Tag Archives: Summit County

Amazing Grace: A true local eatery

The story below was featured on The Breck Connection

213 Lincoln Avenue in Breckenridge

Walking into Amazing Grace Natural Eatery on Lincoln Avenue in Breckenridge it’s easy to feel like you found a true gem. On any given morning you will find the tables full of folks decked out in ski gear, chatting about the current snow conditions, town happenings and local gossip. The vibe is relaxed and unpretentious, a perfect choice for those looking for a more personal dining experience away from the Main Street masses.

It’s no surprised that Amazing Grace is so laid-back given the women in charge would have it no other way. The business was started by famed adventure racer Monique Merrill who wanted to create a restaurant that felt like home when she returned from trekking across the globe, and she recruited other like-minded local ladies who shared a passion for outdoor exploration and good all-natural cooking.

You won’t find anything processed at Amazing Grace as emphasis is placed on fresh, wholesome ingredients. If you head in for a bite in the morning try the glueten-free breakfast tacos, loaded with eggs, cheese, spinach and salsa, gently folded in corn tortillas. Find a table and sip on a cup of free-trade conscious coffee as you peruse the Summit Daily in the dappled sunlight coming through the frosted windows. Or, if you are in a hurry, grab one of their freshly baked muffins with a rotating selection baked fresh daily.

My favorite time to be at Amazing Grace is during the lunch hour. There’s something about being in a refurbished old house that makes me feel at peace and when work starts to get too hectic I always find myself wandering up to Lincoln Avenue to slow down for an hour or more and enjoy a quite lunch.

I’m a sucker for a good turkey sandwich and Amazing Grace has several options I tend to rotate through. The Turkey Veggie comes complete with tomato, cucumber, shredded carrots, zucchini and sprouts, and when I’m feeling something with a bit more zip I opt for the Turkey Berry with avocado, cranberries and raspberry vinaigrette dressing.

Belly up to the counter

If you’re looking for good food you can feel good about eating, venture away from Main Street and pop in to Amazing Grace Tuesday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Check them out online before you go at amazinggracebreck.com and you can see the full menu along with short bios of all the employees.


Breck Biz Spotlight: b boutique

When you begin talking to b boutique owner Cathy Cleary about her new shop on Main Street in Breckenridge you quickly realize this was a business born out of necessity.

“When I moved to Summit County I noticed there were hardly any places to buy high-quality makeup, hair or skin products,” Cleary said. “The brands that I used when I was working with salons weren’t accessible to people living in the mountains and it usually meant driving to Denver and spending more money.”

Now ladies need to look no further, tucked away at 301 N. Main Street behind The Fall Line, b boutique sits in a completely renovated ski tuning shop. Lines of skis and snowboards have now been replaced with handcrafted tables stocked with hair care brands like Pureology and Aquage, makeup lines from Stila and highly sought after skincare products from Ole Henriksen.

Starting on November 11th through the weekend b boutique will be celebrating their Grand Opening complete with giveaways, goodie bags and a jewelery trunk show.

“I feel like it’s great to finally have a place outside of the salon setting where people can shop and have someone there to educate them on which product will best suit their needs,” Cleary said. “Plus, there have to be plenty of testers. That’s what makes it fun!”

Originally hailing from Chicago, Cleary attended the Aveda Institute for Cosmetology and later joined Trio Salon in Chicago’s Gold Coast. After migrating westward for a  job in Vail, she realized she had her own ideas for a business model and launched Weemala Wedding Hair and Makeup, a mobile venture with fellow local Kelly Richardson. With business growing, the logical next step for Cleary was to set up a more permanent location for wedding consultations and an onsite boutique was something she had always envisioned.

Catering to locals and visitors alike, b botique carries a host of products perfectly suited for life in the Rocky Mountains. Skin feel dry and scratchy from too many cold days on the ski slopes? Try the Pine Tar Soap Bar from Made In Breck, a locally made, all-natural alternative to soaps that further dry out the skin. Lips feel chapped? Slather on a sample of the Sara Happ lip scrub followed by the shimmery gloss and you’ll quickly realize it’s impossible to walk out without buying at least one of the many lip-smackin’ flavors. Or, maybe you forgot your sunscreen on your way to the gondola just a few steps down the road. To keep your skin protected you can pick up a tube of Zinka, the original zinc oxide waterproof sunblock in a variety of retro neon colors that will remind you of the good ‘ol days on the mountain.

Custom jewelry and pottery creations from local resident Regina Signa and her company ArTraveLove are artfully displayed throughout b boutique as well as colorful wrap bracelets and assorted jewlery from BB Dharma. Those interested in checking out more of the jewelry offered at b boutique should make it a point to stop by the shop on Sunday the 13th for jewelry trunk show with BB Dharma’s creator Mary Beth Brush.

Whether you are a full-0n beauty diva or just looking to battle split ends, b boutique is a clear choice for those in the High Country looking to treat themselves. So do yourself a favor and stop by this weekend to check out the Grand Opening, free samples guaranteed.

Winter has arrived

The rumors had begun swirling late last week.  Moisture out of the Southwest was set to collide nicely with a favorable jet stream and snow was the one thing on everyone’s mind.


You heard it in line at the coffee shop, in the aisles of the grocery store and, most typically, at the bar. Everyone you asked wasn’t shy about giving you their own personal predictions either.

Although some people were talking big numbers (1-2ft) we all woke up this morning to more modest snow totals than expected but still enough to label it a bona fide powder day at Loveland and Arapahoe Basin.

As much as I wished I could have gone skiing today I’m still a few weeks away from getting my season pass. Luckily, the scene in my backyard today couldn’t be more serene and the quite that comes with having all the roommates out of the house is perfect for sitting with my laptop and a cup of tea.

Hope everyone else is having a happy snow day!







Doing some Haus work…

I was supposed to have jury duty yesterday. I had been dreading it all week and was cringing at the idea of having to wake up early and sit in the stale air of a courtroom all day. Much to my surprise, when I arrived at the Justice Center promptly at 8a.m. the parking lot was completely empty and the security guard at the door wasted no time in making me feel like an idiot.

“Didn’t you think to call like the notice told you,” he asked with a knowing smirk.

First off, I don’t appreciate a knowing smirk from anyone before 10 a.m., and once I took a second look at the jury summons I immediately felt like an idiot considering I had ignored half of the important instructions.

With the whole day suddenly free I was able to join a few of my guy friends on a mid-day rock climbing mission at Haus Rock located between Keystone and Montezuma. The 20 minute hike in is pretty steep and can be hard to follow, but just make sure you keep an eye out for carins making the trail.

Our buddy Mike, the real climber out of all of us

As we approached the rock from the south I was feeling a little daunted. I’ve only rock climbed a handful of times and these pitches had crazy vertical and overhang, but my friend told me not to worry and we continued around the rock to the north side where the lines looked a little more manageable.

Safety first, then teamwork

It’s easy to see why Haus Rock has become a favored climbing spot in Summit County, with numerous routes and plenty of bolts it can be an easy climb for those just starting out or a technical endeavor for those looking for a bit more of a challenge.

Even though I hadn’t really planned on doing a whole lot of climbing myself, I couldn’t resist giving it a try and after my first climb I refused to take off the harness so I could try out different routes. By the end of the afternoon I was beating the boys up the rock with a huge smile on my face.

All photos by Sam Steen, my trusted belayer.

Mike D with Jake and Sammy looking on

Jake is now addicted as well

Think I found a new hobby to sink my money into

Twist arrives in Breck just in time

Truth is, some of us were getting bored.

Menus plastered outside local eateries in Breckenridge were starting to curl up at the edges, watermarks obscuring old standby options that were starting to look uninspired. We were feeling blase by overexposure to the same burgers, pizza and pasta options

Enter chef Matt Fackler and Twist, a new Ridge Street restaurant boasting an innovative take on comfort cuisine.

Having already garnered national acclaim for his Main Street restaurant, Relish, including a favorable mention in the New York Times travel section, Fackler opened Twist in June of this year.

Open for Happy Hour and dinner starting at 4p.m., Twist boast one of the best patios in town. Nestled just far enough off of Main Street, the property is situated at the perfect level for stellar mountain views and charming lights strung through the trees add a touch of romance to the casual atmosphere.  Walking through the door, the servers dressed in jeans and t-shirts let you know that there are no pretentious attitudes here.  Simple, intimate and bright, the interior of Twist seems cheery and welcoming even if there is a thunderstorm raging outside and the friendly vibe of the staff is the perfect compliment.

The menu at Twist is familiar and far reaching but in all the right ways. Classics like corn dogs and macaroni and cheese get a funky modern makeover with lots of focus on keeping many ingredients locally sourced. Dinner entrees are incredibly reasonable price wise given the quality of ingredients and the care in the preparation. Having worked in several restaurants around town I have an idea of what goes on behind the scenes and you can always tell when there are people in the kitchen that actually care about the food they are putting out.

While I have to admit I have done more visiting during Happy Hour, my favorite dinner entrees were the “fish and chips” (with amazing rosti potatoes) and the “chicken and waffles” (this wild rice waffle ‘aint yo mamas Bisquick), a must try if you ask me. Now, Happy Hour is a time I know quite well. Focusing again on the locally sourced, Twist enlisted the help of the boys over at the Breckenridge Distillery to create a watermelon infused vodka that flies off the shelves as the main player in their signature Watermelon Vodka Lemonade. It’s the perfect after-work cocktail and, if it’s been a particularly bad day at work, you can kick it up a notch to the Green Tea Martini, a personal favorite of mine.

The food served during Happy Hour is also a great deal for the price and diners will be pleasantly surprised with the softshell crab sandwich, the clam strips (ask for extra tartar sauce, it’s awesome!), sweet potato fries or the shrimp “cocktail” with seaweed salad. Neil and Tom at the bar are great for conversation or a menu recommendation and there is plenty of local flavor around the bar during the after-work rush.

Twist is a welcomed addition to the Breckenridge restaurant scene and given the man in charge isn’t afraid to shake things up a bit, I’m excited to see the menu change with the seasons, a sure way to keep the local foodies interested.

Denver Restaurant Week well worth the drive

I’m not a really big planner, but when my friend Lauren sent me an invitation to go out to dinner with the girls for Denver Restaurant Week, I went out and bought a planner just so I could write it down.

I had always wanted to go to Restaurant Week when I lived down in Denver, but every time I actually got around to looking up reservations everything would be booked and I would end up settling for Ramen or Mac n’ Cheese.

Lucky for me, Lauren is a planner and she booked a reservation for four at one of Denver’s newest restaurant, Olivea,  about a month in advance through OpenTable.com (a pretty nifty website, if you’ve never been on there). She’s such a go-getter.

Denver Restaurant Week is a two-week celebration of Denver’s unique and diverse food scene, and from February 20 – March 5 diners can enjoy a multi-course dinner at over one hundred Denver eateries for the fixed price of $52.80 for two, or $26.40 for one.

All the participating restaurants are listed on the Restaurant Week website (http://www.denver.org/denverrestaurant/) and the set menus are also included, making it pretty easy to waste hours at a time drooling over entrée descriptions.

I couldn’t help but get excited in the days leading up to the reservation, and the idea of spending an entire evening with a group of my beautiful and intelligent female friends helped me justify ditching out of work early to beat the rush hour down to Denver.

Nestled in the 17th Avenue neighborhood, Olivea is a sister restaurant to Duo, a place I keep wanting to try because I have heard many rave reviews about their brunch menu and mimosas.

The cuisine at Olivea is Mediterranean, and I couldn’t help but get excited when I noticed not one, but two items on the menu with duck. I had never tried duck before and I vowed that this would be the meal that changed that.

Olivea was bustling last Thursday, and our group of four was lead to a table in the back of the tiny dining area to soak in the scene.

We all decided that we would each order one appetizer so we could get a taste for everything, and we agreed that we would share at least one bite of our entrée with the table.

I ordered the duck liver mousse, fig compote and pickled red onions and was delightfully surprised and how smooth and creamy the mousse was. Spread on a thick-cut baguette with some of the red onions on top created a nice crunchy, smooth, salty bite, and the sweet figs provided a nice contrast

The potato flatbread with caramelized onions and rosemary was also very good, and I’m convinced it might be a recipe I can attempt at home.

For my entrée I ordered the duck meatballs on creamy polenta with shaved pecorino, and after one bite I knew I had ordered the winner of the night.

Compared to regular meatballs, these were melt-in-your-mouth tender and the bites tasted even better after being dragged through the sweet polenta.

I tried bites of the mahi mahi with saffron couscous and the semolina gnocchi with mushrooms, but still felt I had ordered one of the best things on the menu, and I got to see just how versatile duck is as an ingredient.

For dessert, the  honey almond semifreddo with almond praline was deliciously light and decadent at the same time. Every plate I sent back to the kitchen was virtually clean, my own little silent compliment to the chef.

Three amazing courses, plus two bottles of wine, plus a nice tip for our waiter (who put up with our constant giggling), came out to $53. Not a bad price to pay for fine dining.

I am now hooked on the whole Restaurant Week thing, and even though I know I have to wait a whole year for it to come around again, I already have my eye out for new places I will add to my list of potential places for the 2nd annual girl’s night.

The rowdiest wine bar in Breckenridge

When my best friend Lauren came up from Denver last weekend, I wasn’t expecting anything crazy when she suggested we hit up a wine bar she had heard about in Breckenridge.

Her old friend from high school had gotten a job as a server at D’Vine Wine, and so the notion of possibly getting hooked up with a deal on a glass of wine or two was enough to get us in there to check it out.

Located on Main Street right next to The Crown coffee shop on the second level of the mall, D’Vine Wines is rather unassuming, and I have to admit that I pretty much overlooked it every time I was searching for a Happy Hour option.

The glow of the low hanging lights over the front counter gave the place an intimate feel, and we snagged a tall table in the back to catch up on a week’s worth of girl gossip.

But, we quickly determined that this wasn’t going to be the quiet evening we both originally thought.

After our first glass of wine, T.S., the apparent man in charge, came over to introduce himself and offer us some free wine since we were friends with Greg the server. Along with all the other patrons in the bar, he had us yell out our names in an effort to let everyone know this isn’t the type of place that expects you to whisper.

Saturday nights at D’Vine Wines features “Music, Merlot, and Massage,” and at 6 p.m. the place started bustling as a massage chair got set up in the corner offering $1/minute deep tissue massages.

A singer who goes by Naked Pete began setting up equipment in the front of the house, and T.S. grabbed our glasses and moved us to a table right in the thick of things.

“Time to make friends,” he announced with a smile as he sat us with a woman in her 40’s.

Suddenly, this whole experience was starting to feel like summer camp, but with booze.

The speakers came to life and Naked Pete began blasting out all the classics on requests, “American Pie” by Don McLean, “Gin and Juice” by Snoop Dogg, and my favorite Neil Diamond sing-along, “Sweet Caroline.”

A purple balloon suit fashioned to look like a bunch of grapes came out and a free glass of wine was promised to anyone who would put on the suit to attract more customers from off the street.

I passed on the street performance but somehow didn’t shy away from jumping up to help Naked Pete  belt out a few songs, whether he wanted the help or not.

Before I knew it, there were two bottles of empty One Tree red in front of us, with another one on the way, and things were starting to get blurry…  

Every person that walked into the bar was greeted with a loud howl by all the patrons, and I took comfort in the fact that we weren’t the only ones letting loose on this particular Saturday.

This was not your typical stuffy wine bar, and as I looked around at folks starting to get tipsy and rowdy, I realized this place had the heart of a local college hang out with the soul of a boisterous Irish pub.

Maybe it’s not like that every night, but we were sure feeling it.

When someone finally mentioned it was creeping up on 9 o’clock, we realized we had been there for over four hours and called a designated driver to pick us up. The giggling didn’t cease till we got home, where we quickly fell asleep with purple-stained lips. All in all, a very good girls night.

The hangover the next day was brutal, but the memory of belting out “Sweet Caroline” with my best friend was enough to make me want to go back again.

Breckenridge Tasting Room
211 South Main Street
Breckenridge, CO  80424