Steamboat Yacht Club
When longtime Steamboat Springs Chef Morten Hoj began looking to open his own restaurant, his wife and business partner, Ellen, had a piece of advice.
“I said, ‘if you are going to get a restaurant, you better make sure to get a beautiful one,'” Ellen said. “If you are going to spend so many hours there, why not get the most inspiring view you can?”
Hoj 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 Hoj’s three-prong strategy for a successful restaurant – where the spectacular setting, excellent food, and great service create a wonderful fine dining experience. That strategy has served The Yacht Club well as local concierges frequently recommend it to visitors, while loyal locals make it a truly year-round establishment.
A EUROPEAN FLAIR
Hoj has worked for years to perfect his menu and offer the right mix of well-known staples and new dishes. The menu incorporates seasonal changes to take advantage of new creative ideas.
The menu is influenced by what Hoj calls”European Continental flair.” That’s natural, given his background.
A native of Denmark, Hoj is a European-certified chef, waiter and bartender. After receiving his certification, he worked as an executive 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 Hoj 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 Rocky Mountain Trout to $26.95 for the Filet Mignon Bearnaise. The selection includes seafood, beef, pork, duck and veal dishes.
The Filet Mignon seasoned with chef salt and char-grilled served with Hoj’s bearnaise sauce is a customer favorite. And Hoj promises a steak 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 roasted pecans.
Seafood lovers can choose from the Oriental BBQ Salmon, Shrimp & Escargot Linguini 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, or the Wiener Schnitzel served with Cabernet Demi Glaze and proper garnish.
The restaurant’s dinner appetizers include mussels, Maryland crab cakes, and Hoj’s unique Escargots topped with Brie cheese, Fried Calamari to Baked Brie with Lingonberries.
The dessert tray features a nightly selection of homemade desserts including Cream Brulee, Chocolate Mousse, Fresh Berries, Ice Cream Dessert and various Cakes
CATERING TO NEEDS
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. Hoj’s signature Pear Stilton Salad is a customer favorite.
The restaurant also has a children’s menu and children’s specialty drinks and desserts.
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 and summer.
The restaurant also offers off-site catering for a variety of events including weddings, banquets, conventions and group meetings. It also caters private jets, boats and other recreational activities.
THE WINE LIST
The Yacht Club includes a fully stocked bar and more than 60 wines. A dozen wines are offered by the glass at affordable prices.
Staff members are available to make wine recommendations to go with any entree. This year, Hoj 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 restaurants’ wine list.
“Our staff members really understand wine,” Hoj 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 and friendly staff.
“The restaurant has a core group of employees who have been with us for several seasons,” Dining Room Manager Armando Arce said. “They know our customers, and they know that when they come in, they are going to see a friendly face that is going to take good care of them.”
The Hojs are especially excited about the latest addition to their strong team. They’ve been blessed with another Danish Chef -Tina Taylor – this year. In addition to the same rigorous certification process Hoj endured, her experience with European and French cuisine will generate many refreshing new menu items in all categories. Her six-month intensive training with a very choosey French Chef in Phoenix has inspired many tasty delicacies already.
Hoj leads the charge. He can be found at the restaurant at all hours seven days a week, working with his staff and interacting with customers to ensure they enjoy their meals. Ellen helps out with the Yacht Club’s interesting marketing strategies.
It’s hard work that has paid off – The Yacht Club is one of the city’s premier 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,” Hoj said. “I think that is what makes us special – great food and a great staff in a great environment.”
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The Steamboat Art Museum is bringing back the National Exhibition of Oil Painters of America.