Top 12 Restaurant of the Month – The Peck House, Empire

Now, I’m cheating, just a little bit, by featuring a restaurant which is not in Winter Park, but rather in Empire on US Highway 40, just after exiting I-70 at Exit 232. In any event, this is my blog, and unless you’re coming from the other direction, you would drive past this restaurant anyway to get to/from Winter Park.

The Peck House dates back to the 1860s and is actually the oldest hotel in Colorado still in operation. As this post is about the restaurant however, I’ll let the history buffs find out more about the hotel’s history by going to their website, http://www.thepeckhouse.com

Gary St. Clair is the owner-chef of the restaurant, and he has won the coveted Governor’s award for his Colorado cuisine. The extensive menu includes a selection of beef, chicken, seafood, game and historic dishes, 17 choices in all, plus specials every night. The dining room itself feels more like someone’s private living room from older times, and boasts a wonderful view of the Empire Valley and Union Pass.

We’d eaten there twice before, both special occasions, as was this one on Monday April 19th, the day after the Winter Park Resort closed for the season. It was difficult to choose something other than our “favorites”, mainly because they were so enjoyable last time around, so we pretty much ended up having what we’d had before: Mrs. Peck’s Steak & Oyster Pie – an historic secret recipe from the past using choice tidbits of beef, mushrooms, oysters, a secret sauce, and deep-dish baked under a puff pastry; Napolean Chardonnay Chicken – chicken sautéed in a chardonnay cream sauce with mushrooms  in a puff pastry; and Raspberry Duck – a boneless breast of roast duck with a raspberry Grand Marnier sauce. My 3-¾ year-old daughter had steak from the kids menu! This was preceded by a seafood combo appetizer of smoked salmon, trout and shrimp, and escargot with mushrooms.

Needless to say, the food was once again fantastic and of course we were guilty of eating way too much. Check out the wine list also for not only a unique presentation but a variety of wines that you may not even have come across before, and all at very reasonable prices.

What we enjoy about the Peck House is the uniqueness of the dining experience, the history of the hotel and all the antiques everywhere, and a great menu that you won’t find replicated anywhere else. It’s definitely worth the drive over Berthoud Pass and back if you’re already in Winter Park, or as a stop for dinner on either the inward or outward journey if Winter Park is your vacation destination.

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