Food Scene: The Winery Restaurant in Grand Junction offers historic steakhouse experience
WHAT: The Winery Restaurant
WHERE: 642 Main St., downtown Grand Junction
Editor’s note: If you’re part of Grand Valley’s burgeoning food scene and want to talk shop, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Thoms, host of The Winery Restaurant in downtown Grand Junction, loves the connection food creates between friends and family.
“It’s a sensuous experience that you can share,” he explained. “It’s the texture of bread when you’re eating it. It’s the smell of red wine, and how two people can smell it and get different scents. It’s chocolate on the palate.”
Thoms, who’s operated The Winery for the last decade, continues to enjoy working at the 41-year-old steakhouse for the positive human interactions that happen there.
“It’s not just the food; it’s the whole experience,” he said. “The joy behind the business is the entire spectrum — food and engaging with clients. We’ve catered people’s weddings and watched kids grow up. I’ve seen people go through a lot of good things and bad things in life — that’s the joy. It’s the relationships I’ve been able to forge.”
The Winery has long been a staple in Grand Valley celebrations, spanning almost a half-century. And its location — 642 Main St., in the breezeway — is historic as well.
According to The Winery’s website, “the restaurant makes its home in a 90-year-old building that used to house a horse drawn carriage fire station. A gas-lamp lit, vine-canopied alley frames this romantic location perfectly. The beautifully remodeled building contains flowered stained glass windows, barn wood and bricks.”
More recently, Thoms constructed a secluded outdoor deck area for Winery guests to enjoy during Grand Junction’s warmer months. It’s been open for two seasons.
“We are a traditional steakhouse,” he noted. “We focus on large cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and seafood like lobster. The menu is driven by the allure of dark wood, deep red wines, and thick cuts of beef.”
Pricing is moderate to high — be prepared to spend $30-$50 a plate — with a focus on preparing natural meat (no antibiotics or hormones) and fresh, local produce. Tomatoes, for instance, are purchased from Blaine’s Tomatoes in East Orchard Mesa, and The Winery cultivates its own herb garden.
Currently, The Winery’s kitchen is using two seasonal ingredients — Palisade peaches and sweet corn — in a variety of menu items, including the Peach Martini ($12) and the Palisade Peach & Peach Brandy Marmalade Pork Tenderloin ($31.95).
Gluten-free food can be prepared on request, though the menu warns that the kitchen and equipment is also used to prepare items containing gluten.
Having an extensive wine and specialty drink list is also important to Thoms, who personally favors Macallan 18-year-old single malt whiskey or a glass of Justin Isosceles wine.
“Ten local wineries are represented,” he added, along with beer brewed by Kannah Creek Brewing Company in Grand Junction.
When Thoms acquired The Winery in June 2004, it wasn’t his first rodeo so to speak.
“I’m a third-generation deli guy from New York,” he said. “My grandfather opened his first deli in 1941 in Hempstead, NY. My dad had 11 delis in Long Island, and I owned West Side Delicatessen [in Grand Junction] from 1982 to 2002 on the west side of town.”
According to Thoms, he moved to Grand Junction with his family in 1977, and has called it home ever since.
When Thoms is relaxing on an off-day, he sometimes enjoys the simple comfort of a large breakfast at Village Inn, where anonymity is guaranteed.
“I almost always get the ham and cheese omelet, rye toast, a full order of French toast, a large orange juice and a hot green tea,” he said.
How does Thoms satisfy a comfort-food craving? A root beer float can’t be beat.
What about a flavor he hated as a child but loves now? “Blue cheese,” Thoms said with a smile.
And when asked to name the most challenging aspect of operating The Winery, Thoms turned the question on its head: “This is the easiest place I’ve ever worked because everybody wants to be here,” he said. The restaurant’s 21 employees are “a tight-knit group.”
For more information on The Winery, its menu or to make a reservation, visit http://www.winery-restaurant.com.
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