Julia Child would have been 101 on Aug. 15. If she’d had the good fortune to be around to celebrate it, I would have encouraged her to make a reservation at Aspen Grille.
She and Chef Curry Martin are kindred spirits.
He wrote, “When I decided to open my own restaurant, I knew I wanted to offer ... a sophisticated, yet simple and absolutely fresh menu” and she was known to have said “You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.”
One bite of Martin’s risotto dishes and you can tell that they also share a predilection for butter and cream as key ingredients.
Not that you can’t watch your cholesterol at Aspen. Their Seared Tuna with Asian slaw, wasabi oil, soy ginger glaze is divine as is their Organic Field Green Salad and Sautéed Seasonal Vegetables.
The staff is attentive without being intrusive, and was gracious about my request to prepare the tuna at two temperatures.
I appreciate the artistry behind the fried green tomatoes. So often the dishes’ main ingredient is reduced to mush, but Martin’s maintained flavor, a slight acidity and texture, tender but still firm. Although I ascribe to the theory that bacon makes everything better, here, the pancetta was a bit of a distraction. The béarnaise is perfection, velvety with a bite, and though I have never met a lily I did not want to gild, the interplay of the sauce and tomato needs no embellishment.
The Black Angus Beef Sliders – blue cheese, caramelized onions on house-made brioche – were a delight. This rich combination might be overwhelming in a larger serving, but just right for a four-bite burger. I especially enjoyed the house-made brioche, it was not overly dense and had a bit of the lightness and mouth feel of a biscuit.
As delectable as the savory offerings are, I encourage you to practice restraint with your selections – their desserts are equally exquisite. We ordered the blueberry bread pudding at our server’s suggestion, and the flourless chocolate cake out of regard for my husband’s fondness for anything cocoa. Our previously boisterous table went silent; need I say more?
In the interest of full disclosure, I am writing this after only having availed myself of Aspen’s Grille’s Happy Hour and take-out. My dine-in intentions were thwarted by air conditioning issues at our home.
After more than 24 hours sans AC, I neither felt like cooking nor up to a full toilette, so with my deadline looming, carry out/take-out it had to be.
WOW! With the generous and patient guidance of hostess/manager Julia Knight, we had such a feast; these folks take carry out seriously.
So excited was I that, if I Facebooked or Twittered, I would have declared that Aspen’s vegetarian plate is not to be missed. The al dente asparagus (dipped in the béarnaise from the fried green tomatoes), the brunoise sautéed vegetables and the corn and pea risotto – oh my! I was delighted that the “peas” were baby limas as I was concerned that the sweetness of another pea varietal and the corn might be cloying.
My advice: Get to Aspen Grille as soon as you can however you can – happy hour, dine-in or carry out.