Local Flavor Edition in Breckenridge, CO
Alfonso Natarelli, owner of The Swiss Haven Restaurant, loves what he does: He hangs out in the Swiss Haven, welcoming all guests with his warm smile and enthusiasm. Raised in Belgium and trained in the customer-service, upbeat world of Club Med, he opened The Swiss Haven because he couldn’t find quality European mountain food, particularly in the form of fondue. Having managed fondue restaurants for Club Med in Switzerland, Alfonso knows exactly what to look for when purchasing the finest cheeses and chocolates. Starters include French baguettes soaked in white wine and topped with prosciutto, Vacherin and Gruyere cheeses, beef carpaccio, ahi tuna and French onion soup. Choose from eight unique salads before melting into a variety of cheese fondues, ranging from mild to pungent. Main courses include seafood fondues, meat fondue and pasta, grilled steaks, wild game and traditional Swiss specialties.
From the moment you walk into Le Petit Paris, you feel as though you’re somewhere special. During the winter, soft lighting, ornaments (yes, even in mid February), and spiraled ribbons hang from the ceiling. The elegant bistro tables line large windows and walls with Parisian murals. Arielle Lamoure and her sister (and French pastry chef) Mary Jo own the restaurant, and just about every night, Arielle floats through the dining room, chatting with guests in her French accent. “When you come, I want you to feel at home,” Arielle says. She serves “traditional French food with imagination and creation.” Though the entrée selection is rather small, it’s made with care and includes the catch of the week, pan-seared trout with a cherry sauce, house-dried, aged New York strip steak and Colorado rack of lamb with a fig balsamic reduction. A curved bar offers a large selection of wells, wines and after-dinner drinks.
For such a small place, Crepes a la Cart pumps out a huge selection of lunch, dinner and dessert crepes — 25 sweet ones and 16 meat or veggie ones to be exact. The little cart, literally located in front of Main Street storefronts, almost always has a line, and unfortunately, there are only one or two tables at which to sit. The upside: These crepes are mouth-watering variations on standards, such as Monte Christo sandwiches (chicken, ham, cheddar, raspberry sauce and honey Dijon mustard), chicken cordon bleu and even a pizza crepe. These mainstay creations range from $5.95 to $8.95. Dessert crepes cost $4.50 to $8.95 and include bananas fosters, cheesecake, s’mores, tiki rum runner (nutella, coconut, pecans, caramel, raisins, cream and rum), and, of course, fruit crepes. But its real secret lies in the batters — tested for months and months until they came up with a satisfying one for the savory (lunch and dinner) crepes and another for the sweet crepes.
Ember is a newer restaurant in town, owned by chef Scott Boshaw, whose mantra is “never rest on your laurels.” Within the historical Victorian home just off Main Street, he creates global cuisine — which may or may not fit everyone’s fancy. Main entrees take a twist on the traditional: Australian bass comes with bamboo rice, crab and seaweed salad, bok choy and tamari; scallops are engulfed with a lentil crust and served with cous cous, spaghetti squash and vindaloo butter sauce; chicken has a parsnip puree and chorizo stuffing; the lamb osso bucco comes with preserved lemon risotto, baby carrots, apricot chutney and chocolate chai braise; and even the New York strip steak has a pastrami rub, raspberry cabbage, pumpernickel bread pudding and emmentaler fondue. These dishes cost $16 to $30. He prepares his ice cream and sorbet in house, and also offers a chocolate-espresso bread pudding, walnut Brie cheesecake, and cobblers topped with Grand Mariner.
Aldona Drozd, owner of Euro-Deli, originated from Poland but has owned the deli for 12 years. She offers traditional Polish cuisine, such as pierogi (potato and cheese, spinach or kraut and mushrooms) served with sour cream and sautéed onions; Polish sausage served on a bed of spicy kraut with imported rye bread; and stuffed cabbage (beef and rice rolled in cabbage and topped with tomato sauce). She also specializes in European wines, beer and Italian Lavazza coffee. She serves minimally processed foods, focusing, instead, on making soups from scratch and using the healthiest ingredients. But just because she tends toward Old World doesn’t mean you can’t find trendy sandwiches, like a list of 11 hot panini sandwiches served on Focaccia bread and typical American sandwiches. Breakfast includes egg muffins, French, Italian, Polish, German or Spanish eggs (each has its own flair), a salmon bagel and crepes.