Feb 21, 2014 | 1310 views | 0 0 comments | 101 101 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Palmyra at the Peaks (Photo by Anna Korn)
Palmyra at the Peaks (Photo by Anna Korn)

To begin at the end, how does PFunk, the chef at The Peaks, get those donuts so flaky? Yes, this donut is fried, as any respectable donut should be. (Who invented “cake” donuts anyway, and why did they bother?) But it’s more than that. Young Patrick Funk shows his youth by calling these S’Mores Donuts ($9) and serving them with chocolate (two ways: gelato and ganache) and marshmallow (house made).  This is hardly the first time the least pretentious dessert of them all has gone upmarket, from the campfire to the fine dining establishment. But it’s done awfully well here.

So heads up: save room for dessert, even if you choose the Herrick Farm Peach Cobbler ($11) instead. Those local peaches, from the farm of the Peak’s principal partners, turn up in other places on the menu, which will either prime you for more of them by the time you reach the end of your meal, or free you up for the S’Mores, depending on what kind of eater you are.  (Something new? Or more of the same deliciousness?)  In any case, when you peruse the Palmyra menu, the phrase “Herrick Farm Peach” is a helpful signpost to something of intense natural flavor, whether it’s been rendered into a marmalade or mustard.

There is very definitely some serious ambition at work at The Peaks, as is evidenced by the “Grow Local” focus. Provisions have been sourced from across the state of Colorado, to be both unusual (not what resort guests get at home) and unusually good. As General Manager Dave Ciani explains, the food at a resort hotel can make or break the overall experience for guests. If someone gets just one meal that is subpar during a stay, they may conclude that the entire hotel is failing to deliver on its overall promise of a dream vacation and then post their disappointment all over the web. Which is why The Peaks has worked hard to step up its culinary game in the last couple of years.

The Palmyra space, off the bar, which is off the Peaks Great Room, for years has seemed to present an opportunity that was realized only in fits and starts. In its present incarnation, there is a natural flow from the Great Room, where there is a “social menu” to choose from in addition to the main dinner menu, through the bar, to the dining room, with its floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing a view that encompasses the Wilsons, the La Sals and the San Sophia Ridge. The Grand setting demands a Grand resort with a Grand dining room, which in turn demands a Grand meal. The bar is set high.

If S’Mores represent culinary creativity at the end of a meal at Palmyra, then the signature starter is probably Greens & Grains ($12), because when is the last time you enjoyed farro? Oh, never? But you will definitely seek it out again after trying it here, because there really is something cool about a food enjoyed in ancient Rome: the nutty, firm grain resembles a cross between barley and rice, and meets the definition of toothsome; it feels good to bite down on it. Here it is served with a locally-developed hybrid kale out of Cortez called Locatino, a cross between lacinato and dinosaur kale , along with solar-dried fruits and goat’s milk feta.

According to Ciani, some locals have made Greens & Grains into a kind of cult favorite. Regular items like S’mores Donuts and Farro bring the customers back for more, and there is a lot more to explore on PFunk’s dinner menu, with the Crispy “Tenderbelly” Pork another “don’t miss.”  Unlike farro, which may soon be trendy in the footsteps of quinoa, pork belly is more akin to kale with its trendiness cred is solidly established. But this version is from a Denver butcher that sources the pork from farmers who produce it without antibiotics, hormones or crates, and feed it a strictly vegetarian diet. Tenderbelly claims they have the best pork on the market, and to judge from what is being served at Palmyra, they could be right.

Speaking of quinoa, ever had black quinoa? You can check it out at Palmyra as a vegetarian entrée ($22), with charred Brussels sprouts and kale. That’s three non-meat “foods of the moment” in one dish!  Or sample black quinoa as a side, with charred tomatoes ($7).

It will be tempting at The Peaks to feast on small plates. And it can surely be done, especially if you start in the Great Room après ski with a charcuterie and cheese platter ($16) or an antipasto platter ($14), or cheese fondue ($16), and a glass of wine or artisanal beer.  (The less formal Great Room is also optimal for a family dinner.)  The menu is calculated to offer lots of options for the duration of a week’s stay.  Guests and locals alike may feel entitled to a big plate, a main, at Palmyra after summiting its namesake peak. Fried Chicken and Waffles ($32) is a crispy spin on Southern roadside grub, except these waffles are made with squash and that’s not country cream gravy but béchamel on the side.  A thick, bone-in pork chop ($30) is served with crispy Parmesan potatoes and Brussels sprouts and has some of those Herrick peaches as a glaze. And a Harris Ranch short rib ($36) falls off the bone, just as it should.

You are now at the end.  Enjoy your S’mores Donut.

Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily through the winter season. Summer season hours for lunch are 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., and 5-10 p.m. for dinner.

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