Morten could not have followed Ellen's advice any better. In 1999, the couple acquired the Steamboat Yacht Club, a well-known eatery situated in one of the city's most scenic spots. The Yacht Club is on the north bank of the Yampa River in downtown Steamboat Springs and is directly across from historic Howelsen Hill.
Whether you are running the restaurant or eating there, it simply is one of the best views you can get. Dinner guests can watch night skiing or ski jumping at Howelsen with complimentary house binoculars.
The setting is a key component in Morten's three-prong strategy for a successful restaurant -- great food, great service and a great environment. That strategy has served The Yacht Club well as local concierges frequently recommend it to visitors, Manager Liza Scudder said.
A European Flair
Morten has worked for years to perfect his menu and offer the right mix of well-known staples and new dishes. The menu changes slightly from season to season.
The menu is influenced by what Morten calls a "European continental flair." That's natural given his background.
A native of Denmark, Morten is a European-certified chef, waiter and bartender. After receiving his certification, he worked as a chef at the Danish embassies in Washington, D.C., and London. In 1978, he immigrated to the United States and embarked on his restaurant career. He came to Steamboat Springs in 1980, and worked for 13 years as an executive chef for Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp.
That broad experience helped Morten develop and refine the formula he employs so well at the Yacht Club.
Dinner entrees at The Yacht Club range in price from $17.95 for the Wiener Schnitzel to $25.95 for the Chateaubriand Bearnaise. The selection includes, beef, seafood, pork, duck, lamb and chicken dishes.
The Chateaubriand, an oven-roasted whole beef tenderloin seasoned with chef salt and cracked pepper and served sliced with bearnaise sauce, is a customer favorite. And Morten promises a knife isn't necessary.
The Bourbon Honey Duck also is one of the most popular entrees. It features a half duckling that is oven baked with a Kentucky bourbon glaze and fried apples.
Seafood lovers can choose from the Ginger Sesame Salmon, Shrimp Scampi and the Rocky Mountain Trout Almondine. For a more traditional entree, there is the Grilled Pork Chop a la Forestiere, a double pork chop char-grilled and served with a wild mushroom cognac sauce.
The restaurant's dinner appetizers include mussels, crab cakes, oysters and escargots. The dessert tray features a nightly selection.
Catering to Any Need
The restaurant also is one of the city's favorite lunch destinations, and residents voted it as the best place for a business lunch in a newspaper poll. Soup, salads, sandwiches and burgers are lunch favorites. The restaurant also has a children's menu.
The Yacht Club can accommodate 130 in its two indoor dining areas and another 220 on its outdoor deck. It is a popular banquet and reception site, handling parties of up to 300 in winter or summer. Off-site catering for a variety of events, including weddings, banquets, and conventions, is available.
The Wine List
The Yacht Club includes a fully stocked bar and more than 60 wines. A dozen wines are offered by the glass.
Staff members are available to make wine recommendations for any entree. This year, Morten gathered his staff for a wine sampling and then had staff members put together a list of their favorites. Those favorites are cited on the wine list.
"Our staff members really understand wine," Morten said. "We thought this would be a good way to help our customers with their selections."
One of the things that distinguishes The Yacht Club is its experienced staff. "The restaurant has a large core group of employees who have been with us for three years or more," manager Liza Scudder said. "They know our customers, and our customers know that when they come in, they are going to see a friendly face who is going to take care of them."
Morten leads that charge. He can be found at the restaurant at all hours, working with his staff and interacting with customers to ensure they enjoy their meals.
It's hard work that has paid off -- The Yacht Club is one of the city's premiere restaurants in a setting that is incomparable. "We wanted to establish a restaurant that offers fine dining at an affordable price with good service ... a place where a family or a couple could come and really enjoy a night out," Morten said.
"I think that is what makes us special -- great food and a great staff in a great environment."