After our first day up in Rocky Mountain National Park during our trip to Colorado, we decided that we needed to get something to eat for lunch. Not knowing much about the restaurant topography of Estes Park, we were driving around looking for places that didn't quite look like they'd be tourist traps. Cindy saw a quaint little place along Elkhorn Ave. called The Wild Rose Food and Spirits Company. (see map) We parked in a free municipal lot behind the building and made our way around to the front entrance of the place.
The Wild Rose is owned and operated by Hubert "Hubi" Feldon, a European classically trained chef who has worked in a number of restaurants across Europe and the U.S. before settling in Estes Park. There is a bit of a German touch to Feldon's dinner menu at the Wild Rose with wiener schnitzel, jagerschnitzel, and roasted pork loin available. The Wild Rose also features a number of steaks and a signature Elk Chop entree that is available on a seasonal basis. The restaurant also features a handful of pasta entrees, as well as seafood dishes on their menu.
It was mid-afternoon when we got into The Wild Rose, well after the afternoon rush. We were greeted by a young lady - Olga - with a thick Eastern European accent. She wanted to know if we wanted to eat in the bar area or in the dining room. I took a look at the bar area - it was a warmly-lit, cozy room with pinewood paneled walls and a small bar. It was actually very nice.
After a quick look at the bar, we looked in the dining room. It was a well lit room with lot of natural light coming through the windows with a series of tables and chairs that gave it a more lively vibe. We decided to sit in the dining room and were shown to a table in the middle of the room. Olga dropped off menus for us and asked if we wanted anything to drink. After a somewhat harrowing drive up and down Trail Ridge Road in driving rain and BB-sized hail, I needed a beer. Cindy got a glass of the house chardonnay.
The Wild Rose lunch menu included some of the dinner entrees in smaller portions and they also had a number of sandwiches and burgers to choose from. They also had a number of soups and salads on the menu. I immediately saw the jagerschnitzel on the menu and thought that might be interesting. But Cindy reminded me that because it was so late in the afternoon a light lunch would probably be better, especially since we were planning on going out to have a nice dinner that evening.
I started to look through the sandwich portion of the menu. They had a buffalo burger on the menu, as well as an elk burger. I don't know if I'd ever had elk before, and I wasn't feeling adventurous. Buffalo burgers - because of the leanness of the meat - can get overcooked pretty quickly. So, I had it down to the Wild Rose burger or the reuben.
Cindy was looking at getting a salad with some meat or fish with it. They had a Caesar's salad at The Wild Rose where you could add chicken, blackened salmon or grilled shrimp to it. She checked out the salad bar they had and thought about getting the soup and salad bar combo, but decided against it. When Olga came to take our order, Cindy went with the Caesar's salad with the blackened salmon. I was hemmed and hawed for a moment before I ended up ordering the Wild Rose burger. I also got mushrooms, Swiss cheese and bacon on it for $1 for each additional topping. I also had a choice of fries or onion rings for my side and I chose the onion rings.
Since there was only a couple of other tables filled in the dining area, it didn't take long for our food to get out to us. Cindy's salad was served in a large bowl and it looked just like any other Caesar's salad with chunks of blackened salmon in it. She said the salmon was fresh and had a somewhat spicy taste to it, but not overpowering.
My burger was teeming with sauteed mushrooms stacked over a couple strips of crisp bacon and a thick slice of melted Swiss cheese on the patty. The sesame seed bun was was lightly toasted and lettuce, onion and a tomato slice came with the burger. The first taste of the burger was very good - it was cooked to my liking (medium with a hint of pink in the middle) and somewhat juicy. It was a good gourmet burger - not the best I've ever had, but still very good.
The onion rings were a little pedestrian. I could tell that they were probably frozen, then deep fried. I don't think they make their own onion rings at The Wild Rose. They weren't bad, but they weren't great. Still, it was a good diversion from French fries.
Cindy got a lot of salmon with her salad, so much so that she was having trouble finishing her salad. She said, "I really didn't want a lot of food, but they really loaded this up with salmon." She left a few bites on her plate. It didn't help that she was sneaking onion rings off my plate. That was fine with me. I wasn't going to be eating all of them.
Our experience at The Wild Rose was very pleasant. Olga was a very good server, the atmosphere was comforting and not pretentious at all, and the food was above average. While it may not have been the best gourmet-style burger I've had, I would give the burger at The Wild Rose a B+. With a number of places to eat in Estes Park, we'd tell you that The Wild Rose would be worthy of a visit if you get to Estes Park.