The Geiger Counter: The most romantic dinners in Summit County |

The Geiger Counter: The most romantic dinners in Summit County

Dishes at Aurum Food & Wine in Breckenridge are designed to look like works of art, said the business’s founder, Phillips Armstrong, who thinks that’s just one of the many special touches at Aurum that add to the dining experience.
Jameson Midgett / Aurum Food & Wine

Don’t know what to do this weekend? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Pull up a seat to the counter, and I’ll tell you about everything that’s hot and happening.

Valentine’s Day is here and the masses of lovesick couples are flocking out to eat. We’re fortunate to have plenty of fine dining choices for all sorts of diets and budgets. Hopefully you already have made your reservations, but if you’re still undecided — or you want a head start on next year — here are my suggestions.

No doubt tons of restaurants in the area are marking the special occasion with unique menus or other offerings, but these spots are romantic choices that delight no matter the time of year.

5. Carboy Winery

I didn’t go to Carboy Winery’s Breckenridge location until about two years ago, and I’m kicking myself for not going sooner. I think I was turned off by the idea of Colorado wines and didn’t even look at the menu. However, their food options include a delicious bison carpaccio and curried cauliflower that would tempt carnivores. It’s also the first place where I had the chance to eat goat tacos.

As for beverages, they have a syrah that is absolutely wonderful. The place is an underrated gem.

4. Breckenridge Distillery

Similar to Carboy, one might be remiss to think that a distillery would have a worthwhile restaurant. Yet with a menu by James Beard award-winning chef David Burke, the seasonal selections are diverse and delectable. Try the Brussels sprouts made with bacon, apples, hazelnuts and Breckenridge Bourbon maple syrup or the tagliatelle pasta with guanciale and peas.

Naturally, a restaurant housed in a craft distillery makes fine craft cocktails. There’s classics like the Obi-Wan Old Fashioned inspired by “Star Wars” and various ginger beer mules alongside more unique concoctions like the Permafrost Pear.

3. Aurum

Another small-plates option with a seasonal menu is the relatively new Aurum in Breckenridge. There’s oysters, mussels, duck and pork, but I’m a bigger fan of the smooth and rich foie gras.

It was shaped into a strawberry the first time I went, but now it is a cinnamon apple version serviced with apple butter, ciabatta and apple itself.

2. Keystone Ranch

Speaking of foie gras, many moons ago I first bit into that dish at the Keystone Ranch. That decision absolutely spoiled my palate, making me seek out the heavenly liver whenever possible, though my budget wouldn’t allow it.

At the end of the hearty meal, enjoy the restaurant’s signature crème brulee while curled up by the fireplace away from the main dining room. Simply changing setting midmeal elevates the experience.

1. Ski Tip Lodge

In my mind, though, the best restaurant that serves dessert in a separate location near a cozy fireplace is Ski Tip Lodge. The award-winning restaurant also has a constantly shifting menu that features excellent game and fresh fish.

Make sure to splurge for the wine pairing as the restaurant has the best sommeliers I have ever seen. Their descriptions of a wine’s history and how it complements a dish will whisk you away on a culinary cruise to happiness.

As a bonus, the lodge used to be the home of Keystone Resort founders Max and Edna Dercum. It now operates as a bed and breakfast as well as a restaurant. So, if you plan it right, you could have a comfortable bed waiting for you after that filling meal and those moments by the fire. Then when you awake, there’s another perfect meal waiting for you.

What I’m playing

‘Apex Legends’

A year ago Respawn Entertainment, a company founded by the original “Call of Duty” creators and the folks behind “Titanfall,” released a new video game called “Apex Legends.” The free-to-play game is in the battle royale genre, meaning it’s a competitor to the mega-popular “Fortnite.” In “Apex Legends,” players form 20 groups of three and randomly drop onto an island. People must then scrounge for weapons and equipment such as sniper rifles and body armor that will help them fell their opponents the fastest.

Survivors of the gunfight then have to be cognizant of the shrinking battlefield and make their way to the next area. Helping them traverse the dangerous landscape that gets the adrenaline pumping are a variety of abilities special to each character and the series’ iconic and speedy slide.

Even if you don’t win, which is a common occurrence since the odds aren’t in your favor, it’s simple to have a blast merely by being close to the top. If the second year is going to be as fun as the first, then the appeal of “Apex Legends” could last for a long time.

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