Seven Rivers: Steaks Seafoods Spirits
By Graham Coffey
The Four Corners region has long been a destination for those who love to explore. Locals and tourists seeking an adventure can hop in their cars and drive in any direction to find different landscapes and singular experiences. The spirit of this community is rooted in seeking out adventures off the beaten path. The further one goes into the unknown, the bigger return they receive for their efforts.
Durango features more restaurants per capita than Denver, and in recent years the area has become an increasingly popular destination for those who want to have unique dining experiences. For those seeking a culinary adventure rooted in the Four Corners tradition of exploration, Seven Rivers Steaks Seafoods Spirits at the Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio is a can’t-miss destination.
On this chilly evening we are treated to beautiful sunset views of the La Plata Mountains as we travel towards Ignacio. Different parts of the range peek through an incoming snowstorm as we drive. Each time we glance across the valley the colors painted onto the peaks and clouds change.
We enter Seven Rivers, where warmth and pleasing smells immediately envelop our party and deep wood tones and distinctive lighting welcome us into the dining room. Seven Rivers’ team of chefs are working hard in the restaurant’s exhibition kitchen as we are seated. Our party spots a server walking by with a tray full of entrees, and our eyes grow wide with envy.
Crispy coconut almond shrimp, lump crab cocktail, black angus carpaccio, and a lobster bisque with creme and caviar so delicious it’s sinful. These offerings provide an evening’s worth of flavors on their own, but they are just the appetizers.
Almost in unison, everyone at the table starts to exclaim, “You have to try this!” Plates quickly begin to be passed around, and all of us agree that we are in the midst of an experience that doesn’t come around very often.
Chef George Boughan has been here since 2011. He explains that everything, from the decor to the menu filled with rare offerings sourced from all over the country, is designed to make us feel like we are in an old-school Las Vegas steakhouse.
If I didn’t know better, I could have easily been convinced that we’d been placed in a time warp and landed in the midst of a memorable night out on the Sinatra- or Elvis-era Vegas Strip. That we are in Ignacio makes it all the more special.
If you’ve ever tried to ship something overnight to the Four Corners, you know there is no easy way to get things here quickly. In the pandemic era, that has become even more difficult. Despite the logistical challenges involved, Seven Rivers has remained committed to serving a menu that would be unique in any major metropolis.
“Sourcing some of our foods has been difficult, but we’re proud to be the same restaurant as we were before COVID-19,” says Boughan. A few minutes after he tells me this, our entrees arrive: scallops wrapped in bacon, fresh lobster tails, seared Chilean sea bass, and a peppercorn-crusted bison strip steak. We share bites of one another’s dishes and we are all blown away.
Each dish is cooked to perfection, and we are struck by how reasonably priced everything on the menu is. When one considers that each entree comes with two sides, dining at Seven Rivers is a fantastic value. Tonight, we have the truffled mac and cheese, jalapeño cheddar mashed potatoes, roasted asparagus, creamy sweet corn, sautéed wild mushrooms and more. Like every other dish, each comes with their own exciting blends of flavors.
This is all part of the experience Seven Rivers strives to offer its guests according to Nicole Lansing, manager of Seven Rivers and a tribal member of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. She sees this as key to the restaurant’s growth.
“Our entrees are big portions and your sides are included with your entrees, so there’s a good value in coming to eat here. We hear, ‘Can we get a wheelbarrow to take me out?’ quite a lot. We have been getting more popular by word of mouth by satisfying the guests when they finish here,” says Lansing.
If you’re a resident of the Four Corners or a frequent visitor to the area you should consider it good news that Seven Rivers continues to grow. There’s simply nothing quite like the experience of dining there, and that point was driven home when our evening was capped by our server preparing bananas foster right at our table. Like everything else we ate that night, it was incredible.
The Southern Utes were the earliest inhabitants of the Four Corners, so it is no coincidence Seven Rivers perfectly captures the region’s spirt of adventure and distills it into a dining experience.
If you’re willing to go a bit further, explore a bit longer, and push off the beaten path of downtown Durango’s food scene, you too can enjoy the culinary adventure of dining at Seven Rivers.