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When Cloverdale Restaurant, a super-ambitious, 32-seat, tasting-menu-only eatery opened last July in Steamboat Springs, it was noteworthy for a few reasons. First, having a multi-course meal chosen for us is a fairly new concept for most Colorado diners. And to open such a restaurant in a town with a population of just 12,000 people, is, to put it mildly, a very bold choice.
Sadly, the risk was not rewarded. Chef/owner/culinary maverick Patrick Ayres has confirmed that Cloverdale will serve its last meal on October 6.
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“Cloverdale closed because it was an ambitious concept and menu style in a town that wasn’t ready for it,” Ayres says. “I wanted to bring it to my hometown to try and bring it some culinary recognition. I think we did that, but in the end the locals didn’t take to it as quickly as we had hoped. No matter who you are, you have to have a local guest base and we never established one that was large enough.”
The menu, which featured adventurous dishes made from the bounty of Cloverdale’s 10.5-acre Yampa Valley farm, originally centered around a $270 chef’s tasting experience that spanned 10 to 14 courses. Ayres later added a slightly more traditional three-course meal where diners could choose the dishes that made up their meal.
“We tried to evolve the menu to give people an affordable option, but most people still had it in their minds that we were too expensive,” Ayres says.
Cloverdale joins another risk-taking Colorado restaurant that recently passed over to the other side (see: Rebel Restaurant’s shuttering in August), but there’s good news, too. Experimental tasting menu restaurants Beckon and Restaurant Tonno are slated to open in Denver before the end of the year, which means we Mile High City diners will have at least two more chances to challenge our preconceptions and palates. Let’s take them.