In my book, there are two things that make a great restaurant experience even greater.
One is when the chef’s cooking inspires me to try something new at home.
And two is when there are leftovers that turn into a scrumptious Act Two the following night.
I fell in love with his simple but sensational stuffed chicken breast to which Gruyere cheese, arugula and Nicoise olives lent a bright Provencal note. The chicken was beautifully charred outside, white and juicy within, and sauced with shiny natural juices.
The accompanying mashed potatoes were smooth and creamy; the clever “onions in the shape of pasta” contributed another pleasing texture and even more buttery richness.
I’ve never been a fan of stuffing chicken breasts at home – the stuff always spills out into a sloppy mess when I do it. But Reggiannini made it look easy. And I figure if I can achieve flavor like that, I’m willing to give it another shot.
On the second score, the leftovers: I brought a hefty chunk of the very generous dinner portion home with me. The next night I broke it apart gently and reheated it (chicken, stuffing and onions) in a saucepan with chicken broth. Just before serving, I added a handful of arugula, a bit of grated Gruyere, and tossed it all with cooked penne. Fabulous.
La Marmotte’s menu is an ambitious roster of hearty dishes, well suited to the robust appetites that get worked up while skiing down double-diamond runs in the winter and hiking up awe-inspiring peaks in the summer. Reggiannini is well known for his braised beef short ribs with horseradish mashed potatoes and pesto; his Colorado lamb “duo” (braised shank and grilled sirloin, with mushroom risotto and rosemary-date jus); and a slow-baked salmon with edamame couscous and lemon-caper remoulade. I’m also a big fan of his roasted red beet salad with goat cheese wontons.
La Marmotte, which has been part of the Telluride landscape for more than 20 years (Reggiannini joined about 10 years ago), oozes rustic charm. Set in the 125-year-old Ice House, it has a dark and cozy bar, and an inviting dining room with an elevated, open kitchen smack in the middle. In season, it’s always packed with an animated, appreciative crowd.
The restaurant is located in the heart of the traffic-light-free town of Telluride. Reservations are available on Open Table. The three-course prix fixe menu -- which includes more than a dozen each appetizer and entree selections -- costs $49 per person.