Restaurant: Element 47
Cuisine: Innovative American
Executive Chef: Matt Zubrod
Location: The Little Nell Hotel, Aspen
My husband and I first became acquainted with the restaurant Element 47 when we visited Aspen last winter season. We were impressed with its food, elegance and ambiance and it quickly became our frequent lunch destination. In addition to being a formidable restaurant in its own right, Element 47 also hosts noteworthy culinary events. We attended a superb New Year’s dinner with an excellent pre-set menu of black caviar, quail or duck paired with exquisite wines from their master sommelier Carlton. We also attended another fabulous dinner event in March in which rock star mixologists competed with the master sommelier for the best pairing with the food. The contest was cocktails vs. wine and guests had to vote for each pairing – that was a lot of fun!
What does Element 47 mean? The name pays tribute to silver, the precious metal that first put Aspen on the map, and to the finest silver service cuisine— breakfast, lunch, après ski and dinner. The service is offered 7 days a week (according to their website).
The beautiful interior is split into three areas. As you enter the hotel and cross the lobby, you’ll pass through a cozy, modern lounge area with a fireplace that’s always surrounded by people. As you head through the sleek bar, a two level dining room opens up on the mezzanine level to reveal an attractive, upscale decor with intimate, plush velvet booths.
At the height of the season, the dining room also doubles as a runway in which models strut the latest dresses and fur collection from Manhattan based furrier designer Denis Basso. The fashion show makes for a very exciting experience and adds panache to the ambiance!
During the height of the season, it is also best to make reservations early as the restaurant draws a very upscale, sophisticated crowd. The atmosphere at lunch is very lively and full of energy. Skiers coming down from the slopes mix with fashionable guests in chic “Aspen wear” for great conversation occasionally interrupted by raucous laughter. Element 47 has one of the best après-ski scenes in Aspen (my favorite time of the day) and is located at one of those lavish lounge and bar areas I mentioned earlier. You will see faces gleaming with joy and ruddy from the outdoors while enjoying a drink and chatting to their friends or people they’ve just met. Some will already be in their après-ski chic attire which adds to the elegance of the scene.
When I met Chef Matt Zubrod at the shoot, I asked him to prepare for us his favorite items on the menu. I was a bit surprised when he chose the most “generic” sounding dishes that can be found in many American restaurants—beet salad, tuna tartar and a Reuben sandwich. I was surprised however when I saw them and took a bite. Just wait until you see the photos! Chef Matt prepared these dishes with such precision, imagination and skill, that these long time American staples gained a new fan–me!
As you sit down, the friendly staff will greet you with incredible straight-from-the-oven HOT buns! Served in a cast-iron dish, they resemble miniature mountain tops—perfectly browned and perfectly shiny with a delectable flaky sea salt sprinkled on top. Served with—you guessed it right—the softest of butters!
But let me jump back to the beginning in which I stated that the dishes chosen by the chef were somewhat “generic”. My tuna tartar was undeniably the best I have ever tried and trust me, I’ve had more than my fair share of this appetizer all over the world. High quality tuna was diced in medium sized cubes, paired with fried capers and topped with a tiny raw quail egg yolk. I was particularly impressed with the idea of fried capers to reduce their brininess and instead add a satisfying crunch to every bite!
Smear a bit on a piece of toast that comes with it, add a few strands of frisée, and bite! Appreciate the crunch and taste the freshness of the fish. Enjoy!
Speaking of finesse, try this roasted beet salad with creamy burrata, elegant greens and marcona almonds.
Jewel-toned little morsels of baby beets are at the center stage. It is an elegant appetizer which, in my opinion, is meant to be shared! When paired with a crisp white wine, such as Dumol Chardonnay, this salad’s glory is elevated even further. Wow, I am getting poetic here!
I have always looked at food as an art form and this salad certainly meets that criteria.
I would normally not consider ordering a sandwich, thus I was intrigued by this specific chef’s choice. However, from the first bite I quickly understood that this traditional yet ubiquitous American sandwich is certainly worth the damage to my daily calorie intake when prepared by Chef Matt! But don’t despair, even if you overindulge on gourmet lunch at Element 47, you can work it all off on the slopes or on vigorous hikes during the summer. The french fries deserve to be recognized in their own right because you’ll simply have no self-control after you taste the first one! The house-made pastrami is made from the beef that is sourced from Kurt Russell’s ranch and is simply superb.
House-made pastrami so dedicatedly prepared under the chef’s supervision is the heart of this sandwich.
My partner in crime is probably Instagraming about his exceptional experience at Element 47….. just kidding, Gary won’t ever get an account but he truly enjoyed working with me on this project (especially the eating part:)).
We received some royal treatment from the pastry chef. He made this incredible dessert you see in the photos, called “Burnt”. It wasn’t even on the menu but was created for the special dinner later that evening which we were fortunate enough to attend.
The pastry chef, Curtis Cameron, handed me a tiny piece of paper with the list of ingredients. Just by reading you can almost taste these extravagant flavors – molasses crème fraîche, burnt white chocolate, toasted seed granola, lacto fermented papaya (kambocha method), roasted barley ice-cream pearls and sweet woodruff – Wow! I had to google half of these ingredients. What a perfect ending for an outstanding lunch.
THE LOOK: The look was my take on chic Colorado western style. I paired a romantic Intermix blouse and a suede Chloe skirt accented with some gorgeous leather detailing on the pockets and a full-length, cognac fringe vest.
High knee leather boots by Loro Piano and a short Lanvin fur jacket capped it off. I added a statement ring with turquoise stones that I acquired on my recent trip to India and a vintage pendant from the Hamptons. These matched the turquoise suede sides of the GG Supreme shoulder bag from Gucci. A deep purple Loro Piano hat was the finishing touch for the ensemble.
Photographed by Michele Cardamone.