STOVER — Morgan County’s best kept culinary secret, The Black Canyon Ale House Brew Pub and Bistro, is an upscale restaurant owned by winemakers David and Marschall Fansler of Grey Bear Winery.
Located south of Stover down scenic State Route 135 and Route T, the restaurant offers an excellent menu created by cooks Cathy Viets and Kristy Thompson. Menu items can be served with Grey Bear wines and Mr. Fansler’s micro-brewed beers.
The Fanslers opened the restaurant in December. Built above the wine tasting room, it is tastefully and artfully constructed. The 20-sided circular building has all the amenities of the big city with a relaxed, country elegance thrown into the mixture.
“This young woman is the reason we have what we have here,” David Fansler said. “Marschall came up with the crown molding, all the decorations. I gave her carte blanche, and away she went.”
In the main dinning room, warm wood tables and two-toned wood chairs match the knotty alder trim around the bar and brew station. Double wood and glass doors, painted Caribbean blue, purchased from the historic Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo., lead into the multi-windowed Nautical Room.
“The windows are fixed, so you feel you are looking out of an aquarium,” said Marschall Fansler. “It’s very light.”
The windows take in a view of the vineyards, hummingbird feeders and fire pit below. Decor in the room features a harpoon over the doorway, and barn wood paintings of water birds and fish, framed with white marine rope, by local artist Susan Ryan.
Wood tables and turquoise-colored upholstered chairs complete the comfortable setting of this room.
The main dinning area and the Nautical Room together seat 90 people; the outdoor patio seats an additional 25.
Black Canyon has a full bar tended by assistant winemaker Stephanie Armstrong, and the circular shape of the dining room creates great acoustics for musicians. From time to time the restaurant has featured jazz, classical, easy listening rock and duets.
“This would be a great recording studio. The sound just reverberates around. It’s great for bands,” Marschall Fansler said. “I put diamond-shaped carpet around the wainscoting for sound absorption.”
Food is the main focus at Black Canyon and cooks Viets and Thompson, who trained under chef Hiedi Heimsoth, of Cole Camp, work together to create an assortment of tasty appetizers, entrees and desserts.
“What we have on our menu is prime rib on Saturday nights and all-you-can-eat spiced shrimp on Friday nights,” Viet said.
Prime rib king cut is $23.99, while the queen cut sells for $16.75. The all-you-can-eat shrimp costs $16.99.
Other entree items are mesquite marinated pork steak “drenched in a secret sauce,” selling for $11.59, herb-grilled chicken served with mushrooms sautéed in a Grey Bear wine, selling for $9.99, and savory grilled salmon for $14.59.
The salmon is grilled to tender, flaky perfection. It is served with roasted red potatoes in an herb vinaigrette along with Black Canyon green beans made with red bell peppers and red onions sautéed in butter, then topped with crumbled bacon and diced tomatoes.
In preparing the salmon, Viets ascribes to the “less is more” theory.
“What I do with it is sauté it in butter and salt and pepper it, and I let the flavor of the fish speak.”
Viets and Thompson drizzle a creamy dill sauce over the salmon for taste as well as presentation. All sauces and dressings are made in house.
On the menu, under each entree, a wine or beer selection is suggested.
Marschall Fansler recommended Grey Bear’s Seagrass wine, a dry, buttery chardonnay or Bushwacker, a semi-sweet apple chardonnay, as a wine pairing for the grilled salmon.
David Fansler prefers the red Chambourcin.
“You have to remember, I’m feral, I have no rules,” he said while laughing.
Viets and Thompson also offer specials such as pot roast, pan-fried catfish, lasagna, and a customer favorite, meatloaf.
“We try to do a $9.99 special every weekend,” she said. “And on Friday night with the all-you-can-eat shrimp there will be a free dessert.
“We take a profiterole (a single puff pastry). It will have ice cream in the center, then we drizzle cherry wine sauce over it.”
“It’s very rich and very, very good,” Thompson said. “We have a chocolate cake called Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”
“Made with sauerkraut soaked in buttermilk,” added Viets.
“The butterscotch bars are to die for,” said Marschall Fansler.
Other dessert favorites include pate a choux, a cream puff ring filled with pudding, sour cream and whipped cream topped with cherry pie filling, carrot cake and homemade bread pudding. Desserts sell for $2.99
“We always have the profiterole and another dessert,” Viets added.
The restaurant only recently received a license to sell their micro-brewed beers.
“We got our license less than a month ago,” David Fansler said. “Right now I’m making a pale ale called Silly Blonde. I’m also doing a stout and a honey wheat.
“We made beer last summer, but we didn’t have our license so we had to give it away.”
By the end of October he will introduce a new beer.
Wine tasting is free in the Grey Bear’s tasting room. Winery hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m. Sundays, and by appointment Mondays through Wednesdays.
The restaurant is open from 4 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. David Fansler said it’s best to call ahead for reservations. Black Canyon also accepts in-house catering events and reservations for private parties.
Pate a Choux
1 cup flour
Dash of nutmeg
Sift and set aside.
1 cup cold water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
Bring to a boil using a wooden spoon.
Add flour all at once; remove from heat. Stir for 30 seconds to one minute. Return to heat, stirring vigorously for one minute. Remove and let stand for two to three minutes.
Add four eggs — one at a time. Beat with an electric mixer, one minute per egg (by hand, two to three minutes). After all eggs are added, beat an additional five minutes. Let stand one hour in a cool place.
Can be made singularly or in a ring. Drop by teaspoon onto a buttered sheet pan. Bake 30 minutes at 450 degrees F; lower to 350 degrees and bake another 20 to 30 minutes. Do not open the over door during the last baking.
After cooled, split ring and fill with cream filling, top with cherry pie filling.
1 (3.5-ounce) instant vanilla pudding
1 cup sour cream
1/8 cup sweet whipping cream
Source: Black Canyon
If you go
What: Black Canyon Ale House Brew Pub and Bistro
Owners: David and Marschall Fansler
Where: 25992 Highway T, Stover
Phone: 573-377-4313 or 573-377-4269
Web site: greybearvineyards.com