Restaurateur Desmond Calhoon is a betting man.
Because of a longstanding wager with his sibling—and a little serendipity—Blondie’s Trophy Room in his hometown of Cortez, Colorado, came to fruition.
“My sister and I had a bet that if she ever had a kid I’d move back home,” Desmond says. “That was five years ago. I had to hold up my end of the deal.” He returned to Cortez from an established career as a chef for professional sports teams and sports arenas in San Francisco, Phoenix and Minneapolis. “Once I got home I couldn’t find work I was excited about so I ended up buying Blondie’s.”
Fast-forward to 2017, and Desmond is an esteemed uncle to Kaydence, his four-year-old niece who calls him “Buncle”. And just as family is important to Desmond, so is community. His Cortez, Colorado eatery is an important gathering place for locals and visitors alike, that serves up fresh, hearty, locally sourced pub-style food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
In March, his reinvention of Blondie’s celebrates a four-year anniversary. A passionate outdoorsman, Desmond set about changing the character of the restaurant right away. Blondie’s has a snug lodge theme that reflects his love of hunting and fishing. The jukebox and regular live music make for a lively atmosphere.
And as for his food, Desmond looked for local and regional supplies as a foundation for his menu. He sources beef from nearby Monticello, Utah for his renowned hamburgers, and fresh chicken for the celebrated wings at Blondie’s. In fact, Blondie’s has earned the award for Best Wings from the community for five years running. “We get as much locally as we can,” says Desmond. “I have a bias for fresh over frozen.”
The very extensive burger menu includes inventive twists on the original, like the Caesar Salad Burger and the number one seller: the Fried Pickle Burger. Residents plan ahead to hit the restaurant on Mondays, when burgers are always five bucks.
What else will you find at Blondie’s? Prime rib sandwiches. Ten Colorado beers and several Colorado spirits. Breakfast quesadillas, chicken and waffles, and the Southwest Benedict with Hatch Green Chili. (Desmond shares his recipe for this distinct specialty below.)
The combination of his natural creativity and trained dedication to his craft have paid off. “Our clientele is growing and evolving every day as people come to find out we have really good food,” says Desmond. “The best part of running this restaurant is being right downtown in the heart of the community. And we sponsor lots of teams and organizations to give back to the same people who’ve helped us be successful all year.”
In that vein, if you time it right, you may catch the Cortez Idol Competition. It’s where local talent ages 12 to 92 try out for this musical extravaganza, then participate in a six-week elimination competition to search out the best singer in town. Blondie’s puts up the $1,000 prize money.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner and entertainment at Blondie’s: It’s a safe bet.
If you go:
45 E. Main Street
Open 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. Seven Days a Week
Reservations not required
Southwest Benedict with Hatch Green Chili
Hot buttered housemade biscuits, corn cob smoked pork ham and poached eggs are topped with a heavenly helping of green chili hollandaise sauce for a Blondie’s breakfast favorite. Serve with roasted potatoes for mopping up the extra egg yolk and green chili hollandaise.
4 egg yolks
3 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 pinch ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon water
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup Hatch New Mexico roasted green chilis diced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
8 ounces corn cob smoked ham
4 housemade biscuits, split
2 tablespoons butter, softened
To make hollandaise: Fill the bottom of a double boiler part-way with water. Make sure that water does not touch the top pan. Bring water to a gentle simmer. In the top of the double boiler, whisk together egg yolks, lemon juice, white pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and 1 tablespoon water.
Add the melted butter to egg yolk mixture 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time while whisking yolks constantly. If hollandaise begins to get too thick, add a teaspoon or two of hot water. Continue whisking until all butter is incorporated. Whisk in salt and green chilis, then remove from heat. Place a lid on pan to keep sauce warm.
Preheat oven on broiler setting.
To poach eggs: Fill a large saucepan with 3 inches of water. Bring water to a gentle simmer, then add vinegar. Carefully break eggs into simmering water, and allow to cook for 2-1/2 to 3 minutes. Yolks should still be soft in center. Remove eggs from water with a slotted spoon and set on a warm plate.
While eggs are poaching, brown the ham in a medium skillet over medium-high heat and toast the biscuits on a baking sheet under the broiler.
Spread toasted biscuits with softened butter, and top each one with a slice of ham, followed by one poached egg. Place two biscuits on each plate and drizzle with green chili hollandaise sauce. Sprinkle with dried parsley and serve immediately.