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Tempranillo Restaurant in Basalt

Jessica.Olson's picture

Basalt, CO – I was a bit hesitant to walk into Tempranillo with my boyfriend, John. As a chef, he is very particular about his food. He had already developed a negative perception of Tempranillo, although it is a popular restaurant that has received many positive reviews. He still had lowered expectations, but he decided to give the restaurant a try.

Tempranillo is a Spanish-Italian restaurant in Basalt, CO named for one of Spain’s premier grape varieties. Tempranillo boasts a wine list over 100 wines long and holds the honorable position of preparing food and pairing it with Spanish wines to serve at the Annual Food and Wine Magazine Classic in Aspen each year. The prominence of wine did nothing to help John’s opinion of Tempranillo. He prefers a finely crafted beer to a finely crafted wine, and holds high respect for any restaurant with an outstanding beer list. Luckily, Tempranillo did well in this department as well. Chimay, fine import made by Trappist monks in Chimay, Belgium was on tap. We ordered this, along with a Kasteel.

Satisfied with our delicious beers, we ordered a course of tapas to start the evening. Not long after we ordered, our Bruschetta Mista (a combination of three house bruschettas) and Tartare de Atun (Tuna Tartare) arrived. I am still not sure what was on the three pieces of bruschetta, but all of them were scrumptious. The tuna was tender and wonderfully seasoned, with a side of caper berries and olive bread. Two more tapas arrived next; the special, a cured salmon on olive bread with many other mouth-watering components, and the Mejillones al Limon, or Mussels in Spicy Lemon Cream. The salmon was well-balanced and tender, with a taste of freshness. The mussels were wonderfully large and the sauce was so good we asked the waiter to leave it on the table so that we could continue to dip our bread into it, although I don’t recall the presence of the spiciness that was promised in the menu description.

My stomach was already beginning to feel full when the main courses arrived, but after one taste I realized I wouldn’t leave a single bite on the plate. As per usual, John and I agreed on two entrees to share. We ordered the evening’s special, pear-stuffed pasta shells with creamy walnut sauce, and Vieiras Ibericas, Scallops wrapped in Jamon Serrano, Port Demi Glace, Sweet Potato Puree, Wild Mushrooms & Asparagus. The pasta dish was a rich but refined, a fall comfort dish at its best. The scallops were perfectly cooked, with all components blending pleasantly in each bite. When the flan arrived I didn’t think I could eat another bite, but I enjoyed my half of the dessert immensely. The texture of the flan was not at all rubbery; it just melted in my mouth. A surprisingly juicy and sweet strawberry complemented it well. Swallowing the last bit of dessert, I sat back and sighed, my bulging stomach pleased with the evening’s meal.

To my surprise, John had positive comments for each dish. Not only was the food delectable, but the atmosphere was delightful as well. We sat in the more informal bar area, near one of two blazing fireplaces. In the center of the room is a long communal table. Restaurants are typically slow in the Roaring Fork Valley in the fall, but the bar section remained almost full throughout our dinner. Tempranillo is a wonderful experience, worth the trip downvalley from Aspen for tourists and locals alike.