697 Cobble Drive, Montrose, 970/249-5919
Those familiar with Chef Drake Pulliam’s work know he adds a certain level of detail and flare to dishes that might otherwise seem ordinary. Take, for example, his cherry cheesecake ($7). It’s not an uncommon dessert, but the way Pulliam’s makes it, it is anything but common. The secret is his use of imported dark Italian cherries that are slightly fermented. Inside the cheesecake they create a dense fruit flavor that balances the cheesecake unlike any fruit topping ever did. And these cherries are just one example of the creativity and detail Pulliam brings to an entire menu.
Pulliam is well-known from his time in Ridgway, when he ran Drake’s Restaurant which, sadly, closed in a few years ago. Now Pulliam is back as chef of the Creekside Restaurant in Montrose’s Cobble Creek Golf Community and has put together a simple yet eclectic menu that is both comforting and adventurous.
On the familiar side, there is plenty to choose from on Creekside’s lunch menu, including a chicken breast sandwich ($9) that’s topped with pesto mayo and roasted spinach. There’s a Polish sausage sandwich ($9) cooked with sautéed bell peppers and caramelized onions and served on a rustic roll. Of course, there’s a burger ($9) on the menu, which was something Pulliam became known for in Ridgway.
For something new, try the Torta al Testo sandwich ($11), which is an Italian street sandwich, made with a thick pile of smoked prosciutto, basil, caramelized onions, Swiss cheese, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. Once you taste the prosciutto on this sandwich, you’ll know right away that this isn’t your ordinary sandwich.
Like the cherries in his cheesecake, Pulliam goes the extra mile to serve real imported meats from Italy. The prosciutto is the best example of this. In fact, Pulliam said he imports at least 80 percent of the meats he serves from small providers, so menu items like the Italian sub sandwich ($12) and his Reuben ($11.50) can have some authentic flavors.
The Creekside Restaurant has a wood-burning pizza oven, too. A good way to taste some of those imported meats is with the Italian meat trio pizza ($12) made with Genoa salami, hot capicola, local Italian sausage, cheese and red sauce. While the meat may be the centerpiece of this pie, the crust is worth noting as well. It has that right balance of crunch on the outside and chewiness on the inside. There are a host of other pizzas to choose from, including a basic Margherita ($9) and a shrimp scampi pizza ($12).
For dinner, you can stay with the Italian theme with the gnocchi puttanesca ($10) that’s made with a rustic “whore sauce” of fire-roasted tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, garlic, capers, and Kalamata olives. There’s the maccheroni alla chitarra marinara ($10), made with pasta that’s been pressed through taut guitar strings to give the noodles a unique texture. They are topped with a traditional marinara sauce. For something rich, try Pulliam’s pasta Bolognese ($12), which isn’t your everyday ground-meat-and-red-sauce dish. Pulliam uses a blend of veal, pork and sirloin with a mirepoix of herbs and wines to create this “gravy.” It’s all slow cooked for at least four hours.
The dinner menu also has some dishes you just may not be able to get anywhere else in the region. There’s seafood etouffee ($16), smoked trout mac-and-cheese ($14), pan-seared duck breast ($19) and lemon Tuscan chicken ($18).
Depending on the season and when possible, Pulliam is bringing the farm-to-table concept to the Creekside Restaurant. He’s building relationships with local farms to bring local produce into the restaurant, and he has plans to be an integral part of a community garden in the Cobble Creek Golf Community. By bringing locally produced products to the restaurant, Pulliam believes he will achieve even more of that “real” flavor he’s always striving for.
At the end of the day, Drake Pulliam will tell you that he’s just a country cook with a good base of cooking knowledge. Cherry cheesecake anyone?
NEW BREWS: Looking for a beer other than your watered-down domestic variety? Creekside Restaurant is working to improve its beer selection for those who like a little more hops and flavor in their lives.
NOT A MEMBER? NO PROBLEM: The Creekside Restaurant is open to the public. You don’t have to be a resident of the Cobble Creek Golf Community nor a member of its golf course to enjoy Pulliam’s eclectic menu. Stop in any time.
Lunch served Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Dinner served Monday-Saturday, 5 p.m.-close