"Zietz Buckhorn Restaurant" since 1893
Image in My Cookbook
Bread and Beer!
Don and I had been on the road a while, so we were happy to sit back and absorb our surroundings. Don sipped on a beer, while I devoured some pretty heavenly bread and butter. Lynn never made us feel like we'd come at an inconvenient time. She seemed delighted that we were so intrigued by the place.
Don was very pleased with his salmon and baked beans. I chose Gramma Fannie's Pot Roast Sandwich on Pumpernickel. It's been a specialty since 1893. The slow cooked Colorado beef brisket and pan gravy, was actually a lot yummier than "pot roast". I had a cup of the famous bean soup that was featured in the book. Very yummy!
Beasts and Critters
The whole downstairs was jammed with Mr. Zietz' collection of Taxidermy Friends. Hunting was obviously a passion of the original owner. But, long before opening the saloon, Mr. Zietz spent time as a member of Buffalo Bill's "hard-riding and straight-shooting band of Scouts". By the time Zietz opened his saloon, he was the perfect host to the cattlemen, miners, railroad workers, Indian chiefs, silver barons and gamblers!
Lynn and the Book
"He thought it was dead!" Lynn, laughed. "But it wasn't." Evidently, Henry moved in closer to get a better look and the angry beast kicked out some teeth!
Were Ladies Allowed?
Celebs Over the Years
On the wall spaces, which weren't covered in furry friends, there were photos of celebrity friends.
Long before the Hollywood stars came to call, there were the Western ones like Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull. Then Teddy Roosevelt stopped for a visit, in 1905. Since those early years, there have been 5 presidents and at least one princess... Princess Anne. There have been plenty of stars from Bob Hope to Garth Brooks. Lynn said she had lots of stories from her 30 years. She thought Tommy Smothers was pretty amusing.
Lynn invited us to have a look upstairs. She pointed out the wedding dress that had belonged to Sitting Bull's niece. Sitting Bull was the one who nicknamed Henry Zietz, Shortie Scout.
The White Oak Bar
Lynn sent us upstairs to see the impressive front and back bar from 1857, that Zietz had shipped from Germany. She had to get back to work but made sure we stuck our heads in the office to show the cookbook to her husband, Bill. Bill was a tall friendly, character. Even though his clothes weren't western, he seemed to fit the atmosphere well. He took time to point out some of the second story highlights. Like Lynn, he was full of information, but equally interested in us, asking questions about our travels.
Before taking off, Don and I took a peek at the latest room addition, with a couple of stuffed bears and an authentic covered wagon. I wish we could have come back to see what the evening atmosphere was like, with live music, a weekend crowd... and so many wild animals!
Off We Go
I'm just so pleased we were able to chat with Lynn and Bill. It must be an exhausting business, yet, both were generous with their time and sincerely proud of this unique, historic place!
A Food-less Adventure in Colorado
About the Cookbook
We found the barn-like restaurant, just a walk from our hotel. Although there was a newer addition to the right, the building looked very similar to the old illustration. I know from the cookbook that the restaurant was popular in the fifties, but I read that it had been here since 1900.
An authentic stagecoach was on display, as a reminder that this was once a stagecoach stop in 1881. The carriage in my photo, blocks a house-like wooden structure that now holds the restaurant bar. The two buildings were connected by the 1-story addition. The whole rambling complex had a touch of hillbilly flair going on. It reminded me of my trips to the Missouri Ozarks as a kid.
It wasn't exactly mealtime when we arrived, but I was determined to have some kind of "dining adventure" anyway. Don and I took a seat at the bar, even though the outside deck overlooking the creek, looked very inviting.
Happy Hour Exploring
Don and I wanted to be inside where we could learn a little something about the place. The young staff made me realize I might have to do some history figuring on my own. I peeked at the old fireplace across from the bar. I found some framed photos on the wall opposite the fireplace.
What were they before?
It looked like the Stagecoach restaurant, (featured in the book) once held the Manitou Springs Journal. The other building, (where the bar was housed) looked more like a home. The diamond design windows were the same ones I saw next to the fireplace.
Our young bartender, Moxie was pretty upbeat and enthused, even though she was working a double shift, training a new bartender and a little short staffed. She also happened to remind us of Brittney Spears.
Moxie wasn't too busy to answer our question about the staircase nearby. She said the stairs in the house-like building had once lead to a brothel. That gave us something to think about. I waited for another break, when Moxie wasn't being bombarded with orders or silly customer questions, then I flashed the cherry pie recipe at her. She looked twice and laughed at the retro book. She said they still served cherry pie, but added, "You can be sure it's nothing like that recipe!" I'm not sure what that meant.
Most guests were eating on outside patios, so the dining room in the main building was empty. The fireplace and the front bay window were the only indications that we were in an old building. The fresh paint and artwork were added with new ownership a couple years ago. I would have loved to have seen the interior in the fifties.
What About Food?
So, no notes on the food. But I'm glad we experienced the atmosphere and some conversation at the Stagecoach Inn!
Palace Arms, in Denver
Don and I settled for a drink at the Churchill Bar.
Entrance to Palace Arms & Churchill Bar
Traveling With a Cookbook
It was killing me to be so close to the Palace Arms dining room, without experiencing a meal. Don and I were traveling with our vintage, Ford (motor company) Cookbook and we had spotted the Palace Arms in the Colorado section. When the book was printed in 1954, The Palace Arms was a new addition to the (then) 62 year old hotel. I was curious to compare the Napoleonic decor of the illustration, to the dining room today. I pretty much doubted they still served French Pancakes!
Sneaking a Longer Peek
It was getting late, so I figured I'd dash over (with my book) to the dining room for a better look. The host welcomed me in, but he was way too young to be amused by the old cookbook. I noticed a woman, who was just getting ready to leave. She'd been dining alone, so I caught her eye and asked about her meal. "Did you have French Pancakes?" I added with a chuckle, as I pointed to the recipe in the book. She was my age, which was probably why she was intrigued by the cookbook. We chatted more and I learned that her son happened to be the executive chef.
Stories With Mom and Chef
Chef Kasper came out of the kitchen while we were chatting. His mom, Teresa introduced us, which meant I of course, had to share the book. He laughed at the recipe for French Pancakes. We talked about his culinary career, which was mighty impressive for such a young man. We chatted ourselves right into the Independence Dining Room with the historic mural/wallpaper. Kasper laughed at his memory of decorating the elegant room with dinosaurs, once. It was for a little boy's Make-A-Wish celebration.
Before heading back to Churchill's, I offered to use Teresa's cell phone to take her picture with Kasper. (We moms like pics with our sons) I wished her a safe trip back to Kansas and told her she should be incredibly proud of that boy of hers. Then both mom and son were kind enough to do the cookbook pose for my camera. They stood by the flag collection, which is shown in the book illustration.
Surprise at the Bar
Don had wondered why I'd been gone so long. Not long after I finished explaining my disappearance, Chef Kasper and few assistants, swooped in and surrounded us with some specially prepared dishes.
Kasper lingered briefly as he explained the dishes he'd created. Before darting back to the kitchen, he poured warm syrup on his spontaneous creation of French Pancakes, with feta and cherries with a flan-like lid! I was too stunned to absorb all his words! But the flavors were unforgettable! Garden fresh, cucumber and caviar salad... delightfully rich lamb with peas and mushrooms... I think! I so wish I could have recorded his descriptions!
Working Up An Appetite
Just steps from our room, we could see when the afternoon tea ended and the evening jazz quartet arrived. It was a lively Friday night and we were able to enjoy the festive atmosphere before heading to the Palace Arms, for some serious dining!
We started with a tomato and Feta salad, served on a salt block. The chilled block kept the veggies crisp and cold, only melting enough to add a bit of salty flavor! I might add, the bread that came before, was mouth watering. It was hard to hold back.
More and More and More!
The timing of our dishes added to the decadent experience. Four more courses came before dessert. Nothing felt hurried or overdone or uncomfortably formal. Kasper slipped out each time to squat down by the table and explain each dish. He and Harrison never intruded or lingered too long. We seemed to have enough time between courses to miraculously work up an appetite for the next. Everything from the food on the plates to the timing of the service, was totally balanced.
4 More Dishes
When the glass covers were lifted from our plates, we were hit with a poof of aroma... smoked beef and mushroom! Yum!
To the Finish
I still can't figure out what Kasper did, that created a sizzling excitement when he poured our tea! The dessert of rhubarb and pine berries, also had a story I can't explain. Mostly the balance of sweet and sour brought back my own childhood stories, of eating crunchy rhubarb, dipped in sugar, as a child! (Kasper's is much better!)
More Talk and Surprises
We talked about the places he has lived and we even talked about his dog. But mostly we talked about food and restaurants. My biggest surprise was learning that all the dishes he'd served us, he was trying for the first time! Kasper has a passion for creating and presenting food. He seems incredibly serious for such a young man. And he was incredibly generous when he sent us off with a bag full of jams, sauces and breads.
It's been nearly 2 weeks since our feast and I'm still trying to process how it all fell into place. We're back home in Texas now, but I'm about ready to go back and figure it all out!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.