You’re planning your winter getaway to Copper, ready to escape your frenzied daily routine. You’re dreaming of the fresh air and the powder, the crackling fire and the loads of après ski fun, but not the drama of managing your group’s alternative dietary choices and restrictions, right? If you or your peeps have gone gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan, don’t fret – Copper has your back. My daughter and I recently met up at Copper for some tasty and healthy research at a couple of the resort’s favorite eateries, JJ’s Rocky Mountain Tavern and C.B. Grille.
JJ's Rocky Mountain Tavern
JJ’s Rocky Mountain Tavern is the perfect lunch or last-run-of-the-day meeting spot, located in East Village at the base of the Super Bee lift in Copper Station. It’s a casual, bustling, turn-of-the century styled tavern chock-full of standard and tasty pub-style offerings. Best known for its slow-smoked barbecue, live music and killer patio views of the slopes, we also discovered its unexpected healthy side: a tasty House Made Black Bean Burger and thin-crust gluten-free White Stone Oven Pizza.
The House Made Black Bean Burger
I admit, I love a good juicy burger and the thought of a veggie burger makes me nauseous. In the line of duty I passed right over the Classic All Natural Angus Beef Burger (sigh) and ordered the House Made Bean Burger. No lie, it was truly delicious and didn’t make me feel like a prison inmate. The savory, complex flavor and nutty but moist texture surprisingly had me at the first bite. This handcrafted specialty is made of black beans, barley, quinoa, poblano pepper, onions and Southwestern spices served on a freshly baked BBQ Cheddar roll with choice of Cheddar, Swiss or Pepper Jack cheese. The waffle fries with their perfect crunch and seasoning (they count for vegetarian, right?) were a pretty darn delicious complement to my new favorite burger.
Gluten-Free White Stone Oven Pizza
Gluten-free pizza crust can be hit-or-miss, so I really wasn’t expecting much here. It was a tough decision between the two vegetarian options, but we went for the White Pizza. The runner-up, the Mediterranean with pesto sauce, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, red onions, roasted red peppers, Kalamata olives, Mozzarella and Goat Cheese was also making me drool. All of JJ’s other delicious pizzas can be crafted with a gluten-free crust as well.
The White Pizza was topped with Extra virgin olive oil, fresh oregano, crushed red pepper, diced banana peppers, shallots, garlic, Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. As I crunched through the delicate, thin crust, I knew that no one would ever suspect this delicious, cheesy masterpiece didn’t have a speck of wheat or gluten in it. If I didn’t have to drive from Denver to Copper to get it, this would be my new go-to pizza indulgence. Fantastic.
With our stomachs happy and full and thinking that more seasoned food critics would have definitely saved more room, we headed over to Copper’s upscale C.B. Grille in Center Village to experience some of the resort’s most inspired dining and a fresh, seasonal menu.
Huge wooden doors opened into a cozy candle-lit lodge to create the perfect elegant winter ambiance after a chilly walk. We asked for a table near the fireplace and settled in with our hot buttered rum to gaze through giant picture windows toward twinkly Christmas lights adorning the village.
We quickly decided to share two enticing entrees and House Favorites: Cavatappi With Asparagus and Roasted Mushrooms and the Organic Quinoa & Grilled Acorn Squash.
Cavatappi With Asparagus and Roasted Mushrooms
This pasta dish was replete with asparagus tips, baby Portobello and shiitake mushrooms, spinach, grilled tomatoes, white wine, Parmesan cheese sauce and fresh herbs. The cheesy sauce and its perfect smoky essence complemented the robust mushrooms and tangy tomatoes to make a satisfying dish; no meat required.
Organic Quinoa & Grilled Acorn Squash
With crispy chick peas, baby Portobello mushrooms, sautéed spinach, grilled baby carrots and warm apple compote, this was a really interesting and hearty mix. The protein and fiber in the quinoa make it surprisingly filling and the smooth texture of the acorn squash complemented the other veggies. The tangy-sweet apple compote was a really fun surprise.
Both were such hearty portions we took them home in a box. Who knew they would make such a delightful breakfast the next day?
Chef Adam Jess came over and introduced himself. Jess came to Copper after training with Colorado Mountain college’s Culinary School. A native of Nebraska, he started in the restaurant business at 15 as a dishwasher. “People come to Copper from all over the country and the world. My aim is to provide an interesting menu which appeals to everyone,” says Jess, who adds to C.B. Grille’s seasonally inspired menu by continued education at the Culinary Institute of America.
Lesson learned? You can definitely leave the healthy menu planning up to the experts here at Copper. Now, go relax and have fun.