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Six89, Carbondale, CO: outstanding!

finlero Aug 6, 2007 02:36 PM

Just got back from a great week in the Roaring Fork valley. We had a number of enjoyable meals in area, but I wanted to give a specific huge rave to Six89 in Carbondale. Dinner here was so stunningly good that we moved various parts of our trip around to allow for a second visit.

The cooking managed to be at once technically adroit, laid-back, and playful. The cuisine was global in style, with a strong primary nod to Italy in terms of recipes and technique. On both visits, we ordered the "random acts of cooking", a fun riff on a tasting menu, where each course is prepared as a shared plate for the table. Nearly all ingredients are local, from the heirloom tomatoes (from Glenwood Springs) to the homemade pork salami on the charcuterie plate (raised in Redstone) to even the wine (a surprisingly good Riesling from Sutcliffe Vineyards in Cortez).

Out of nearly a dozen plates we tried, nearly everything was outstanding, but a few of the brightest highlights were:

* a composed salad with wild mushrooms, asparagus, and pecorino romano cheese over a bed of pan-fried ricotta gnocchi
* an unbelievably tender filet in a madeira reduction with playfully upscale riffs on creamed spinach, tater tots, and onion rings
* a simple heirloom tomato salad with a balsamic vinagrette where the chef had the preternaturally good sense to just get out of the way and let the sublime local tomatoes speak for themselves

Also a great addition is wine served by the "quartino", a quarter-bottle carafe, allowing for several great wine pairings (and the wine director clearly knows his stuff), without having to worry about drinking too much before hitting the road.

Service mirrored the rest of the experience; everyone was knowledgeable, attentive, and friendly.

Desserts, while acceptable, were a bit of a low point, working a little better on paper than on the palate.

Our more expensive dinner, including six courses, four wines, and tax, was just south of $130 for two people before tip.

Six 89 Restaurant
689 Main Street, Carbondale, CO 81623

  1. tatamagouche Aug 7, 2007 03:35 PM

    Hey finlero, I just moved to Denver this past wknd.! Sorry I never got to meet you in Boston. Did you go anywhere else here in CO I should know about? Thanks!!

    1. finlero Aug 8, 2007 12:02 PM

      Bummer for us Bostonians, you'll be missed on our board; you've certainly long been one of my favorite posters. That said, congratulations on escaping the eastern seaboard and, if I recall, returning to the West. Someday, I hope to do the same...

      tatamagouche, with your permission, I'd like to start a new thread for Denver so, hopefully, more local Denver hounds will see and speak up. (My quick Denver list: the Rio Grande for New Mexican, Vesta for fun upscale, Devil's Food Bakery for bread and pastries, and I really want to try both Mizuna for upscale and Jack-N-Grill for green chile.)

      Since we have family in Glenwood Springs, we've spent a fair amount of time in the Roaring Fork valley over the years. While we haven't come across anything that approaches the transcendence of Six89 (to be fair, Six89 was one of the most enjoyable restaurant experiences I've had anywhere in a long time), we've had plenty of very good chow, including:

      The Maple Table - when Daily Bread changed hands a year or two ago, Glenwood Springs lost its long-reigning king of local bakeries. Right around the same time, the Maple Table changed ownership too, taking a huge turn for the better, and filling what would have been a gaping hole in the local food scene. They currently bake bread only two mornings a week, but their excellent pastries are made daily. The cinnamon rolls are huge, yeasty, and delicious, with not too much glop-top. We also loved a pastry that appeared to have a brioche base, topped with sweet cheese and assorted fresh fruit. We enjoyed a variety of grilled panini at lunch, each made with an appropriately short list of high-quality ingredients. Solid coffee from a local roaster. They also sell locally made wine from Woody Creek Cellars (even on Sundays, as the sign boasts); the $15 tempranillo we brought home for dinner was a nice surprise, young, but nicely balanced with a slight tartness and a little fruity sweetness. Service is kind of a mess during rushes, but it usually doesn't matter.

      Glenwood Canyon Brewing Co. - above average pub grub with significantly above average beer made on-site. My adequate hamburger was made awesome when topped with green chile and cheddar (after a long day hiking, this was like manna from heaven). My raspberry wheat beer was crisp, tangy, and excellent. Desserts fell pretty flat; should have gone home and enjoyed some fresh peaches from Grand Junction.

      Rivers - we enjoyed a competent, if not particularly exciting, dinner here, served in a stunning setting: a patio overlooking the Roaring Fork river, with the sun setting behind the behemoth Mt. Sopris in the distance. Trout pate good, wine list rather bad (although not too pricey), everything else ok; the view made up for a lot.

      I'm sure there's good chow in Aspen and Basalt, but I just haven't found it yet.

      Other Roaring Forkers, please chime in!

      9 Replies
      1. re: finlero
        tatamagouche Aug 8, 2007 02:24 PM

        Yes, yes, tell me more about your Denver finds...I've heard about Mizuna but I don't know the others, though I think someone mentioned Vesta on my post seeking the Best in Chow.
        Sounds like I'm going to have to explore lots outside the city too...

        1. re: finlero
          jtc Aug 14, 2007 07:01 PM

          Somebody's actually eaten and enjoyed the food at Rio Grande? Was that after the 3-marg limit?

          1. re: jtc
            finlero Aug 15, 2007 07:36 AM

            Interesting, I wouldn't have guessed that the Rio was the kind of place that incurred chowhounds' ire for being a sellout. Regardless, I've always enjoyed the basics there, especially the green chile.

            That said, I should say that (1) it's possible that in the years since I moved away from the Southwest, my Mexican food taste buds have gone insane due to the slim pickins in the Northeast, and (2) I've only been to the Rio up in Greeley, so there could be some variation in quality from branch to branch.

            jtc, is there anywhere you particularly do like for New Mexican-style food in the Denver area? Is Jack-N-Grill as good as some people say for green chile? Are there other, better places?

            1. re: finlero
              jtc Aug 22, 2007 06:33 PM

              One of my favorites is El Tepehuan on Broadway, just north of Hampden. Their shredded beef is incredible! I suggest the BOB burrito, which is beef and bean smothered in green chile and topped with sliced avacado. The only way to improve this masterpiece is to get them to cut back on all the cheese. I do like Jack-N-Grill, although I think the green chile cheeseburger is overrated. It's never had much kick when I've tried it. Also, I'm surprised a restaurant would put ketchup and mustard on a burger like this by default.

            2. re: jtc
              rlm Aug 15, 2007 09:01 AM

              Heh-heh. I agree with jtc on this point. The food at the Rio exists mainly to prevent alcohol poisoning from the powerful margs. You could do much worse though. I’d personally rather have the costillas in green chile at Boulder’s Efrain’s.

              The owner/chef of six89 has a place further down Main called Phat Thai that he calls "Gringo Thai," but I had a surprisingly hot green curry there once.

              I've been to six89 a few times and had mostly good experiences except for the last visit, but it sounds like from this recent rave that a return trip may be warranted.

              1. re: rlm
                mikecho Jul 5, 2008 11:20 PM

                Phat Thai sucks and is over priced for the quality. There are no Asians that work there; with Mexicans cooking your food if that tells you anything on how authentic it is..............Take the advice from a "real" Asian...


              2. re: jtc
                NWlambear Aug 22, 2007 03:12 PM

                I'll be visiting my son and his family in Greeley Aug 30-Sep 5....What is the "Rio" like in Greeley? And can anybody recommend other places in that general area.....and Fort Collins? Red Feather? (will probably be driving there while we are visiting). My son is in the AirForce stationed out of Cheynne, WY.

                1. re: NWlambear
                  ClaireWalter Aug 23, 2007 03:07 AM

                  Greeley and Cheyenne are both Chow-challenged. Fort Collins has better offerings. There have been several threads on this board about the city. Redfeather Lakes is bery basic -- a lot of people go there to fish or camp or visit the large Bhuddist retreat there.

                  1. re: NWlambear
                    ultigirlinCO Jul 6, 2008 12:53 AM

                    Food in Greeley is a tough battle but I will recommend Crabtree Brewery. They hosted a tourney/party last year and their beers were really excellent. They have a sampling room open from 1-6 Wed.-Sat. and give tours on Fri & Sat. Maybe they can give you some local recommendations. Protos (pizza) and Cazadores (Mexican) both have good (but not great) online reviews.

              3. k
                krs828 Aug 14, 2007 04:10 PM

                I live in Carbondale (just moved from SF Bay area) and have yet to eat there. My husband however has been there several times and agrees with your review. It is supposed to be much better than Carbondale's other fine dining establishment Russets. It certainly cant be any worse than some of the places in nearby Aspen. Aspen food has been a huge disappointment.

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