Wild Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery, Nederland—We made fantastic time from the Denver Airport, through Boulder, viewing Boulder Falls, and into Nederland to pick up the Peak-to-Peak Highway, but we need some nourishment. What better than beer and bbq! I tried the Big Ned Red which came in a wine glass and was delicious with my pulled pork sandwich. Eric ate the entire plate of beef brisket and washed it down with the amber ale. We also split a plate of sweet potato fries thanks to the happy hour special. If I ever find myself nearby, we will come back.
The Egg & I, Estes Park—Our hotel had a modest continental breakfast, but we needed something more substantial, so we stopped by this popular breakfast place near the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. I had the hikers benedict (of course) with asparagus, mushrooms, tomatoes and crispy bacon on top and my very own carafe of coffee (!!!). Eric’s breakfast croissant was good, but a little dense. I’m not sure pastries bake too well at 9,000 feet?
Creekside Cellars, Evergreen—A scenic detour took us down to this area on our way to Colorado Springs. The red wines were passable but the whites, not so much. And skip the tawny port altogether, yuck. We didn’t stay for lunch, though the patio looked nice.
Charles Court @ the Broadmoor, Colorado Springs—Our fancy dinner of the trip, the Broadmoor Resort is a complex of accommodations, restaurants and grounds to behold. We arrived early and enjoyed cocktails and a cheese plate at the bar while waiting for our table. The service was exceptional and the meal was lovely. April, one of the bartenders, gave us a few suggestions for our main courses and I took her up on the venison main course with a carpaccio appetizer. Eric’s pork special was very tasty and the potato side was a stand-out. Interestingly, they had several wines on the menu that were of good value. All around, we had a fantastic and memorable meal.
Jack Quinn’s Pub, Colorado Springs—We were looking for a quick bite to tide us over until dinner at the hotel on Saturday evening, so we ventured downtown to get a pint and a snack. The place was next to empty at 2pm, but our private booth was a treat and the atmosphere was very pleasant. My guinness and beef boxty was very good and Eric’s fried potato wedges hit the spot.
Phantom Canyon Brewing Company, Colorado Springs—A brewery for breakfast? To prove that it’s never to early for beer, we dined at this brewery for brunch on Sunday. I enjoyed a porter with my chorizo, egg, and potato wrap and black beans while everyone else had a more traditional breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and bacon.
Comfort Inn, Estes Park—A charming lodge, one of the better Comfort Inns we’ve stayed in. The front desk was very helpful, and the only bad thing was the free wifi connection that did not work properly in our room. We just dragged the laptop to the lobby. Otherwise, the room was clean and we had own own marked parking spot. This hotel is a little further out than some other options but Estes Park isn’t that large and this was an affordable place to stay.
Crown Plaza Hotel, Colorado Springs—For some reason the hotels that have hosted the last two River Rats conventions cannot seem to handle large amounts of people. Our room wasn’t ready when we tried to check in at 4:30pm. Then (after requesting a room close to my dad) they put us in the complete opposite end of the hotel. And when I say complete opposite, I mean a 10 minute walk through this sprawling place. No exaggeration, it really took 10 minutes from end to end. The front desk staff was woefully slow and not able to help with even the simplest request (i.e. a reservation for a local restaurant). Despite all of this, our king room was quite large and the bed was very comfortable. Once we figured out that we could park just outside the room, the excessive walking was diminished. I honestly think they just need to hire better managers.