On February 8th 2012 three skiing buddies decided to go all out and have dinner at the top of Keystone Mountain at the Apenglow Stube.
The adventure began after we checked in at the base of the gondola in Keystone's River Run area. They provide each of us with a blanket and a ski pass to get on the gondola. We skirted right past the die-hard skiers who are queued up for night skiing and got on our own gondola car for the journey up the hill. We brought along our own beverages for the 2 gondola ride to the top of the mountain (shhh don't tell). "With a vertical rise of 2,307 feet and average trip time of less than 12 minutes, the new eight-passenger River Run Gondola will transport about 2,400 people per hour" After the first gondola ride we walked through the blowing snow over to the Outpost Gondola for another 7 minute ride up to 11,444 feet. Yes it's dark (one reviewer complained) but it's a surreal journey over the night skiers to the top of one of Colorado's premier ski resorts and the beginning of a very unique dining experience.
Upon check in at the restaurant we received our own pair of slippers to use for the evening. We were delighted to each be handed a custom dinner menu that welcomed us by party name. We opted for the "all in' experience: Seven Course Dégustation Menus $99 at per person plus optional wine parings. The course items were totally at the chef choice and were full of surprises including mother of pearl spoons with which to eat the caviar. The wine parings were very well matched to the wide variety of food we enjoyed.
With 3 of us at the table they offered 2 of us identical meals and the 3rd different items throughout the evening. At first we thought this was odd but enjoyed tasting the different selections. The soup course was the only weak link as it was totally tasteless and we didn't hesitate to express our disappointment when the manager asked how the meal was going. She discounted our (hefty) bill on her own initiative.
The other disappointment was the nervousness of our waiter. He seemed very inexperienced as he painstakingly read the description of each course to us. What could have been a fun, educational, introduction to each course ended up feeling like we were watching someone being forced into a public speaking engagement reading someone else's speech. I guess they have a lot of staff turnover.
Overall we had a wonderful time. Came down the hill generally delighted and signifcantly lighter in the wallet. ($188 a head).