No restaurant in Colorado Springs makes a better first impression than Summit at The Broadmoor. Behind glass doors and wooden shutters awaits a sumptuous space that blends a distinctly modern feel with The Broadmoor's relaxed mountain spirit. Styled as a contemporary brasserie, Summit occupies a long, rectangular space filled with craftsman woods and alluring greens.
The inviting dining room, with its plush, earth-toned rugs, comfortable, woven-back, sage-cushioned chairs, and stylish tables, exudes warmth, taste and class. Two thin, lurid green tablecloths accent the tables, running from one side to the other and crisscrossing in the middle before dropping into cutouts that leave each diner with a few inches of wood directly in front of them. Even the Christophe silverware is elegant, with great weight and length.
A collection of broad, open chandeliers adds drama to the otherwise restrained surroundings: Dozens of tiny squares, fashioned from beige fabric suspended in resin, are literally stapled together to form cylinders that send warm light cascading down.
The bar is no less interesting, as the woods give way to glass, in the form of bar shelves, a big window into the kitchen and a wine storage area with a giant, revolving wine turret at the center. It's a scaled-back version of the one in Aureole, the much-lauded restaurant in Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, and thankfully free of scantily clad wine stewardesses.
The remaining interior features reflect similar intrigue and attention to detail. Lining the walls are small sconces, hanging on offset discs as if suspended by a pulley, and finished in brushed steel. Divided only by an access point to the kitchen, the back wall anchors two long banquettes framed in deeply stained wood that reaches up to the ceiling and out over the diners, a classic brasserie detail.
The menu and presentation reflect a similar sensibility. Steamed mussels swim around rouille-laden toast in a mammoth, asymmetrical bowl; monkfish osso buco arrives in a shiny copper gratin; and frites, paired with steak, are served up in paper-lined cups.
Generally enjoyable, some require greater attention to execution (duck), flavor balance (frise, lardon and bleu cheese salad) and their customers' dietary preferences (use of veal stock in sauces for fish dishes).
Nevertheless, Summit's fare is categorically good, with appetizers, fish entres and desserts making strong showings. Standing and seasonal menus offer variety and afford the kitchen sufficient freedom to work with the freshest ingredients.
Seared tuna in a bordelaise sauce over pured parsnips earns praise, as do potato-crusted halibut, gnocchi with lobster, and the aforementioned mussels and monkfish. And don't miss the spectacular salted caramel dessert.
For all their merits, however, many dishes seem sterile compared to the verdant, invigorating environment.
The Broadmoor's trademark technical precision is a point of great pride, and rightfully so. But the impossibly square brunois of carrots in the monkfish sauce and the completely smooth parsnips and potatoes are too mechanical; they yearn for the same human touch so evident in the craft and artifice of the space's design.
Even so, Summit is definitely worth a visit. No plate costs more than $30, many wines are available by the glass, and the service is characteristically outstanding. Although I challenge them to infuse the food with more passion and personality, the dining room has tremendous character. It's a unique and beautiful place in which to enjoy a leisurely meal.
Summit at The Broadmoor
19 Lake Circle (between the International Center and Broadmoor Hall), 577-5896, summitatbroadmoor.com
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 5-10 p.m. (lounge open 4 p.m. to midnight). Lunch coming soon.