Social Aspen – Aspen, Colorado

Posted on 23 March 2009

By Gayle Hendrix

Have you ever had one of those days, or weeks in my case, where you feel as though you are surrounded by incompetence, poor service and bad product? I had one of those weeks recently and I am pleased to announce that it came to a screeching halt at Social. I was finally engulfed by warm, friendly service and enthusiasm for the very exciting food that I was encountering. Located on Aspen’s “Restaurant Row”, it has been open for just over a year but has recently undergone a complete overhaul from the back of the house on up to the front. They consider themselves to be a tapas restaurant, but not in the traditional sense. They are not influenced by Spanish food so much as the concept of small dishes being shared by many people. They consider themselves to be globally inspired, but mostly by the flavors and techniques of Asia.
Once you step inside the inconspicuous entrance, you feel as though you have stepped through the looking glass. It is playful and very stylish. It is trendy but not overdone and uncomfortable. Mellow lounge music is set at the perfect volume and you cannot help but feel relaxed and excited at the same time. The cocktail menu is as intriguing as the menu itself. The menu is full of little nuances and plays on words. It even has its own glossary, done ever so humorously. Upon looking over the menu, it seems that there is no end to what I want to try. There are serious sashimi style dishes and there are lighthearted, homemade tater tots! This menu is so diverse and creative; you can tell it was created by someone with great passion and great taste to match. Fortunately for me, the chef will be sending out some dishes and I can enjoy without thinking! But first I have to start with a margarita made from jalapeno infused tequila and mixed with blood oranges….. I think I am in love.
The first dish to arrive is kampachi with garlic crisps, sliced jalapeno and shiso. You must get the whole thing in your mouth to understand this simply, complex dish. It is so delicate yet full of flavor. I want more, but I know there are more good things to come. Next is the hamachi. It is so fresh and tasty with just the right amount of cilantro micro greens and jalapeno paste. The goodness continues with blue fin sashimi and sweet mustard. As good as the tuna is the actual star is the small salad it is served with. The frisee is tossed in truffle vinaigrette with toasted sesame seeds. Don’t skip it! Here comes the ahi pizza. This is one of their best sellers and I know why. A thin slice of ahi is spread over flatbread and sprinkled with jalapeno, cilantro, sesame seeds, cherry tomatoes and a garlic mayonette. It is lightly dressed with eel sauce to finish. By this time I have moved onto a pear and lemongrass infused martini. I have to say that this is probably the best martini I have ever had. It is so delicate and subtle. It goes down very easily! And so we move onto American-style bites of comfort. The Tater tot. This is no ordinary tater tot. No. This is mashed potato rolled into a log, cut into pieces and covered in crumbled up Lays potato chips. It gets better. You then dip it in a Point Reyes blue cheese fondue. This will be something I crave for a long time to come. The tastiest brussel sprouts ever are next. Roasted in sake and toasted garlic, it is finished with shaved parmesan and truffle oil. For dessert we were served chocolate fondue with fresh berries and homemade crackerjacks, which were so good they didn’t even need the chocolate! This is why I love to eat this way. I have just enjoyed so many flavors and textures and I am not grotesquely full. I have had just enough of each dish and I leave completely content and satisfied. I must go back and try everything that I missed.

Social Aspen
304 E Hopkins Ave
Aspen, CO 81611
http://social-aspen.com

Categorized | Eat & Drink

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