‘Same Same, but Different’
MOUNTAIN VILLAGE – “Same same, but different,” said Jeff Badger, differentiating his Siam restaurant in downtown Telluride from his new restaurant, Siam’s Talay Grille. Badger used the common Taiwanese expression to describe the exotic menu of his latest establishment, but also to emphasize that many items will feature similar tastes and ingredients as the original Siam. Siam’s Talay Grille opens Friday, July 12, and is located at the Inn at Lost Creek in Mountain Village.
Though the flavor of many menu items may resemble those at the original Siam, “We cannot replicate the downtown Siam, nor will we try. Siam’s Talay Grille is going to be far more creative and will feature no traditional Thai favorites,” Badger said. In other words, don’t anticipate ordering drunken noodles or Pad Thai at the new place.
Numerous locals and visitors have experienced Badger’s original Siam restaurant, located between South Davis and West Pacific Ave in town. The inaugural Siam has been serving exquisite Thai-fusion, and many classic dishes, since 2005. ‘Talay’, Taiwanese for seafood, is a key distinction between Badger’s Siam restaurant and the Talay Grille.
Offering everything from grilled elk, sliced and drizzled with Siam’s Special Sauce, to lobster claws and knuckles sautéed in sherry, Talay Grille’s specialties include tapas, priced at $4.95 each. The tapas also feature homemade duck breast, topped with a Thai basil sauce, Shitake mushrooms sautéed in red wine, and Alaskan king crab legs sautéed in sherry. Badger said he is developing new tapas dishes, but would offer only hints about the composition of his Bangkok Chowder (Badger pronounced ‘chowdah’ in his native Maine accent). He plans on developing a tapas menu featuring dozens more of the small dishes.
Siam’s Talay also includes a large list of hand rolls, each priced at $4.95. The hand rolls menu starts with ‘Curry Burgers,’ and features the saying, “Not your grandma’s sushi roll!” The Curry Burger roll includes choices of curried ground chicken or organic beef accented with Siam’s Panang Curry Sauce and Green Apple. Siam’s Talay will also make its own pâté roll, served with Choo Chee curry sauce. Each roll is served with sushi rice, butter lettuce, fruit, and edible soy paper.
Siam’s Talay Grille also offers Southeast Asian lettuce wraps. Inspired by Vietnamese cuisine, Badger adds his own Thai flare to the classic dish, including “Going, Going, Goong”: a large shrimp grilled in Siam’s Asian Jerk BBQ sauce, laid on a lettuce leaf, and topped with the restaurant’s own Mango Salsa.
Badger attributes his inspiration for opening the new restaurant to his experiences at Tomboy Tavern, the bar and restaurant at the base of the Village Express lift in Mountain Village. “I’ve seen Tomboy transform into a really great bar and restaurant. They’ve made it a pleasant place to sit and just unwind, whether it’s during the summer or winter. I always saw it packed with people after the lifts closed even in the coldest parts of the season,” he said.
Despite his intimate knowledge of exotic cuisine, Badger does not possess a lifelong background as a restaurateur. After a tour in Vietnam, he returned to the States in the 1970s and became a ski bum in Breckenridge. He first visited Telluride in 1998 and was intrigued. “This place just opened my eyes. There was so much to do and there were a lot of interesting people,” he said. “The skiing wasn’t half bad, too,” he added jokingly.
He recalled one afternoon in Brunswick, Maine. He pulled into a Thai restaurant to satisfy his frequent hankering for his love for the cuisine when he noticed his waitress had gone out of her way to serve him. “I eventually married her!” he said. After working in New England for many years, Badger eventually moved to Telluride in 2001, “A place I’m very proud to call home.”
Siam’s Talay Grille’s bar is open from 4 to 9 p.m.; dinner is served from 5-9 p.m. A traditional American breakfast menu, with both southwestern and Asian influences, is available daily from 7:30-11:30 a.m.