507 Main Street, Ouray, 970/325-7050
You may get a little lost on your way to dinner at the Beaumont Grill, but that’s OK.
To get there, you’ll have to traverse the Historic Beaumont Hotel’s garden courtyard with its forest of patio tables under red and yellow umbrellas, or meander through the lavishly restored lobby and atrium of the 125-year-old hotel that has welcomed such guests as U.S. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover, King Leopold of Belgium, Chipeta, widow of Ute Chief Ouray, French actress Sarah Bernhardt, American actress Angie Dickenson, media megastar Oprah Winfrey, and now, you.
The restaurant (formerly known as the Ore House Grill, and before that, Bulow’s Bistro) is located on the ground level of the hotel, tucked away in a rear corner once occupied by the old Melodrama Theatre. The scale is intimate, with less than ten tables. (Capacity doubles in the summer thanks to generous outdoor seating in the courtyard.) During the day, sunlight spills in through huge leaded glass windows. In the winter months, a fire crackles cheerily in the fireplace.
There’s lots to look at. The tile mosaic around the fireplace is original, as is the 125-year-old hardwood floor. Historic mining photos from the Ouray County Historical Society adorn the walls.
New Executive Chef Curtis Blandon, sporting a fedora, black chef smock and neatly curled mustache during his first day on the job last week, said he looks forward to wooing local palates all winter long with classic American-style cuisine including steaks, seafood, pasta dishes, salads (the Southwest Waldorf is delicious!), nightly fresh fish specials and lots of good, comforting homemade soups.
Blandon, 32, found his way to the Beaumont by way of his native Dallas, Tex. He apprenticed with Vietnamese chef Kenzo Tran, who taught him to master the art of sushi-making, and went on to work in Italian cuisine and high end traditional steakhouses, including a stint with Fort Worth’s Tim Love, the freewheeling celebrity chef and owner of The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro.
The hip Telluride restaurant “There” recently recruited Blandon, “with the mindset I could help them open a place in Dallas.” But shortly after his move to Colorado, those plans changed. Blandon took a day-trip to Ouray and happened to wander into the Beaumont Hotel. Something seemed to click, he said, between him and Beaumont owners Chad and Jennifer Leaver.
They put him to work right away. A month later, he was promoted to executive chef.
For Chef Curtis, presentation is just as important as the way the food tastes. “You eat with your eyes before you eat with your mouth,” he explained. Its something he learned in his apprenticeship with Kenzo Tran – how to take food and make it into art. The special the evening we dined at the Beaumont Grill was a case in point: Chili Caribe Crusted Ruby Red Trout with Fire-Roasted Pineapple Salsa, served on a bed of Parmesan Risotto.
Blandon described it as a true fusion dish. “Caribe is a traditional Spanish ingredient. The fire- roasted pineapple salsa has Asian elements. It’s one of those dishes that touches the palate at many points, with the sour and citrus, and the buttery rich component of the parmesan risotto.” The plate, when it arrived, was indeed a feast for the eyes – a glistening, succulent red trout fillet snuggled into a bed of creamy risotto, garnished with a confetti of fruit salsa and a whimsical topknot of crispy fried shredded leak. It tasted as good as it looked.
We wanted to try something off the regular menu as well, and on the recommendation of Jennifer, decided to give the Chicken-Fried Ribeye Steak ($23) a whirl. It scored big on the comfort food scale, with its rich gravy and generous pillow of mashed potatoes. It was not your typical roadhouse fair by a long shot. What really set the dish apart was the quality of the beef itself – tender, its flavor unmistakably grass-finished.
As a new chef at the Beaumont Grill, Blandon has inherited a menu that works, and he doesn’t plan to change it – much – in the near future. Everything is made from scratch, with locally sourced ingredients as much as possible, including grass-fed Colorado beef and buffalo, Rocky Mountain trout, produce from a farm co-op in Colona and bread from the Artisan Bakery across the street.
“I’m going to roll with what we have, and improve it,” he said. “The flavors are already there; it’s amazing food already. I’m just going to incorporate myself one dish at a time, and by next summer, it’ll be full on Chef Curtis.”
Starters, sweet treats & libations: Start your meal in style with Escargo ($11), Bacon-wrapped Shrimp ($12) or a house favorite, the Balsamic-roasted Portobello ($7). The French Onion Soup ($8), with its salty, rich onion broth topped with french bread croutons and crusty melted Gruyere cheese, is perfect on a brisk fall day. After dinner, save room for the Banana Blitz ($8) – bruléed banana with homemade banana ice cream, melted chocolate and whipped cream. Or try the Grasshopper ($8) – a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream with melted chocolate and homemade mint syrup made from mint that’s grown in a garden on the hotel’s grounds. The Beaumont Grill has a full bar that’s loaded with historic ambiance. Finish off your meal with a brandy, cognac or tawny port. The Beaumont’s wine cellar has one of the Western Slope’s largest wine selections with over 300 vintages from around the world.
Special occasions: In addition to the Beaumont Grill, the historic hotel also has an elegant formal dining room that, until a few years ago, was home to The Tundra, a Triple A four diamond restaurant. Rechristened the Grand Ballroom, the space is now used as a venue for wedding receptions and occasional special events that are open to the public, including an upcoming Halloween Ball on Oct. 26. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner in the ballroom offer traditional American fare.
One of the hotel’s best-kept secrets is Luella’s Lounge (formerly the Voodoo Lounge), a classy wine and martini bar on the second floor named a lady of the evening who lived at the Beaumont before it shut down in the 1960s. Luella’s has an upscale ambiance that is perfect for smaller private parties. It needs to be reserved in advance.
Open for lunch and dinner through mid-October; it then shifts to winter hours, open for dinner only, Tuesday through Saturday, starting at 4 p.m.
507 Main Street, Ouray, 970/325-7050