Feb 16, 2012 | 833 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Camp Robber, the restaurant, is named for Camp Robber, the bird. One of the cheekier members of the crow family, Camp Robbers are known for treating mountain picnic tables like personal buffets, which they dive-bomb for free food. The restaurant’s resemblance to the bird stops here – unlike a buffet, owner Bill Volk’s Montrose restaurant is the opposite (even Sunday brunch is sit-down), and the service is terrific. Indeed, its wait staff will bring you not only whatever is on the menu – a range of American comfort classics (meatloaf, pastas, salads, sandwiches, steaks) spiked with Southwestern flavors, along with a dozen or so towering desserts – but can make gluten free, nut-free, or just-about-anything-but-calorie free also happen upon request. As our server remarked, and as a notice on front of the menu points out, the restaurant will do pretty much whatever it takes to keep customers happy.

Though Chef Volk has owned Camp Robber for 18 years (six in its current location), he hails from Albuquerque, and his menu continues to reflect his roots in New Mexico. Many dishes are flavored with some sort of chile pepper, starting with a pair of popular appetizers, green chile, chicken and potato soup and beer-battered poblano strips with a queso dipping sauce (both, $4).  A dish that focuses on the pepper itself – homemade chiles rellenos – was everything you’d hope this too-often-soggy (or, worse, scrambled-eggy) New Mexican staple could be. Volk’s relleno is a fresh poblano with that rarest of things: an honest-to-goodness, crunchy exterior that, once cracked, oozed its molten interior directly onto the plate. There are outright Southwestern dishes on offer here, including burritos, soft tacos, quesadillas, and blue corn enchiladas, as well as Southwestern-influenced fare such as pastas (Sonoran Steak with chipotle alfredo sauce ($15), southwestern chicken ($13), grilled salmon with cilantro pesto) and salads, topped by, say, chimayo-rubbed ahi tuna ($13) or a “Southwest stuffed” Portobello mushroom ($11). The restaurant’s “land and sea” entrees include steaks ($18-$22), smoked St. Louis pork ribs ($12-$18), Ahi tuna ($18), and a specialty: green-chile pistachio crusted pork medallions in a crunchy, creamy, brown-butter sauce so popular, Bon Appetit published the recipe.

The food is rich, the setting, in soft shades of adobe and umber, is cozy, tables are set apart comfortably from each other, and lights are low. And then there are those waitresses, who seem to swing by at all the right times, asking you (and your fellow diners) what else you need. It’s comfort food, in a comfortable setting, and it all conspires to set you up for an outrageously decadent dessert. Camp Robber offers six, all house-made (hot fudge brownie sundae, cheesecake of the day and peanut butter pie among them), plus at least a half-dozen more “chalkboard” specials. Each feeds at least three. The lineup the night we were there included pumpkin cake with butterscotch frosting, a chocolate-merlot blackberry cake and an uber-rich, not-too-sweet mascarpone blackberry pie (all, $5). As the evening drew to a close and diners began drifting out the door, the restaurant’s soundtrack kicked in. It was Carole King, her music as unpretentious and soul-satisfying as our meal had been. She was even singing “You’ve Got a Friend.” It felt right.

DON’T MISS:  Brunch, with many filled things (omelets, crepes, quiches, stuffed croissants or French toast), for which Camp Robber is very popular.

THEY CATER TO YOU: Not only on the restaurant’s premises, but also across the region, even as far away as Telluride.

SUMMERTIME: And the dining is easy on Camp Robber’s outdoor patio. In spring and fall, too.  

Monday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Sunday Brunch: 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

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