Popular Blue Plate Restaurant in Avon offers new location, new options, same great food
By Kat Jahnigen
Looking at the menu of the Blue Plate Restaurant does not at first bring to mind “American Cuisine.” Just glancing at the appetizer options – North African mussels, a Mediterranean sampler with pita chips and Damascus hummus, an Italian white truffle and lentil puree and a dip made of Levant roasted red pepper and pecan – gives the impression of an inspired fusion of foods and cooking styles from around the world.
But, according to the restaurant’s chef and co-owner Adam Roustom, that’s exactly what American cuisine is.
“To me Americana is a combination of the food traditions of immigrants who came here,” Roustom explains. “Why else would you put sauerkraut on hotdogs if it weren’t for the Germans? That’s what America is: a compilation.”
Roustom’s view of Americana and his attitude toward cooking isn’t not surprising in view of his background. The son of a Syrian father and an American mother, he grew up in Syria until the age of 10, when the family moved to the United States. But whether living in Syria or America, he was exposed to top-notch traditional cooking from both nationalities – and a love of food that would infuse his approach as a professional chef and carry over to the benefit of his restaurant patrons.
“That’s how I approach food – food is family. Food is hospitality. To me, love is food,” he says.
Adding to the mélange, his wife, Elli – whom he met after moving to the Vail Valley – is Austrian. Together, the two created an American restaurant that proved to be so successful in its previous location in The Christie Lodge, where it was housed for four years, that it recently was relocated to a new building twice the size. Its new, expanded location, which opened for business on Friday, is right across the street from the old one, in Avon’s “boat building,” next door to Vin 48.
Elli Roustom calls the move both a “quantum leap for us and the logical step for us in our growth as restaurateurs.”
“Adam loves his new kitchen,” she adds. “He’s finally got room to move and to be more creative. He also loves the open kitchen design that allows him to watch the guests as they enjoy his Architect Michael Hazard was instrumental in helping the Roustoms realize their vision for the new space, adding details such as illuminated bars and counters and a living wall in the summer room.
“Opening a restaurant is hard. Moving a restaurant was harder,” says Adam Roustom, describing the hours he and Elli put into the construction process every day over the summer. “We did a lot of the work ourselves.”
At the same time, Adam Roustom hired and trained a new sous chef, Kyrie Givens.
“I wanted to train her on my palate,” he says. “Every chef has a different palate, a different approach to food. She cooks like me now.”
New place, same tastes
Blue Plate’s move represents not only a change in location, but a change to some of the menu options. But, like Adam’s cooking, it’s a seamless fusion of the old and new, a compilation of traditional favorites and innovative creations.
“The core menu is what got us here,” Elli Roustom says. “Inspired and creative renditions of American classics have been Adam’s signature all along. We’ve simply expanded the menu to include some of our favorites, like the schnitzel, which we’ll now offer nightly. We’ve also added fondue, and we’ve connected with a supplier of naturally grown, Colorado beef for our steaks.”
Dinner at the new Blue Plate Restaurant is definitely a tasty occasion. You can begin with a selection from their extensive wine list and an appetizer of warm Colorado goat cheese encrusted with pumpkin seeds, served with roasted red pepper coulis and young spinach and balsamic pomegranate dressing.
Steak lovers might try a natural steak from a Ft. Collins farm – it’s tender and flavorfully simple. However, the menu’s standout is the creamed corn, a perfect example of the way Blue Plate transforms classic foods that could easily be ordinary into something exceptional. It is rich with a smoky bacon flavor and has a texture that’s closer to solid, rather than the usual runny version of this recipe, while the taste remains delightfully creamy.
The highlight of the meal is dessert, a “popover” that Roustom describes as “our version of a soufflé.” Baked to order, the slightly sweet popover takes about 15 minutes to prepare and is covered with fresh fruit, whipped cream and drizzled honey.
So what’s Blue Plate’s secret? In an economy that’s been detrimental to so many businesses, how has the restaurant not only survived but expanded?
Elli Roustom’s answer is certain and simple: “We’ve tried to keep our food simple and our prices low to accommodate our local following. At the same time, I think our customers that come in from out of town and the second homeowners really appreciate what we here doing here. Overall, I believe that everyone regardless of background, recognizes value. We’ve stayed true to our mission of offering fresh, wholesome food, made from scratch at an affordable price.”