New Frisco restaurant Tavern West focuses on local, all-natural ingredients
IF YOU GO
What: Tavern West
Where: 311 W. Main St.
Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. daily
Happy Hour: 3 p.m.-6pm daily
Dinner: 5 p.m.-10 p.m. daily
More information: tavernwestfrisco.com or (970) 455-8382
Tucked into a multi-use building on the west end of Main Street in Frisco, Tavern West has already enjoyed a steady stream of business in just a few weeks, even though it’s shoulder season and the new restaurant just started advertising. With a focus on local and all-natural ingredients for both its food and drink menu, chef and co-owner Ryan Worthen is confident his business will stand out from the crowd.
“The inspiration behind the menu — we are trying to do something a little different than what’s typically found in Frisco or even in Summit County with some of our cooking techniques,” he said. “We want to try to have a fresh look on restaurants right now, that’s our idea. We want to do things all natural … get as much GMO free as possible, especially because I like to eat that way, I have a lot of friends that like to eat that way. It’s a great way to highlight these local ingredients.”
Worthen, along with co-owners Bob Kato and John Tuso, spent the last eight months remodeling the location, and opened for business on Tuesday, Sept. 8. None of the three are strangers to the restaurant business, as Kato and Tuso own Incline Bar and Grill at Copper Mountain Resort. Kato also owns the Island Grill at the Frisco Bay Marina, and has been in the restaurant business for almost four decades. Worthen, a graduate of the Art Institute in Chicago, has been cooking for 19 years and in the county for nine, and has been working as the general manager for Incline.
A LOCAL FOCUS
The menu at Tavern West highlights Colorado ingredients as much as possible, Worthen said. The kitchen features a 500-pound smoker, a wood-burning grill, a rotisserie and a flat top. The burgers are cooked on the flat top, and the steak, salmon and shrimp are all coming off the wood-burning grill, using oak, cherry, peach and applewood from the Western Slope. This weekend, Tavern West will be running a suckling pig special on Friday and Saturday until it sells out. A few of the highlights from the menu include a rotisserie chicken with potatoes au gratin and sautéed fava beans. Another popular item, Worthen said, is the double bone-in pork chop with roasted fingerling potatoes and corn on the cob. The appetizer menu features New Orleans style grilled oysters, on the half shell and topped with butter, garlic, bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.
For lunch, the pork belly BLTA has been taking off, with sliced smoked pork belly, iceberg lettuce, tomato and avocado on challah bread with roasted garlic aioli. In the salad realm, a unique item featured is the warm baby kale and Brussel sprout salad, with thinly sliced Brussels and baby kale tossed in a citrus vinaigrette with dried cherries, sliced toasted almonds and crispy pork belly.
FRESH FRUIT COCKTAILS
Using fresh ingredients doesn’t stop with the food. General manager Rachel Shewack prides herself on a drink list that uses fresh fruits juiced in-house, and a rotating list of martinis and margaritas depending on the type of fruits she can get.
“We do have a good program with our food distributor for all of our fresh products so I get fresh orange juice, lime juice, lemon juice from them,” she said. “I’m doing a grapefruit (martini) right now, although that’s almost done, and (next) I’m going to do whatever I can get my hands on.”
What is fresh will dictate menu items, and watermelon and cantaloupe were mentioned as future possibilities. Right now, Shewack has a seasonal pumpkin martini, with Absolut Vanilla vodka, fresh pumpkin puree and cinnamon.
“That’s mainly our focus back there is to tie in with the restaurant, as fresh as fresh can be,” she said.
And that includes local spirits, like the 10th Mountain Rye Whiskey from Vail used in the manhattan and old-fashioned.
“Anything local we can get our hands on liquor-wise, if it’s good,” she said.
Other martini options are the jalapeno blue cheese martini, twisted appletini, chocolate martini, or The Frenchie, featuring Spring 44 vodka, Hiram Walker Raspberry Liqueur, pineapple juice. The margaritas will have seasonal fruits as well. Shewack also plans to do a float with Not Your Father’s Rootbeer.
As for beer, Tavern West has 14 drafts, 11 that will stay, with three that will rotate out — one in-state, one out of state, and a rotating sour. Going with that local theme, the drafts are mainly Colorado beers. The menu also features an extensive wine list with almost 40 different bottles.
A GROWING BUSINESS
Worthen said the restaurant has so far seen a lot of locals that live in the neighborhood nearby frequenting their spot.
“They have been great patrons so far — they’ve been waiting for something they can walk to,” he said.
The patio along Main Street has great views and is far enough west that the sun stays in the area a little longer than most spots in town. There is a massive fireplace in the corner that is the showpiece of the deck, and Worthen expects to see a lot of business from people who see action on the patio.
“So far it’s been a really good experience, we’ve been pretty well received, which is the biggest hurdle in the restaurant business is people accepting the products that you are doing, your ideas,” Worthen said.
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