The Roaring Fork Valley is chock-full of spectacular culinary offerings. Nonetheless, if you are a serious foodie vacationing in downtown Aspen and find yourself short on time, there are only a handful of reasons to leave the Highway 82 Roundabout. Examples include a romantic dinner date in Snowmass, an evening sipping margaritas and munching nachos in the eccentric charm of the Woody Creek Tavern, and a late afternoon partaking in a rustic feast and scenic splendor of the Castle Creek Valley at the Pine Creek Cookhouse. Add one more to the list: The Willow Creek Bistro, just a short drive up Maroon Creek Road at the Aspen Highlands Ski Area.
Nestled into a slopeside alcove in the Ritz Carlton Residence Club at Aspen Highlands, the Willow Creek Bistro has been hosting skiing savants since 2001. The bistro's location in the exclusive Ritz Carlton Residence Club is a bit of a misnomer as the restaurant is opened to the public and the menu is very reasonably priced.
The Willow Creek Bistro has the feel of a chic ski lodge, with elegant wood furnishings and stone walls. During daylight hours, diners in the Willow Creek Bistro can enjoy a spectacular vertical panorama of the ski slopes. During ski season, when Aspen Highlands is animated by a bustle of local characters and skiing tourists, the Willow Creek Bistro is a warm spot for oenophiles to sip a glass of premium vino while people watching.
But the Willow Creek Bistro's main attraction isn't location or a fancy lodge ambiance; it's food. Chef de Cousine Jami Flatt utilizes the fresh bounty of local farms to prepare what he describes as “decadent comfort food.” In a recent Aspen Sojourner magazine profile, Chef Flatt waxed philosophically about his simple, yet delicious, culinary style. “We want our members and guests to feel at home here. Our gourmet take on traditional comfort foods provides them with an outstanding culinary experience perfect for a special occasion or a relaxing evening with friends and family.” The menu embellishes American standards with gourmet flare. The most recent summer menu includes Sweet Potato Truffle Fries, Kobe Beef and Colorado Elk Meat Loaf, BBQ Chicken, and Maine Lobster "Mac and Cheese" - a butter poached Main Lobster with Rotini Pasta and a three cheese sauce. Grilled steak and shrimp entrees are available as well.
Over the summer, the staff at the Willow Creek hosted theme nights with a special menu focusing on cuisines not traditionally showcased in Aspen. Stay tuned to see if these well-received events will catch on during the upcoming ski season. The bistro also serves a hot breakfast and lunch.
Willow Creek Bistro
The Ritz-Carlton Club
75 Prospector Rd
Aspen, Colorado 81611