SO café, Aspen, Colorado

An ultra-cool café at the top of the Shigeru Ban-designed Aspen Art Museum

There was a distinct lack of snow on my recent visit to Aspen, Colorado. But that didn’t hamper my fun – in fact, it freed me up to try a few places, activities and restaurants that I might not have made time for had the conditions been perfect on piste. One great discovery was the SO café, a light-filled space at the top of the new Shigeru Ban-designed Aspen Art Museum in the centre of the former mining town.

The building – just seven months old – is impressive: a wood-clad exterior yields to glass galleries that showcase rotating contemporary exhibitions and add a new cultural dimension to this already sophisticated Rocky Mountain enclave. After a mid-morning stroll through an Agnes Martin show, I discovered a Zen restaurant space on the top floor with high ceilings and expansive views of Ajax Mountain and Independence Pass. Here, I enjoyed an exceptional lunch by chef-duo of Julia and Allen Domingos – locals with culinary experience gleaned from time spent managing the kitchens of Nobu, The Little Nell, the St Regis and Julia’s own Epicure Catering.

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The (weekly) menu might be limited, but it allows the duo to focus on a few simple, vibrant and freshly made dishes. I opted for the wonderfully indulgent and creamy Burrata Plate ($10) with greens, local cherry tomatoes and a pesto dressing. A zataar-spiced Lebanese chicken salad ($16), with a combination of local kale and Avalanche Creamery chèvre, was another hit, as was a piquant tortilla soup ($8) sprinkled with avocado, lime and tortilla crisps.

SO’s baked goods have built up quite a following already and the warm butter croissants with blueberry-vanilla-bean jam ($5) and espresso walnut brownies ($3) are moreish après ski treats – alongside Rock Canyon-brewed espresso ($3) or a thick matcha latte ($4).

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I’m keen to return, though, for something harder – a sunset cocktail, perhaps, a Craft beer ($4) or a glass of Beringer “Knight’s Valley” Cabernet Sauvignon ($14) – after a day on the slopes.

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