Elevate a festive winter dinner with recipes from a mountainside restaurant known for creative comfort food
Thomas J. Story
Plenty of on-mountain restaurants have moved beyond bowls of chili and refrigerated sandwiches, but Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, on Colorado's Aspen Highlands mountain, is something special. It’s not a cavernous chalet, but an old clapboard hut that, until the late 1990s, housed a ski patrol station. (Members of the patrol still come in through the back door before the restaurant opens for lunch, looking for hot coffee and good cheer.) The building then became a warming hut, with soup served through a window under a heat lamp. Even back then, the shack had a mystique that kept people coming back. Soon raclette—the Alpine cheese you melt on a tabletop grill—was also available. A wine list here and a few tablecloths there, and a bistro was born. Recently, chef Michael Johnston took the helm and brought in Colorado game, river trout, and local produce as he lightened up the menu—all while keeping the restaurant’s Alpine style intact.