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$ (the Tastings menu served only in the bar),
$$$ (the main dining room)
Happy Hour nightly 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Dinner nightly 5-9:30 p.m.
Chad Scothorn has long been one of the most inventive chefs in the region. The last delicious or fun thing at either of his restaurants, Cosmopolitan in Telluride and Cosmopolitan in Durango, won’t be the newest thing this season. In this sense, both Cosmos live up to their names. Here, food is fashion in the most positive sense of the word, whereby fashion is what those who enjoy it want now, this month, and not last month. Cosmopolitan, named after a restaurant from Telluride’s mining era, is, in fact, cosmopolitan – albeit in a small and remote town.
To wit, at Cosmopolitan for this winter season: a new tasting menu in the bar, and a new way to order wines off the wine list.
First, the bar. It now functions like a bistro, inviting you to make less of a commitment than the main dining room requires, and features smaller plates at lower prices (though you can sit in the bar and order off the main menu), along with a new menu of specialty cocktails concocted by Phil Armstrong, Cosmo’s new front-of-the-house host. There are three cheese plates, at only $4 each, each featuring an intriguing cheese and house made crackers; and there is the legendary Cosmo Lobster Corn Dog ($4), a succulent chunk of lobster on a skewer in a corn meal batter, deep fried and served with tartar sauce. The three other choices on a recent Tastings menu were a salad of local beets with pistachio butter ($4), crispy duck rillettes, served with pomegranate, apple and arugula ($6) and steamed buns filled with braised pork shoulder, cucumber and hoisin ($5). Each of these is paired with a half glass of wine (between $5 and $7), and, as small plates should, each presents a distinctive, strong flavor. Start with a specialty cocktail – the Elderflower Cocktail ($12) is delightfully light and crisp; the Razz-Marry Lemonade ($12) wonderfully tart – order a round of small plates, and you’ve made a very happy hour, or two, of it!
But perhaps you’re in the mood for a fine wine. Cosmo now invites its patrons to order just half a bottle off the wine list. The second half is posted on boards in the bar and main dining room, so that anyone else in the restaurant can order it, or just a glass of it. Cosmo’s deep and intelligent wine list is thus made more accessible to all.
Cosmo has for years been one of Telluride’s finest of fine dining restaurants, but the keyword this season, Armstrong suggested, is “accessible.” Go big(ger) in the more formal dining room on a special occasion, even if that’s a low-key midweek dinner with family or friends. Or savor what a chef in top form can deliver in smaller bites, at the bar after work, or, more probably this winter, après ski, enlivened by a specialty cocktail or a half bottle of fine wine.
TWO TRACKS: In Durango as in Telluride, Cosmopolitan operates on two tracks, the “bistro” vibe in the bar, and casual fine dining in the main dining room. Sometimes you may feel like one, and at other times the other.
IDEAL FOR: Aprés ski is what the new Tastings menu at the Cosmo bar was conceived for, and it is a great first stop as you embark on a tour of Telluride’s highly-rated (in visitor surveys of ski country) nightlife. The second stop may well be the adjacent Cosmo dining room (reservations recommended). Cosmo is a local’s favorite, and Telluride locals are likely to run into each other at the bar after work.
INSIDER’S TIP: You can’t go wrong by ordering the special sushi roll of the night, either in the bar or as a starter in the dining room.