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crested butte: uley’s cabin and ice bar

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

[Note: Even though this is posting on April 1, this is not an April Fools Day post - it's totally real and totally awesome. -jen]

Crested Butte goes by many monikers: The last great Colorado ski town, Wildflower Capital of Colorado, The birthplace of mountain biking (along with Cupertino), The Nordic Ski Capital of Colorado, Powder Magazine’s #1 Ski Town in the US (2014)… We call it Paradise. Whether you’re hiking, biking, fishing, skiing, riding, or running – you are immersed in stunning mountain scenery that can only be described as God’s Country. Winters in Crested Butte are idyllic – lots of sun and snow, beautiful landscapes, friendly people, and a great ski resort 5 minutes up the road.

The Ice Bar at Uley’s Cabin

Crested Butte Mountain Resort is a very fine mountain to ski. There’s something for everyone and then some. But after you’ve had your share of the corduroy, the powder, the parks, the glades, or the cliffs, you can give those legs a rest at any number of dining spots on and around the mountain. The coolest – literally and figuratively – place to wet your whistle between runs is The Ice Bar at Uley’s Cabin.


uley’s cabin

the ice bar – it’s made of ice (except when it’s been really really warm)



To get there, ski or ride down Twister (one of my favorites on a powder day) to the bottom of Twister Lift. If you aren’t feeling the love for black diamond bump runs, you can also scoot to Uley’s from the cruisy green Peanut to Lower Twister (also green). Once there, put your skis or boards up at the racks and belly up to the outdoor bar, grab a table on the deck, or claim a loungy Adirondack chair and watch folks kill it on the mountain (Crested Butte has some ridiculously badass skiers and riders). The views of surrounding high country are spectacular, unless it’s dumping snow – and then you don’t need views because you’ve got powder and a big fat happy grin on your face. The menu at the bar includes cocktails, mixed drinks, shots, beer+shots, hot drinks (spiked hot cocoa, coffee, cider, toddy), various White Russians, and a Build-a-Bloody Mary. If you’ve worked up an appetite charging down the mountain, you can order some quick hot bites just behind the bar. I spied bowls of chili, bags of piping hot french fries, pulled pork sandwiches, and other ski mountain fare in people’s hands.

serving up colorado bulldogs (white russians with coke) on a bluebird spring day

my libation (ginger beer) and the summit of crested butte



If you have a hankering to dine on something more refined for lunch, then you’ll want to check out Uley’s Cabin. Just go through the front door of the building to the beautifully rustic mountain cabin/restaurant. While waiting to be seated, you can park yourself in a comfy leather armchair and warm up by the fireplace. Uley’s Cabin serves a sit down lunch daily from 11:00 am to 2:30 pm with a selection of salads, soup, shared plates (mussels, charcuterie, or cheeses), and entrées like salmon filet, Colorado elk bourguignon, seared pork belly, and risotto (usually a vegetarian option). Call ahead for reservations or walk in – just be aware that they are typically busiest starting around noon to 1:00 pm.

the inside of uley’s cabin



I spoke with the staff about their lunch service, which was when they mentioned dinner. Dinner? But if the mountain closes at 4:00 pm, how do people get up here for dinner? Funny I should ask… Uley’s Cabin offers sleigh ride dinners starting in mid-December to early April, Wednesdays through Saturdays (so no bookings for Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday nights), one seating per night. It’s $100 per person for a 5-course meal with your choice of entrée. Gratuity and alcohol are not included. It sounded so fun – a little adventure, a little fine dining, a lot of awesome – not too unlike The Magic Meadows Yurt Dinners. We had to check it out, so we booked a reservation for dinner.

Sleigh Ride Dinner at Uley’s Cabin

Our instructions were to meet at the Waffle Cabin (a place from which wonderful aromas emanate when the ski lifts are operating) at the base of the mountain at 5:15 pm and to have warm hats, gloves, and jackets for the open sleigh ride. Even if it is warm in spring, you’ll want the warm things for the return ride after dark. About 25 people were dining the night we went in late March, but Uley’s capacity is 50. We were greeted by Daniel, a nice young man with great knowledge of the local goings-on in Crested Butte. He had us each sign a waiver that said we understood the risks of riding up the mountain, and then invited us into the giant sleigh, pulled by a snow cat. There were cozy blankets set out on the bench seating for guests to use. I highly recommend wearing smart footwear. Smart footwear is NOT HEELS, ladies. Something with good grip is advisable as the floor of the sleigh can be icy and slick – so just keep that in mind. I also recommend sitting on the left side of the sleigh to avoid catching the exhaust from the snow cat. Hey, I’m always looking out for you.


meet at the waffle cabin

the snow cat pulling the sleigh

view of the summit on the way up



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crested butte: bacchanale

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

The more time I spend in Crested Butte, the more enchanted I become with the town. I’m referring to the vibrant community, great local businesses, and a myriad of fun festivities year-round. It’s that charming mountain town vibe I keep coming back to, but each time I discover another little gem that makes me love Crested Butte even more. Last summer, Jeremy and I popped into Bacchanale to see what was what and we couldn’t wait to get back there for another dinner.


bacchanale on elk avenue



Something visitors should be aware of is that ski towns have high seasons and off or shoulder seasons. Crested Butte is hopping in summer and winter, but the pace mellows way out during mud season (spring melt) and pre-ski season (pre-snow). The off season is when some local businesses, who have been taking care of all those visitors in the high season, need a break and may close down for a few weeks so employees and families can get a well-deserved vacation. To avoid any disappointments, it helps to call ahead to make sure the places you want to go will be open when you visit.

Situated on Elk Avenue between Second and Third Streets, Bacchanale occupies a spacious building with plenty of seating at tables, the bar, or upstairs. High ceilings above the bar and half of the downstairs lend an open feeling to the interior.


inside bacchanale



Both times we’ve been to Bacchanale, we enjoyed attentive, accommodating, and genuinely friendly service. The staff know how each dish is prepared and can recommend excellent wine pairings, as well as share some great trail runs, ski routes, or even other places to eat. It’s clear that their main objective is to ensure that you have a great experience both with them and in Crested Butte.

When you sit down, the first thing you’ll likely peruse is the wine and cocktail list which has all Italian wines, beer (draft on tap, bottles, cans), cocktails, bubbles, whiskey, and dessert cordials. The wines are a good and diverse selection in varietal and price, and it appears they update the list periodically. Wines by the glass are well-matched to the dishes served on the menu – feel free to ask the staff for pairing advice. They even brought out tasting glasses to help Jeremy choose.


wine by the glass



Bacchanale’s Italian menu rotates, taking advantage of seasonal ingredients and offering a nice selection of bruschetta or flatbread boards, salads, antipasti, pastas, mains, and desserts. For the last 3 months, in addition to à la carte, the restaurant made available a prix fixe menu – appetizer, main, and dessert (your choice of each) – for $25. It is an exceptional value and I hope they continue to offer it in the future.

The restaurant serves light Italian fare, but don’t think you’re going to walk away from your dinner hungry. Simply prepared, the dishes are big on fresh, clean, seasonal flavors that are pleasing to the palate. For the great quality of the food, the portions are quite reasonable, almost generous.

We started both our meals with appetizers or salads because how could we not? So many options, all so tempting! The panzanella salad (ordered in summer) piled sweet, juicy heirloom tomatoes, fresh beans, asparagus, and grilled bread on greens that were tossed with a light dressing. The fried fresh artichokes (summer) came encased in a crisp, delicate batter with a side of tangy lemon aioli. On our most recent visit in March, we tried their tender beef carpaccio with a nice cracked-pepper crust sprinkled with sea salt, fresh dill, paper thin slices of radish and fennel, and a drizzle of mustard vinaigrette. Perfectly balanced in flavor and texture. We also ordered the eggplant pillows which had been soaked in milk then batter-fried and topped with Pomodoro sauce and basil chiffonade, with balsamic reduction and whipped chèvre on the side. Also delectable.


panzanella salad

fried artichokes with lemon aioli

beef carpaccio

eggplant pillows – melanzane fritte



**Jump for more butter**

crested butte: camp 4 coffee

Monday, February 17th, 2014

The first time I set foot in Camp 4 Coffee was late September 2010. It was dark out because I wanted to shoot sunrise somewhere outside of Crested Butte. My shooting partner needed his morning caffeine fix before heading out and knew just the place to go. At 6 am, we stood in line in front of this tiny shack covered in old license plates. I know nothing about coffee, but as Jason stepped outside and took a sip of his quadruple shot latte he purred, “Oooooh yeah. THAT is good stuff.” The following year when Jeremy joined me over the weekend on my solo fall shoot in Crested Butte, I took him to Camp 4 for coffee, and he’s been smitten ever since.


camp 4 coffee in crested butte



Like Crested Butte, Camp 4 has a friendly, laid-back vibe. Tourists and locals alike line up each morning for their cuppa. Dogs saunter onto the pleasant little patio and wait patiently (and obediently) while their people step in to grab coffee and breakfast, say hi to friends, and snag a little dog treat for their four-legged companion. While the pups are outside, they receive a good deal of attention and loving from passersby and other patrons. It’s all routine.

any given summer morning outside camp 4



The space inside is limited to room for five to six people to peruse the boards, admire the baked goods, order, pay, and dress their beverages. To your immediate right as you walk in is a little bar space for four people to sit and read the paper or shoot the breeze. It’s tiny, yet incredibly popular because their coffee is exceptional – touted as the best coffee in Colorado according to the Denver Post. There is no drip coffee here, just espresso drinks made from Camp 4′s own beans roasted right in Crested Butte. Jeremy notes that their beans are also excellent for drip coffee at home.

decisions decisions…

perfect doughnuts: crisp outsides, fluffy and tender insides



In addition to the traditional coffee drinks, Camp 4 offers a selection of teas, bottled things (juices, water, soda, sports drinks), smoothies, milkshakes, hot cocoa, chai, as well as breakfast burritos (with REAL green chiles), breakfast sandwiches, and some of the most delectable pastries in town (super flaky awesomeness). The selection includes fresh doughnuts, filled long johns, danishes, croissants, filled croissants, cinnamon rolls, muffins, scones, cookies, brownies, quick breads… The pastries don’t last long on any given day, so if you have a hankering, get ye there in the morning before they’re picked clean.

the friendliest service

a treat for your pooch, because crested butte loves dogs



**Jump for more butter**