Driving from Denver to Keystone
Destinations Food

Keystone, Colorado, Day 1: Driving and Feasting

Vail Resorts kindly hosted me for three nights in Keystone, Colorado. While lodgings and some activities were covered, these opinions are my own. Check out my posts from day 2 and day 3!

We flew from Austin into Denver and arrived in the afternoon. While the shuttle ride from Denver’s airport to Keystone took a bit longer than expected due to traffic, the views driving from flat Denver into the mountains were stunning:

Driving from Denver to Keystone
Driving from flat Denver to mountainous Keystone.
Drive from Denver to Keystone
View from my window as we’re finally getting up into the mountains!

I was a little grumpy after a long travel day, but as soon as we checked into Keystone Lodge & Spa, I was in heaven. The lobby had an incredible chocolate village display for Christmas, complete with chocolate fountains, a chocolate Christmas tree, and a train set. The staff were all helpful and courteous. Our beautiful and modern room with a comfy king-sized bed had a private deck that overlooked the snow-covered mountains. They had free WiFi–a major bonus for a blogger! There was a large dresser and armoire with tons of storage, perfect for those traveling with tons of cold weather gear. Plus, our room had a large flat-screen TV and DVD player.

After getting settled in, the generous PR folks took us to Keystone Ranch. This restaurant is only a few miles away from the lodge, though driving through the snowy country roads at night made me feel like we were in some beautiful winter wonderland. It was classic and elegant, but felt like a cozy country lodge at the same time. It had wood cabin-like walls, rustic wooden chairs, stone fireplaces, and warm-colored rugs.

Inside Keystone Ranch restaurant
One of the tables in Keystone Ranch

I was told by several people that the food here was to-die-for. They weren’t exaggerating; I honestly can’t remember the last time I had such mindblowingly delicious food. Each of the six courses was arranged like a piece of art and featured unusual combinations, such as pork belly with vanilla bean yogurt on the side.  The service was top-notch, as the attentive waiters knew every detail of each plate. The lobster bisque was so rich and flavorful (and served from a kettle at the table), the salad with crispy goat feta was so fresh, the medium rare lamb chop was the most tender and juicy I’d ever had, and the chocolate lava cake had me dying for more even though my stomach had reached capacity. The six-course meal costs $95 per person.

We dined on an appetizer, soup, salad, sorbet, and main course. Here is a sampling of those. We also had dessert–be sure to get to the bottom for pictures of those!

Pork belly appetizer at Keystone Ranch
My app! Crispy kurobuta pork belly with buttered English muffin, huckleberry jelly, sunny side quail egg, vanilla bean yogurt, watercress & blood orange
Grilled lobster at Keystone Ranch
Another app: grilled Maine lobster with toasted brioche, roma tomato confit, arugula and pancetta, winter truffles, cognac butter
Scallops at Keystone Ranch
Another app: seared day boat scallops with hand-rolled linguine, braised artichokes, picholine olive, lemon foam, parsley
Rabbit at Keystone Ranch
Another app: grilled rabbit en croute with aged manchego mousse, baby golden beets, roasted hedgehog mushrooms, crystalized thyme, sherry naturel
Keystone Ranch salad
Salad of baby red leaf lettuce, warm goat feta, black mission figs, toasted pumpkin seeds, honey sherry vinaigrette
Keystone Ranch sorbet
Pineapple sorbet
Lamb chop at Keystone Ranch
My amazing entree: Colorado lamb chop with ragout of lamb cheek, creamed parsnip gratin, baby purple carrot, grilled frisee, cabernet lamb jus
Crispy striped bass at Keystone Ranch
Crispy striped bass entree with sweet potato galette, creme fraiche crepe, almond, haricot vert, maitake, meyer lemon marmalade, chervil
Boar chop at Keystone Ranch
Grilled boar chop entree with bourbon glazed ribs, soft yellow corn grits, Wisconsin cheddar cheese, roasted tomato sauce, wilted baby spinach

After finishing the first five courses, we were led to a separate room that felt like a true rustic cabin, with a deer antler chandelier, comfy couches, and a roaring fire in a stone fireplace. We ate our dessert at this table in front of the fire. I found out that this part of the building actually was once a part of a real ranch, which explained why it felt like we were in a cozy ranch house.

Keystone Ranch dessert room
The cozy area where we ate dessert

The desserts were inventive and delectable. I can be a bit of a chocolate snob, but my chocolate lava cake was so rich and delicious that I’m not sure if I’ve ever tasted better chocolate. Yeah, it was that good. I was a little bummed that the chocolate part itself was so small, but by this time, I was already stuffed silly.

Chocolate lava cake at Keystone Ranch
Chocolate lava cake with strawberry ice cream, carmelized banana mousse, vanilla marshmallow, waffle cone, fruit, and nuts
Triple creme goat brie en croute at Keystone Ranch
Triple creme goat brie en croute with cinnamon short bread, calvados carmel sauce, brown sugar oat crisp, apple, pecan
Dessert at Keystone Ranch
Terrine of chocolate and raspberry with white chocolate creme anglaise, raspberries in vanilla sugar, expanded honey, lemon curd
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