Dining Out at Rootstalk in Breckenridge

Chef Matt Vawter has returned to his culinary roots, offering elevated everyday dining at a breathtaking 9,600 feet in his Breckenridge restaurant, Rootstalk.

Clockwise from top: Brunson Meat Co. dry-aged N.Y. strip, agnolotti, pan-roasted duck breast, and hamachi crudo
Clockwise from top: Brunson Meat Co. dry-aged N.Y. strip, agnolotti, pan-roasted duck breast, and hamachi crudo. Photo by Yvonne Albinowski.

For chef Matt Vawter, Rootstalk is not just about elevated dining; it’s a nostalgic journey back to his culinary origins. Raised in Summit County and trained at the Colorado Mountain College Culinary Institute in Keystone, Vawter then moved to Denver where he honed his skills at Fruition and Mercantile Dining & Provision before answering the call of his roots where he is receiving attention as a semifinalist for the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Mountain Region. The name Rootstalk reflects the providence of Vawter’s sourced ingredients and his heartfelt homecoming.

The 1880s-era Victorian cottage on Breckenridge’s Main Street exudes charm with string lights, flower baskets, and a welcoming outdoor patio. Inside, the living room-like setting with bay window alcoves and rustic decor creates an inviting ambiance.

Cocktails are a great place to start your mountain meal, especially during Rootstalk’s après hours. The Alpinist is light, refreshing, and herb-forward while the H.Y.B (hell yeah, brother) mixes rye with bourbon to lend the drink a smokey flavor and tamp down the sweetness.

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The asparagus salad is bright and citrusy, showcasing locally sourced greens, tangy slices of blood orange, creamy Maplebrook Farm burrata, and a pistachio vinaigrette. The hamachi crudo is a melt-in-your-mouth experience, complemented by pops of flavor from the horseradish yogurt, shaved fennel, Granny Smith apple, and kumquat. The agnolotti is served in a ricotta mascarpone more akin to a foam than a sauce. The morel mushrooms lend truffle flavors and the peas, sourced from Esoterra Culinary Farm, add a nice smack. The octopus is a true Spanish treat, combining the best two tapas with the creamy potatoes bravas under the seared tentacles. Then, as if beef tartare is not indulgent enough, Rootstalk’s comes with deep-fried maitake mushrooms, black garlic aioli, and egg yolk jam.

For the mains, the herb-crusted, pan-roasted duck with smoked turnip, chestnut, honey, and huckleberry jus infuses every element on the plate with its full flavor. Even the brussels sprouts come with duck sausage hash dribbled overtop. Finally, the Brunson Meat Co. dry-aged N.Y. strip has that distinct funky, Pirate’s Booty flavor with creamy grilled cabbage, bacon, and caramelized onions. The potatoes are cut into thin strips and swirled into a circle, unraveling with uniform crispness with every bite. Madison Church’s wine recommendations add the perfect finishing touch to your dining experience.