There’s good news for Aspen foodies who don’t relish a drive to Glenwood Springs for the valley’s most interesting restaurant.
You know how this works, right? Good news is always followed by the other side of the coin, and the bad news is, you still have to drive to Carbondale, where Mark Fischer, chef-owner of Glenwood’s the Pullman, last week opened Town. But there’s more good news: Even the most downvalley-averse, after dining at Town, not only will happily endure the trek down Highway 82 — they might even start looking for a Realtor who specializes in downtown Carbondale residential property. Town is that good — as good as Six89, Fischer’s game-changing Carbondale eatery.
This leaves us out of balance on the good-news/bad-news matrix, so I will point out that there was one part of Saturday night’s meal that failed to impress. The crackers served with an eggplant spread appetizer were ordinary.
And there we will have to ditch the idea of keeping the good and bad in balance. Simply reading Town’s menu is a pleasure, like hearing a promising new voice or even a new language: pastrami lamb with rye bread salad; rye cavatelli with reggiano broth, ham and nettle pesto. So dazzled was I that I ordered butternut squash enchiladas, unmindful of the fact that butternut squash is not a favorite of mine. But this was delicious, the tangy tomatillo salsa brightening up the perfectly textured chunks of squash. My three companions were eager to share every taste that came to the table, so I also tasted English pea agnolotti in a carrot broth (scrumptious), pappardelle with Colorado lamb in a sauce of roasted tomatoes, artichoke and lemon (yummy), the cavatelli (delectable), English shell peas in sesame and salt (far more interesting than the description, and delicious), and vinegary crispy pig’s ears. (Tangy seems to be Fischer’s favorite taste these days, and I have run out of food adjectives.)
Which meant I missed out on duck with wheatberry risotto, rabbit tacos, roasted broccoli with cheddar curds, and a burratta bruschetta that accidentally landed on our table for a moment, and almost didn’t make it to its rightful owner, I was so tempted by it.
The service was smooth for a crowded Saturday night, and the restaurant’s fourth night of service. The feel nails Carbondale perfectly — casual, but aspiring to something a little higher than Carbondale funky. Prices were comforting (my enchiladas were $14; the most expensive entree is the $20 roasted Alaskan halibut; side dishes are between four and seven dollars). Portions are larger than you expect.
Best of all, Town emphatically lives up to the promise Fischer made when he closed Six89 last year. It reflects the current culinary moment, rather than an attempt to capture the old glory of Six89. Fischer has moved on, and is happily leading local diners to the next level of food nirvana. The downvalley drive? Just watch how many excuses you can come up with to head down 82.