Eye-Opening ambiance sets the table for memorable dining at Berthoud’s TPC Colorado
By John Lehndorff
First impressions always linger—whether of places, individuals or meals. The first time you stroll through the front doors of the Clubhouse at TPC Colorado your eyes are drawn through a lofty atrium to panoramic views of the sun-drenched par-3 16th hole and the foothills through a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows.
“Center Stage,” the name of that hole, is also the perfect name for the casual dining restaurant at the club in Berthoud. From any table and seat there is action that sweeps you up beyond the scenery outside. A showcase bar greets you when you enter with talented mixologists composing cocktails and shaking (or stirring) martinis. From a well-staged exhibition kitchen, cooks twirl pizzas near the wood-fired oven and turn steaks in the flames of a high-temperature grill.
Even the most jaded Colorado golfer who has seen lots of courses, views and club restaurants is likely to stop and utter a quiet:
Although a young club by golf standards, the five-year-old TPC Colorado has already created a buzz as the home of The Ascendant presented by Blue. The tournament—which took place June 30-July 3—is an annual stop on the Korn Ferry, the PGA TOUR’s developmental tour, where most PGA players begin their journey. Today’s stars such as Scotty Scheffler and Will Zalatoris played the Berthoud course on their way to the Masters and the U.S. Open.
What golfers and diners alike are only starting to discover is that the 65,000-squarefoot clubhouse and its three restaurants are open to the public. Besides Center Stage, the facility is home to the upscale 773 Prime steakhouse and the casual, grab-and-go Golf Café—all guided by Executive Chef Zach Drawdy.
TAKING CENTER STAGE
During a recent lunch, Center Stage’s menu proved to be as attention-grabbing as the ambience. The walleye fish fry is a serious upgrade on a Midwestern classic. Lightly battered whole boneless fresh filets arrive with moist steaming flesh ready for a lemon spritz and a tartar dip. Luckily, it’s served every day, not just the traditional Friday weekend feature.
Also in the happy mouth category is the prime rib French dip. A roll is overstuffed with juicy sliced beef, melted Provolone and tobacco onions with zesty horseradish cream and real au jus.
Meatless options are often an afterthought or built around plant-based “meats.” Chef Dawdry’s kitchen produces a satisfying and eye-catching plate centered around wood-fire oven roasted cauliflower, with sauteed baby vegetables, chickpea hummus, arugula and herb vinaigrette.
Frankly, it’s worth stopping by just for the aptly named house “loaded” tots. An irresistible aroma wafts up from the crisply fried spuds crowned with house-smoked pulled pork and shredded cotija cheese, plus sriracha aioli and chimichurri sauce.
A noticeable attention to the little details is apparent in the food as well as at the bar in cocktails ranging from near-perfect Sazeracs to Manhattans.
Center Stage’s dinner menu adds pizzas, main dish salads and entrees ranging from steak frites and plank-roasted salmon to braised beef short ribs.
Drawdy says he likes to change up the eatery’s menu four times a year, excepting much-loved members’ favorites like the Cobb salad, crispy Brussels sprouts and house-smoked pulled pork.
“I want to always feature everything seasonal and local I can, like Western Slope fruit and meat from local ranches,” the chef says.
THE PRIME OF BERTHOUD DINING
TPC Colorado’s Clubhouse was designed from scratch to feature 773 Prime, a dinner-only steak house. The art of the walls harkens back to the region’s rich agricultural history. Where Center Stage is about casual meals, 773 Prime has a business attire dress code.
The menu focus is on Colorado meats and seafood singed on a 1700-degree charbroiler and a roster of fine red and white wines. The wide range of vintages available by the glass makes it easy to match the right wine to a specific dish. Members and Clubhouse neighbors can sip from bottles kept in their own private wine lockers. Regular guided tastings allow members to add to their personal wine lists.
Starters at 773 Prime range from a Berthoud Ale-poached Gulf shrimp cocktail to a spot-on composed Caesar salad with romaine brushed with roasted garlic vinaigrette plus Parmesan, anchovies, blistered tomato and brioche croutons.
Main plates include pork chops with green chile polenta, spinach gnocchi with pan-seared salmon, ribeye, filet mignon and New York strip steaks with toppings like bleu cheese butter and big sides of au gratin potatoes and butter-poached asparagus. You can satisfy your inner child with sweets such as a fried PB&J pastry with ice cream or fresh fruit tarts and a supremely chocolaty warm flourless torte.
“I like to send out an amuse bouche—a little taste of something else—so guests can sample some of the other dishes we have and wake up their palate,” he says, adding that he tries to visit every table every night.
Diners also appreciate the eatery’s fresh-baked bread and butter service, a truly rare amenity at most restaurants.
The huge wraparound multi-level patio is ideal for dining, critiquing players trying putt on Hole 16 and appreciating the regularly spectacular sunsets. During the cooler months the patio remains open with firepits and heaters along with fleece blankets and hot drinks. Some guests gather outside after meals enjoying the establishment’s selection of 12 cigar varieties from the humidor and single malt whiskies.
For morning golfers, the lower-level Golf Cafe offers quick meals, a full-service bar, coffee drinks and pastries. Eat-on-the-course options include breakfast burritos, Hebrew National All-Beef Hot Dogs and a power salad of quinoa, chickpeas, cucumber, tomato, pickled onions, basil and walnuts in lemon vinaigrette served in a tall cup.
Berthoud has plenty of dining opportunities, but not many of them have TPC Colorado’s ambience and view. “Many locals think our restaurants are only open to members,” Drawdy says. “We try to welcome them by offering a 10 percent discount on dining.”
The fare at Center Stage and at 773 Prime is first-class but not overly fussy.
“I think of this as straightforward humble food with great flavors,” Drawdy says.
Reservations are recommended for dinner at Center Stage and required at 773 Prime. For reservations call 970-528-7073. TPC Colorado is located at 2375 TPC Parkway, Berthoud. tpc.com/colorado/dining.
John Lehndorff is the former dining critic of the Rocky Mountain News.
This article can also be found in the Fall 2022 Issue of Colorado AvidGolfer.