TELLURIDE – New owners have breathed new life into a Down Valley institution with the opening of The Angler Inn restaurant this month.
The well-appointed lodge, which had for decades housed the illustrious Blue Jay Lodge and Café, located not far from some of the San Miguel River’s popular fishing holes near Placerville, opened for dinner May 1 – and has been busy ever since.
Owners Ian Wick and Hays Sibley have enjoyed a packed house nearly every night, as nearby neighbors and other curious Telluride-area residents have come to see how these recent Telluride transplants have transformed one of the area’s quintessential watering holes. From the look of the place on a crowded Sunday night, people like the look – and flavor – of the new Angler.
Speaking of their vision for the restaurant and lodge, which boasts an airy dining room, spacious outdoor deck, and separate bar area in addition to the property’s fourteen hotel rooms, the duo say they wanted The Angler to be an approachable and engaging gathering place – in a sense, continuing the down home, value-conscious theme that characterized the lodge in its past life. But while the casual character of the new business is redolent of the Blue Jay, The Angler is not just a reincarnation of a now-gone Telluride legend.
“Our vision is to make great food at great prices, in a down-to-earth environment,” Sibley says.
While still casual, the Angler’s young new owners have infused the regally-rustic lodge with modern touches; the booths were removed to make way for a sizeable bar outfitted with flat screen televisions, which serve as the hub of the main dining room. The old barroom has taken on the feel of a lounge, yet remains true to its roots, thanks to the original red brick walls and faded wooden Blue Jay sign.
Sibley and Wick are also in the midst of transforming the outdoor space, between the lounge bar and the lodge’s rooms, into a Beer Garden complete with fire pit, horseshoe pit, cornhole boards, and outdoor seating.
“We want this to be a space for the community, a place to gather with your neighbors or just leave Telluride and feel like you’re still at home,” Wick says, adding that value is also a big part of the overall picture at the Angler Inn. “This isn’t a restaurant that caters just to the higher-end; we want families to be able to come here two or three nights a week if they want.”
The menu, too, is a blend of the tried and true with the fresh and exciting, and Executive Chef Mike Alagna and Sous Chef Spencer Graves add sophistication to the menu’s comfort food favorites. Both have worked in fine dining establishments in destination resorts around the world, from Telluride and Durango to Lake Tahoe and Costa Rica, and say they were excited to collaborate with the owners to create what Alagna calls gastropub cuisine, Telluride-style.
“We’ve tried to focus on an elevated dining experience that’s still unpretentious,” Alagna explains of the Angler menu, which offers salads, pizza, and burgers, but also blends more adventurous flavors into offerings like their Bites (small, one-serving tastes of Ahi tuna tetake, crab cakes, or deviled eggs for $2-$5). Entrees range from the popular vegetarian Lentil and Beet Stacked Portobello ($12) to Ribeye and Steak Frites ($26).
“It’s food we can all can relate to without it being out of reach,” Graves says. With its worldly yet down-to-earth menu and welcoming ambiance, the new Angler Inn could be on its way to becoming become this community’s next great dining institution.
The Angler Inn is currently open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday, from 4 p.m.. It will open for breakfast and lunch in June. The Inn will also offer rooms for the night ($95) beginning next month.