Venue Review: Craftwood Inn
The Gazette “Best Colorado Cuisine” awards that line the walls of Craftwood Inn’s cozy bar may be repetitive (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012) but they’re well-earned. The menu is a polished intersection of our state’s rugged wilderness and its gourmet culture, and it features the best selection of wild game in town: deer, elk, antelope, quail, venison and boar.
Start with the latter: the Wild Boar Smoked Cheddar & Bacon Slider ($7). In fact, go ahead, order two and thank me later. The rich, slightly sweet boar and thick-cut, crunchy bacon are a cheesecoated grenade of flavor punctuated with the pop of pickled red onions. Imminently addictable, the brioche bun probably won’t touch the plate again before the slider is devoured.
The classic entrees of the house include Pepper and Ale Grilled Red Deer ($32), Herb and Merlot Hunter’s Elk Steak ($33) and Spiced Pumpkin Seed Nilgai Antelope ($32). If forced to choose, the sweet pearberry salsa on the antelope elevates it above the others, but thankfully, you don’t need to choose. Order the three as smallplate teasers for only $20.
In addition to killer food, Craftwood exudes historic ambience. Built in 1912 in the English Tudor style, the Inn brings to life the Manitou Springs of a century ago, when the town was known as Little London . The main dining room’s multi-pane windows offer stunning views, best enjoyed while snug at a table near the roaring fireplace. (To snag the latter, reserve well in advance.)