New Eagle eatery serves up coffee, food, ice cream and more in downtown.
By Melanie Wong
Photos by Billy Doran
Your stop for gluten-free food
It may come as a surprise to some, but HP’s Provisions has extensive options for gluten-free foods, both on its menu and from its market. Owners Houston and Samantha Perkins chose to make that a focus of the new business because two of their three children have Celiac Disease.
The couple says they’re proud to have pastries and dishes that are gluten-free, but not taste free.
“A lot of gluten-free things on the market are crumbly and don’t have much taste,” Samantha says. “Our things are very different.”
Houston, tired of seeing his daughters’ faces when they were told they couldn’t have a croissant or cookie, has been working on his own gluten-free flour, which will hit the shelves of the restaurant’s market soon.
At HP’s Provisions, the food, whether it be a pizza ordered to go, a frothing latte or a scoop of homemade ice cream, comes with a deeply personal touch.
In fact, many of the dishes served at Houston and Samantha Perkins’ new corner café and restaurant – you may have noticed the cheery new space located on Capitol St. in downtown Eagle Ranch – have stories rooted in the couple’s travels and their childhoods.
Both came from families that loved to entertain and have fond mealtime memories from their younger years. Houston Perkins grew up in a foodie family, and his father had his children eating escargot, caviar and oysters while most kids were focused on crackerjacks and soda.
Samantha Perkins was born in New Zealand, but due to her father’s job with a mining company, spent her childhood moving around the globe. With that came exposure to a variety of ethnic foods, as well as dinner parties her mother threw for diplomats and expatriates wherever the family found itself.
From their table to yours
A few years ago, when Houston lost his job in the hospitality industry, the couple decided to make their longtime dream of owning a restaurant a reality. The couple loved to entertain their friends, and the recipes and inspirations from their travels and families made it onto their own table. The new restaurant was a chance to share that food not just with friends, but also with the Vail Valley.
“That’s the essence of how it all started,” Samantha says. “It all comes literally passion for cooking and entertaining.”
At HP’s, which opened last August, diners can try mazurka inspired by Samantha’s time living in Greece, the Indian curry her mother used to serve at dinner parties, or the crab cakes made from Houston’s father’s recipe. For dessert, you can try homemade ice cream (such as “Cool Mint” requested by the Perkins’ three young daughters) or the mousse de chocolat, made from a recipe given to Samantha’s mother by a French countess in Paris.
That personal touch goes beyond the menu options – nearly everything at the restaurant is made in-house from scratch, and the Perkins’ take pride in their customer service and attention to detail.
The corner cafe
The space itself has a cozy feel, like maybe you were at a friend’s house for a casual meal. Located in the space formerly occupied by Starbucks and a hair salon, the Perkins’ installed a cheery counter space that serves as pastry case, ice cream stand, café and bar, and covered the walls with restored barn house wood. Large chalkboards announce the day’s specials, and a family-style wooden table in the center of the room keeps the space from feeling pretentious. You can also sit at one of the stools alongside the huge floor-to-ceiling windows that line the dining room, or relax on the large patio area.
One side of the space is dedicated to a small market, selling take-home family portions of the restaurant’s lasagna, mac-and-cheese, ice cream, soups and more. You can also pick up a small selection of organic and gluten-free groceries, including milk, grains from a bulk bin and an assortment of snacks. Samantha says they’re still tweaking the store portion of the restaurant, but hopes to eventually stock it almost entirely with things made in-house.
The goal is for customers to feel like HP’s Provisions is the friendly corner store and café, serving quality food and drinks – and it very much achieves that goal. The restaurant has a very nostalgic quality, with kids running in and out with ice cream cones in hand, people enjoying a coffee and newspapers on the patio and neighborhood locals breezing through to pick up something to go with dinner.
“People love the idea of a corner market,” Samantha says. “Parents love coming to get ice cream with children after school. Moms say in the evenings they can enjoy a glass of wine while the kids have ice cream moms. Families can meet up here.”
From breakfast to dessert
Despite being a new business getting on its feet, the Perkinses have taken on an ambitious schedule for the restaurant. The place does it all, from serving quiche, pastries and pancakes for breakfast (ranging from $2.75 to $7), to soups, sandwiches and deli salads for lunch (ranging from $4 to $7), to thin-crust pizzas and rotating specials for dinner (ranging from $7.50 to about $20 for family sized portions). Come try the Indian curry, fried chicken on Fridays, or a slice of fresh marguerita pizza.
Of course, the café, serving Coda coffee from the Denver-based roaster, and the bakery, stocked with fresh-made pastries created by Samantha, are open for business. HP’s kicks off the evening with a bar menu, featuring smaller plates, $2 off pizzas, and a happy hour with beer and wine specials. The bar will also be serving cocktails beginning in July, and the restaurant also hosts birthday or tea parties for special occasions.
So whether it’s a family ice cream outing or a late drink with friends, HP’s Provisions probably has something that will suit your palate. Seeing people enjoy the restaurant’s food is the best part of the whole operation, Samantha says.
“The fun part is making the food and creating it, hands down,” she says. “I love seeing things we made the night before fly off the shelf. And I just love the feel of downtown Eagle Ranch – it’s such a little community we’re part of.”