Cafe Diva is located at 1855 Ski Time Square Drive at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

Photo by John F. Russell

Cafe Diva is located at 1855 Ski Time Square Drive at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

Steamboat dining review: Cafe Diva

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Rating

(out of 5)

Cost: 4

Food: 4

Service: 5

Overall: 5

If you go

What: Cafe Diva

Where: Located in Torian Plum Plaza in Ski Time Square

When: Opens nightly at 5:30 p.m.

Contact: 970-871-0508; www.cafediva.com; reservations are recommended

Cuisine: A blend of nouveau and classical cuisine using fine ingredients

Cost: Expect to pay about $50 a person, excluding alcohol and tip

Cafe Diva — or just Diva to locals — has become Steamboat Springs’ favorite fine dining experience for a reason: consistent quality. It’s really that simple. No pretentious menu designs or food that is so difficult to pronounce that a Frenchmen would be tongue-tied. Just great food and spectacular service.

The contemporary atmosphere of the restaurant’s quaint Torian Plum Plaza location at the base of Steamboat Ski Area pairs perfectly with the food. The restaurant is clean and attractive. The welcoming staff and ownership team also make it comforting. It’s obvious to most that Cafe Diva employees care about the clientele who pass through their doors.

During a recent dining experience there, we were greeted immediately with a smile and a friendly Steamboat welcome. An extensive selection of wines is displayed in a beautiful custom wine case visible from the entrance, inviting you try a fine vintage. Your coat is taken, and the dining experience begins.

After a personable introduction with a well-rehearsed server, you are assured that time is not an issue; enjoying your dining experience is the priority. My guest and I were well cared for by our server, and every detail of good service was attended to. He was knowledgeable, friendly and professional. Paul Underwood, Cafe Diva’s owner, knows how to make diners feel special. His wine expertise is a talent that puts your mind at ease when pairing wines with your meal. Executive chef Kate Rench and her staff take care of the rest.

We started with crab and shiitake dumplings, a starter featured on the restaurant’s fall menu. They were fantastically crisp and flavorful. The hand-filled wonton was fried to perfection and filled with woody shiitakes and seasonal vegetables. Served on contemporary polished plateware, the dumplings were prepared sweet and sour with a nouveau presentation. The complementing cilantro crème fraiche reduction, however, was somewhat overpowering and salty.

On to the entrées. California sea bass is not an easy thing to purchase in the Colorado mountains. After all, Steamboat is a meat-and-potatoes kind of town, and there are plenty of cattle ranches throughout the Yampa Valley to prove it. But when you taste a fish as clean and savory as Diva’s sea bass, you know care was taken in flying it straight to your plate. The fish was tender and flaky, seared perfectly with a high moisture content and plated on a well-blended black barley and seasonal squash broth. The dish was delicate, fulfilling and nicely presented.

Colorado has beef in its blood. Whenever you have a chance to enjoy a filet at its finest, you should take it. The dish is as Western as it gets. At Cafe Diva, it was prepared to perfection and placed with mushroom stuffing and crisp Brussels sprouts — both comforting and classical while also delicious and satisfying. The filet exemplifies Diva’s philosophy of being in tune with Western ski town appetites and fine cuisine.

For dessert we enjoyed a wonderfully rich and smooth crème brulee. Crusted with caramelized sugar and topped with fresh berries, it was a perfect ending to a great meal. And at Cafe Diva, we’ve come to expect nothing less.

The Steamboat Today’s restaurant reviewer is a full-time Steamboat Springs resident with extensive professional experience in culinary arts and the restaurant industry. For questions or comments, e-mail food@steamboat pilot.com.

Comments

addlip2U 3 years, 3 months ago

A dull review of probably a great meal and experience!

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zozobee 3 years, 3 months ago

Lovely restaurant - my favorite. However, I will be abstaining as long as Foie Gras is on the menu. There is no humane way to obtain that product.

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stmbtloco69 3 years, 3 months ago

The Steamboat Local paper should be really flattered that you have so closely imitated their restaurant review section! How very tricksy of you.....

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Jeff Kibler 3 years, 3 months ago

I possess a rather plebeian palate, so I never developed a taste for foie gras, or caviar for that matter. But I'm not going to abstain from (boycott?) an establishment based solely on a menu offering or ingredient. If I felt the same, I would boycott Hungry Dog because they serve sweet relish! I can't stand the stuff, and cheap yellow mustard, too. /sarc

Here's an interesting take on the "uber-gavaged" foie gras controversy:

http://www.cheeseslave.com/2009/10/20/chef-dan-barber-brings-sustainable-humane-foie-gras-to-america/

The videos are entertaining, although the Dan Barber video at 20 minutes is a bit long (you get the point in much less time).

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Brian Kotowski 3 years, 3 months ago

Foie Gras: yum.

Fowl fear me, for I have eaten many of their kind.

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Jeff Kibler 3 years, 3 months ago

So, you're now a "Pork Eating Fowl Slurping Whiskey Drinker?" Is your fatty liver available on any futures market?

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madsue 3 years, 3 months ago

Loved the review- glad to see that people are starting to stop and take notice of the quality (or lack thereof) of food and service in the Boat. Diva is my favorite fowl or no fowl. I am also partial to the Steamboat Today by far. Unlike the Local, it is certain that the planning that went into the review concept did not happen over night...so I doubt the idea of flattery is merited, and restaurant reviews are not a brand new concept. I definitely like the addition!

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 3 months ago

There is a difference between an establishment serving an ingredient of which you do not like the taste and using an ingredient which some people believe is produced in an immoral manner.

The situation is more like refusing to go to a jeweler that makes items with so-called"blood" diamonds. Where some won't care, some would ask to see items made without blood diamonds and others would refuse to visit that establishment.

But a lot of Foie Gras in restaurants is made from normal duck liver and is not made from "authentic" inflamed liver.

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Brian Kotowski 3 years, 3 months ago

Jeff Kibler:

Nope. However, if Idi Amin were still with us, I'm sure he'd have his eye on me.

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Jeff Kibler 3 years, 3 months ago

Sep:

Ya think the King of Scotland would've served you up "with some fava beans and a nice Chianti?"

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