CARBONDALE, CO - RESTAURANT SIX89, CARBONDALE, COLORADO – Wiping the sweat from my palms, I slowly formed a fist and tapped on the door. I was meeting my boyfriend’s mom for the first time. The worst part – my boyfriend would not be there to ease the tension and help us to get to know each other. The best part – he was working at Restaurant SIX89, where he would cook us a fantastic dinner. The woman who opened the door looked reassuringly familiar from pictures. “Hi, I’m Cyndy,” she announced, holding out her hand. After introductions and a slightly tense drive, we arrived at the restaurant.
Parking in the lot behind the building, we had a chance to look at the chicken coop and garden. The chicken coop is adorned with a beautiful mural painted by one of the serving crew at SIX89. The chickens running about inside provide the restaurant with fresh eggs. The small garden is tended by the chefs themselves: Mark Fischer, Chef and Owner; Bryce Orblom, Chef de Cuisine; and John Little, Sous Chef. Although the garden and chickens provide only a modest portion of the food used by the restaurant, they illustrate the chefs’ commitment to using the freshest, most local ingredients possible. As we walked through the fence to the patio of SIX89, Cyndy immediately noticed the bocce ball court. I explained that you could borrow the bocce ball set to play while you munched small plates and sipped the unique cocktails or the selection of beers brewed in-house.
Upon walking through the front door, we were quickly greeted by the hostess, who seated us immediately although we were a few minutes early for our reservation. The server listed a selection of specials for the night, including the weekly 100 Mile Dinner. Every Wednesday, the chefs prepare a three course menu using only ingredients obtained from within 100 miles of the restaurant. This week’s menu:
Palisade beet salad with The Living Farm “TLF” greens
House made chevre, red wine vinaigrette, and crispy shallots
Braised North Fork Goat with crisp house-made gnocchi
Borden farms squash, TLF basil, and heirloom cherry tomatoes
Sheep’s milk panna cotta with palisade peach sauce and sweet cream
Cyndy chose to order from the regular menu, but I selected the 100 Mile Dinner. We had to remind ourselves not to eat too much of the house-made bread while we waited for our first courses, as we wanted to have enough room left to fully enjoy the meal. They arrived, looking beautiful and tasting even better. I enjoyed the rich flavors of the beets and chevre balanced with the light freshness of the greens and vinaigrette and the crunch of the crispy shallots. Cyndy appeared to be pleased with her choice; the crisp gnocchi salad with roasted wild mushrooms and asparagus, and truffled oregano vin. The main course was my favorite of the night. The perfectly braised goat meat was superbly complimented by the fresh vegetables and basil. The pan roasted Alaskan halibut with sauce gribiche’ and cherry tomatoes, local beans, asparagus, garden radishes and soft polenta that Cyndy ordered was also wonderful.
Before dessert arrived, my boyfriend, the Sous Chef, stopped at our table to say hello and to deliver a special treat. The palate cleansing sorbet prepared from house-made lemonchello was a wonderful way to prepare for the dessert course. I devoured my creamy panna cotta with scrumptious peach sauce and sat back in my chair, feeling completely content. Cyndy was equally delighted by her butterscotch budino with salted caramel and sweet cream.
All of my nervousness early in the evening had been for nothing. The delectable food, friendly service, and peaceful ambiance of Restaurant SIX89 helped me to have a wonderful night with my boyfriend’s amiable mother. I may be a bit biased, but it was definitely one of the best meals I have ever eaten. The 100 Mile Dinners will continue through the end of the summer for only $25 per person. The menu changes weekly, to match the available ingredients. There are also many other special events during the year. Next up is the 7th Annual Harvest Social, a benefit for Slow Food Roaring Fork, on September 13th. To make a reservation, to look at the menu, or simply to learn more about Restaurant SIX89, visit www.six89.com or call 970-963-6890.