Have you ever eaten at 11,444 feet? I can tell you, between the ride up (it takes not one but two gondolas to get there), the views of the Rockies at the top, and the warm greeting that awaits you upon arrival, there’s little to beat doing so at Der Fondue Chessel at Keystone Resort, which is perched at the top of North Peak, the second of the resort’s three mountains.
The restaurant is located in a large dining room at The Outpost, which has post-and-beam construction, a high ceiling, and a huge stone fireplace – the perfect place to cozy up with a beer after a long day of skiing. (Although you might wish you’d worn your dirndl or lederhosen instead of your ski jacket when you see how the staff is dressed.)
After we had been sitting in the restaurant for a few minutes, Those Austrian Guys appeared. You know, the ones with a guitar, an accordion, and thick German accents. They wandered between the tables singing folk songs and polkas, occasionally jumping up on tables or chairs just to make sure we were all paying attention.
Which we were, until the food arrived. We started with a Caesar salad that was prepared tableside while our cheese melted over an open flame. The salad was fine, but I was watching for bubbles in the cheese, waiting for the real action.
Now this plate of food might not look too exciting.
But when you consider that each of these items can be dipped in this, well, that’s a game changer.
Oh yes, it is. Trust me.
Warning: After you’ve had your fill of veggies, bread, and cheese, your server will bring out a raclette grill, and then the bounty really begins. Sausages! Chicken! Pork! Not to mention dipping sauces, pickles, and bread.
But I have to say that my absolute favorite were the roasted potatoes. These came with slices of cheese; place them on a small spatula and stick them under the grill so that the cheese can melt and you’ve got one pile of deliciousness.
For an additional cost you can substitute or add other proteins like lamb or shrimp, although frankly, I can’t imagine that you’ll need more food. We didn’t even come close to finishing ours. Of course, we did leave enough room for this:
Oh yeah baby. That would be the “Turtle” version of the dessert fondue – milk chocolate, cream, pecans, and caramel, which comes with marshmallows, cake, and cookies for dipping.
By the time we hit dessert the room had filled up, and the rollicking music was going full pitch. At this moment the familiar strains of the Chicken Dance tune started and everyone had to take a fondue break for a little polka action.
Dinner at Der Fondue Chessel is not cheap – before drinks, tips, or other taxes you’ll pay 58 dollars per adult, 29 dollars per kid. On the other hand, the food is delicious and plentiful (and all the meat is antibiotic and hormone free), the service is great, and the atmosphere is really fun, making it worth budgeting for as a special evening out with your family.
Unfortunately for Teddy, the altitude really socked him and he couldn’t enjoy his meal very much. In fact Harriet, the nice lady who worked the coat check, was so concerned about him that she retrieved some gondola blankets and made him a cozy little bed at our table where he could relax until we were ready to go.
We had dinner at Der Fondue Chessel on our second night at Keystone; since Teddy’s altitude sickness improved dramatically during the course of our stay, I’d recommend planning your meal there for the end of your visit if possible.
Despite Teddy’s illness, the gondola ride back down the mountain was completely magical. The four of us snuggled together and watched the brilliant moon as the shapes of trees slipped silently past. And in the dark and romantic night, I knew that I’d be dreaming of those cheesy potatoes.
For Wanderfood Wednesday at Wanderlust and Lipstick – stop by to see what other things people are eating in far flung places.
Want more information on visiting Keystone with kids? Check out my other Keystone Resort posts.