Aspen’s Steakhouse No. 316 opens in Boulder
In an age of outlandish trends and flashy, Insta-worthy everything, there’s comfort in knowing exactly what to expect from a restaurant.
Take the steakhouse. Once upon a time, the steakhouse was fine dining. It wasn’t just a fine dining option; it was the only option. It’s where you went to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays and promotions; the restaurant of choice for a great meal for life’s great occasions.
Nowadays the way we eat is a little different—Fusion! Fancy-casual! Farm-to-table!—which only makes the steakhouse that much more special. It’s not trying to wow you with its creativity or reinvent foods that don’t need reinventing. The humble steakhouse just wants to serve you a perfectly cooked hunk of meat, maybe some creamed spinach and whipped potatoes, and that sort of single-minded reliability isn’t just admirable, it’s mouthwatering.
Craig Cordts-Pearce, who owns Steakhouse No. 316 along with his wife, Samantha, understands the classic beauty of a traditional steakhouse. In fact, they’ve perfected it. The original 316 has been thriving in Aspen for seven years, and the couple wanted to expand their swanky steakhouse to a market with year-round, instead of just seasonal, business.
When the former Conor O’Neill’s space just off the Pearl Street mall became available, they jumped on it. But there was a lot of work involved to transform the, well, less-refined Irish pub into a sexy and sophisticated destination steakhouse.
Craig, along with the chefs and managers, did much of the work themselves—antiquing the wallpaper, laying 5,000 square feet of 120-year-old pine floors and installing the kitchen shelving. They spent six months renovating the restaurant, and for the things they couldn’t do, they hired the best. The result is stunning.
The dark paneling and tufted red velvet banquettes create a moody vibe, while the white tablecloths and ornately framed portraits and paintings keep it formal. The lounge is a very cool and very welcoming place in which to hang out—even if you’re not having dinner at the restaurant.
“I don’t just want this to be a place you go to for dinner a few times a month,” Craig says. “I want you to come grab a drink or meet friends in the lounge or at the bar, even if you’re not having dinner. I want you to use it as your living room, really.”
Assuming your living room is super dapper and filled with gregarious, charming people that is. Tops at 316 for gregarious and charming is Craig himself. The South African native will almost certainly make himself known when he’s at the Boulder steakhouse—he says he and Samantha will be splitting their time between Boulder and Aspen—regaling guests with tales of wine, food and how he went to sell his original restaurant but instead came away from the meeting with even more restaurants.
Craig and Samantha were mindful of responsible sourcing for both the food served in and the design of the steakhouse. For example, the kitchen is outfitted with eco-friendly mechanics like the advanced hood system that’s equipped with heat sensors to preserve electricity when not in use.
All of this is well and good, but you want to know about the food, right?
The top-quality meat comes from hand-selected cattle raised on independent farms and ranches. The Kansas City strip and cowboy rib-eye are both great cuts, but really you can’t go wrong.
Whether you’re there for the meat or not, you won’t want to miss the sides, starters and salads. The Japanese oysters are incredible, as is the tuna tartare and bone marrow and sweetbreads appetizer. People go nuts over the tableside Caesar salad, and your steak will only taste that much better when paired with truffle mac and cheese and miso-glazed shishito peppers. If you’re a steakhouse purist, don’t worry: 316 also serves the requisite creamed spinach.
The wines are as carefully chosen as the food, and the cocktails, like the Bird of Paradise with tequila and passion fruit liqueur, will almost certainly lift your spirits.
When we’re surrounded by uncertainty in everything from the weather to politics, there’s great comfort in knowing exactly what to expect from a meal. Steakhouse No. 316 rises to those expectations, reminding us that there’s beauty in simplicity and deliciousness in restraint.