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.
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).
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.