Aurum Food & Wine Opens in Steamboat Springs

By Ruth Tobias  |  May 8, 2014
Credit: Ruth Tobias

There are a whole lot of surprises in store for the cyclists, kayakers and rodeo enthusiasts who head up to Steamboat this summer: the mountain town’s restaurant scene is in the midst of a renaissance, one we’ll be exploring in a feature later this month. Exhibit A has got to be Aurum Food & Wine, which opens Friday in the stunning two-story building that formerly housed Sweetwater Grill on the banks of the Yampa River.

Owner Phillips Armstrong has certainly earned what he calls “my golden opportunity” (the name is Latin for gold), having spent years in hospitality management for both restaurant and hotel groups; he also founded the popular Denver pop-up company Hush Concepts, where he worked with Aurum’s executive chef Chase Wilbanks, formerly of La Tour in Vail and Shanahan’s in the DTC. Together with sommelier and manager John Witmer, they’ve created the kind of ultrapolished and contemporary yet easygoing dining experience that city dwellers count on but are only beginning to find in the mountains, which are still dominated by down-home family affairs and big-ticket celebrity-chef projects. Take a sneak peek at both the space and the food in the slide show below. What you'll find is definitely worth a day trip.

811 Yampa St., Steamboat Springs; 970-879-9500

  • The sprawling outdoor terrace, complete with fire pit and river views.

  • Cocktails like Smoke and Fire, a blend of mezcal and lime juice accompanied by a spoon of housemade jalapeño-orange marmalade, show the bar's style. But don't overlook the wine list: it will change seasonally to feature different regions from around the world, starting with the biggies (Sonoma, Napa, Burgundy and Piedmont). Wines by the glass are being made exclusively for Aurum by Colorado's own Sutcliffe Vineyards - we were pleasantly surprised by the Cinsaut. And if you've got the deep pockets, ask to see the reserve list.  

  • Start with the lusciously meaty, golden-crusted wild-bluefoot mushroom fondue...

  • Credit: Ruth Tobias

    the spacious lounge is a great place to sample it. 

  • Credit: Ruth Tobias

    The jumbo lump crab "cake" starter is really more of a warm crab salad atop a spicy grain-mustard sauce - and it's dazzling. 

  • We also liked the truffle-scented beef carpaccio, enlivened by a sprinkling of marinated cauliflower.

  • Move on to the crisp-skinned, juicy trout with spinach, chunks of bacon and fried shallots in an intense roasted-tomato vinaigrette.

  • Or the grilled rack of lamb and braised leg with succotash; ask for some grilled bread to mop up that rich, velvety jus.

  • Or the gorgeous, plump roast chicken in thyme velouté, which reflects the truism that chicken is the ultimate litmus test for a restaurant chef.

  • Cap it all off with a fireside dessert of sugar-sprinkled doughnut holes with espresso crème anglaise.