Sportivo Primo, Piccadilly Bar elevate Antlers Hotel offerings 

click to enlarge From Sportivo Primo’s well-executed American grill menu. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • From Sportivo Primo’s well-executed American grill menu.
There’s history at The Antlers hotel. Opened in 1883 by city founder Gen. William Jackson Palmer, it burned down in 1898. A second Antlers Hotel was built, opening in 1901, a castle-like centerpiece for downtown Colorado Springs. Sadly, that was torn down in 1964, and replaced by the modern monolith we know today. Most recently, in 2015, it was bought by Perry Sanders and business partner John Goede, owners of the nearby Mining Exchange hotel and The Famous Steak House, and other enterprises.

As part of the purchase, the entire food-service setup was set for renovation under former food and beverage manager Johnathan Shankland. The picture: a Duca’s Neapolitan Pizza in place of Judge Baldwin’s Brewing Company, the Piccadilly Bar for drinks, and the London Grill as a modernization of a classy supper club. The London Grill’s still somewhere on the horizon, but the Piccadilly Bar opened in third quarter 2017. And while Duca’s has opened, it’s Sportivo Primo that has taken the place of Baldwin’s, having opened on Jan. 7. When we last reviewed Baldwin’s in 2015 — recall it was the Springs’ first brewery, opened in 1991— we hoped Sanders and Goede would elevate the spot, and after a few meals there, we do see a clear increase in quality.

Sportivo cleaves close to its predecessor’s vibe, with wooden façades still behind the bar. And the menu mostly sticks to the same American grill vibe — not encouraging, considering this could be the first taste of Colorado many Antlers visitors will get. But there’s redemption in the execution.
Location Details Antlers Hotel
4 S. Cascade Ave.
Colorado Springs, CO
Event Center and Hotel
A fried green tomato BLT stands out. The side Brussels sprouts come in a little cup with lots of oil at the bottom, but those atop the pile or given a moment to drip have a gorgeous nuttiness, perfectly salted and delicious. Dessert-sweet bacon jam turns the sandwich heavy, but the tomatoes aren’t at all greasy, and rosemary sourdough reads herbaceous.

The simple, pan-seared Colorado trout is even better, with crispy skin, tender and juicy
meat, and a lovely brown butter sauce. Capers salt it nicely, and a lemon wedge makes for a fantastic finish. The side salad of frisee, lardons, cherry tomatoes and Champagne vinaigrette also pleases.

For its sin of including tomato, the green chile’s not bad, nice and spicy. The pulled pork sliders’ sauce comes far too sweet, but blue cheese slaw helps rein it in, and while the side potato salad’s heavy on dressing, a punchy mustard makes it better than many. The Southwestern salad’s fine but odd, greens atop beans with veg and tortilla strips segregated into quarters.
Location Details Sportivo Primo
Antlers Hotel, 4 S. Cascade Ave.
Colorado Springs, CO
Bar Food

There’s beer, cocktails and a frozen margarita machine, but for drinks, it’s worth bellying up at the Piccadilly, which serves the Sportivo and Duca’s menus for food. It’s stocked with 50 cans and an impressive 50 more taps for beer fans, though many are overpriced. (Shame on thee, o villain who charges $8 a pint for Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro.) Fancy cocktails, though, cost a reasonable $9 to $11. A lemon laurel has house-roasted lemon syrup, Ketel One Citroen, Galliano and club soda, with a bay leaf garnish. It’s a sweet, lemony thing with just enough spice to pique interest. The Prohibition-era Millionaire’s rye-Grand Marnier-Pernod absinthe-house grenadine mix, shaken with lemon and egg white, drinks boozy, creamy and heavy. We’ve had better, but like most of Sportivo and Piccadilly’s offerings, it’s far from bad.

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