We went out to eat in Windsor the other night at the Chimney Park (http://www.chimneypark.com/). I have to say when a reader of the blog suggested I try a spot in Windsor; I did not think I would make it. I normally just don’t travel up that way very often but then I looked at the website and the menu and went hmm that looks good, and then I went to the spot where it talks about the chef and I was hooked. Chef Jason Shaeffer, was a opening sous chef at Per Se for two years. For those of you who don’t know, Per Se is Chef Thomas Keller’s restaurant in NYC and frequently regarded as one of the best restaurants in the country. We went to Per Se in May while we visited New York (see earlier blogs). With this information in hand, I went ahead and made reservations for us at Chimney Park with high expectations.
The restaurant is very easy to find. Just get off at the Windsor exit off I-25 and head east. It will be on the left hand side of the road about 4 miles down with very easy parking in front of the restaurant. The building the restaurant is in has been around since the 1800’s and the dining room is very pleasant to look at and to sit in and does not at any moment feel cramped. The restaurant offers a tasting menu and we tried that so we could get a range of items from the kitchen. The tasting menu is 4 courses and one thing that is different from a lot of places each person in your party receives a different item. Instead of everyone getting the same course, we each received something different, and thus, had to share! And very few of the items you receive on the tasting menu are items that are on the menu. Jason just makes you items on the spot. Chef Shaeffer is very willing to work with food preferences and is even happy to make a vegetarian menu which we did not try, but probably will next time as the vegetarian menu at Per Se was fantastic and I would like to see what he learned from there.
The first item out was the amuse bouche and the only item that we all received
He said: A great start. The cheese on the apple was just a great blend of sharp and sweet that just made you even hungrier than you were when you ate it. The “”” mirrored the apple and cheese with a nice sweet taste and a crisp crunch of the bread. This was very good start and I will give it a 7.
She said: This was a fantastic start to a great meal. The apple and cheese were crunchy and sweet. I would give it a 8.
Now, on to the first course
Gnudi with Hazel Dell Mushrooms, Black Truffles and Parmesan.
He said: I am afraid it's here all ready - YUMMMMMMMMMMMM! I love mushroom’s and this smelled fantastic even from across the table. I was hard pressed not to grab Barb's plate and gobble it all up. This had a great mushroom flavor offset by the rich gnudi. I wonder if I asked next time if he would do 4 courses of this. I have to give this a 10.
She said: I agree, YUM!I looked up gnudi and this is what one website said: The Italian term for "nude," these tender little dumplings are a cousin of gnocchi. Made with ricotta rather than potato". I like these better than gnocchi even. The mushroom and sauce made this a wonderful dish (even if I had to share it). I give it a 9.
Elena’s first Course.
Honey-Lime Cured Yellowtail, Avocado Mousse, Jicama and Radish, Jalapeno Jelly
He said: When you tried it without the jelly it had a very pleasant lemon flavor which I liked a lot. It always surprises me when I like any raw fish. Something inside me just screams in protest about it, but so far have liked everything I have tried. I think a Sushi bar will soon be in my future. With my second bite I took a big dab of the Jalapeño Jelly (I am silly sometimes) and for a brief instant I did not realize what I had done as the initial sweet flavor started to wash over my tongue....then it came - HOT HOT, ouch, oww, WATER!! After I got done drinking and my companions got done smirking, I decided it really was a good dish and gave it a 7.
She Said: For some reason I wasn't feeling the love of raw fish that night and didn't try this at all. Maybe we should get Elena's opinion on this one!
Elena Piped-in: Fortunately, I love sushi and this was a wonderful mix of flavors. The tuna was very fresh and, if I recall correctly, nicely seared. When mixed with the other items on the dish, the textures and flavors melded surprisingly well…I was ready for the jalapeno jelly to take over; but, when strategically appied, it added a sweet zippiness to the dish. I’d give it an 8.
Jonathan’s First course.
Seared Sea Scallop with Butternut Squash Puree and a ‘Stir Fry” of Boc Choy with a Soy Vinaigrette.
He said: On most occasions I can take or leave a scallop, mostly leave them and so was not that excited when this was laid out in front of me, especially with Barb's Gnudi staring at me from across the table. After assuring myself that jedi mind tricks were not going to make Barb switch plates with me, I dove in. I can’t believe I am saying this about of all things scallop, but Yum, and Wow. Cooked just perfectly and with the flavors of the butternut and soy vinaigrette mixed in, I was in love. Ten, I say yes, a 10 for a scallop. How strange.
She said: For those of you familiar with our blog, you know that I have an allergy to scallops, so again I didn't taste this dish. Elena - please step in with your comments:
Again, Elena Piped-in: I’m realizing that I was invited along in case seafood was a significant part of the menu. The scallop was perfectly cooked – tender and not at all flaky. And with boc choy? YUM! Ditto to that 10.
Barb's second course
Roasted Beet and Comice Pear Salad, Blue Cheese, Pecans and Arugula, Apple Cider-Black Pepper Gastrique
He said: Nice combination of flavors once again the sweet pear with the sharp blue cheese. The surprise for me at least was how well the beets went with this, just an all around good tasting dish. A 6 from me.
She Said: This was nice, but nothing out of the ordinary. The beets and pears mixed well together, but the gastrique was the winner of the dish for me. I would give it a 7.
Elana’s second course:
Chard Stem and Butternut Squash Salad with Maple Vinaigrette, Chestnuts, Pomegranate and House Cured Duck Prosciutto.
He said: This was a very nice looking dish and over all the presentation of each and every dish was fantastic. And, what is even better is most dishes tasted as good as they looked! A maple vinaigrette, wow, that was tasty and the duck was great as well. Wasn’t a huge fan of the chestnuts but I really dug this dish overall and will give it a 7.
She said: This was a nice dish. All of the textures mixed well together. And you know I like duck! I agree with Jonathan in that the chestnuts didn't do it for me either. I will agree with his score of 7 and agree that the plating on all our dishes was fantastic!
Jonathan’s second course:
Romaine Caesar with Grilled Bread Piquillo Peppers and White Anchovies
He said: The name pretty much says it, and as a Caesar salad it was fine and I liked the peppers but the salty anchovies, meh not so much. Looking at the entire night I would say this was the low point of the meal. It was not bad, but wasn’t anything special really. I give it a 5.
She said: Anchovies? Ok, I've been brave in all lately, but did not try this (I still have some growing to do in my palate...I know).
Barbara's Main Course;
Bison New York Strip, Basil Potatoes, Oven Dried Tomatoes and Green Beans and a Black Olive Sauce.
He said: Huge portion for a tasting menu and cooked perfectly. The basil potatoes were much better than I expected, in fact I would call them great. And even the olive sauce heightened the taste. I would go an 8 for this.
She Said: The meat was juicy and tender and delicious. I didn't want to share this, but I did. Overall, a great dish and truly enjoyed. I would give it a 8.5.
Elena's main course:
Cab Filet of Rib, Goat cheese Polenta, Artichokes and Spinach Tomato Au Jus.
He said: Once again a very large portion for a tasting menu and once again cooked perfectly! I loved the polenta and the filet was amazingly tender. Honestly the artichokes and spinach didn’t do much for me but the meat just melted in your mouth. I have to give this another 8.
She said: I agree with Jonathan, the meat was delicious and melt worthy. I stuggle with too tough of meat, and did not have that problem at all here. The artichokes were nicely cooked as well. I too, would give it an 8.
Jonathan's Main Course.
Duck 2 ways - Duck Breast and Thigh Comfit, Braised Radish and Pearl Onions with Pancetta, served with an Apple Ginger Sauce
He Said: Main courses - 3 for 3. All just fantastic. The crispy skin and tender meat of the comfit and the tender moist meat of the breast. I am a huge onion guy and those onions were devoured quickly. The mixture of tastes here was perfect. The apple ginger sauce blended perfectly in and this was a thoroughly enjoyed dish. Another 8.
She Said: Yummy, duck! I'm surprised Jonathan shared this with me, but he did. I enjoyed the crispy and tender meat just as much, and the onions and radish blended in nicely with the tastes and textures. I would also give this an 8.
Pastel de Tres Leches, Cream Soaked Vanilla Cake with Ripe Mango and Rum Caramel Sauce
He Said: Served warm, the nice rich caramel flavor combined with the mango was really good. I will give it a 6
She Said: I do love caramel, and wasn't sure about the mango, but the combination was good. I kept thinking I was done, but found myself sneaking in another spoonful or two. I would give this a 7.5.
Ginger-Almond Carrot Cake, Toasted Almonds and Mascarpone Icing
He said: Another good tasting dessert and I like the icing, however there was a problem with this. As you can see, the dessert is 2 tiered and I am guessing they store the individual cakes wrapped in plastic wrap and put them together right before being served. I say this, because there was a small bit of plastic wrap in between the two cakes. Elena saw it before it made it into her mouth and it did not effect the taste of the item, but after how good the entire meal had been it was a big letdown and took down the overall feeling of the evening. I will give it a 6 but will have to deduct from the over allscore for this.
She said: Another great dessert and except for the mishap well done. I liked the nuts and the cake blended in together, although wasn't a huge fan of the carrot's on top. I would give this a 6.5.
Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding, Butterscotch Anglaise and Macadamia Nut Brittle
and Pomegranate seeds
He Said: This was served warm and was very rich. The pomegranate seeds just drove it up another level with that fresh sweet flavor mixed in with the deep rich chocolate. Yum, I would go ahead and give this a 7
She Said: This was a good dish. We had chocolate bread pudding somewhere else and I didn't like it as much as I liked this one. Rich, chocolately, nutty - where could you go wrong? I would give it a 7.5.
Wow this was just a great overall dining experience. For those of you have visited often you know we love a tasting menu and one where everyone gets different items is just fantastic. The over all score is 7.95. This includes a .75 jump for the 5 course or better tasting a .1 bump for the fact everyone gets a different item each course and a -.5 drop for the plastic wrap incident.
I know Windsor is a bit out of the way but you really need to go try out this chefs terrific restaurant. Happy new year to everyone and thanks for coming back to our colorado food blog.! As always if have questions or comments feel free to email us at jonathan or barb @milehigheater.com
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