Restaurants & Bars 9

Spago -- Bachelor Gulch, CO

ddavis | Feb 9, 200803:08 PM

My wife and I had lunch there today. The only other Wolfgang Puck-related place I had eaten before was in O'Hare Airport (I think) and it was better than average for an airport eatery. Certainly nothing like Spago at the Ritz Carlton in Bachelor Gulch. Having read some, but not a lot, about it on this board, I was anxious to try it. My wife and a couple of friends had tried it last week and liked it. Right now I am conflicted.

I liked the space and the atmosphere, even though BlueOx is correct that it's something you could find in any large city in America. Even so, I liked it. The restaurant was pretty full at 1:00 p.m. but we were seated promptly (we had made a reservation this morning and I would certainly recommend that) by a very friendly and accomodating hostess. Our server was a gem and she was backed up by capable assistants who seemed genuinely interested in taking care of us. The pacing of the food was good and we had no complaints whatsoever with the service.

Everything we had to eat was excellent. We started by sharing a Local Smoked Organic Salmon Pizza with shaved sweet onions, dill creme fraiche and salmon pearls (roe). A really excellent pizza, but really too big, since we brought half of it home. Oh well, it will be good for breakfast in the morning! My wife had a Grilled Prime Rib Eye Steak Salad with sweet onions, candied walnuts, marinated cherry tomatoes, endive and Maytag blue cheese. It was all good, the steak cooked beautifully medium rare. I asked for the Steamed Arctic Char "Hong Kong" Style with garlic, chili oil, ginger, baby bok choy, snap peas and jasmine rice, but was informed that they had run out of char and were substituting halibut. I said OK and it was still good. I think the char would have stood up better to the very spicy accompaniments, but the dish was very good and I have no complaints.

So, I like the room, the atmosphere, the service and the food. Why am I conflicted? Because I really have a problem with the prices. We just returned from St. Barth last month and these prices rival those in St. Barth, which were obscene even before the dollar collapsed against the euro. The pizza was $23. The rib eye salad $31. The fish dish $28.
On the lunch menu, first courses are $12-$24. Pizzas are $19-$23. Large salads are $18-$31. Pasta dishes range from $19-$28. Main courses are $21-$31.

Just for fun I asked for a copy of the dinner menu. The one I received offers thirteen first courses ranging from $21 for Italian Chestnut Soup with Black Truffles to $35 for either the same pizza I had for $23 at lunch, except for osetra caviar instead of salmon roe, or $35
for Risotto with Scallops, Shrimp and Maine Lobster. Thirteen main courses range from $39 for Main Diver Sea Scallops to $91 for Grilled Mishima Ranch Kobe New York Steak. I'll give you that the Kobe steak is very, very special. But this menu also has four other dishes at $52 (Lamb Chops or Veal Wiener Schnitzel), $53 (Kurobuta Pork Osso Bucco) and $58 (Slow Braised Prime Beef Short Ribs). Everything else (7 other offerings) is in the $40s.

I know I have gone on and on, but when are we going to finally say that the emperor truly is nude? I love great food and I have paid lots of money to have it, but at some point it just becomes ridiculous. Is Spago ridiculous? I am conflicted.

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