Review of The Red Onion
By William K.
The Red Onion opened for business after many false starts two years ago. It’s Aspen’s oldest–but not continuously operating–restaurant. The building itself is worth a visit. Situated on the Cooper Street pedestrian mall, the restaurant has been restored with great care. The result is an authentic, laid back cowboy-style bar and restaurant, a go-to place for a weeknight dinner or just a drink and snack with friends.
I head to the Red Onion because it’s got one of the best and largest outdoor eating areas, removed from traffic and well-positioned for checking out the Aspen scene. I don’t go there expecting fine cuisine or an elegant atmosphere. It’s a regular, unpretentious destination for kids,, raucous drinkers, locals and tourists–who all coexist there quite happily.
One of last times I ate at Red Onion was for my brother’s 13th birthday dinner. Imagine a group of 12 tweeners, swigging pitchers of coke and demolishing plate after plate of excellent nachos, piled high with cheese and black beans. Delicious. And the service couldn’t have been more accommodating to our unruly group.
More recently, I stopped by the restaurant with my buddy Alexander for an early dinner on a warm summer evening. We were exhausted from a long day outdoors and profoundly hungry. Luckily, we scored a table outside. I ordered the Grilled Romaine Wedge salad as my appetizer. The salad was a creative interpretation of the basic Caesar. Augmented with a little extra dressing (the waiter was very accommodating), the salad was pretty darn good. I followed it up with the Red Onion Burger, cooked medium rare as requested. A side fries made the meal complete. I was in burger nirvana.
Alexander took a more adventurous route. He had the steak and chicken fajitas, a sizzling and satisfying choice. He started his meal with a sampler plate of the Red Onion’s famous wings and I helped him out. We sampled the wings in all three flavors—Thai chili, Spicy Buffalo (our favorite) and BBQ.
Nearly faint from overeating, Alexander and I decided to share the brownie sundae for dessert. It was a good decision. There’s a tendency these days to take old-time desserts like brownie sundaes and overdress and deconstruct them with cinnamon ice cream and spun sugar. This particular brownie sundae was served just as it was advertised: nothing fancy, just a warm brownie, vanilla ice cream and caramel and chocolate sauce. A classic dessert in a classic setting. The cowboys of yesteryear would have definitely approved.
- William K.
William, a self -trained epicure and sophomore at Aspen High School, has been an Aspen resident for five years. A native New Yorker, William honed his young taste buds in fine eating establishments throughout lower Manhattan. When not eating (or writing about eating), William can be found playing his guitar or throwing a mean fastball. Writing for eatAspen is the perfect intersection of his favorite interests—good food and the written word.