While many of downtown Durango’s restaurants have reopened after COVID-19 closures, others have been quietly biding their time, including the Ore House.
Because of its location on College Drive rather than Main Avenue or East Second Avenue, the steakhouse does not have an opportunity to create a bump-out and is currently unable to provide the type of service it typically aims for, said chef and owner Ryan Lowe.
“Just as important, if not maybe more important than our food, is what we produce – a service that requires a handshake, a hug, a smile, a conversation at length. Those things are not allowed right now,” he said. “The smile is still there, but it’s behind a mask.”
In the meantime, the Ore House has teamed up with the Rochester Hotel to offer a five-course dinner in the hotel’s garden, four days a week (Wednesday to Saturday) through the end of September. Reservations for the dinners are released on a weekly basis, a week in advance at noon Wednesdays.
The dinners will range from $130 to $250 based on what’s on the menu that week. The menus are secret – until people are seated at their table – but are hyper-local and based around what’s becoming available at the area’s farms and ranches. In addition to Fields to Plate Produce, James Ranch, Long Table Farm, Mountain Roots Produce, Outlier Farms and Twin Buttes Farm, the restaurant is working with Animas Chocolate Co. and Cream Bean Berry, Lowe said. Musicians from the iAM MUSIC Institute are providing the music.
An optional, hand-selected wine pairing is offered alongside the meal.
“The dinner menu is going to continuously evolve as time goes on,” Lowe said. “However, being a steakhouse, one of the staples of what we do is provide really high-quality, responsibly-sourced proteins. So you’ll see things such as sustainable wild-caught seafood being offered on the menus.”
While the Ore House does not currently have any set plans to open its own dining room, it isn’t going the way of The Palace Restaurant or The Red Snapper, which both permanently closed during the pandemic. The Ore House team has spent recent months implementing safety precautions inside its dining space, including installing an ultraviolet light system on its heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system, Lowe said.
“We’re just taking our time – a very measured approach – and we see a world far past this pandemic,” he said.