Midday Dreaming

5 Ski-Day Lunches to Linger Over

When you need to rest those legs, here's where to refuel gourmet-style.

By Mitzi-Jill Rapkin February 15, 2017 Published in the Midwinter/Spring 2017 issue of Aspen Sojourner

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Lynn Britt Cabin on Snowmass Mountain. 

Slide into one of the distinctive red booths or grab a seat on the sun-drenched second-story deck at this mod spot serving American cuisine with an occasional Asian inflection. The best way to ease into your meal? Order a drink to match the décor, like the BLT Bloody Mary with house-infused bacon vodka; it’s garnished with bacon, lettuce, and tomato, and rimmed with smoky, spicy sea salt. Follow it with a starter of flash-fried shishito peppers glazed with soy caramel sauce. One out of 10 peppers is spicy rather than sweet, so take a chance and see which flavor your taste buds land on. Then defrost over a steaming and savory bowl of hot and sour ramen with duck confit or indulge in the short rib sandwich with wild mushrooms, fontina, egg, and arugula pesto. bbskitchen.com

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Sophisticated cuisine and elegant design define the mood at The Little Nell’s flagship restaurant near the base of Aspen’s gondola, where executive chef Matt Zubrod and his team transform the familiar into the exquisite. From the locally grown pickled green tomatoes on the shrimp and grits or curried almonds in the kale salad to the onion jam on an Alpine cheese steak, unexpected accents give these dishes flavor to savor, not rush through. Don’t miss out on the toasted hay garnish in the earthy-but-sweet hay ice cream. Another reason to take it slow—the wines from the Nell’s exceptional cellar that go best with the lunch menu can be decanted while you dine. thelittlenell.com

Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro
Aspen Highlands
Assuming you’ve made a reservation several weeks ahead of time, hit this on-mountain, European-inspired spot at noon and know that you can take in the venue’s cozy charm (it was once a ski patrol hut) and exceptional view of the Maroon Bells for an hour or two (the next seating is at 2 p.m.). What little stress you may have over schussing versus carving on snow will melt away with the cheesy goodness of raclette or gruyère fondue. Be extravagant and add black truffles to anything you order, or splurge on the chicken liver pâté and pappardelle Bolognese, even if it means loosening your ski pants later. The energy at Cloud Nine is contagious, so feel free to uncork the rosé and pop the Champagne while you’re there. aspensnowmass.com

Lynn Britt Cabin
Snowmass Mountain
Slip out of your ski boots and enjoy the rustic elegance of this intimate on-mountain cabin, which seats just 50. The small size and comfy vibe afford the opportunity to ponder your food and wine options with knowledgeable servers. A new chef this winter has increased the focus on locally sourced selections like smoked trout potato salad, maple pickled deviled eggs, and elk meatballs. Finish off the experience by making s’mores over the fire outside. And don’t forget your hot toddy, because you will certainly forget what time it is. aspensnowmass.com

Snowmass Mountain
For a mix of tradition and modern flair, head to this popular spot atop the Alpine Springs lift; it just underwent a gorgeous remodel that retained the mountain lodge ambience while reconfiguring space and adding larger view-framing windows. In the more formal sit-down restaurant, you may find third-generation guests eating off the same china their grandparents ate from 38 years earlier when the restaurant debuted. New appetizers like lobster and shrimp fondue and wild mushroom flatbread will tempt you to begin your own dining traditions, while longtime favorites such as seared Rocky Mountain duck and rack of elk are worth savoring with wine from the extensive list. You may even meet four-year-old James, the owners’ grandson, who exhibits the panache of a welcoming restaurateur while visiting tables. gwynshighalpine.com

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