The snow in Keystone was fantastic and each day, we complained about how tired we were from skiing and snowboarding in the deepest powder ever! I know, life can be hard sometimes. On the last day of Spring Break, our kids, Ben (12) and Avery (9) begged to stay in the condo and watch TV rather than hit the mountain for the 5th day of downhill fun. My husband and I went out snowboarding late in the afternoon for a couple of runs and decided the kids were right, our legs were just too sore to keep going. We wanted our last day of vacation to be memorable, so we kicked around a few activities that might be fun without all of the muscle pain. While on the gondola, another family was raving about dinner at Der Fondue Chessel the night before. The told us about the ‘oompah’ band and how their kids had enjoyed cooking their own meal. We immediately went on Open Table and made reservations for that evening. Although the more typical dinner hours were booked, they had a 5:30 option available. Factoring in the gondola ride, we knew we would need to be ready to go by 4:30 and should be back in our condo around 7:30. Perfect timing to have a leisurely dinner and still have time to enjoy the pool and hot tub at the Springs building. We dressed in our warmest clothing that did not look like ski gear (for my husband, Bob, that turned out to be a short sleeved, black t-shirt), and headed to the gondola. It was nice to ride in a car with no skis or snowboards blocking the view. The kids watched as skiers and snowboarders crashed in the powder on the way down River Run, typically the iciest run in Keystone. If you are not a skier, I highly recommend riding the gondola to the top of the mountain to enjoy the entertainment. The kids couldn’t stop talking about the possibility of chocolate fondue!
When we arrived, there were only a couple of other families seated and it was strange to see the normally crowded Outpost Lodge so open. The hostess was dressed in a traditional German outfit and checked our coats. Checking coats seemed like a great idea, until my T-shirted husband felt the chill of being seated near a window. It turns out that the lodge is kept at a comfortable temperature for all of those skiers in parkas, not for people who think it is summertime! Our waitress gave us a quick rundown of the drink menu. Bob considered the giant commemorative beer stein, but at $40, it was a bit more money than we wanted to spend. The waitress brought out Bob’s beer, my wine, and the kids’ decadent apple cider with whipped cream and caramel before explaining the entree menu. We felt a bit rushed in choosing all of 3 optional choices, but decided on the blend of smoked and imported gouda cheese fondue upgraded with applewood smoked bacon and green onions, the traditional raclette with no upgraded protein option and the flaming turtle chocolate fondue with whipped cream.
The salad course was a good caesar, but not exceptionally memorable. Fun for all started when our fondue pot and grill were heated. The kids loved using the grill to make “fancy grilled cheese.” During this portion of the meal, we were served a basket of bread and a tray of cheeses, butter, pickles and other “nibbles.” The kids thoroughly enjoyed making mini-gourmet grilled cheese. When the cheese in the fondue pot was melted, we took turns dipping our vegetables and bread into the bacony, oniony, cheesy, goodness. We played by the rule that if you drop your food into the pot, you have to kiss everybody at the table. Ben was super careful never to drop anything, while Avery took every chance to drop her vegetables in and kiss everybody at the table. As soon as we ran out of cheese and were starting to feel fairly full, a whole tray of slightly grilled meats and fully cooked potatoes arrived and our flat grill was warm and ready to go. If anybody was satisfied before the meat arrived, there was no evidence as we grilled the delicious chicken and beef filets and dipping sauces. The portions of meat were beyond generous and the waitress gladly gave us “doggy bags.” While we dined, the “oompah” band circulated among the patrons, entertaining each group at their table. For the most part, the music was background entertainment and not as interactive as we had hoped, but it was the first time my children were serenaded with German music, so they truly enjoyed the brief time the band visited our table.
Our grand finale was the Flaming Turtle chocolate fondue. The kids had been dreaming about this part all the way up the mountain! When the waitress lit the flame, Avery was beside herself with joy. Chocolate and fire all in one wonderful moment. It was delicious and the kids ended the experience with roasted marshmallows dipped in chocolate! We achieved our goal in creating a memorable last night of spring break, but when the check came, we realized this is definitely a special occasion restaurant. With adult entrees at $63 per person, children’s entrees at $36, drinks and upgrades, this is a pricey meal, but a memorable one. On the way back to the SummitCove Springs condo we talked about returning when the kids graduate from high school! We were thrilled to have such a fun experience during our Keystone Ski Vacation!