$ Après ski, from 2-6 p.m. daily
$$$ Dinner entrèes, after 6.
Andrew Tyler, who favors his last name, came to Telluride after working for eight years as a mixologist in Miami and New York within the high-end Nobu family of restaurants. So the cocktails at Tyler’s bar/restaurant in Telluride, called There…, occupy center stage, whether you order off the printed menu or get something invented on the spot after reporting your likes and dislikes to the bartender (likely Tyler himself): you want aromatic, sweet or sour? Gin, vodka or whiskey? Lychee or cucumber?
But Tyler is no slacker when it comes to the munchies that accompany his bartending alchemy. He has made freshly popped popcorn a kind of There… trademark from the start (There… opened last January), but you could get it dressed last week with something new – flash-fried Brussels sprout leaves tossed on top as a salty, oily, flavorful garnish. (You can ask for prosciutto, instead, and in either case the chopsticks on the table come in handy.) An unusual twist on a culinary trend, yes. And delicious. Remember when you first ate just the leaves from the Brussels sprout? Chefs noticed that the leaves that fall off the sprouts in a sauté and become caramelized have more flavor and crunch than the heart of the sprout, so why not dispense with the heart altogether and just serve the leaves?
That’s how the menu at There… feels: Tyler and chef Ben Knaus focus on the tastiest morsels, with a charcuterie menu après ski daily from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. featuring small bites of house-made pickles ($3), mixed olives ($3), and assorted cheeses ($3-$5) and meats ($4-$5), including sardines, if and when fresh ones can be found! (Exclamation intended, because we’re not exactly on the Mediterranean coast here, and there’s nothing more delicious than a fresh sardine broiled in olive oil.) You might go for five (really) fresh oysters and a beer for $10, or five oysters and rose for $14. In alpine Europe spaghetti carbonara is a restaurant staple, and it feels right at home in the San Juans where the twist at There… is that thick strands of fresh fettuccini are delivered with a soft-boiled egg on top. Break the egg and toss to complete the sauce of egg, bacon, parmesan and cream. That’s a lot of happiness for just $13. This season’s There… après ski features an “epic” and “great” grilled cheese sandwich, $14 and $6, respectively, and worthy of the superlatives; ramen, with pork, duck, veggies, tofu or crab ($14), and steamed buns filled with pork, duck, shitake, tilapia, salmon, or soft-shelled crab ($4 each). After 6 p.m., Tyler and Knaus serve a small assortment of “shareable” entrees, ranging from scallops on a parsnip puree with Brussels sprouts ($16) to a Kobe steak that comes in four ounce ($24) and six ounce ($35) portions, sliced, medium-rare and served on a board with three sides.
While cocktails are featured, There… also offers a dozen premium wines at considerably less than the usual restaurant markup, because, Tyler explains, people who know those wines will recognize the astounding value and will really appreciate it.
VIBE: Are you hip enough? Yes, because even though There… is self-consciously youthful and cutting-edge, it’s also warm and convivial. The romance comes from the sense of discovery: this small place off the beaten track on the west end of Telluride adds a sophisticated urban note to Telluride’s nightlife. If there was a There… in your neighborhood, wouldn’t you hang out…There?
MUST HAVE: Sardines, if they’ve got them when you are There…