Earlier this year, restaurateur David Burke, a New Jersey native, CIA grad, and owner of a seven restaurant empire in New York City, committed to opening David Burke Kitchen in the heart of historic downtown Aspen. The eatery will be housed on the second floor of a brand new, 21,452-square-foot building at the corner of Hopkins Avenue and Galena Street.
Why branch out into Aspen? "It was such a great opportunity I could not pass up," Burke, who was among the five finalists on Top Chef Masters this year, says. "Spending years in Aspen for the Food & Wine Classic and many winters skiing with my kids, I always wanted to open a restaurant here," he adds.
The contemporary farm-to-table restaurant will be led by executive chef Matthew O'Neill, who most recently served as executive chef at the Ajax Tavern located in Aspen's iconic Little Nell hotel. O'Neill has also worked alongside Tony Maws at Boston's celebrated Craigie On Main and at Daniel Boulud's Bar Boulud and Restaurant Daniel, both in New York City. Finding the right chef for the job was not easy for Burke. "It was a long and hard process. I knew I needed the best possible talent to run the restaurant, and after searching long and hard, I found it in Matt O'Neill. He is a great addition to our team," Burke explains.
The commitment of the team behind David Burke Kitchen Aspen (the original, located in in the James Hotel in New York, is three years old), is to feature all American sourced ingredients with many items sourced from Colorado. The dry aging room and a charcuterie program is what gets chef O'Neill most excited. "I am really looking forward to using the Himalayan salt dry aging room, for dry aging beef, as well as implementing my own charcuterie program within the next year. I am also ready to use our hearth oven, not only for flatbreads and pizzas, but in other ways, like whole roasting fish and chickens for tableside presentations."
The opening menu will include emblematic dishes at David Burke Kitchen like peanut butter maple bacon dates with fried grapes, potted duck and foie gras with citrus-maple glaze, and short ribs with wild mushroom, cavatelli, and black truffle mousse. There will also be signature items such as the dry-aged patented beef from the aging vault, the pretzel-crusted crab cakes, and the cheesecake lollipops.
But chef O'Neill shares that the menu will change quite often. "The menu will change quite often. "Being at such a high altitude in the micro climates of the Colorado Rockies, the growing seasons for fruits and vegetables are shortened. This makes it a challenge for a chef to keep one type of produce grown locally on their menu for an extended period of time," O'Neill says. "I have been living in Aspen for some time now and am always keeping in touch with my local farmers, making sure I am aware of their growing schedules and what is coming up for the month," he adds.
The restaurant is designed by Chicago's 555 Design. Guests should expect to see farmhouse tables and custom cabinetry along with an exhibition kitchen, leather stools around the expansive bar, and an outdoor terrace overlooking Aspen mountain and downtown. David Burke Kitchen should open its doors early February, will be open for lunch and dinner daily, with Sunday brunch on the weekends. Reservations will be accepted beginning January 2, 2014 for seatings available on and after February 10.
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