Best of the Best 2013: Dining: Element 47
When Element 47 (970.920.6330, www.element47aspen.com) opened in December, it marked both the final phase of a property-wide renovation for the Little Nell hotel in Aspen, Colo., and a new era of fine dining at altitude. The restaurant’s $2.5 million reinvention—led by Bentel & Bentel, the New York design firm responsible for Le Bernardin’s vaunted remodel last year—replaced the room’s stuffy florals with a chic mix of leather, stone, and glass. The rigid prix-fixe menu was dropped in favor of an à la carte approach that serves a range of appetites, from an après-ski bite of wagyu steak tartare with a flute of private-label Champagne to a languorous 10-course repast. Executive chef Robert McCormick, a veteran of Daniel Boulud Brasserie in Las Vegas and Michel Richard’s Citronelle in Washington, D.C., creates each dish by focusing on seasonal ingredients and developing them into something truly special—perhaps rich truffle pasta and Ibérico pork short ribs, or braised veal breast with green olives, tomatoes, sherry, and shaved Serrano ham. Astute pairings by the master sommelier Jonathan Pullis draw from a 20,000-bottle cellar that is a Burgundy-lover’s dream. This is world-class dining in a ski-town setting—and an exceptional discovery in the United States.