World-class dining with Southwestern flair
Though the sheer natural beauty of the Red Rock Canyons had a lot to do with Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks choosing the spot he did to erect Gateway Canyons Resort, we shouldn’t discount the fact that the area was a playground for elk, turkey and other delicious critters then and still is today. The smell of smoked deer one day scenting Entrada, the property’s premier dining experience, could have played a role in Hendricks’ decision, right? Well, we can almost assure you that the thought has run through Stephen Belie’s mind at least a few times. As the executive chef for Gateway Canyons, Belie has to consistently deliver a high-end culinary experience that honors traditions of the Colorado plateau while steadily bringing new things to the table — literally and metaphorically.
Embracing the Colorado cool and Southwestern vibe full on, the adobe-style Entrada is awash in burnt oranges and an overwhelming air of calm. To the right of the entrance sit a few tables and a bar that’s just the right size so as to not intimidate the casual tequila drinker or underwhelm everyone else. Once you make your way to the left, around the reception wall, things only brighten up with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out to the peaceful patio and the postcard-perfect peaks just beyond it. Had designers been content with just that scene, you’d have plenty to keep your eyes on until your food arrived; but subtle creativity stays at a high level in the main dining room, where you’ll find colorful art from the likes of Elizabeth Barton and Wendy Huhn, sparkling soft blue and red chandeliers, tables with brown leather chairs and a long banquette.
Entrada’s dinner menu can best be described as a cornucopia of mountain- and Southwestern-inspired cuisine. Expect dishes like Colorado lamb; paella with rabbit, ox tails and seafood; and thyme-roasted chicken from chef Belie’s team. An evening here — be it inside or out by the fire pit — proves a great way to end an eventful day in the canyons. But the delicious secret about the property’s signature eatery is that it pleases the taste buds at 8 a.m. just as well as it does at 8 p.m. With a morning menu of traditional favorites (brisket hash and eggs, buttermilk waffles) and unique area offerings (a venison sausage you wish your local Whole Foods sold), the Grand Junction restaurant is a great starting point before heading out on the ATV or hike.
The wild game sausage is probably the best illustration of Entrada’s stellar service. Let’s just say it’s a Monday morning and you order the dish. Of course, you’ll love it. Your intuitive server will remember this — not so much the spotless plate that you leave, but the appreciation you show — and, the next morning, he’ll ask if you want more of the sausage. That’s the kind of sharp, attentive care you can expect. But in addition to taking good mental notes about your palate preferences, the staff also wants the best for you when it comes to planning your day’s activities. So, when your waiter suggests going fishing as passionately as he does ordering the raisin- and cauliflower-topped black cod, we strongly advise you to heed his words.