Tess on the Town: Delta’s gem

QUICKREAD

WHAT: The Bistro at Delta Garden Center.

WHERE: 1970 S. Main St., Delta.

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday (separate breakfast and lunch menus); Sunday brunch 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; dinner by reservation only for parties of six or more.

COST: Less than $10 for breakfast, lunch and brunch; less than $25 for dinner.

CONTACT: 970-874-3073 or deltagardencenter.com to see menus.



I hit the trifecta last weekend, at least in my mind.

I can spend hours exploring nurseries and garden centers, smelling the loam and dreaming of possibilities. So, imagine a garden center with a bistro. Then, imagine a garden center with a bistro and a boutique.

Some people may be surprised to learn this little gem of a find is in Delta.

Delta Garden Center and Bistro is owned by Dan and Connie Williams, who have generations of experience as fruit growers on the Western Slope.

Connie is a nationally known artist who owns the AppleShed gallery in Cedaredge. Dan’s baby is the Garden Center.

The center had yet to put out all its spring flowers — it is only March despite how it feels — but the inside area had plenty of places to browse. The gallery/boutique is grouped by theme. Each little alcove contains a different selection of goods, such as jewelry, clothes, wind chimes, candles, heirloom seeds, bird baths, artwork and gourmet foods. Many of the items are made locally.

They also sell local wines: Garrett Estate, Alfred Eames, Meadery of the Rockies and Plum Creek are a few.

I escaped the boutique without too much of a dent to my wallet. I bought only the divine heirloom balsamic vinegar from Orchard Valley in Paonia.

Moving on to the bistro, we found a quiet, elegant little space with white table cloths and lace curtains. There are only about 10 tables, plus four outside.

The bistro is open for breakfast, lunch and Sunday brunch. Dinner is by reservation only for parties of six or more.

We visited for Sunday brunch and started with mimosas and wine spritzers made with Palisade’s St. Kathryn Cellars fruit wines. The pomegranate and blueberry spritzers are the “bomb,” as in they were light and fresh and very good.

On the menu are brunch standards you’ve come to expect: quiche, biscuits and gravy, eggs Benedict, omelets, green chile burritos, grilled portobello and French toast.

Kathi Bledsoe, manager/chef of the bistro, uses local ingredients such as Rocking W Cheese from Olathe, fresh grinds from Montrose Coffee Traders and Homestead Natural Meats of the North Fork Valley. Bledsoe grills the meat outside on an open apple wood fire.

Anything from Homestead is going to have my vote, so I ordered the tri-tip steak with eggs and pan-fried potatoes. My pal chose the egg and ham pan dolce on cranberry walnut bread. Another got lox and bagels with all the toppings. Everything was delicious and well-prepared.

For dessert, we skipped the crème brulee and chocolate raspberry torte and opted for Eleanor’s apple dumpling with Williams Orchards apples, baked in pie crust, covered in warm cinnamon sauce and topped with crème fraiche. When the dumpling came to the table, and people at other tables saw us dipping our spoons into this luscious little treat, they were jealous.

All told, the foray is a great half-day getaway. Or, you can extend it to a day’s excursion, as we did, by golfing at Devil’s Thumb in Delta or Cedaredge Golf Club in Cedaredge.

As dusk approached, we headed to Fruitgrower’s Reservoir in Eckert, just between Delta and Cedaredge, to see hundreds upon hundreds of sandhill cranes land for a one-night stand on their migration path. Bring binoculars for full effect.

The birds are both graceful, wafting in like paragliders, and kinda goofy with their long necks and legs dangling like a rubber chicken.

An amazing sight.

QUOTE: “Do you know on this one block you can buy croissants in five different places? There’s one store called Bonjour, Croissant. It makes me want to go to Paris and open a store called Hello, Toast.” — Fran Lebowitz

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