Chef Joel Harrington cooks Latin-style in Avon
When the Westin Riverfront opened, local star chef Thomas Salamunovich was tapped to open the Restaurant Avondale. I was there for the Avondale launch, and in the intervening four years, the name and operation of the hotel restaurant in the grandiose space have changed once and there’s yet another new top toque in the kitchen. A year ago, restaurateur Richard Sandoval took over Avondale renamed it Cima. A bold new menu has been announced, embodying Chef Sandoval’s “Old Ways, New Hands” philosophy. It seems that every new menu is “bold,” just as every condominium is a “luxury” one, but Sandoval’s restaurants have a good track record in that regard, so I’m inclined to believe the adjectives.
Cima’s menu is described as “infused with vibrant Latin flavors and replete with fresh market produce, sustainable seafood, locally raised meats and specialty products from local purveyors.” The new executive chef, Joel Harrington, comes to Cima from Charlie Palmer at The Joule in Dallas and before that, he was executive chef at Stephan Pyles, also in Dallas, and before that, he was at several Ritz-Carltons and at Aquavit in New York. When I read that this New Englander and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America was coming to a Colorado mountain resort, I thought he must have been eager to return to snow country.
“I grew up in Vermont, so in a way I am coming back to my roots by returning to the mountains,” Harrington was quoted as saying. “I love all of the ingredients on Cima’s new menu. I definitely have a heavy Latin-influence and believe in making Latin dishes easily approachable for guests by using a wide variety of traditional ingredients.” Items on the new menu at Cima include Pan Roasted Chatham Cod with shrimp fried rice, bok choy and tempura herbs in an ancho lobster broth, Chili Lacquered New York Steak with nopales relish and avocado fries and Colorado Lamb Leg Duo, featuring a grilled double chop, cauliflower purée, fava beans, roasted corn and mint chimichurri.
Cima is also rolling out a special happy hour menu, served daily from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. and featuring $5 specialty cocktails like the Cucumber-Melon Mojito and Diablo Rojo, as well as small plates for $3 to $7, including Smoked Salmon Dip and Ginger Chipotle Chicken Skewers. I hope it will be offered during ski season, when everyone needs tasty, affordable eats and treasures it more so when it’s in a fancy resort hotel.