruit crates stuffed with fresh produce and flowers. Front and center is a stunning, old-fashioned French brick rotisserie packed with slow-spinning porchetta and free-range chickens, whose fat drips decadently onto roasting potatoes beneath. Meat & Cheese’s butchers command wooden cutting blocks in the open kitchen, breaking down organic birds and a spectrum of sustainably sourced Colorado meats, including wagyu from Emma Farms and 7X Beef.
“The idea is to teach people about how you could do it at home,” Mitchell says of her choice to make the restaurant’s processes visible. “It all translates back and forth. We’re brining chickens to go on the rotisserie and using the market as a pantry for the restaurant.”
Lunch, ordered at the counter, offers from-scratch soups, salads, and sandwiches on homemade breads and ciabatta; full-service dinner adds entrées and shareable plates. The bar pours wine and eight craft beers on tap, plus homemade sodas (Meyer lemon, cardamom), fresh-squeezed juices, Vietnamese coffee, and espresso from Rock Canyon Coffee.
In Meat & Cheese’s market, glass cases stock cured meats and cheeses from Avalanche and elsewhere (Meat & Cheese is a rare U.S. distributor for renowned London shop Neal’s Yard Dairy), plus deli meats and house-made pâté. Shelves are stocked with specialty dry goods and heirloom products—eighty-year-old balsamic vinegar kept under lock and key? Check.—while the freezers showcase Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream from Ohio and fruity treats by Atlanta’s King of Pops. This food geek’s paradise also boasts a curated array of wares for cooking and entertaining, including Korin Japanese knives and Mud porcelain from Australia.
In addition to offering smartly priced gourmet fare, Mitchell is excited to host classes on whole-animal butchering, coffee roasting, and knife sharpening—“something totally different from what people do in this town.”