An Iron Chef contestant takes on Salida.
When Kurt Boucher opened the Butcher's Table in Salida last October, his aim was to bring adventuresome cuisine, made with produce from sustainable local farmers, to this "steak and potato" town. Boucher was the longtime chef of the Pine Creek Cookhouse outside of Aspen—he worked there 19 years—and was the first Coloradan to compete on the Food Network's Iron Chef. (He lost last fall to chef Bobby Flay, but is eager for a rematch.) His parents have lived in Salida for about 20 years, and Boucher says, "I love this town, and that's why I wanted to give it a little gem."
The result is a booth- and bar-lined room with an open kitchen, serving what Boucher calls "comfort food with French influence and Asian accents." The seasonal menu features small plates like seared foie gras with sour blueberry chutney, caramelized pistachios, and pistachio gelato, as well as intriguing salads like a stack of heirloom tomato slices with fried artichokes, lemon aïoli, and maple-balsamic vinegar. A highlight among the larger plates is the Cheek-2-Cheek: braised veal cheeks alongside grilled halibut cheeks, with a portion of mac-n-cheese lurking between.
Boucher anticipates luring fine-dining fans from his Pine Creek days over Independence Pass, and hopes that a slower economy will encourage Denverites to check out destinations like Salida rather than travel out of state. After an excellent meal at the Butcher's Table and a starlit stroll down historic F Street to the churning Arkansas River, one might indeed ask: Why go anywhere else? 122 N. F St., Salida, 719-530-9909, www.thebutcherstable.com