Hotel Madeline in Mountain Village, 970/369-0880
Like most locals you find busy working in Telluride’s tourist economy, Hotel Madeline Executive Chef Cory Sargent will tell you offseason is one of the most important times of the year. Not only because it’s a time to regain sanity after hectic summer and winter seasons but because it gives Sargent and his culinary team at Restaurant Rev and the Smak Bar, including Chef de Cuisine Bud Thomas and Chef Gabe Valenzuela, a chance to continue their culinary education while traveling the region finding new, as-local-as-possible sources of ingredients for fresh, inventive dishes.
“Our goal is to drive to our sources in four hours,” Sargent says of finding local farmers and food sources.
Most recently, Sargent has dedicated his travels around the state looking for specialty dairy and cheeses. One bite into Smak Bar’s ever-popular Colorado-raised lamb sliders ($15), topped with a creamy Colorado goat cheese that pairs with a roasted tomato chutney, and you’ll know he’s done well. Other regionally sourced cheese is incorporated into Rev’s beets, beets, beets appetizer ($12) that’s an array of roasted beets, pickled beets, beet jam, Marcona almonds, dressed with a goat cheese vinaigrette. Charcuterie and cheese boards are good for those into sharing. There are three different Colorado cheeses to choose from along with a Utah-sourced wild boar salami and a Colorado-sourced mousse pâté.
While Rev is a fine dining restaurant and the Smak Bar is casual gastropub, the two restaurants share the same kitchen. Both have always incorporated local ingredients in their offerings and currently feature items from Zephros Farms, Tomten Farms, Avalanche Goat Dairy and the Southwest Fresh Farm Co-op.
At Smak Bar, the focus is on familiar bar food given a foodie twist. Take for instance the Smakaroni and cheese starter ($7). It’s comfort food but comes with devilish options including candied bacon ($3) or short rib ($5). Along with the aforementioned lamb sliders, the sticky pork rib starter ($9) is a must. The watermelon, cucumber and mint salad that accompanies the super tender ribs is a summery way to cut the ribs richness.
For those looking for a bar sandwich, there is plenty choose from. A local favorite is the blackened salmon BLT ($16) made with grilled onion, chipotle aioli, bibb lettuce and apple wood smoked bacon.
In comparison to the menu items served at Smak Bar, Sargent describes the dishes served at Rev as “simpler, more elegant food where the freshest ingredients take center stage.”
While much of the Smak Bar’s menu relatively set in its ways, Rev’s menu changes as the region’s freshly farmed ingredients go in and out of season. So what you may see on this week’s menu may not be on next week’s menu.
Thanks to a small garden outside Rev, fresh, house-grown heirloom tomatoes were the highlight of a line-caught red snapper dish Sargent served on a recent Tuesday evening. The fresh tomato broth in combination with summer squash, and pickled fennel was summer on a plate.
Other summer creations on the Aug. 6 Rev menu included a Tuscan kale Caesar salad ($12) made with white anchovies, shaved parm, a poached Jubilee Farm egg and chickpea croutons. With mushroom season upon us, the fresh tagliatelle pasta ($21) made with creamy spring vegetables, pickled ramps, wild foraged mushrooms and a 12-year Balsamic Vinegar was right in tune with the season as was the wild Alaskan sockeye salmon ($33) served with sweet corn, sweet peas, carrots and kale pesto.
On each Rev menu, Sargent likes to put the spotlight on the region’s food growers. On the Aug. 6 menu, Cahone, Colo.-based SongHaven Farm gets a corner of the menu to highlight the work Mark Mitteis and Michele Martz do at their small scale, local farm.
“I think what I am proud of most here is that we are able to run such a large operation and still go to and use small scale local farmers,” Sargent says.
Summer is being served at Rev and Smak Bar. There’s no better time and place to see what’s in season.
BISTRO SPECIAL: Choose two of these items at Smak Bar including a Smak grilled cheese, beet and quinoa salad, farmer’s market salad, or a charred tomato bisque. Comes with a glass of house wine for just $15.
DESSERT VEGETABLE: Rev’s warm toffee carrot cake is outrageously good. Under no circumstances should you decline this dessert that’s made with creame cheese ice cream and candied walnuts.
Smak Bar is open daily from 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Rev is open for breakfast 7:30-10 a.m. daily and open for dinner during the summer Wednesday-Saturday from 5:30-9 p.m.