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Now partly open to the public, The Club at Flying Horse shows its grace 

Appetite

click to enlarge Scallops head to North Africa with the addition of a house-made Harrisa sauce. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Scallops head to North Africa with the addition of a house-made Harrisa sauce.

There's the old joke about not wanting to belong to any club that would have me as a member. Self-deprecation at its finest. But after driving past a heated lap pool and huge workout facility and gymnasium on our way to the Steakhouse at The Club at Flying Horse, I must admit that I kinda wish I did belong, if just for a few of the amenities, as I don't play golf nor care to live in a bloated mega-home for half-a-million bones.

Actually, I couldn't anyway, because I can't afford to. And that's always been the big separating line between club and regular folk, the elite and the plebeians. The people, who do or don't have several grand for initial sign-up plus a spare couple hundred a month for dues.

But that disparity of wealth no longer matters in terms of entering Flying Horse grounds, as the club recently decided to let non-members (in addition to those staying in the guest lodge or villas) dine at its newly renovated and created Steakhouse. It was a move met with some member grumbling, we sussed out, but during our brief visit we saw no noses in the air, and in fact enjoyed a warm reception bar-side by a very friendly member couple encouraging us to join, while just glowing about the place, as if an extension of the underlit bar top.

Still, to properly take in the modestly opulent Steakhouse, you will need the amount of money required to eat at The Broadmoor or a handful of our other fine dining establishments. We effortlessly racked up a $190 bill for two, post-gratuity, and that was by choosing a couple of the lesser-priced entrées. Steaks top out at a $65, 16-ounce bison New York strip and $78, 32-ounce porterhouse. But by and large, our food and drinks delivered.

Phantom Canyon chef of more than a decade Ketil Larsen took a post at Flying Horse in 2007, and his name tops the single-page menu above a note that touts the sourcing of some natural and sustainably raised products (such as grass-fed filet, Colorado lamb and organic salmon). I've known Larsen's sous chef, Eric "Chicken" Hill on an acquaintance level for more than a decade, and it's he who spots us at meal's end, quickly bringing over a shot of Michter's bourbon to accompany a couple desserts he insists on buying.

This, then, should suffice as that necessary transparency note: believe if you wish that I was influenced to write that the peach-whiskey-pecan-caramel bread pudding ranks among the finest, garnished in an interesting nougatine tuile that offers up a beautiful charred honey essence. And the bruléed banana, brown sugar bacon, peanut butter mousse housed in a chocolate cup would surely make The King proud. Consumed alongside our prior-ordered and rare Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout, a superb, 14-percent ABV, chocolatey and oaky beast, the dessert course deeply satisfies.

Starting back at the beginning, our personable bartenders launch us with some classic cocktails: a fine, cherry-spiked Manhattan rendition utilizing Breckenridge Bourbon, and a decent margarita spinoff with George Clooney's Casamigos blanco meeting modest grapefruit juice and restrained Grand Marnier.

A nightly special of a trio of lightly charred marrow bones with salty, crunchy bread rounds and a microgreen garnish underwhelms with an inexplicably less-fabulous-tasting fat than usual. But a pretty brilliant and original escargot appetizer regains ground by eschewing the common treatments in favor of salty pancetta hunks, which deliver a flavor burst just behind the introductory acids of white wine and Pernod. With the faint anise, earthy clamminess of the escargot, and a surprising Parmesan crisp potency with which to bite it, all of it somehow gels into a deep, umami-rich medley reminiscent of finer Chinese cuisine. Weirdly awesome.

Next come four plump scallops ($34) over an almost al dente lentil ragout inspired by Merguez sausage spices, including paprika and cumin, with a mid-level-hot, house-made Harissa sauce bursting with roasted red pepper spirit. Our 12-ounce tomahawk pork chop ($32) pops more with an accompanying peach chutney on the side than an alluring foie gras and black truffle demi-glace ($8 extra), which I struggled to fully appreciate, not really picking up the extra glitz, though my guest does. (Hill later tastes it too, playfully agreeing that I'm either crazy or my palate's blown at this point.)

Then comes that great dessert, and a long walk back down a Tuscan-inspired exterior hallway leading to the parking area, with a brief stopover at a roaring fireplace nook. If this is what clubs are about, then I'm all for their existence, because they offer a lovely experience. Well, you know, if you can afford to belong.

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