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HAVE YOU EVER FELT RUG LOVE? Come to Ruggs Benedict and fall in love with a rug. Check out rugs like library books Come to our store and choose some rugs you like. If needed we will deliver them to your home in the Vail Valley for free. See how they look in your home, then keep the ones you love. 1000 beautiful area rugs in stock Our selection of imported, hand made rugs is unmatched. Over the past 25 years, we have built relationships with the best rug makers around the world. We buy direct and sell directly to you at wholesale prices. 200 choices under $200 We have area rugs to fit any room and any budget. Stop by and check them out!

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the Delicious Cuisine and Rich the Delicious Cuisine and Rich History on a 3hour Food Tasting History on a 3hour Food Tasting and Cultural Walking Tour. and Cultural Walking Tour.

Taste Taste

samples from our locally owned samples from our locally owned and Colorado inspired Restaurants. and Colorado inspired Restaurants.

Enjoy Enjoy

stories about the Chefs and stories about the Chefs and people who bring this town to life. people who bring this town to life. All food tastings are included in the ticket All food tastings are included in the ticket price. Alcohol pairings also available. price. Alcohol pairings also available. A great activity for groups and families A great activity for groups and families private tours and gift certificates available private tours and gift certificates available

Vail Vail Valley Valley Food Food Tours Tours

reservations reservations required, required, book book online online at: at: vailvalleyfoodtours.com vailvalleyfoodtours.com or or book book through through zerve zerve at at 800-979-3370 800-979-3370

Vail Vail Valley Valley Food Tours


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Vail Daily Magazine Group GM Susan Ludlow sludlow@vaildaily.com

Editor Wren Bova

editor’s letter

wren@vaildaily.com

Art Director Carly Hoover choover@cmnm.org

Photo Editor Dominique Taylor dtaylor@vaildaily.com

Marketing Director Mark Bricklin mbricklin@vaildaily.com

Ad Director Patrick Connolly pconnolly@vaildaily.com

Contributing Writers & Photographers Brenda Himelfarb, Katie Coakley, Kim Fuller, Krista Driscoll, Kristin Anderson, Lauren Glendenning, Justin McCarty, John LaConte, Kimberly Nicoletti, Anthony Thornton, Traci J. Macnamara Advertising Production & Design Afton Groepper, Ashley Detmering, Malisa Samsel Sales Manager Kip Tingle ktingle@vaildaily.com

Account Managers Carole Bukovich Eric Burgund Chris Jacobson Beth McKenzie Heidi Bricklin Circulation Manager Jared Staber jstaber@vaildaily.com

vail daily Publisher Don Rogers drogers@vaildaily.com

Swift Communications President Bob Brown rbrown@swiftcom.com

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ail Valley restaurants have a message for us: Say goodbye to molecular gastronomy and hello to authentic local cuisine — though a little culinary science isn’t unwelcome. For the past decade or so, our chefs have been involved in some sort of mutually beneficial symbi-

otic relationship with local growers, ranchers, beekeepers, foragers and artisans. Oh, there were always people who sourced particular things here and there, but it’s become a veritable movement. It started with legwork and education. Then they had to back it up with their wallets. A few years down the road now, and it’s snowballing. It’s not simply the ubiquitous (and lovely) Colorado lamb and Palisade peaches — we get a plethora of products raised and grown right in Eagle County, such as beef, elk, ducks, mushrooms, greens, beets and more. Draw a 100mile radius around us, and the cornucopia quadruples with dairies, fruit orchards, distilleries and other operations. And after all that time and effort goes into the growing and sourcing, nobody wants to pick up a perfect round of goat cheese or a steak years in the making and treat it casually, or worse — muck it up beyond recognition. So they don’t. And that means it’s a really fun time to head into any of our restaurants and discover what all the fuss is about. Whether it’s our French and Italian establishments or our seafood and New American restaurants, everybody is serving up Colorado. We know this because we just spent a month eating out. Restaurants ask us to come in and experience what they’re creating. Sometimes we wander through the kitchens, other times we stick to the dining room. And in the following pages, we tell the tales. So sit back, relax and bon appétit. Wren Bova Editor

Colorado Mountain News Media GM Jim Morgan jmorgan@cmnm.org

Colorado Mountain News Media Production Director Bill Walker bwalker@cmnm.org •••

Printed by

an epicurean experience - w i n t e r 2 0 14 -

Publcation Printers, Denver

Flame at the Four Seasons has a number of inventive dishes utilizing a wide array of ingredients, but the steaks and chops, grilled on a 1,800-degree custom broiler, reign supreme.

The Vail Daily is a wholly owned subsidiary of Colorado Mountain News Media 200 Lindbergh Drive P.O. Box 1500 Gypsum, Colorado 81637 p. 970.328.6333 | f. 970.328.6409 Copyright ©2013 Colorado Mountain News Media. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is strictly prohibited.

cover photo by justin mccarty

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“Lincoln”

by Gib Singleton 33” x 8” x 9,” Bronze

1 Willow Bridge Road Vail 970.476.4851 Gibsingletongallery.com


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11 Photo Gallery Before pleasing the palate, these dishes delight the eyes. By Dominique Taylor, Kristin Anderson & Justin McCarty

16 The EAT Compendium Snapshot views of the valley’s best restaurants. By EAT staff writers

67 food trends Vail Valley chefs weigh in on what they’re excited about in the kitchen — and what they’re glad to see go. By lauren glendenning

70 BITE SIZED Something to nosh on… By Wren Bova

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contributors International or regional food love: Brasserade — mountain food full of meat and cheese and potatoes in the French Alps.

Carly hoover Lauren Glendenning Writer Grandma taught me: How to make the best chocolate cake with fudge frosting ever. We call it “The Cake.” When it’s cold and snowy: Make Bolognese. Best dish of my year: Mac-n-cheese at Parkside in Austin, Texas. I’m drinking: Anything Nebbiolo, probably Barolo or Barbaresco. Favorite food trend: Upscale/reimagined comfort foods. I’m ashamed to love: Veal, foie gras, sweetbreads — all the politically incorrect foods. I love them all. If it’s on the menu, I always order: Grown up mac-n-cheese. Go-to quick dinner: Costco pizza. I could eat this daily for the rest of my life: Vietnamese Pho. International or regional food love: Anything from Southeast Asia. What turns around a crabby mood: Wine!

Art Director When it’s cold and snowy: Chili. Best dish of my year: Matsuhisa — all of it! When I leave the valley I crave: Larkburger. If it’s on the menu, I always order: Gnocchi. International or regional food love: Thai.

Traci J. Macnamara Writer Mom taught me: Almost everything I know about cooking...including how to peel garlic easily. Best dish of my year: The fonduta at Zino Ristorante. I’m drinking: Knob Creek Whiskey Manhattan. Favorite food trend: Brussels sprouts are suddenly cool...and good and good for you, too. I’m ashamed to love: Macaroni and cheese. Go-to quick dinner: Pad Thai.

Caramie Schnell Writer Favorite food trend: Doughnuts. Go-to quick dinner: Breakfast for dinner, always with eggs. A fried egg sandwich. Chilaquiles. Or a scramble with whatever needs to be used up in the fridge. International or regional food love: Indian. Asian. Dim sum. Middle Eastern. How can you choose just one? Sometimes we go to Denver for the weekend just to get our fix. What turns around a crabby mood: Really good chocolate. Personal food mecca: I was pretty much in heaven in Eataly in New York City.

Katie Coakley Writer When it’s cold and snowy: I want my mom’s chili — it’s spicy and cozy and goes great

with cornbread. I’m drinking: Anything jalapeño or pepperinfused. I love the spicy kick. Favorite food trend: I love seeing grits on fine dining menus. I just love that so many people are utilizing what I’ve been enjoying for breakfast for years. If it’s on the menu, I always order: Kale salad. I could eat this daily for the rest of my life: Pizza. Even the $2 frozen kind. International or regional food love: Poutine. French fries covered with cheese curds and gravy (bonus if there’s bacon involved). Genius.

Brenda Himelfarb Writer When it’s cold and snowy: I’m cooking chili. I’m drinking: Prosecco. I’m ashamed to love: Corn dogs. Go-to quick dinner: Pasta with anything. I could eat this daily for the rest of my life: Blinis and caviar. If it’s on the menu, I always order: Blinis and caviar. International or regional food love: Navajo tacos. What turns around a crabby mood: There’s nothing like an ice-cold beer!!!

Wren Bova Writer Mom taught me: To plan my life around dinner. Favorite food trend: Exciting veggies. If it’s on the menu, I always order: Bubbly. When it’s cold and snowy: Spicy green chili. Please. International or regional food love: Mexican. I could eat this daily for the rest of my life: Avocado on toast.

Dominique Taylor Photographer Step-mother taught me: How to make smashed potatoes with butter poured on top. I’m drinking: Viognier. If it’s on the menu, I always order: Duck. When it’s cold and snowy: Eat leek and potato soup. Go-to quick dinner: Thai red curry with pineapple


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and shrimp, or Indian in a jar. International or regional food love: All Asian. I could eat this daily for the rest of my life: Really good bread.

again, and again…and a third time. I’m ashamed to love: Pumpkin poppers dipped in full-fledged butter and rolled in a blend of cinnamon and sugar. If it’s on the menu, I always order: Hands down, French onion soup of any variety… and creme brûlée. But not together. What turns around a crabby mood: A good glass of Italian red wine. Works every time.

Anthony Thornton Photographer When it’s cold and snowy: I want beef bourguignon. When I leave the valley I crave: Maple bacon bars from Northside Café. Go-to quick dinner: Risotto. International or regional food love: Fondue. What turns around a crabby mood: Cheesecake.

Kimberly Nicoletti Writer Mom taught me: Love is the answer to everything. It especially tastes good in food. Go-to quick dinner: Chicken with great spices, and veggies. I could eat this daily for the rest of my life: Sweet, thick-crusted pizza. What turns around a crabby mood: Cookies and milk. Personal food mecca: My hometown: Chicago.

Justin McCarty Photographer Mom taught me: You can’t have dessert if you don’t clean your plate, but I, on the other hand, clean my dessert before I eat my plate. When it’s cold and snowy: No time for cooking. It’s snowing WOOHOO, wax your skis! When I leave the valley I crave: My mother’s homemade taquitos: “Kay’s Taquitos” best in the world. Go-to quick dinner: Clif Bar. What turns around a crabby mood: Brownies. International or regional food love: I love it all. There are so many variations of food and flavors that we get to enjoy from all over the world. It’s wonderful how fortunate we are. Mostly tacos though.

Ashlee Bratton Writer Best dish of my year: Good ol’ braised short ribs and Southern cheesy grits from Far Dog in Creede, Colorado. I would order it

Krista Driscoll Writer Mom taught me: It’s always the right time to make chocolate chip cookies.

I’m drinking: An old fashioned made with Breckenridge Bourbon and Bitters. Favorite food trend: Small plates; I love getting a huge variety of food without wasting it. I’m ashamed to love: Pasta with cream sauce; never need the carbs or the calories, but I eat it all the time anyway. I could eat daily for the rest of my life: Toast; just plain toast with butter. What turns around a crabby mood: One really good craft beer. Personal food mecca: Chicago — deep-dish pizza and pierogis.

Kim Fuller Writer Mom taught me: “Time for wine.” When it’s cold and snowy: Green chili. I’m drinking: Alpenglow vodka craft cocktail at Kelly Liken. Favorite food trend: True farm-to-table...Beano’s! International or regional food love: Nepalese food. What turns around a crabby mood: Wine and cheese and charcuterie and wine.

Kristin Anderson Photographer When it’s cold and snowy: I want French onion soup and creme brulee. If it’s on the menu, I always order: Eggs Benedict. Go-to quick dinner: Pasta and red sauce. I could eat this daily for the rest of my life: Probably nothing, but eggplant parmesan would be a good runner up. International or regional food love: Italian always sounds good. What turns around a crabby mood: Chocolate cake or a brownie sundae.

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Beaver Creek’s seafood joint, Hooked, serves fish so fresh it can be ordered as sushi.


The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch’s Buffalos puts an emphasis on Colorado’s “other red meat,” but the beet salad showcases some of the state’s best produce: beets and arugula.


The rotating crostini at vin48 usually includes both sweet and savory accents.


The sticky, tender ribs at Bol melt at the sight of a fork.


The snowy white meringue dessert at 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill toasts up like a campfire marshmallow in a flaming rum bath.

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featured restaurants Avon 17 18 19 20

Maya Modern Mexican Kitchen Castle Peak Grille Vin48 Ticino

Edwards Zino Ristorante Dish Gore Range Brewery Cordillera’s Mirador and Grouse on the Green 25 Vista at Arrowhead 26 The Gashouse 21 22 23 24

wolcott 27 Wolcott Yacht Club

Beaver Creek 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 38 39 40 41 42 55 60

Buffalos Spago Mirabelle at Beaver Creek Beano’s Cabin Zach’s Cabin Splendido at the Chateau Black Diamond Bistro Hooked Beaver Creek Mountain The Osprey Lounge CBAR Toscanini 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill SaddleRidge Beaver Creek Chophouse Blue Moose Pizza

Vail 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66

La Tour Matsuhisa Vail Terra Bistro Game Creek Restaurant Elway’s Vail Bol Flame at the Four Seasons Tavern on the Square Restaurant Kelly Liken Vail Mountain The Tenth Vail Chophouse The Left Bank La Cucina Lord Gore Restaurant Blu’s Blue Moose Pizza Bistro Fourteen Atwater on Gore Creek Larkspur Restaurant Tavern on the Gore Vail Ale House Pepi’s


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Maya Modern Mexican Kitchen 126 Riverfront Lane, Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa / Avon 970.790.5500 / richardsandoval.com/mayabc by Lauren Glendenning photos courtesy of maya

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his is not the Mexican food you’ve eaten hundreds of times across America. Chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval calls it “modern Mexican,” meaning you can say good-bye to cheese-smothered burritos and say hello to imaginative, complex and delicious creations like pork carnitas with pipian mole or squash blossom quesadillas, which resemble traditional empanadas. A restaurant that goes to the effort of installing a custom-made comal — a special Mexican griddle used to make tortillas — in the dining room for all to see is a restaurant that takes something as seemingly simple as corn tortillas to the next level. That’s right — every corn tortilla is made fresh every day, and you’ll

know it when you taste one. Having your guacamole prepared tableside sets the tone for the meal — it’s a shining example of the kind of love and passion that goes into each dish at Maya. A server wheels over a cart topped with a beautiful mortar and pestle. Beside it are bowls of every ingredient used in traditional guacamole, plus crab, tuna or bacon — all of which are done right before your eyes. Paired with one of the restaurant’s signature margaritas like the Maya, made with tequila blanco, tamarind, citrus and a zesty chile-dusted rim, and you’re already dining in heaven before you’ve even thought about ordering an entrée. Authentic Mexican Connected to Beaver Creek via gondola, an après ski party happens daily from

Apps $8-$18, entrees $18-$45 Ambiance High-energy hotspot for gourmands and tequila lovers Signature dish The mole experience with chicken, short ribs, pork carnitas and shrimp, caramelized plantains and black beans perfect for Night out with friends and family dinners Price

2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. with excellent food and drink specials. And while these small plates are tasty and exciting, staying for dinner is a must. There are three mole sauces on the menu — pipian, amarillo and poblano — that are special to Maya. There are some dishes that cross over to some of Sandoval’s other restaurant menus, but the mole is unique to his Maya Beaver Creek location. The pipian, made with toasted pumpkin seeds, tomatillos and cilantro, among other ingredients, is full of impressive flavor. Surprisingly, executive chef Radames Febles says it’s the mole that requires the least amount of cooking time. The amarillo mole takes a little bit longer and gives off more heat, with the flavor of yellow tomatoes and yellow chiles the most dominant. The poblano mole, which cooks all day, is the one that makes you want to lick your plate clean. I found myself stopping the server from clearing my plate off the table because there were a few more drops of it left. I practically slapped his hand when he tried to take it away. Made with dozens and dozens of in-

gredients, the poblano mole features rich flavors like chocolate, peanut butter, nuts, cinnamon and veal stock, to name a few. “Most people who are eating moles, this is the one they’re referring to the most, and it’s also the one that everybody’s going to be the most critical of because everybody’s mother makes this one,” Febles says. “This one, I mean, it’s incredible. It’s definitely our prize, for sure.” There are many other prizes on the menu, too, so the best way to experience Maya is to go with a group and share as much as possible. From ceviche to enchiladas to succulent pork carnitas, the menu is almost too good to be true. • top Maya’s well-stocked and energetic bar is a gathering place for locals and visitors alike. above All tacos come on freshly made tortillas.

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Castle Peak Grille Traer Creek Plaza, Avon 970.748.4848 / castlepeakgrille.com by wren bova photos by Dominique Taylor

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hen Rob Sinclair took over as general manager of Castle Peak Grille last year, he didn’t set out to reinvent the restaurant. It just happened along the way. “I wanted us to give good value and be consistent,” says Sinclair. “So I lowered the prices because a lot of our food didn’t warrant what we were charging, and I started to define what and who we are.” That turned out to be a neighborhood bar and grill with good food at good prices, served by people who give a damn. “We don’t have anything kitschy — that’s our catch,” Sinclair says. Nice catch. Walk in the door and you’re met by the prominent multi-sided bar and exhibition kitchen. Black and white tiles, substantial banquettes and walls of windows set the stage for a room that’s ready to fill up and stay that way. Open for lunch, après ski and dinner, the restaurant is a draw for families, couples and groups of friends. In other words — it’s a neighborhood joint.

Fun twists, solid flavors The menu has some fun twists and turns, without being fussy. A couple of the items have been on for quite some time, such as the Hawaiian-style ahi tuna poke with a sesame ker-pow mellowed by chunks of avocado and crispy wonton chips. The pumpkin ravioli with brown butter and sage, mussels, and even a bowl of green chili are all pretty classic. But it’s the pork belly that works a voodoo spell. “It’s marinated for 4 to 5 hours, then braised overnight with star anise, cardamom and cinnamon — sort of an Asian infusion,” Sinclair says. They serve it with some braising reduction, which offers a sweet, viscous glaze to the savory slab of pork that quivers in anticipation of being devoured. Sinclair thought it was knock-down, drag-out good, so he called in some chef friends to vet his opinion. “I mean, it’s bacon. I can be fooled by bacon,” he says. But they agreed. It rocks. The menu is filled with other strong, clear flavors, too, thanks to executive chef Duncan Pinnell. The chi-

Price

Lunch apps $4-$12, Lunch entrees $8-$15 Dinner apps $5-$12, Dinner entrees $12-$24 •••

Ambiance

Neighborhood bar and grill •••

Signature dish

Pork belly appetizer and Friday’s prime rib special •••

PERFECT FOR

Dinner with friends and family

michurri pizza, topped with the South American pesto, queso fresco and chorizo, is a hit. For heartier appetites, it doesn’t get better than the Friday Night special: prime rib with all the trimmings. Other entrees run toward bistro fare: roasted chicken, several steaks, stuffed pork loin, shepherd’s pie with Colorado lamb, Rocky Mountain trout. Or just give in and order the country-fried steak with peppercorn gravy, mashed potatoes and creamed corn. During the winter, it’s a pretty hard dish to resist. “It’s good, comfortable food that locals can trust,” Sinclair says. “It also happens to be the kind of food you want to eat when you come off the mountain. We’re just good people making good food.” • Chimichurri pizza with queso fresco, onions, jalapeños, chorizo and green onions. left Pork belly in braising reduction. above


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48 E. Beaver Creek Blvd. Avon, Colorado 970.748.WINE / vin48.com by Traci J. Macnamara photos by KRISTIN ANDERSON

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in48 is the kind of place where you’ll feel comfortable drinking a glass of wine in your après-ski garb or sitting down for dinner on a special occasion. Such a welcoming vibe no doubt reflects the ethos of its creators, a trio including chef Charles Hays, wine director Greg Eynon, and restaurateur Collin Baugh. The adventurous spirit in this collective of local guys shows up in the dishes they concoct and in the drinks they serve. Vin48 is known for its 300-bottle wine selection and for its flavor-packed small and large plates. An Enomatic wine preservation system allows guests to choose from more than 40 different by-the-glass options, and if you’re a sipper — or

Ambiance

Price Small plates: $8-16; Large plates: $20-35 Contemporary cuisine • Signature dish Smoked pork cheeks perfect for Wines by the glass, good local vibe

simply afraid of commitment — you can drink half-glasses until you find the one that best suits you. GO BIG WITH SMALL PLATES “Things are always changing and evolving here,” says Hays of vin48’s expanded small-plates menu and the trend towards serving more Colorado-sourced products. With nearly 20 items to choose from on the small plates portion of the menu, it’s possible to make a meal out of vin48’s small plates alone, and you won’t leave feeling hungry. Start out with the warm goat cheese salad, a Panko-crusted portion of Colorado goat cheese, gooey in the center, that’s served on a bed of thinly sliced beets and drizzled with mint oil and an orange-truffle vinaigrette. Mushroom lovers won’t want to miss the wild mushrooms, a plate that’s layered with flavor and texture, from its creamed red onion base, to its potato-cake center, to its crown of wild mushrooms tossed with

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olive oil and piled generously on the top. After you’ve wowed your taste buds with these starter selections, move on to some meaty small plates, such as vin48’s signature smoked pork cheeks, which are as soft as their sideline, beercheese-sauce-drenched gnocchi layered over grilled kale. Next, try the marinated skirt steak, and when it shows up plated with French-fry cut roasted turnips, you’ll swear you’re eating vin48’s version of the classic steak frites. Euro-style the end of your evening with the housemade limoncello, which will arrive with an ice-skimmed surface that’s ready for some pretty sweet sipping. LOCAL LOVE Vin48 sources its skirt steak on its menu from a ranch near Hotchkiss, the goat from Salida, the bison from Meeker, and chicken for sausage from the Front Range. “By serving more locally-sourced proteins, we’re able to leave less of a footprint, and that’s important to us,” says

Hays, who also gets excited about the fact that vin48 has become a place for locals and out-of-towners alike. From the moment you walk into the door until you down your last sip, you’ll feel the love. • top Seared scallops with roasted spaghetti squash, black trumpet mushrooms and spiced wine butter. above Vin48’s snack menu includes items such as pate, bruschetta and hummus (pictured) with homemade flatbread.

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Price

Apps from $5-$17; entrees $13 - $34 •••

Ambiance

Cozy and unpretentious •••

Signature dish

Costolette di vitello •••

perfect for

Ticino Italian Restaurant

Relaxing, casual dinner

100 W Beaver Creek Blvd / The Lodge at Avon 970.748.6792 / ticinorestaurantavon.com by Brenda Himelfarb photos by Dominique Taylor

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he enduring appeal of simple, soul-warming food at moderate prices with convivial service is the cornerstone of Ticino Italian Restaurant, a little jewel of a place tucked away in the Lodge at Avon Center. It’s cozy and unpretentious. Charles Frey, who hails from Italy, warmly greets guests at the door, immediately making them feel welcome, as though they had been personally invited to dine at his home. And, for Frey, it is somewhat like his home. For he and his son, Sacha, who co-owns the restaurant, highlight some old family recipes. “I went through the formal training with hotel and cooking school, “ says Frey. “But we do feature some dishes that I learned from my mother.”

True Italian During the day, Ticino is a like a pizzeria, serving humble Italian-American lunch fare. You can get any number of salads and soups. Or indulge in an Ital-

ian sub, panini, pizza or build your own pasta dish. At night, the room is reminiscent of a friendly neighborhood trattoria with a full menu that tantalizes. Antipasti such as the Lumache Mamma Mia (escargot) comes with Mama’s herb-butter sauce. Another appetizer, peperocini faracite, is the restaurant’s take on stuffed jalapeños, with sundried tomatoes, cream cheese and fresh basil wrapped in prosciutto di Parma and drizzled with chipotle-ranch dressing — and comes with a warning of “spicy.” Marry an antipasti with the capre e pera salad of mixed greens, dried cranberry, spiced pecan, fresh pear and goat cheese, then topped with pear vinaigrette. Your taste buds will be prepped for what comes next — a choice of entrees that demonstrate the creativity behind the restaurant’s culinary team — from the pan-seared chicken or veal scaloppini in lemon-caper butter sauce to the filet of beef topped with Ticino’s secret sauce, served with garlic-parme-

san potato puree and veggies. One dish not to be missed, however, is the sumptuous cosolette di vitello, slowbraised, melt-in-your-mouth, falling-offthe-bone veal short ribs in a white wine citrus glaze served with creamy polenta and sautéed veggies. The sauce, Frey explains, has a secret ingredient. “I’ll tell you this much,” he says, with a wink. “It has orange juice, demi-glaze, white wine,

cloves and bay leaves.” And for dessert, if you’re not a tiramisu lover, the panna cotta with a berry sauce (although Frey is working on a special chocolate sauce) is utterly addictive. • Veal scaloppini with pasta. The veal short rib with polenta and vegetables.

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27 Main Street / Riverwalk, Edwards 970.926.0777 / zinoristorante.com by Traci J. Macnamara photos by KRISTIN ANDERSON

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MOUTH-JUMPING GOOD The Zino team recently spent some time together in Northern Italy’s Piedmont region, and the trip inspired some new flavors on the menu, which changes seasonally. The classics are still there, but if you’re looking to expand your definition of Italian cuisine, try the following: For a starter, dive right in with the fonduta, a pool of Raschera cheese poured over velvety polenta and topped with a poached egg, truffle pearls and shaved black truffles. It’s an artful dish that arrives in a small cast iron skillet and is served with grilled bread for dipping. Next, try the zucca pizza, a sweet and savory flavor combination, which has a butternut squash base and is topped with roasted pancetta, taleggio cheese, sage and toasted walnuts. For a taste of Zino’s fresh pasta, go for the gnocchi. This dish will delight you with its perfect gnocchi pillows, melt-in-your-mouth braised rabbit, portobello mushrooms, baby kale and Piave cheese.

For an exciting entrée, choose the halibut saltimbocca, a dish with a name that literally translates as halibut that “jumps in the mouth.” In this variation of an Italian classic, buttery-textured halibut is wrapped in prosciutto and sage and topped with wild caper berries, all beautifully presented and served on a bed of creamy black risotto. For dessert, share the chocolate mousse dome, which includes an otherworldly dark chocolate mousse and a saucer-shaped flourless cake sprinkled with hazelnut croccante. “We’re constantly improving and trying new things because we want to give the best of ourselves to our customers,” says Naples-born manager and co-owner Giuseppe Bosco. In these inspired Cinghiale with braised wild boar, gorgonzola polenta, roasted tomatoes and reggiano crisp. left Fonduta with Raschera cheese, polenta, poached egg, truffle pearls and shaved black truffles. below Antipasti Misti with Italian cheeses, cured meats, olives and grilled artichokes. above

dishes, Bosco and Haley prove to do just that. Whether you’re going to Zino Ristorante for your first time or for your fiftieth, you’re sure to find something classic alongside something new you’ll want to celebrate, again and again. •

Price Apps $11-15; pizzas $15-18; entrees $25-36 • Ambiance Warm and festive contemporary Italian cuisine • Signature dish House-made burrata, roasted mussels, funghi pizza and pappardelle with veal meatballs perfect for A first date, a fiftieth date, dinner with friends

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zino ristorante hen it’s cold outside, there’s something comforting about sitting down for a good Italian meal, and Zino Ristorante in the Edwards Riverwalk area will do way more than warm up your belly. With its inviting atmosphere, flavorful Italian dishes and friendly service, Zino will heat you up: body, heart, and soul. Created by the same founder as Sweet Basil, Zino Ristorante is known for both its traditional Italian dishes and its evolving, creative combinations. Executive chef and co-owner Nick Haley isn’t afraid to try new things, and the menu reflects both his curiosity and his commitment to keeping things fresh, seasonal and interesting.

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eat!

Artisan cheese shop and wine bar Fresh off a remodel with new tables, chairs, display cases and a sexy color scheme, the shop carries more than 100 cheeses. Shop for home use, or sit down and feast on soup, cheese and charcuterie platters, salads, paninis and more. •••

drink!

Wine and spirits boutique The shop is laid out like an interactive wine list, and is now focusing on artisan spirits, being as Colorado-centric as possible. Dubbed “Mixology Central,” the shop stocks everything needed for the home mixologist, including advice. •••

cut

A butcher shop and seafood market with a “ farm and fisherman to plate” philosophy, cut has a Colorado Rancher program that focuses on local ranches. A new freezer case offers ready-to-bake appetizers. •••

dish 56 Edwards Village Blvd. Edwards Corner 970.926.3433 eatdrinkinc.com by wren bova photos by DOMINIQUE TAYLOR

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ollyanna Forster and Chris Irving must throw killer dinner parties. The couple behind eat!, drink!, dish, cut and tacorico has steadily built a mini culinary empire of the best kind: It started out feeling extravagant, but each piece of the pie has settled in as something necessary to local life. Though all of the businesses are different, they share a similar core: Be inspired, try everything and source locally. And that vision comes together beautifully in dish, which just turned 8 years old. Led by executive chef Veronica Morales, the menu changes completely every other month, and little bits here and there the rest of the time. It’s broken into sections by country, continent or region — you might see Spain, Italy, Hawaii, Morocco, Asia — and offers share plates, large plates and sweets in each section. Come in with friends and share a parade

Tastes, share plates and large plates $1-$32. • Ambiance Globallyinspired, locally sourced cuisine • Signature dish Crispy Brussels sprouts with an Asian sweet-sour-salty sauce • perfect for Dinner with friends, girls’ night out, cooking classes and special events Price

of flavors, or go the appetizer-entrée-dessert route: Both work. “Being a self-taught chef, Veronica does more reading and research than anyone I know,” Forster says. “Writing the menu is a fun process. It’s very collaborative.” Forster just returned from France, where she took some cheese-making classes, and so France became one of the menu’s sections. She, or anyone else on the Dish team, might encounter a flavor or a preparation method somewhere, which in turn inspires conversation and menu direction. They’re not trying to prove anything, they’re just keeping it fresh and fun — and as local as possible. “There are really no secrets to what we do,” Forster explains. “We do focus on key ingredients. Molecular gastronomy is on its way out now, but it was never something we were interested in. We always liked the conversations with farmers, sourcing the best stuff possible. Find the best ingredients and don’t f** it up.” They do, and they don’t. The convivial dining room at dish is designed for friends. With knowledgeable servers

and a racy wine list, it’s hard not to have a good time. Add in the creative cuisine and it’s a home run. Try the shrimp, split and grilled, served with panang curry, or head to Italy and opt for a Vail-raised steak with herbs. France offers duck confit and America a Palisade peach tart. But whatever you do, don’t miss the crispy Brussels sprouts with Asian flavors. “Over the past 5 years, we’ve transi-

tacorico

The taco and tequila cantina serves made-to-order street tacos and handpressed tequila cocktails, in addition to a sporting a six-tap system that has three beers and three wines on tap. Platters are served family style, as they are in a sushi restaurant.

tioned more people into Brussels sprouts fans than probably anybody,” Forster enthuses. “They’re addictive They have that umami flavor — and that sweet, that sour, that crunch, that balance — that everybody craves.” • top Brussels sprouts with a sweet-sour-salty sauce and togarashi crisped rice. above Arctic char with braised fennel, blood oranges, cucumber and dill.


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0105 EDWARDS VILLAGE BLVD, EDWARD 970.926.brew / gorerangebrewery.com by Caramie Schnell photos by Justin McCarty

Apps $6-$14; entrees $9-$25. • Ambiance Gastropub with upscale brewery food. • Signature dish BBQ spice-rubbed brisket dip, and fish and chips with gluten-free batter. • perfect for Equally good for beers and apps at the bar for the game, or a nice sit-down dinner in a casual environment. Price

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hanks to chef-owner Pascal Coudouy’s fine-dining roots and French adherence to from-scratch cooking, Gore Range Brewery is quietly redefining just how good pub-style food can be. He cures his own meats in house, bakes his own bread (the soft pretzel rolls are off-the-hook good), and every sauce is built in a stockpot, not poured out of a jar or can. Equally elevated since Coudouy took over the operation is the beer program. This year, longtime brewmaster Jeremy Pluck won two medals at the World Beer Competitions, including a gold for

the Bourbon Barrel-Aged Porter, which called a used Breck Bourbon barrel home for months and has the heady aroma of good bourbon as a result. This dark beauty is rife with the aromas and flavors of dark chocolate, fig and pepper. “I think the flavors work well together — the bourbon flavor you get from the wood works really well in combination with the chocolate-y flavors that are often present in porters,” Pluck said. The past few months, general manager Jessica Greene has been busy infusing spirits, and shaking and stirring up a storm in order to create a cocktail menu that rivals the beer options. Try the tongue tingling strawberry-jalapeño tequila spritzer, made with jalapeno-infused vodka, or the not-too-sweet vanilla bean pear martini, two standouts. Where food is fun Consider sharing the seasonal salad as an appetizer if you’re going the route of app-entrée-dessert. The word salad is used loosely here — there are six separate, fully composed items on the plate, perfect for the diner who gets bored after a few bites of any one thing. For the winter, the salad is a heartier combination of roasted beets with creamy goat cheese, stacked Bibb lettuce leaves with vinaigrette, a layered roasted tomato caprese salad, creamy broccoli, raisin and almond slaw, melted braised leeks with hard boiled egg vinaigrette, and a miniature cream cheese quiche topped with tender pink slices of smoked salmon. The meatballs on the buffalo

meatball pizza, new on the menu this winter, are braised for two-and-half hours in homemade barbecue sauce, which is used as the base for the pizza. The wood-fired oven puts just the right crisp on the crust, which is topped with sweet caramelized onions, pepper jack cheese and a sprinkling of spicy arugula. Both the Reuben sandwich and the BBQ spice rubbed brisket dip are signature, comfort food options, but if you haven’t explored the entrees on the menu, you’re missing out. The apple chutney, spiced with ginger and cumin, crowning the grilled salmon is a sweet, nicely spiced accompaniment to the flaky fish. The toothsome sautéed kale beneath adds a nice textural contrast. Equally

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satisfying is the grilled half chicken, with roasted tomatoes, cauliflower and a blueberry sauce that throws your taste buds a twist with its citrusy lime undertones. With homemade bread pudding with crème anglaise or a caramel-laced pear crisp with vanilla bean ice cream beckoning to you from the dessert menu, consider tapping your second, just-for-sweets stomach. It’s worth it. • top Reuben sandwich with house-made corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing on marble rye. left Grilled salmon with sauteed kale, apple chutney and port wine vinaigrette.

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Grouse on the Green & Mirador at Cordillera 2205 Cordillera Way / Lodge & Spa at Cordillera
 970.926.2200 / cordilleralodge.com by Katie Coakley photos by Justin McCarty

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ne of the best-kept secrets in the Vail Valley is its golf communities. Shrouded in the mystery of a tucked-away enclave and guarded by a set of gates, Cordillera is one of these communities, offering spectacular views and sumptuous amenities to its members. However, contrary to popular understanding, these culinary experiences are available to any who venture through the entrance. Start at Grouse on the Green, the only authentic Irish pub in the area. Constructed in Ireland and shipped to Colorado, Grouse on the Green has a new chef and a new menu, which introduces

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updated versions of classic dishes. From entrees like fish and chips (beer battered cod and hand cut fries) and shepherd’s pie (made with rosemary stewed lamb and cheddar mashed potatoes) to new favorites like chips and curry and scotch eggs, Grouse on the Green is the perfect perch for a pint and a bite. “When I eat at places like the Grouse, I’m usually with buddies, drinking a few beers,” says executive chef Collin Smelser. “We’re always looking for things to share; I wanted our appetizers to be bigger and I created a bigger variety.” With a fireplace to warm up, plenty of screens to catch up and plenty of comfort food to fill up, Grouse on the Green should be your new favorite watering hole at which to saddle up.

Price Grouse on the Green: appetizers from $6 - $14; entrees from $10 (sandwiches) - $23. Mirador at Cordillera. Appetizers $5 – 12; entrees $25. Three courses for $39. • Ambiance Grouse: casual pub; Mirador: familyfriendly upscale fare. • Signature dish Grouse on the Green: Irish Nachos, Fish & Chips; Mirador: MacDonald’s Farms Pork Tenderloin perfect for Grouse: viewing the game, meeting friends; Mirador: weekday date night, family special occasion.

If you’re searching for a trust fund experience at scholarship prices, be sure to visit Mirador at Cordillera. The name means “gazebo” or “view;” the expansive vistas do not disappoint. Order a bottle of bubbly and toast the views that stretch for miles. You won’t squander the family fortune, though. Smelser has your best interests in mind. “When I first took over at Mirador, a lot of the comments were about price point and value, so that’s my thing,“ Smelser explains. As a result, Smelser is offering a three-course menu for $39 throughout the winter season, a value almost unheard of in the area. “We’re keeping the same quality — 7X Farms short ribs, Boulder chicken—but we’re offering a compelling price point,” Smelser says. “We’re getting a really great response from guests.” The response is not surprising. The menu is eclectic — Smelser describes it as “fun,” after all: “I just try to have fun with it. You could describe it as American, I guess. I keep the flavors simple and let food speak for itself. I don’t try to overcomplicate it.” But the food almost belies this simplified explanation: the ginger-glazed pork belly appetizer includes a chipotle honey that elevates the dish from “tasty”

to “outstanding.” The addition of the sautéed mustard greens and blue cheese Andouille spoon bread lift the pork tenderloin from “satisfying” to “you have to try this.” Perhaps the humble explanation by Smelser is a ruse, but it’s one that will keep me coming back time and time again. • top left Ginger-glazed pork belly with sweet and sour pineapple salsa, pickled onion and chipotle honey. top right Bacon-wrapped meatloaf, yukon whipped potatoes, haricot verts and truffled gravy. bottom Wild mushroom pizza with roasted garlic, caramelized onions, truffle oil and arugula.


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676 Sawatch Drive / Arrowhead, Edwards / 970.926.2111 / vista-arrowhead.com

apps from $8–$18 entrees from $26-$45

by Katie Coakley photos by Justin McCarty

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Cozy fine dining

here’s something about passing through a gate, saying hello to the attendant and winding your way to your destination that creates a sense of anticipation, a feeling that the upcoming experience will be memorable. Pulling under the porte-cochère at Vista at Arrowhead, the valet greets us warmly and ushers us into the lobby, where a crackling fireplace gives the impression of coming home. While the white tablecloths and impeccable service at Vista confirm its reputation as a fine-dining location, the overall atmosphere is one of familiar conviviality, which is only reaffirmed by the stylings of Vail’s original piano man, Micky Poage. Effortlessly moving from Ray Charles to Elton John, Micky sets the mood for the evening, asking for requests and greeting old friends who have followed him to his new home at Vista.

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Signature dish

Seared rare Yellowfin tuna and pork osso bucco •••

perfect for

Après ski, date night, special occasions •••

WHAT’S NEW

Piano man Micky Poage plays six nights a week at Vista

tourists — it’s a diverse group.” There are no strangers at Vista. At the front of the restaurant, a chalkboard welcomes a couple for their anniversary and wishes another guest a happy birthday. The anniversary couple is congratulated by the staff, who delivers a sparkler-decorated dessert. A visit to Vista feels like visiting a friend — one who is always ready with a warm welcome, a crackling fireplace and cuisine that’s sure to satisfy. •

Tuscan Grill Vista’s menu reflects the tastes of an Italian living in Colorado, with entrees such as grilled Rocky Mountain ruby red trout served with bread pudding and Napoli sauce and Colorado bison Bolognese, a hearty offering in which the homemade garganelli pasta is the perfect vehicle for the savory slow-cooked buffalo. One of the restaurant’s signature items is the Berkshire pork osso buco, which falls from the bone in a sigh of savory pleasure. One could be forgiven for ordering only from the extensive tapas menu with tasty options like the baked mushroom caps stuffed with homemade sausage and the lobster-filled ravioli, which is made even more decadent by a cognac basil cream sauce. I’m pleasantly surprised when I taste the baby kale salad; the sweet bell peppers add such a pleasant burst of flavor that I want to have them at home (they’re only available to chefs, unfortunately). The Marcona almonds that executive chef and owner Michael Glennon candies in-house add a satisfying crunch to the salad. It’s the small surprises on the menu that make me take yet another bite, to work out one more flavor. “Our steaks are excellent,” Michael explains, without boasting, “but if you want

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Berkshire pork osso buco. Micky Poage plays six nights a week.

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something different, try the tuna.” He knows he’s sending out a winning dish. The signature yellowfin tuna is perfectly seared, but it’s the addition of the gnocchi that makes me pause. Gnocchi with an Asian-inspired dish? But it works — the gnocchi is an ideal vehicle to soak up just a bit more of the soy-ginger butter sauce.

Old & New Friends Residents of the valley for more than 25 years, Michael and his wife, Janine, who moves around the dining room greeting returning patrons and introducing herself to new arrivals, obviously have their finger on the pulse on what their guests want. “We see a mix of everyone here,” Michael says. “Locals, club members,

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the gashouse 34185 U.S. 6, Edwards 970.926.3613 / gashouse-restaurant.com by kim fuller photos by andy guy

Apps $4-$19; Entrees $19-$47 Ambiance Rustic Colorado mountains • Signature dish Mixed game grill perfect for True Rocky Mountain experience Price

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n Colorado, enjoying the “big game” means much more than just Sunday afternoon pigskin parties. The Gashouse in Edwards has one of the valley’s most extensive selections of Rocky Mountain flavor — a restaurant that continues to hold true to its local heritage. “There are great places to eat in this whole valley, but you’re sitting in restaurants that could be in Miami, Chicago or New York,” explains Andy Guy who coowns The Gashouse with Connie Irons. “But when you’re in this building, you feel like you’re in the Colorado mountains.” Steak, seafood and wild game specialties are in rich abundance on the restaurant’s lunch and dinner menus, with a large variety of items to please both traditional diners and culinary connoisseurs. Seafood specials at The Gashouse change with tide-like consistency, but some of the tried-and-true dishes are there to stay. The baked oysters appetizer is a warm and rich dish, nestled under a bed of wasabi-honey breadcrumbs. Crab cakes, a house specialty, are made with generous portions of lump blue crab and just enough egg and crumb filler to hold them together. After some surf — fresh, baked or fried — add a little turf. Start with the light and robust buffalo carpaccio, locally raised and lightly smoked, then shaved paper thin and complemented by crostinis with arugula, mixed greens and capers. Guy says he tries to buy as much game meat from Colorado as possible — all butchered and wet-aged in-house. Buffalo burgers are a lunch favorite, he says, as well as homemade buffalo, wild boar, elk and venison sausages. It’s the jackalope sausage that is most unique, however — a combination of rabbit and antelope meat, wrapped with sweet dried cherries and spicy habenero peppers.

Guests should try the mixed game grill, a hearty combination of grilled quail, smoked buffalo bratwurst and elk tenderloin, and the ultra game grill includes a deliciously and lean venison chop, served with a blackberry brandy demi glaze. Entrees are served with accoutrement comforts of truffle steak fries or twice-baked mashed potatoes. The building was originally a gashouse before it’s restaurant renovation thirty years ago, so the establishment’s décor displays decades of the valley’s history. The rustic interior holds heads of mounted animals, old license plates, resort posters and maps, while the bar and tabletops are lined with a plethora of old season passes. The space is perfect for a gathering or reception, with two separate dining rooms, a spacious bar and an outdoor patio. Lunch starts runs from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., followed by a late-afternoon après special of 30 percent off all food and drinks. •

The Ultra Game Grill is a wonder of wild and meaty flavors. left The dining room is filled with hunting and wild game memorabilia. above


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27190 Hwy 6 in Wolcott 970.926.1390 / wolcottyachtclub.com by Kim Fuller photos by Justin McCarty

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f you’ll enter an airport at the busiest travel time of the year, or get up at 6 a.m. to get in line for first tracks on a powder day, then traveling just a few more miles down the highway for a fabulous meal should be a no-brainer. Just 20 miles west of Vail is a dining experience that is truly special. Not because of frilly things like snowcats or gondola rides, either. Chef Michael Joersz is putting out food that stands up to any fine dining dish at Vail or Beaver Creek, but he’s doing it in a much more relaxed setting surrounded by a crew of passionate employees. The Wolcott Yacht Club is a neighborhood kind of restaurant, but the level of refinement happening in the kitchen makes it feel like anything but. “I just love your menu,” said a woman dining with her husband on a recent Friday night. It would be hard to find someone who didn’t love this menu. All the bases are covered — from heavily vegetarian appetizers and small plate selections to masculine dishes like buffalo meatloaf or bourbon and mustard-crusted Colorado lamb — Joersz has thought of every palate. He’s got you covered if you’re in a fish taco kind of mood. Feeling like you need more vegetables? The options for vegetarians are endless. Or if meat is your thing, he’s cooking up farm duck, bison, Colorado lamb and filet mignon, too. A long-time summer hotspot, the Yacht Club is trying to be a more yearround restaurant with regular winter hours this season. And owner Jan Jouflas keeps it interesting with live entertainment on Friday nights and occasional theme nights. A Sunday brunch menu is fit for the gods — crème brulee French toast or a

lobster and chevre omelet, anyone? Yes, please. The atmosphere inside is mountain modern — a lot of wood and stone, comfortable booths and dim lighting. The kitchen is wide-open, where you can hopefully catch a glimpse of how Joersz is making those insanely delicious Brussels sprouts. Every table in the restaurant when I was there ordered the Brussels sprouts. Was I hearing correctly? Brussels sprouts? I assumed the chef was topping them with pork belly or king crab legs or something, but nope, just Brussels sprouts. I took one bite and could hardly believe how great they were. Fish sauce, ginger, lime juice, mint and sesame blend together for a fresh sauce that is more like the consistency of a broth. The Brussels sprouts are perfectly crisped and served atop the broth. It’s possible that children might even eat this dish and enjoy it. Amazing. The salad menu ranges from arugula and avocado with “really good olive oil” to beautiful butter lettuce with goat cheese, beets and pomegranate vinaigrette. Even a grilled artichoke is charred to perfection and served with creamy citrus-tarragon aioli. Yep, Joersz is pleasing palates from far and wide at the Wolcott Yacht Club. Just don’t forget to order one of the awesome handcrafted cocktails and try not to be in a hurry — you’re going to want to hang out here for a while. • top Lump blue crab cake with cucumber carpaccio and Szechuan aioli. left Steak and pommes frites, two-peppercorn-crusted filet mignon, maytag bleu and maitre d’hotel butter.

Price Lunch apps $4-$10, Lunch entrees $10-$15, Dinner apps $4-$11, Dinner entrees $12-$28 • Ambiance Neighborhood restaurant with a twist Signature dish Brussels sprouts with Asian flavors perfect for Casual weeknight dinner, fun night out with friends

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buffalos at the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch 0130 Daybreak Ridge 970.748.6200 ritzcarlton.com/en/ Properties/BachelorGulch by KIM FULLER photos by Dominique Taylor

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arved rock pillars and a wood beamed ceiling uphold the comforts of a mountain home in Buffalos, the new addition to the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch. Centerpiece candles illuminate dinner service in the rustic-style restaurant, while the open kitchen offers the ultimate in Colorado cuisine for three meals day. “A lot of international guests come to visit Bachelor Gulch,” explains Fabien Biraud, executive chef. “And they often want to taste something that is more local.” Fabien says dinner at Buffllos is the perfect time for guests to relax and wind down from the day, while earlier meals cater to faster eats, if desired. “We are now doing breakfast in the morning, offering bison sausage, and buffalo steak and eggs,” explains chef. “For lunch, we will have a lot of quick bites, along with bison burgers and lamb burgers, bison chili, and a lot of wraps and salads.” Twelve tap handles stand behind the restaurant’s 13-seat bar, pouring 11 craft beer selections and root beer for the kids. Evening dining is surely an ideal opportunity for a Buffalos beer tasting or food pairing.

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Salt of the Earth Start with a pour of Sigi’s bock-style beer, a dark brew from the Tivoli Brewing Company out of Denver, alongside a starter of buffalo tartar. The uniquely prepared raw dish is topped with a poached quail egg, served with accoutrements of pickles and mustard seed. Bone marrow is also house specialty, complemented with apple chutney and a balsamic glaze reduction. Spread the silky and salty delicacy over the top of a crispy crostini. Soft lighting keeps the evening intimate at a two-top table along the windows, yet the buzz of the bar across

the room is equally enticing for its elite service and camaraderie. Continue with a local brew, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, from Crazy Mountain Brewery in Edwards. The American ESB brings in a complex maltiness and full-bodied flavor, perfect with Buffalos’ farm-fresh beet, arugula, sherry vinaigrette and walnut oil salad. “What we’re really going for here is farm-to-table cuisine,” says chef. “With our ingredients, beers and wine list, we are all about the salt-of-the-earth producers.” Colorado-grown Hazel Dell wild mushrooms, house mashed potatoes and lightly sautéed jalapeños are a few of the available sides to go a la carte with entrées — try the delicious rendition of local lamb chops, or the mouthwatering bone-in buffalo rib eye. A pint of Compass IPA smoothes out the robust spice of the jalapeños, and the Heavy Horse Scotch Ale is a beautifully dark beer for any cold winter night. Pastry chef Emily Martin keeps sweet endings classic with her crème brulee and New York-style cheesecake creations. Try the s’mores dessert for a more contemporary finale — a graham cracker cake topped with chocolate and toasted marshmallow ice cream. • top Bison burger with bacon aioli and pickled red onion. Recommended with a fried egg, too. above 20-ounce bison ribeye, served with Colorado Native battered onion rings.

Breakfast $13-$30, Lunch $13-$24, Dinner $24-$55 Ambiance Casual atmosphere with scrumptious Colorado cuisine Signature dish Bison ribeye and bison chili perfect for Delicious breakfast, lunch or dinner; meeting friends, dinner with the family Price


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at the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch 0130 Daybreak Ridge 970.343.1555 / wolfgangpuck.com by Lauren Glendenning photo courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch

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here are few properties in the Vail Valley that rival the grandeur of the Ritz Carlton in Bachelor Gulch, and few dining rooms are as elegant or as beautiful as Spago’s. Warm color tones and gorgeous cowhide chairs brighten the room. The modern details throughout the décor create an expectation that the dining experience here will be nothing short of exquisite. It’s an accurate expectation to have for this AAA Four-Diamond restaurant. Perhaps the most impressive element of dining at Spago is the flawless execution of everything. The service is remarkable — your water glass will be filled before it ever drops below half-empty, your wine will be poured when you need it poured, not a second before or after, and it’ll all be done with warm, gracious smiles from the staff. It’s a level of sophisticated, polished service that exudes fine dining, yet there’s also a certain level of relaxation at Spago that takes pretentiousness out of the experience. Executive chef Jared Montarbo has spent his relatively short career in Wolfgang Puck kitchens. After culinary school, his first job was working at Spago in Beverly Hills as a cook. He worked his way up the ladder, often spending his days off in the kitchen so he could continue to learn. He found himself in the executive chef position at Spago in Bachelor Gulch a couple of years ago and life is good. Life is good for guests who dine there, too. The youthful Montarbo is sending out refined dishes that you’d think came from a chef with 30 years of experience. There are some staples, though, that

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Price

Apps from $14-$28; entrees from $35-$62. •••

Ambiance

Modern fine dining •••

Signature dish

Crispy veal wiener schnitzel with warm potato salad and marinated cucumbers; Chinoisstyle Colorado lamb chops. •••

PERFECT FOR

Romance, foodies, and indulgence.

Puck would never take off the menu, like the crispy veal weiner schnitzel. When Puck comes to town around Christmas every year with his family, he often ends up in the kitchen with his chefs and cooks to make sure they’re making the wiener schnitzel correctly (they are). Other signature menu items include the steamed Hong Kong-style striped bass with stir-fried vegetables and lemongrass rice and the luscious tuna tartare sesame cones, which were served as an amuse bouche on a recent visit. And the Spago menu would be incomplete without the Chinois-style Colorado lamb chops, served at a beautiful rare with a sweet and savory glaze charred into the crust. A cilantro-mint vinaigrette adds a lovely touch of acid. For those seeking decadence, the

house-made ricotta gnocchi might be at the top of the list. There’s no potato in this gnocchi, so the result is a light and creamy pasta topped with a succulent duck ragout and wild mushrooms. It’s hard to choose at Spago when the chef is offering dishes like pan-roasted diver scallops atop silky celery-apple puree or roasted duck breast, so tender and moist that you barely need to chew it. Perhaps that’s why Montarbo is happy to create a custom tasting menu for anyone, anytime. If there’s something you must have — like the Kaiserschmarren, an irresistible crème fraiche soufflé pancake with sautéed strawberries, for dessert — Montarbo is happy to include it. • above

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Mirabelle at Beaver Creek 55 Village Road / Beaver Creek 970.949.7728 / mirabelle1.com by Katie Coakley photos by Anthony Thornton

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erhaps you’ve seen the historic building nestled in the trees just past the gates at Beaver Creek. Perhaps you’ve made a mental note to “try Mirabelle sometime.” But until you actually sit down for a glass of wine and a meal, you’re missing out on one of the most enjoyable dining experiences in the valley. A certified Belgian Master Chef, chef and owner Daniel Joly’s cuisine is European in essence, but modern in execution. Staying true to his roots, Joly prepares classic proteins (think duck, lobster, Dover sole) but elevates them to unexpected places, often due to his many travels and experiences. Much like its chef inventor, a dish like “blue crab composition” may seem traditional; the delivered creation is anything but. Yes, there is a perfect patty of crab cake perched on the plate, reveling in its seaside goodness. But next to the cake is an eggroll that is a shining beacon that every other eggroll should strive to emulate. The crab salad, not to be over-

looked, is a perfectly creamy but light concoction that deserves to be savored instead of scarfed. Or consider the Dover sole, a dish that has been on Joly’s menu in some form or fashion since the beginning. This latest incarnation keeps to the classic with the perfectly cooked fish in a lemony brown butter sauce, but the crispy potato tuile is shaped into a vessel that cradles baby spinach; the clean bite of the spinach cuts the richness of the sauce and makes the sole sing. This homage to tradition with a twist is at the heart of Joly’s menu, but dining at Mirabelle is more than just the menu. “When you come to Beaver Creek, you want to have a unique experience,” Joly says. “We’re a bit of a different vibe than what you’ll find in other places.” He’s absolutely right, but it’s more than just the ambiance of the historic farmhouse, the sense of arrival that you get after rolling through the gates, making the left turn and walking up to the front porch. It’s more than dishes like

the seared foie gras, which could almost be ordered as dessert; the luxuriousness of the liver is transformed from savory to sweet by the poached pear and vanilla sauterne reduction. “We think coming to Mirabelle is like coming to someone’s home,” Joly explains. “That’s what makes it special to me.” Yes. It’s a bit like visiting your worldly, wealthy aunt—the one who jets around the world but is always waiting to pour you a glass of wine and settle in for a

nice, long visit in front of the fireplace. Be sure to make time for a visit. • Lobster out of the shell “A la Plancha” with garlic Napa cabbage, parsley coulis, escargot-fennel ravioli and pastis butter. top right Chef-owner Daniel Joly, front, is a certified Belgian Master Chef. above The Blue Crab Composition includes a crab cake, eggroll and salad. top left

$12-$160; entrees $29-$48 • Signature dish North Sea Dover sole “meunière” • perfect for Date night, special occasions what’s new The newly renovated bar area makes stopping in for a glass of champagne and blinis the perfect end to a day of skiing.

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by Katie Coakley photo by Jack Affleck

“Y

ou’ll love it,” a man calls out as we pile into the sleigh. “I ate there last night — best meal

of my life.” Tucked under a wool blanket and several warm ponchos, the full moon casts a bright blue light onto the snow. We’re en route to Beano’s Cabin on Beaver Creek Mountain, our sleigh pulled by snowcat. Shaking snow off our boots, we’re soon enveloped in the warmth of the fireplace; I feel as if I’ve been placed in a Currier and Ives print. The cuisine and ambiance directly reflect this feeling. “Our menu is fitting for a cabin in the woods in Colorado,” says Mick Van Slyke, one of Beano’s sous chefs. “We like to keep things elegant, but with a rustic cabin theme.” Rustic and elegant might be a difficult balance to manage, but executive chef Bill Greenwood and his team execute it beautifully. Utilizing the massive wood-fired grill

in the center of the show kitchen, nearly every item on the menu is influenced by the grill in some form or fashion. Some items are homey and familiar, like the roasted root vegetables and squash that decorate salads and wonderfully smooth polenta, respectively. Others, like the wood-grilled organic egg, are a bit more esoteric. Seeing my dubious expression, our server Matt explains that the egg is gently cooked over the grill; the pecan wood of the fire imparts a smoky essence to the white and the yolk remains liquid. The result is elevated familiarity: the egg creates a rich, smoky river that coats the heirloom grits and pork jowl confit. Scraping the last of the grits from the plate, I have to remind myself that there is more to come. Dinner of Substance It’s easy to imagine that, as in other fine dining establishments, that the portions would be reduced for a fivecourse menu. Not so at Beano’s.

““It’s five courses, but they’re large portions, keeping with the cabin feel,” Van Slyke explains. “These are not petite portions. Our challenge,” he laughs, “is for you to eat everything.” For the sake of research, I make a valiant effort, but I feel a trickle of impending defeat when I see the whiskey-glazed Berkshire pork porterhouse arrive. This substantial cut of heritage pork is lovingly coated with Colorado whiskey, which marries beautifully with the sweet pecan smoke. It’s a favorite among guests, as evidenced by the fact that the kitchen exhausts 12 bottles of whiskey each week

for its preparation. I’m convinced that I have no room left, but my protests are stifled with woodgrilled persimmons, honey mascarpone and brown butter crumble. I’m sad, but a bit relieved, when we’re told that a sleigh will depart soon. Wool blankets piled on my lap, I’m completely sated as we start down the mountain under a patchwork of stars. I wrap myself in the warmth of the evening and am oblivious to the cold. • Wild game such as lamb and elk plays a starring role on the Beano’s winter menu.

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$115 per person for a five-course meal. • Ambiance Cabin chic Whisky glazed Berkshire Pork Porterhouse perfect for Big groups, special occasions, holidays • what’s new Sean Razee, the new beverage director at Vail Resorts, is working his magic on the wine list at Beano’s; the wine list is exceptional so ask your server about pairing suggestions. Price

Signature dish

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beano’s cabin

Beaver Creek Mountain Via snowcat-driven sleigh 970.754.3463 . beanoscabinbeavercreek.com

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Price

$14-$29; entrees $27-$49 •••

Ambiance

Refined mountain rustic •••

Signature dish

Chili-encrusted elk tenderloin •••

PERFECT FOR

Special occasion

Zach’s Cabin Mountainside, Bachelor Gulch 970.754.6575 / zachscabinbeavercreek.com by Kim Fuller photos by Kristin Anderson and RIC stovall

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n an evening ride up the snowy slopes of Bachelor Gulch, twinkling lights seem to float away as we are drawn from the bustle of the valley below. Our sleigh ascends toward Zach’s Cabin, while my visions of crisp linens, crystal wine stems and elaborate entrees start to simmer with anticipation. Upon our arrival to the mountain cabin, a leather-gloved, open palm reaches for my bare hand, guiding my slick heels down the two daunting steps from the carriage into the snow. The glow of Zach’s reaches far past its walls of windows, shining on what seems a long awaited welcome home. Just as I had hoped, Champagne bubbles rise in a thin flute, popping like flames from the dining room’s grand fireplace. Sommelier Jeremy Gramling slides by with purpose and grace, pairing perfection on every table. The seared foie gras appetizer is known far and wide — the accompanying peanut butter and jelly Monte Cristo

is a genius foil to the quivering slice of decadent flavor. But the Pacific-style short rib potstickers bring an Asian flare to our first course, which Jeremy complements with a subtly crisp chenin blanc from the Loire Valley in France. “Think about the flavors,” he explains. “You want to taste the accoutrement that surround the protein — the ginger, the heat — that’s what you want to experience.” The seared beef tataki starter, served with Serrano peppers and ginger ponzu, draws balance from the wine as well; it’s a true highlight on the menu as an ultra premium Colorado strip loin. “The 7x Colorado beef is a standout product, for sure,” explains Tim McCaw, executive chef. “It’s a grade higher than prime, and is some of the best beef we have in the country right now.” While food and wine make an unforgettable statement at Zach’s, bar manager Mitch Graff’s new craft cocktail menu should not be overlooked. Tradi-

tional Manhattans and Old Fashioneds are revitalized with his house-made apple bitters, and the Berry Tickler rum cocktail with hibiscus-ginger syrup and muddled blackberries is smooth and bright and refreshing. Main courses simply delight, whether they are the menu mainstays of rack of lamb or elk tenderloin, or an entrée special for the night. Jeremy thoughtfully calls tuna the “tenderloin of the seafood world,” and this evening’s yellowfin variety comes topped with a two-ounce piece of silky foie gras, beside sautéed spinach, mashed potatoes and a cabernet reduction. A sweet ending at Zach’s last a while,

even after pours of black Muscat and spoonfuls of white chocolate and caramel-soaked toffee bread pudding. Nestled under a poncho and beside the warmth of my date, the chilly December night is now fully illuminated by a bright full moon and a sky strewn with stars. My heart is just as full as my belly, as the sleigh glides down to the twinkling world below. • top Seared foie gras with peanut butter and jelly Monte Cristo, and a seafood trio with ahi tuna, seared sea scallop and Skuna Bay salmon. above Zach’s Cabin feels like a cozy lodge inside, with a massive fireplace and substantial furniture.


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17 chateau lane, beaver creek 970.845.8808 / splendidobeavercreek.com by Kim Fuller photos by Justin McCarty

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Chasing perfection The sounds of resident pianist Peter Vavra complete the elegance already in the air, as nothing exists in the dining room that does not belong. Beautiful details of woodwork and tapestry trim and warm the space, held together with intricate ceiling pieces and a wall of windows set mountainside. Pinot noir from Russian River settles into the company of the roasted New Zealand elk loin. Local game in its inspiration, yet not its origin, the perfect cut of meat is a declaration of Walford’s emphasis on serving well-traveled guests the world’s best. “That’s what a good chef has to do,” he says. “Not just cook local because it’s local — but cook what the customer really wants.” The elk entree, served with a substantial-yet-hearty ratatouille, is

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splendido at the Chateau twirl of my fork is just enough to spin together a taste of Splendido’s spaghetti alla chitarra — a savory dance of gently seared and sliced Maine lobster, tomato, tarragon and parsley. The long strands of pasta are hand-cut with a wired tool — the Italian “chitarra,” a culinary instrument with a guitar-like name and an astute creative quality. This dish, like all others here, holds the harmony of David Walford’s splendid symphony — a melodic dream born from the hands of artists like Brian Ackerman, chef-de-cuisine, in the restaurant’s renowned, open-air kitchen. With deliberate cadence and flow, an impeccable team of servers completes the masterpiece, subtly guided by dining room director Brian Rhodes and sommelier Patrick Mildrum. A glass of Argentinian torrontés wine makes itself welcome alongside a bowl of Porcini mushroom soup, a local delicacy from the nearby Shrine Pass. This past summer, David’s team foraged and put up more than 500 pounds of porcini’s — a taste of Colorado that will outlast its season.

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Apps $15-$24, entrees $36-$54, bar $12-$29 •••

Ambiance

Welcoming and festive fine dining •••

Signature dish

Wood-oven-roasted lobster or rack of lamb •••

PERFECT FOR

Date night, dinner with friends, cozy night at the bar

wrapped with guanciale and kissed by spiced persimmons and red wine jus. For those who are looking for a lighter dish with the same impressive stance of flavor, the Mediterranean sea bream is cooked skin-side down to preserve the moisture of the fish — a meaty yet tender fillet served over a bouillabaisse sauce and saffron pearl pasta with melted leek, caramelized fennel and preserved lemon. Even as the elk is being eaten, pastry chef Amy Andrews begins the task of beating egg whites and melting chocolate for my chocolate fudge soufflé. She tops this piece of heaven with a shimmer of gold — a most appropriate ending to perfection. • Roasted New Zealand elk loin, wrapped with guanciale, is served with ratatouille, homemade yogurt, spiced persimmon jam and red wine jus left Spaghetti alla chitarra with tomato, tarragon, parsley and Maine lobster above

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Black Diamond Bistro The Charter at Beaver Creek / 120 Offerson Rd, Avon / 970.949.1251 by Brenda Himelfarb photos by Dominique Taylor

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or 30 years, Blu’s has been a Vail institution. The well-known establishment was once located in the heart of the Vail Village, known as a consistent go-to for locals and visitors alike. Last year, the restaurant found a new home at the Vail Racquet Club, settling into East Vail’s serene qualities of mountain ease and spaciousness. “I like the new location,” said Blu’s owner, T.J. Armstrong. “We definitely have potential for growth out here, and I think we do have an advantage for guests, since the closest restaurant is nine miles away.” The idyllic scene from Blu’s expansive east-facing windows is picturesque at any time of day, but to catch a glimpse of evening alpenglow on the towering Gore Range peaks is the perfect way to sink into an evening meal. “To me, it feels like where it is,” said Armstrong as we sat at a window table, enveloped by warmth from the dining room’s large wrap-around fireplace. “Here, you really get to see the subalpine environment that is East Vail, and really the essence of Vail itself.”

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The restaurant’s “continental American cuisine” is a tribute to ski town dining in every aspect of its comfortable approach and contemporary style. Executive chef Peter Millette offers a wide range of delicious and affordable dishes — including salads, soups, pizzas, sandwiches and pastas — all perfect to please wallets and palates alike. Eclectic by design Sink into après or start your dinner with the light and flavorful blackened tuna sashimi. The appetizer features thick slices of ahi seared rare, served on crispy wontons with avocado, Sriracha mayonnaise and sweet soy. Millette has also brought some Latin fusion into the mix with one of his signature dishes: a poblano chile relleno. With

Price Apps $5-$12; entrees $16-$29 • Ambiance Relaxing, informal dining • Signature dish Lamb osso bucco with housemade spaetzle, winter squash • perfect for Aprés ski, pub grub and comfort food

a crispy cornmeal crust, this is far from your average Mexican food; the chile is stuffed with goat cheese and mozzarella, and topped with currant-pine nut butter. “We were, and have been, eclectic by design,” Armstrong explains. “We have always wanted to offer reasonably priced items that are still upscale, and we wanted people to have that choice in one location.” The wine list at Blu’s reflects Armstrong’s tried-and-true vision, capturing a variety of vintage and unique selections. Upstairs, a cozy bar-lounge area may be the perfect place to come for a light bite and libation after a full day on the slopes. Elaborate entrees will hit the spot as well. Try the New York strip steak, grilled with a poblano-pumpkin seed crust, and served with a roasted tomato-chili demi glaze and chipotle mashed potatoes. “This is a lot different than you normal steak,” says Millette. “There is something for everyone here, and I think for the quality of the food, there’s a true value.” Blu’s offers breakfast from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. on the weekends and on holidays, and their front-door parking makes it easy to come and go during the busy winter season. The restaurant is open at 5 p.m. for dinner, seven days a week. • top The views from the dining room at Black Diamond Bistro in Beaver Creek. left Lamb osso buco is served in a hearty braising broth with homemade spaetzle.


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122 The Plaza, Beaver Creek 970.949.4321 / hookedbc.com by wren bova photos by kristin anderson

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hey say there’s nothing new under the sun, but Riley Romanin didn’t get the message. The Vail Valley native went and created an interactive dining experience at his fish-centric establishment, Hooked, that doesn’t fit neatly into any category. It’s not simply a seafood restaurant; it’s not a sushi joint. It’s a fish house that’s got it all — raw, smoked, cured and cooked fish, plus vegetable and meat dishes — with finishing touches such as a sommelier (well versed in traditional wines as well as sakes and cocktails), an energetic vibe and a pretty witty sense of humor. And did I mention it’s fun? You can visit Hooked at lunch as well as après, but do not miss dinner. Here’s how it goes: waltz in, get greeted and seated, and choose between sparkling and still water. Next, meet the fishmonger. Usually Greg Loki, the fishmonger comes with heaps of aqua-knowledge and a blackboard. No, he’s not toting a chalkboard; rather, it’s a slab of slate covered with all manner of piscine specimens. Those are the fish of the day, which change constantly, thanks to Romanin’s “man in Japan” who combs the fish market looking for quality and freshness, not a particular type of fish. “It sure captures people’s attention when that whole platter of fish comes out to the table,” says Romanin with a smile. “People can really see the freshness of the fish, the clarity of the eyes.” But it’s not showmanship; it’s important information. The fishmonger doesn’t just show you what they’ve got, but he talks about the flavors and textures, and recommends particular preparation styles. And there are a lot of said styles. You choose the method and the details. For instance, if you want it “gift-wrapped,” that means it’s cooked in an envelope. From there you can get the “origami,” with julienne stir-fried veggies and sesame butter, or “pakalolo,” wrapped in a banana leaf and served with coconut, fresh fruit and red onion. Order it “flame broiled,” and choose between “gratin,” with garlic aioli and tomato jam, or “sweet miso glaze,” with mirin and hot mustard. Pan fried,

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Apps $6-$20, entrees $15-market price •••

Ambiance

Lively seafood and sushi joint •••

Signature dish

U-Call-It fish of the day, prepared in any style •••

perfect for

Fun night out, dinner with friends, date night, cheer-meup dinner

steamed, flash fried, cooked on the flattop — it’s a mix-and-match odyssey for fish-loving hedonists. Most people, though, get yet another choice in there by ordering it duo-style. One side of the fish is removed from the bones and served raw as sushi, sashimi or put into any manner of inventive rolls; the other side is cooked as requested. (Some people opt for two raw preparations, or two cooked ones.) Though it’s a lively dining room, there

are moments when all seems to hush and everyone is chewing with little half smiles. They might be sharing the “seacuterie” platter — a piscine take on charcuterie with an array of smoked and cured fish, rillettes, as well as a sausage made of shrimp and scallop forcemeat, with Dungeness crab folded in. Other hits include the Crimpster — a lobster tail stuffed with shrimp and crab, wrapped in ultra-thin bacon — as well as anything with 7x beef, an exclusive product that takes its name from the Wagyu beef grading system. As for me, I’d start with the beet cobbler: beets, honey-whipped

goat cheese and a walnut-rich topping, roasted together in oozing sweetness. “You’ve got to like beets, but if you like beets — it’s heaven,” says Romanin. And though it sounds new, it capitalizes on a traditional pairing. “They’re classic flavors. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, just change the style.” So he says. But it feels like a new invention at Hooked. • top Dungeness crab and chips with drawn butter, parsley garlic fries and bernaise. above The Hooked dining room and sushi bar are cozy and friendly.

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beaver creek mountain Spruce Saddle / Top of Centennial lift / 970.754.5520 Broken Arrow / Base of Arrowhead / 970.754.6750 Mamie’s Mountain Grill & Umbrella Bar / Top of Bachelor Gulch Express chairlift / 970.754.5591 Talons Restaurant / Confluence of Larkspur Bowl, Grouse Mountain & Birds of Prey / 970.754.5530

by Kim Nicoletti photos by Justin mccarty and dominique taylor

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Spruce Saddle

Broken Arrow

Spruce Saddle sets the standard for ski-lodge lunches. Located atop the Centennial Express Lift, it’s the largest on-mountain restaurant — and it shows in the variety of food, as well as drinks like the Electric Ski Mask (with Red Bull and vodka). Chef Matt LaWare’s team cooks nearly everything from scratch, be it soup, sushi or salmon. This season, LaWare has added Massaman curry, an Asian rice dish, to his Asian lineup, featuring pad Thai and pho. And he still dishes out plenty of Italian cuisine, grilled meats and kids’ favorites. Whether it’s lobster tacos, an extensive salad bar, chili, pizza with homemade dough or a prime rib sandwich, Spruce Saddle offers fast, casual dining. “You could eat here all week and enjoy a variety of international cuisine,” says general manager Chad Anderson.

The Broken Arrow’s red-umbrella-lined deck is the perfect place to relax in the sunshine, while its dining room and full bar are cozy on snowy days. Live music on Sundays (and Saturdays, in March) adds to the festive atmosphere. The Arrowhead Village base restaurant features homemade soups, sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, barbecue, custom salads and snacks — with a refreshing twist. Vegetarians will love the homemade soup or the hummus, feta cheese, marinated veggies and quinoa wrap. New this year is the homemade Edgy Veggie Burger. The brick-oven pizza station delivers specialties like goat cheese and forest mushroom pizza, as well as four-cheese ‘zas. During apres, fries are served seven ways, with everything from truffle oil to cinnamon and sugar, and wings come five ways. And don’t miss the locals’ favorite: a bloody Mary with a skewer packed with nine items.

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Spruce Saddle, Beaver Creek Broken Arrow, Arrowhead

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Mamie’s Mountain Grill & Umbrella Bar

Talons, Beaver Creek Mamie’s Mountain Grill, Bachelor Gulch

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Mamie’s provides guests with a unique European experience. This season, Mamie’s debuts its 98-seat umbrella bar — a sunroom with a retractable roof, which opens on bluebird days and replaces the yurt. When ordering, guests have the option of grilling ribeye steaks, chicken, burgers, portobello mushrooms and more, or they can leave it to the restaurant’s chefs and order items such as warm baguette turkey and salami sandwiches, meatball subs, chicken parmesan sandwiches and smoked chicken enchilada soup. Kids love cooking s’mores outdoors. European-style hot dogs are also popular — the 10-inch dogs come wrapped in a warm pretzel roll, with or without sauerkraut. Gluten-free buns are available. The full bar features local, handcrafted beers, 16-ounce Budweisers and housemade gluwein. Starting in February, Dave Perron performs every Friday. “The views are amazing,” says general manager Nina Hinnendael, “and the guest service is top-notch.”

Hours Spruce Saddle

9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. •••

Broken Arrow

8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. •••

Mamie’s Mountain Grill & Umbrella Bar

9:30 a.m. for cocoa and coffee; 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. for lunch; bar open until 3 p.m. •••

Talons Restaurant

9 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. (open later for drinks)

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Talons Restaurant debuts this season in all its European-inspired splendor. The Bavarian-influenced barn-style building accommodates 500 people inside and 250 outside on the deck. A full, double-sided bar, with windows that telescope open, serves both indoor and outdoor guests. Located near the base of Chairs 9, 10 and 11, Talons offers an unheard-of on-mountain dining experience; the carving station — where chefs serve up roasted New York strip loin, house-cured pork loin and turkey breast smoked onsite — is just one indication. Dishes such as Bavarian-style casseroles, open-face meatloaf platters, and lamb, bison and salmon burgers confirm that Talons isn’t a typical cafeteria. While guests can still order “regular” burgers and pizza, they’ll also find specialties like a trio of wild mushroom pizza with arugula and goat cheese, and Colorado lamb burgers. Breakfast includes artisan flatbreads with egg, cheese and smoked salmon as well as Talons’ signature strawberry rhubarb cobbler. “It’s fresh, made-to-order, and ready to go,” says general manager Chris Darrohn. •

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Share plates $7-$15; big plates: $27-$35 •••

Ambiance

Intimately casual •••

Signature dish

TBD, something new from Sanchez’s smoking gourmet grill •••

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A secret, cozy escape

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he back door of Beaver Creek’s Osprey Lounge opens up just steps from the Strawberry Park Express lift. Long a mainstay of the resort’s informed-diners crowd, The Osprey caters to anyone wanting an eclectic array of fearless flavors. The social soul of the boutique hotel, it serves the lunch, snack, apres and dinner crowd. Quite handily, too. After a foray in Austin, Texas, executive chef David Sanchez has returned to the valley in full force, and at The Osprey Lounge he’s excited to embrace the reputation that precedes him while pioneering some new directions. The Osprey Lounge is known for its tapasstyle dishes that give traditional flavors a creative twist, such as the quail drumettes with Bulleit bourbon maple glaze that make chicken wings seem blasé. And this lounge is about to get smoking hot, with the upcoming addition of a backyard grill and gourmet smoker that will create a mouth-watering column of smoke a mere spitting distance from the Strawberry Park lift.

QUALITY, CREATIVITY, FAMILIARITY “Everything on the menu is like an upgrade from what’s familiar,” says Sanchez, “The food here is playful, interactive, and always fresh.” You’ll find these key themes in the appetizer-sized share plates, in its tapas-style small plates, and in the entréeportion big plates, technically all of which can all be mixed, matched, and shared. To get a sense of Sanchez’s culi-

The Osprey Lounge 10 Elk Track Road / Beaver Creek, Colorado 970.754.7400 / ospreyatbeavercreek.rockresorts.com/dining by Traci J. Macnamara photos by Anthony Thornton

nary theory in practice, start out with the gaufrette potato chips, which are a parmesan-and-truffle-oil encrusted version of waffle fries. Likewise, the spiced deviled eggs will resemble something you’ve seen before, but then they’ll wow you with their sweet and smoky bacon jam topping. Small plates to try include the lamb sweetbreads and the pan-seared sea scallops drizzled with Voodoo sauce, a tropical hot sauce made with Fresno chili peppers and mango. The lavender orange braised duck is a not-to-miss item in the big plates section, as is the apple ginger wild boar belly served with parsnip purée and chorizo-stirred veggies. “Dining here is more like going to a friend’s house than a fine-dining establishment,” says Sanchez, “You’ll leave knowing six or eight new people, but the quality of the experience is what will stand out the most.” The Osprey Lounge is open for breakfast, lunch, après-ski and dinner, and the personalized service

makes the place feel somewhere in between a hotel and a home. If you’re still not sure where The Osprey Lounge is located, begin by sniffing it out. Before you see it, you’ll likely smell the smoking gourmet grill and know ex-

actly where to go for the backyard party, where everyone’s invited, every day. • top Quail drumettes with Bulleit bourbon maple glaze. above Seared sea scallops with Voodoo sauce.


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Slopeside, Base of Centennial lift, Beaver Creek 970.845.0700 / beavercreekchophouse.com/cbar by Ashlee Bratton photos by Kristin Anderson

Price Après specials $8-$18, all-day starters $8-$12, all-day entrees $17-$25 • Ambiance Sports tavern and oyster bar Signature dish Oysters - Freshly shucked or house specialty, can’t go wrong. Try the new BBQ oysters with spicy BBQ sauce, tomato, roasted shallots and Irish cheddar cheese • perfect for Catching the big game without missing a moment on the mountain

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ing* That’s the sound of champagne glasses clinking at Beaver Creek’s CBAR, located at the base of the Beaver lift and just steps off the hill. It must be 3:30. That’s the time when cowbells and corks come out for the daily CBAR toast. (It happens over at the Chophouse, too.) The ritual will continue throughout the ski season. If you want to stay for the festivities surrounding the large wooden stump in the center of the bar for Nageln, a thoroughly entertaining and precarious hammer and nail game — by all means, feel free to test your skills. “Sports bar meets oyster bar,” is how CBAR’s communication manager, Sarah Franke, describes the new-last-season restaurant, completely revamped and restyled from the establishment formerly known as Foxnut. The doors open up and it’s a completely open bar, open patio to the hill. “Perfect for Bronco games and March madness,” says Franke. It’s actually great for more than that. With the NFL Ticket on 6 HD TV’s, CBAR can be your home-team headquarters regardless of where you live. And that’s extra-true for Broncos fans. The “Triple Double” special with three flavorful local Colorado beers paired with three signature sliders is sure to be a hit on sports and ski days as well. Sliders include your choice of either the ground buffalo with garlic aioli, Havarti and tomato relish — or short rib, crab cake, veggie and even lamb served with Havarti and rosemary pesto. That’s the kind of gourmand-meets-laid-back atmosphere you’ll find at CBAR, which sports a classic winter-escape look with dark chocolate walls, brightly colored oversized ski pic-

tures and leather “lounge-y” furniture to enjoy lunch, après ski and dinner.

Dining delights And about that aforementioned dinner… mmmmmmm. Catch CBAR in the evening hours and start out with the impressive standing shrimp salad, skewered with a contraption that looks like a deliciously impressive restaurant weapon. Partner that with any of their wide selection of Mules (Moscow or otherwise) or a Colorado beer. and there’s sure to be a good time. Don’t forget the Lollipop chicken — the most creative-looking chicken wings this side of the divide. Other slope-side favorites include a slow-roasted barbecued rack of pork ribs and a stately prime rib. Or executive chef Ashton Fichtl’s favorite: roasted duck with a glaze that can only be experienced in person to do it justice. Whether you come for the drinks, the sports, the view, the food, the hill or even the entertainment — raise a glass at CBAR and enjoy Beaver Creek in all its winter glory. Cheers. • above

The Standing Shrimp

Salad. Lamb sliders with Havarti cheese, rosemary pesto and pickled onions, paired with a Colorado beer sampler.

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toscanini 60 Avondale Lane. / Beaver Creek Plaza, Beaver Creek 970.754.5590 / toscaninibeavercreek.com by melanie wong photos by Justin McCarty

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night at Toscanini is exactly what dinner at a cozy Italian restaurant should be like. The dining room is warm and inviting, with large windows that look out on the family ice rink. Executive chef Tyler Cyre took over Toscanini two winters ago and dramatically changed the menu. He and his team make homemade pastas, pizzas and fresh seafood in the open exhibition kitchen. “We upped the game,” Cyre says. And he should know how Italian is

practically melt in your mouth. Move on to one of Cyre’s pasta dishes. The lasagna is one of Toscanini’s best sellers, as is the pappardelle Bolognese. The ribbons of pasta swim in a sea of tomato, veal and spices. It’s a straightforward, traditional dish that shines in its simplicity. Unlike most pasta dishes, at Toscanini, you truly notice the noodle, whether it’s the unique shape, flavor or texture that makes you savor each bite. Take the butternut squash agnoletti,

Price

Apps $9-$18; entrees from $14-$42 •••

Ambiance

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done. He started off his career as a line cook at Zino in Edwards, then headed out to New York City to attend culinary school. There, he scored an internship with the pastry chef at Mario Batali’s Babbo restaurant. “To go to school and then work there really tied it all together,” he says. “It taught me professionalism and all of the fine details that go into a great restaurant.” Oh the noodles Start off the meal with the roasted beet salad, sprinkled with toasted pistachios and goat cheese croutons that

pockets of creamy squash, butter and cream. Or, try the beef cheek ravioli, served with oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, crispy prosciutto, and demi glace sauce. The dish is savory and tart, with an earthiness from the added forest mushrooms. And more Italian restaurants may not be known for their seafood, but Toscanini gets its salmon al forno just right. The Skuna Bay cut gets caramelized in the oven and sits on a bed of lentil ragut, polenta croutons and onion jelly.

Upscale, hearty Italian •••

Signature dish

Bolognese pappardelle •••

PERFECT FOR

Date night, family dinner after a day on the slopes

As difficult as it may be, you should definitely save room for dessert. Cyre creates his own desserts, with many of the recipes inspired by his mother, who cooked and baked for the family with French Canadian sensibility. The tiramisu is just the right combination of cakey and creamy. If chocolate is what you want, go for the flourless brownie. The crumbles give you all the cocoa flavor without the heaviness, and it’s served with sweet apricot chutney. The kids will love chocolate chip cookies and you might recognize the flavor — Toscanini makes all of Beaver Creek’s famous 3 o’clock treats. • braised baby artichoke salad with rosemary white beans, bermuda onion, whole leaf parsley, shaved parmesan. left Salmon al Forno with lentil ragut, polenta croutons, onion jelly. above


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Mountainside Bar & Grill 50 West Thomas Place / Park Hyatt Beaver Creek 970.827.6600 / hyatt.com/gallery/beave8100 by Katie Coakley

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photos by Anthony Thornton

he warmth generated by the dual-sided fireplace in 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill’s dining room is matched only by the warmth that is creeping through my limbs as I contemplate one last bite of elk loin. It’s a tough decision, but carnal instincts override rational thought and I savor one more taste of the perfectly seared meat. After all, the wood-fired grill is the heart of the kitchen at 8100; it would be a shame to let any of the flame-kissed elk go to waste. As jalapeño-infused tequila traces a spicy path down my throat (a key element in the “Closer to the Sun,” just one of the imaginative cocktails offered), I realize that the evening’s meal has been a study in fire and ice. It started with delicate pieces of sashimi arranged on a block of pink Himalayan salt; as the frozen salt warms, the block imparts a subtle seasoning that perfectly balances the fish. With each subsequent offering, I’ve been

dazzled by contrasts of hot and cold, comforting and avant-garde, familiar and surprising. Breakfast for dinner? It may sound edgy, but the crispy pork belly is elevated by the spiced potatoes and sunny-side egg served on top. And the drizzle of bourbon-aged maple syrup? Pure genius. The classic conundrum of salty versus sweet has been solved in this satisfying appetizer. Crystal Cooking Executive chef Christian Apetz has a pure philosophy when it comes to his cuisine. “I call it ‘crystal cooking,’” Apetz explains. “It’s clean, simple — what you see is what you get.” But this explanation seems oversimplified. Yes, the preparations are streamlined but the results are anything but expected. “We don’t want to be pedestrian,” he explains. It’s not an issue.

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apps $12 - $16; entrees $30 - $54 • Ambiance Upscale Elk with sweet potato spaetzle • perfect for Date night, special occasions, après ski • what’s new The colder weather brings new preparations to the menu; expect winter vegetables and new twists on comfort Price

Signature dish

Take the “Caesar salad,” for example. Apetz removed the ubiquitous salad from the menu as it was too common, too ordinary. “People would ask for one and, of course, we’ll make whatever you want, but I never had it on the menu,” Apetz explains.

He finally consented to including the item, but on his own terms. The result? Toothsome garden-fresh radicchio and Brussels sprout leaves compose the base while whole white anchovies and parmesan “snow” impart the flavors of the classic. The menu is filled with these unexpected preparations, from the sweet potato-pear bisque, which is saved from being a dessert by the generous portion of lobster and asparagus salad (“you can tell how talented a team is by their soup,” Apetz says), to the parsnip ravioli (which Apetz calls “an underutilized vegetable”) topped with black truffle, parmesan and caviar for a briny pop. Just when I think that one more bite would necessitate a wheelbarrow exit, the “snowball” appears. Flaming with rum, the meringue toasts like a campfire marshmallow—I like mine slightly charred and quickly blow out the flames before it’s overdone. The homemade ice cream trickles out like a sweet stream. While poet Robert Frost contemplates the end of the world in fire or ice, I can think of no better way to go than at the hands of Christian Apetz and the chefs at 8100. • top Crisp pork belly with bourbon-maple glaze, spiced potato and sunny-side-up egg. above Filet of beef with black trumpet mushrooms and lobster bearnaise.

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ou can order off the walls if you want.” Smiling, my eyes opened wide as I realized that chef Adam Roth meant exactly what he said. The SaddleRidge Restaurant, tucked away in the hills of Beaver Creek, offers high-end rustic Western fare focusing on wild game for the discerning and adventurous palate. Challenge accepted. The elk and buffalo chili offers a gratifying start, with its ancho chilies, black beans, and house-made tortillas. Or to commence with a lighter oh-so-delightful appetizer, try the crispy risotto crab cake with lemon vinaigrette and shavings of parmesan over asparagus salad. This, of course, is the perfect lead into the chef’s choice of organic Iowa rabbit loin wrapped in Serrano ham, spaghetti squash and mole jus. For those entering the lair with a heartier appetite, the generous portion of the buffalo strip steak braised with a Bordeaux blend and topped with cremini mushrooms would satisfy the hungriest of diners. From the shiitake mushroom peppercorn demi-glace to the blue cheese chive butter or the smoked tomato hollandaise — choose from an array of sauces to complement any selection from the grill. For those looking for something of the aqua variety, do not pass up the opportunity to savor the Idaho Ruby Trout in cornmeal crust and pumpkin seed pesto. Pair your steamed P.E.I. mussels with tomatillos, shallots, lime and hidden hints of bacon with prosecco sparkling wine or a favorite Riesling, and be prepared to smile. And smile big. An Old West Museum Looking around the dining room with the vaulted log rafters, cast-iron chandeliers, extended stone fireplace,

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SaddleRidge Base of the eastern slope, Beaver Creek / Access via free shuttle 970.754.5456 / saddleridgebeavercreek.com by Traci J. Macnamara photos by Anthony Thornton and Kristin Anderson

cowboy boot centerpieces and eclectic collection of mismatched wooden chairs, it’s not hard to see the attention to detail given by designer Naomi Leff (known for her award winning designs for Ralph Lauren). The results of Naomi’s no-expense-spared expertise is that

SaddleRidge is currently one of the largest, private collections of American Western artifacts and art in the United States outside of a museum. The aged dark wood and stunning mountain views create an ambiance that is conducive for the highest-level executive team or romantically low-lit private dinner for two. The authentic crimson Indian headdress inconspicuously lounging in the corner or captivating Roland Reed black and white portrait of the horse and Indian above the fireplace mantle give the dining quarters that feeling of being tucked away at a sophisticated gentleman’s private hunting retreat. Discover

the saloon as you first walk in with a full 17-page wine and spirits selection and all will be happy. One cannot walk away from the SaddleRidge experience without making room for the delectable banana pudding dessert…a la mode with creamy sweetness of course. SaddleRidge serves dinner Tuesday through Sunday, reservations required. • The SaddleRidge dining room is filled with Old West treasures. left Mountain fare such as Rocky Mountain trout and bone-in maple-glazed pork loin chops are menu classics. above

Price Apps $8-$15, entrees $30-$52 • Ambiance Fine dining in the authentic Old West • Signature dish Organic rabbit loin with Serrano ham, spaghetti squash and mole jus • perfect for Large groups, après, dinner with family and friends


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122 E. Meadow Dr. 970.476.4403 / latour-vail.com by Lauren Glendenning photos by Kristin Anderson

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a Tour chef-owner Paul Ferzacca has perfected the art of elegance in his dining room at dinnertime, but his expansion to include lunch and après service has only secured La Tour’s place as one of Vail’s flagship restaurants. Any chef who finds a way to incorporate foie gras into creamed spinach is a chef who clearly wants to please and wow his guests. Ferzacca has been doing just that at La Tour for years, but don’t let the restaurant’s tenure confuse the fact that the menu changes along with the seasons. He has dishes that remain on the menu because guests might revolt if he ever kept staples like his escargot in persillee sauce or Dover sole off the menu, but with a new season comes new creativity, too. Ferzacca is proud of the fact that guests come here often looking for specific dishes. “It’s the best escargot anywhere — I guarantee it,” he says confidently. The thing about the menu at La Tour, though, is that the heavy hitters keep on coming. And while they may be heavy hitters in terms of sophistication and execution, Ferzacca isn’t making a lot of his French-influenced cuisine heavy on the stomach. He’s using a lot of broths and vinai-

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grettes this season, infusing bold flavors into lighter liquids in order to deliver a much lighter overall dish. There’s a smoked ham broth with his pork osso bucco, a truffle vinaigrette to balance out the indulgent braised veal short rib with veal sweetbreads, and a light lemongrass vinaigrette that complements the sweet soy-glazed salmon dish. He still offers classic sauces like a perfect béarnaise with the surf and turf — an 8-ounce New York strip served with sea scallops, asparagus and potatoes made with duck fat — or that sumptuous lemon brown butter sauce on his Dover sole, but for those looking to try something untraditional this winter, there’s plenty to explore. Like the five-spice duck breast with ginger-lemongrass-steamed spaghetti squash, finished off with pomegranate, toasted pumpkin seeds, pickled apple and duck fat powder. The duck is cooked beautifully and thinly sliced, and all of the components on the plate just belong there to form the perfect bite each and every time — it’s a shining example of how Ferzacca is cooking decadent foods that diners can enjoy without a lot of guilt. That’s the beauty of the menu at La Tour — you can enjoy the luscious lobster bisque followed by the Colorado

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$5 small plate all day; Lunch $12-$18; Dinner apps $12-$16 Dinner entrees $29-$39 •••

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Elegant, but laid back, fine dining •••

Signature dish

Dover sole with brown butter sauce •••

PERFECT FOR

Date night, dinner with friends, cozy night at the bar •••

what’s new

Buffalo Delmonico with foie grascreamed spinach; Iberico Secreto pork

lamb trio (a 10-ounce rack chop, lamb bacon and lamb shoulder ravioli), or you can order a Hawaiian kampachi sashimi with yuzu and the Skuna Bay salmon that won’t completely negate the calories you burned won the hill earlier. Perhaps the most exciting thing happening at La Tour right now, though, is the $5 small plates menu that’s available all day and all night. Options include fresh ricotta cheese, hibachi-grilled shishito peppers and Brussels sprouts made with pork belly and lemongrass. And for après between 3 and 5 p.m., there are some killer deals on drinks, too. “You can walk in here at 3 o’ clock and get a $3 beer, a $2 oyster and a $5 small plate,” Ferzacca says. “You don’t think of La Tour like that. You just don’t.” Oh but you should, especially because all of those lunch and après items are done with the same high quality products Ferzacca offers at dinner, they’re just prepared and presented a little differently. The elegance and sophistication in every single thing — from the $5 small plate to the buttery warm apple date pecan pudding cake for dessert — is never, ever lost. • Sea scallop crudo. Surf and turf with 8-ounce Manhattan strip steak, sea scallops, asparagus, L’amis Louis potatoes and bernaise sauce. above left

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Matsuhisa Vail 141 East Meadow Drive / Solaris 970.476.6628 / mastuhisavail.com by Melanie Wong photos by KRISTIN ANDERSON

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Apps $11-$34; entrees from $29 • Ambiance South-Americaninspired sushi • Signature dish New-Style sushi perfect for Adventurous palates, special occasions

n Vail, “hip, sexy and trendy” is often second to “classic, elegant and cozy,” but not so with Matsuhisa, located in Vail Village’s Solaris Plaza. The restaurant, part of Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s much acclaimed international chain, has brought some much-needed swank to town, and anyone from traditional sushi lovers to adventurous eaters will enjoy soaking in the atmosphere in this lively space. Sidle up to the large, central bar for an après sake. All sakes are made especially for the restaurant and handpicked — see the bottles lined up on the back of the bar. Try Nobu the Sake, vanilla-spiced, full-bodied sake that especially caught the attention of Chef Nobu’s palate. Enjoy it cold in a bamboo carafe, or try a flight of several of the bar’s most popular sakes. While you can find traditional sushi here, Matsuhisa is known for marrying Japanese food with South American flavors. Take the deceptively minimalist Yellowtail Jalapeño. The sashimi is treated with soy and sesame oil, and served with a sliver of jalapeño on top, paired with three leaves of cilantro on the side. Eat it all together, and the result is an incredible combination that can only be described as flavor art. Not a raw fish fan? Try anything in the “new style” — here, fish is flash seared in a pan of sesame oil and garlic puree. The result is that you still keep the strong flavors of the fish, but the texture becomes much meatier. Nobu accidentally stumbled upon the style when someone at his restaurant didn’t want raw fish. He grabbed a pan that happened to have garlic and sesame oil in it, and seared the fish for the customer, not knowing the dish would become a hit.

Magical meldings Most dishes you’ll find on the menu pair unlikely flavors that magically meld in the Matsuhisa kitchen. There’s the snapper paired with foie gras mousse, caviar and miso powder, where each bite lands you a punch of flavor that falls somewhere between salty and savory. There’s the Wagyu beef dabbed with Peruvian chili-and-sweet-miso sauce, on top of a bed of quinoa and mushrooms. It’s satisfying without feeling heavy, and the sweet-spicy combo from the sauce is one-of-akind. If you want to leave the decision making to the pros, try the omakase, or “grand tasting” menu, an eight-course meal that’s chosen at the discretion of the chef. In fact, “omakase” means “from the heart,” and whatever surprises end up on your plate that night is sure to be unique. Matsuhisa is the only place in town where you can try an uni shooter (sea urchin, sake and quail egg), and seaweed tempura. Vail’s location also just welcomed a new pastry chef, so be sure to try her creations — favorites include the black sesame fudge and yogurt hibiscus panna cotta. • top Sashimi sampler with New-Style salmon, white fish tiradito, yellowtail jalapeño and tai miso. middle Tiradito roll with sake sampler. bottom Nobu’s signature black cod.


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Ambiance

Refined comfort •••

Signature dish

Vitality Salad •••

PERFECT FOR

Date night, business get-together

Terra Bistro 352 East Meadow Drive . Vail Mountain Lodge, Vail 970.476.6836 / terrabistrovail.com by KIM FULLER photos by Brent Bingham

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erra Bistro’s dining tables stand amidst a scene of refined comfort and elite service. Crisp cloths overlay each candlelit surface, while every place setting is marked with a unique napkin holder. A popular dinner spot, Terra Bistro also serves breakfast, lunch and Sunday brunch. The restaurant’s long bar runs along the back of the room, just steps away from the more polished experience. Long-time bartenders are friendly and informative, providing the full menu with a sense of accessibility and ease. “You could be sitting at the bar with ski patrol, rubbing elbows with someone from Silicon Valley or a billionaire from China,” explains Tony McNally, restaurant manager. “We just want to continue to grow the awareness of Terra Bistro, and we are trying to maintain an elevated atmosphere for every guest to feel comfortable.” Long a mainstay on the Vail dining scene, Terra Bistro got a reputation years ago for “healthy dining” not because it had oodles of vegetarian or

vegan options, but because it so carefully sourced the products it used. Staying away from refined grains and mass-produced veggies and meat, the menu is filled with items from artisan producers who take no shortcuts. “Organic” has become a buzzword, but it’s a way of life for the Terra team. Start with the Vitality Salad, served with Colorado greens and crispy La Quercia prosciutto. Some of the greens are greenhouse-grown in Denver, others are cultivated on property in the Vitality Center’s “aero-farm” growing towers — hence the name of the signature dish. “People love that we serve gluten-free options,” McNally says. “And we are very willing to accommodate dietary restrictions.” Decadence is still a delicious option with the fennel-dusted Colorado lamb sweetbreads, served with shiitake “bacon,” orange zest and prosciutto. Pair this starter, or the George’s Bank diver scallops, with a glass of bubbles or a draft of the full-bodied imperial pilsner from

Dogfish Head Brewery. The silky and flavorful scallops are crusted with porcini and chili, set alongside bacon jam and cinnamon-nutmeg butternut squash puree. McNally explained how chefs Shawn Miller and Rob Lewis get the best seafood delivered to Vail in less than 24 hours, including the Ahi tuna entrée with a coriander rub and tamari vinaigrette. A robust Cotes du Rhone perfectly complements the Colorado lamb shank. The tender meat is braised in “Ben’s HouseMade” ginger beer, served with horseradish-celeriac puree, root vegetables, ginger beer lamb demi and pistachio parsley salad.

Any of the dessert menu’s “suggested sippers” are a perfect cap to the evening, including riveting renditions of ports and dessert wines, grappa and absinthe. The Thai ginger peanut bars and banana semifreddo sweets are delectable, but don’t leave Terra without tasting the bittersweet chocolate molten, served with vanilla ice cream and cocoa nib tuile. • top Warm pistachio-crusted goat cheese with beet and sun-dried cherry compote. above Rocky Mountain trout with cornmeal crust, lemon herb butter, sweet potato-asparagus hash and chipotle aioli.

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Lunch $10-$16 Dinner apps $11-$18 Dinner entrees $29-$44 Sunday brunch $12-$30

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Game Creek Restaurant Game Creek Bowl, Vail Mountain Accessible via snowcat from Eagles Nest 970.754.4275 / vail.com by Kim Fuller photos by Dominique Taylor and Jack Affleck

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rising full moon can be seen from the windows of our snow cat ride, traversing with ease across the mountainside from the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola over to Game Creek Restaurant. The alpine lodge sits on the side of one of Vail’s most well-known ski bowls, and faces the entire western scape of valleys, hills and mountains— all in clear view under the luminescence of the winter night. Collin Meyer has been Game Creek’s executive chef since June, and he says his focus is on a well-rounded and memorable dining experience for every guest, from start to finish. “A lot of people love the experience of taking the gondola up and the snow cat ride over,” the chef shares. “Usually, I think they are surprised with how much attention we pay to the food we’re making here, as well as the quality of service we have.” The dining room sits tucked away, past a warming entrance filled with a lounge, fireplace and bar. Every window table sits amidst the illumination of the valley below, sharing breathtaking views that become ever brighter as the moon gradually glides above the line of the horizon.

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Mountain Tasting Menu Game Creek’s signature dishes are highlighted within the Chef’s Tasting Menu, a fivecourse offering of variety and flare. The array of tastes include a well balanced rendition of foie gras — the rich flavors rounded with pear, ginger, pomme anna, frisee and shallot jam. The fourth course on the tasting menu is truly standout, featuring mouthwatering elk tenderloin with achoite, sweet potato, wild mushroom, pome-

granate and spiced pepitas. Every course is available with wine pairings, if desired, and glass of Bordeaux follows every flavor of the elk dish just right. Guests can create their own prix fixe experience as well, with choices that include starters of sweet and savory Berkshire pork belly, or smooth and creamy goat cheese burrata, as well as entrees like salmon with pancetta, or lamb with muhammara sauce and kumquat yogurt. “The quality of the food we serve is paramount to us,” Collin explains. “But it’s the whole package of the guest’s experience that matters. If we aren’t doing it on all cylinders, we’re not achieving our goal.” Creative desserts bring a contem-

Three, four or five course prix fixe menus, with wine pairings available: $89 to $189 • Ambiance Regal mountain lodge Signature dish Elk tenderloin with sweet potatoes and wild mushrooms perfect for Intimate celebration

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porary edge to the traditionally rustic menu. Complete the evening with a glass of sparkling Muscat and the buttermilk panna cotta — a red velvet delight with butter pecan ice cream, beet and mint. •

The foie gras is succulent and sweet. Catch a ride to Game Creek Restaurant on one of the snowcats that traverses the mountain from Eagles Nest to the mountainside restaurant. above

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Elway’s Vail 174 East Gore Creek Drive Lodge at Vail, Vail 970.754.7818 / elways.com/vail by John LaConte photos by Kristin Anderson

Starters from $14-$21; entrees from $29-$59 Ambiance Loud and lively • Signature dish Lamb chop fondue perfect for Larger parties, group night out Price

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uring the busy season in Vail, the exciting atmosphere inside Elway’s restaurant just might make you feel like you’re at a Broncos game. With all the kitchen action clearly visible from the main dining room, you’ll be able to see your chef make those game-time decisions that have given Elway’s its reputation as a winner in Colorado. And as the excitement from the kitchen spills over into the dining room, the combination of the modern layout coupled with a premier location near Mountain Plaza at the Lodge at Vail makes Elway’s one of the most lively places to enjoy a meal in the village. And the menu is certainly a fan favorite.

A winning experience You’ll see items like the truffled beet and fresh mozzarella salad, spicy steak chili or the Colorado rack of lamb handed off from chef to server throughout your whole experience, tempting you to try to force an interception whenever possible. But it’s the creative items that you’ll really want to sample, like Elway’s lamp chop fondue, which has already become a hall of famer in Vail.

“The lamb chop fondue has really become one of our signature items,” says Elway’s Vail general manager Joe Infantino. Using the bone from the chop as your handle for dipping, you’ll find the lamb chop’s delicious seasoning is a perfect complement to the green chili cheese fondue, which comes to the table in a flaming silver apparatus to keep its consistency to a nice creamy texture throughout the meal. It comes with enough chops to split between several people, and after you’re through with the lamb, you may notice the appetizer also came with a nice helping of roasted sweet potatoes. You’ll want to slather those in what’s left of your fondue. Yes, you read that correctly, the lamb chop fondue is just an appetizer. For your main course, you’ll probably want to try the U.S.D.A prime hand cut filets. If John Elway didn’t make it as a football player, something tells us he’d still be a household name due to his mastery of steak. Elway’s signature rub is available for purchase on its own, and makes a fantastic gift. But try it from one of his chefs, delicately seasoned on the outside

of a 12-ounce filet, and you’ll see why the restaurant was No. 1 on USA Today’s list of the 20 best athlete-owned restaurants in the U.S. • top The 28-ounce porterhouse steak served with a duck egg on top, and Brussels sprout hash. above Ahi tuna tartare with avocado, wonton chips, various sauces and a mojito.

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bol 141 East Meadow Drive Solaris / Vail 970.476.5300 bolvail.com by Melanie Wong photos by Justin McCarty

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Apps $5-$18; entrees $14-$34

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f bowling alleys bring to mind smoky rooms smelling of greasy pizza, microwaved hot dogs and beer, get that right out of your head. Bol is part space-age bowling lanes, part trendy bar and part gourmet restaurant. Located in Vail Village’s Solaris plaza, the spot is a place equally suitable for casual après bites and drinks after a day on the slopes, a date spot or a party venue to bowl and chat with friends over food. Chefs Julian Smith and Doug Klacik roll out playful creations from the kitchen that feature gourmet ingredients, yet that encourage you to eat with your hands and lick your fingers. Order a slew of appetizers and share them with a group, or enjoy a few with a drink while watching football on the bar’s row of big screen TVs. You’ll find new dishes each season, but perennial favorites include the crispy confit chicken wings, marinated for hours and then cooked until they’re plump, and the spicy honey-glazed ribs. You’ve never tasted ribs like this — braised to fall off the bone, yet crispy on the outside, smothered in a sweet and spicy sauce and complemented with the crunch of crushed peanuts.

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Around the globe The menu doesn’t fall into a particular style, instead borrowing flavors from cuisines from around the world. There’s the steamed pork buns, an Asian inspired tapas-style dish featuring sweet bread from an Asian bakery, sweet pulled pork and a dab of peach and cucumber. The East Coast gets a nod with the oyster shooters, which go down smooth and get a little kick from Smith’s jalapeño sauce. Lovers of Italian food should go with the carbonara pizza. The classic Italian pasta dish gets reincarnated on flatbread, peppered with peas, creamy cheese, generous strips of bacon and served with hollandaise dipping sauce. Fresh ingredients speak for themselves in many of Smith and Klacik’s

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Trendy, playful and modern •••

Signature dishes

Crispy red, white and blue chicken wings, flatbread pizza •••

PERFECT FOR

Big groups, après and hanging out

dishes. The beef carpaccio is rich and savory, paired with sharp chunks of Parmesan, truffle oil and topped with peppery arugula. Want a smaller portion of meat? The lamb teaser is tender and suave, paired with the classic mint puree. Finish off the meal with the gloriously sinful banana bread pudding paired with Nutella ice cream. One of the best spots to linger in Bol might be the bar, where you can try bartender and mixologist James Lee’s cocktail creations (you might know him from his very popular Bitter Bar in Boulder). Our favorites are the Green Shadow, a mezcal-based drink (an agave-based liquor) muddled with avocado, brightened with lime juice and topped with a sinus-clearing slice of jalapeno. For cold nights, try Death on a Bear Skin Rug — it’s a hot toddy made with Hum liqueur. It’s thick and loaded with all sorts of spice, and it’s the perfect way to end the meal. • top Carbonara pizza with speck ham, pecorino, hollandaise sauce and sweet onion soubise. right Pickled beetroot with red curried yogurt and shaved fennel.


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at the Four Seasons 1 Vail Road / 970.477.8650 / flamerestaurantvail.com by Lauren Glendenning photos by Justin McCarty

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lame is the kind of restaurant that will make you unapologetically post food pictures to social media sites. Then you’ll want to make another reservation to dine here before the place is all booked up. Flame is the steakhouse at the Four Seasons in Vail that has been impressing its diners with extravagant dishes that include whimsical appetizers and prime cuts of American beef and game, plus side dishes that will make your head spin (the kimchee Brussels sprouts and gorgonzola-leek bread pudding are insane.) Executive chef Jason Harrison came to Flame after several years at the Bellagio, bringing with him that Las Vegas mentality of total indulgence. He also has a great sense of humor, which is immediately obvious when you read his menu.

Harrison’s Rocky Mountain Elk “Corn Dogs” appetizer sends the right message to his guests: this is a restaurant where you will try things you’ve never thought of before. Colorado Prime — and above Harrison gets his Wagyu from 7X Cattle Company in Hotchkiss, Colorado, raised from the 100-percent-pure bloodline of Tajima cattle, which is where Kobe beef comes from in Japan. Harrison is proud of the fact that this is the closest thing you’ll get to Japanese Kobe anywhere in the country. “We’re really proud of all of the different cuts we got in this winter,” Harrison says. “It’s all Colorado product, all prime or above.” And keeping in line with Harrison’s penchant for outrageousness on his menu, he also has large cuts like a

32-ounce dry-aged Wagyu ribeye, a 40-ounce porterhouse and a 36-ounce dry-aged bison Tomahawk (dry-aged in house, by the way). Those kinds of cuts are great after a full day of powder skiing, or to share for the table just because you can. That’s the thing about the over-thetop dishes on Harrison’s menu — it all balances out for those who want to indulge while on a ski vacation. “There are definitely a lot of lean dishes on the menu, too, but we also try and cater to those people who know they’re going to go out and burn 3,000 calories,” he says. At breakfast, half of the guests choose the homemade granola and yogurt parfait while the other half want steak and eggs or bananas Foster-stuffed French toast. The same is true for dinner. If you want chilled seafood, roasted heirloom beets and a salad, those items are perfection. But if you’re the kind of person who likes to truly take a vacation while you’re on vacation, then do it. First, peruse the beverages — 171 bourbons,

plus a stellar wine list. Then, head to the creamy lobster and brandy bisque, or the foraged mushroom-braised heritage pork cheeks with cheesy grits and sherry braising jus. If you’re “feeling saucy,” as Harrison calls it on his menu, you can spice up your sous vide venison loin or filet mignon with blackberry bourbon or Charleston truffle BBQ, among other sauces. Or try the “You Only Live Once” house-ground Kobe burger with applewood pork belly — something that can be done during the increasingly popular “burger bar,” an après event in which you can eat right in the middle of the kitchen while putting together your favorite burger. It’s a reservation-only après, so plan ahead and make sure to request the chicken-and-waffles, too. • top Don’t Tell California: Hudson Valley foie gras torchon, house made granola, brandied cherries. left hForaged mushroom braised heritage pork cheek with white cheddar grits and sherry braising jus.

Breakfast $6-$19, Lunch $12-$24, Dinner $26-$45 • Signature dish Colorado Prime and above steak perfect for Dinner with friends, special occasions and casual evenings Price

Ambiance Locavore dining

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by Krista Driscoll photos by Justin McCarty

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he restaurant space in The Arrabelle at Vail Square has undergone a slow but steady evolution since executive chef Douglas Dodd took the helm in the kitchen four years ago. Always upscale and serving inventive, high-quality dishes, the once ever-so-stuffy atmosphere of Centre V has given way to flatscreen TVs showing the Denver Broncos early on a Thursday evening, with the last notes of live après music sneaking in from the bar. “We took something that wasn’t working as well as we liked and tried something new and ran with it,” says Paul Phillips, food and beverage manager at Tavern on the Square. “People want to be here — lunch, après, dinner — we aren’t pretentious.” But don’t let the lack of suit coats and stilettos fool you. The relaxed mood is coupled with impressive fare from Dodd’s team of culinary virtuosos. Set the tone with a Cask-Aged Dickel 8 Manhattan with sweet vermouth, orange bitters and brandied cherries, or a specialty brew from The Handle, which rotates frequently and features rare

tavern on the square 675 Lionshead Place / Arrabelle, Lionshead / 970.754.7704 beers from Colorado and beyond. Fork poised, indulge in the decadence of the jar of Foie Gras, served with citrus-lavender French toast and burnt orange syrup. The foie gras, rich and creamy, melts like heavenly butter over the warm bread. If you’re craving local flavor, choose the plate of Colorado Artisan Cheeses, paired with mountain honey and baby greens. The rotating cast of curds on this night included goat and cow selections from Fort Collins, Longmont and Larkspur, sprinkled with bee pollen. The salad course includes the basic cobb or Caesar, with house-made dressings, but take a different road with the roasted beet salad, with pesto, chevre and pistachios served over spring greens, or the chef’s favorite baby spinach salad, topped with oranges, almonds, bacon, eggs and oyster mushrooms and drizzled with sweet-savory bacon-tomato vinaigrette to tie it all together.

breakfast $12-$16, apps $8-$26; entrees $22- $60 • Ambiance Upscale Alpine Tavern • Signature dish Bone-in veal jagerschnitzel perfect for breakfast, apres and casual, unique dinners

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Tavern on the Square offers burgers and sandwiches, or tuck in to one of Dodd’s signature entrees. The enormous 2-pound, bone-in rib eye Tomahawk Steak catches the eye of passers-by, seared crisp to lock in its sumptuous juices, toped with fried onions and paired with fresh chive and sour cream baby baked potatoes. The

bone-in veal jagerschnitzel is served hunter style, with a light bacon-mushroom gravy and green beans, or go the game route, with the grilled venison loin delicately sliced atop spaghetti squash with a tart cranberry jus. Whether you end your meal with the Guinness s’mores on its crumbly, fall-apart-in-your-mouth graham crust, the spiced pear sorghum pudding with sweet pomegranate molasses or one of Tavern on the Square’s house-made ice creams and sorbets, it’s clear to see that the restaurant’s transformation has taken it in the right direction. “It’s been four years in the making, and I’m having a blast with it,” Dodd says. • top The Tomahawk steak, a 2-pound bone-in rib eye, topped with fried onions. left The Jar of Foie Gras is beautifully accompanied by French toast.


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12 Vail RoaD Gateway Building, Vail 970.479.0175 / kellyliken.com by Kim Fuller photos by Dominique Taylor

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he left lapel of Jeremy Campbell’s suit jacket is adorned with an oval pin of distinction. It’s the visual mark of Jeremy’s third-level sommelier title —an advanced and rarely achieved accomplishment within the four-tier wine education program, recognized worldwide.

Price First course, second course and entrée for $74 prixe fixe—starters, dessert and a la carte pricing also available • Ambiance Contemporary American fine dining • Signature dish Duck breast with figs perfect for Cocktail hour, date night, special occasions

“Our ability to pair wines is at a very high level,” explains Sarah John of Restaurant Kelly Liken. “Within the knowledge of the staff, and the within the newly developed wine list that Jeremy has created, we have a lot of things coming out of the bar that are just superb.” The establishment is beginning its tenth ski season — marking a decade of acclaimed inspiration from chef-owner Kelly Liken. Elite seasonal specialties have kept guests coming in year after year, yet the evolution of the restaurant’s menu continues to draw even more focus on perfect pairings and crafted libations. “Our seasonal cocktail list is blowing it out of the water,” says Sarah, the restaurant’s development coordinator. “People come to a restaurant to eat food, but they also can have amazing things coming from the bar that make that whole experience so much better.” Start your evening at the bar with a Toasted Affair, a roasted almond-infused tequila with Dolan Blanc and cranberry

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juice. For dinner, move to a table or stay where spirits are muddled into magic. Farm to Table Chef de cuisine Brian Long continues Restaurant Kelly Liken’s farm-to-table tradition, incorporating seasonal and local ingredients into the ever-changing menu. A taste of winter starts with the chicory salad, combining balsamic bitter greens with fresh and roasted apples and toasted pecan vinaigrette, served with shaved Dunbarton cheddar-blue cheese. Jeremy pairs the course with a glass of Two Rivers Riesling, Colorado born and specifically chosen to complement the acidity of the vinaigrette while softening the sharp salad with the wine’s bright and sweet qualities. A plate of grilled Durham Ranch quail follows the first course well, served with Yukon potato gnocchi, house-made bacon, bourbon reduction and pomegranates. It’s a French pinot noir with bright fruits of cranberry and cherry that

brings to the dish full palate pleasure. The courses flow on, but be sure to leave some space for sweetness. Pastry chef Colleen Carey makes dessert here shine with her own indulgent creations, as well as Kelly’s signature Sticky Bun Sundae. “Our goal is to blow guests away, and to create an amazing, yet repeatable, experience,” shares Sarah. “I think it has

to do with consistency, really embracing every best possible thing.” • top Grilled Durham Ranch quail with Yukon potato gnocchi, house-made bacon, bourbon reduction, frisée and pomegranates. above Chicory salad with grilled radicchio, frisée, freshand& roasted apples, aged balsamic, toasted pecan vinaigrette and shaved Dunbarton cheddar-blue cheese.

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Hours Wildwood Smokehouse:

10:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Pavilion: 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. •••

Mid-Vail Look Ma’s:

10 a.m. until 3 p.m. The Terrace Level: 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. •••

Two Elk

9 a.m. until 3 p.m. •••

Eagle’s Nest

vail mountain

10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

two elk, mid-vail, wildwood, eagle’s nest / vail.com photos by dominique taylor

Two Elk Restaurant by Kim Fuller

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As you unload off the Sourdough Express Lift, Chair #14, gaze to the left at the stunning log structure resting in the shadow of the towering mountains. Two Elk may not look as truly epic as it is, however, until you walk in the door. “The Gore Range almost seems to dwarf this building, especially on a clear day,” explains Two Elk general manager, Doug Wooldridge. Sitting at 11, 240 feet high, the lodge will awe you with its expansive design and delicious cuisine. Enjoy a Triple Epic Burger—a new item this year— along Two Elk’s sun-drenched wall of windows, or settle into a Bloody Mary outside on the brink of Vail’s Back Bowls. Doug explained how Two Elk maintains signature menu items year after year, including buffalo chili, grilled items, burritos, pizza, pasta, an extensive salad bar and a large selection of soups.

“The Two Elk name and menu is all inspired, in some way or another, from a southwestern them,” Doug shares. “Two Elk Creek is down between China Bowl and Blue Sky Basin, and the creek was originally named by the Ute Indians.”

Mid-Vail by Kim Nicoletti

As the first restaurant on Vail Mountain, Mid-Vail is historical, yet its cuisine is always new and varied. It’s conveniently located at the base of Mountaintop and Wildwood Express lifts, near the “One” gondola terminal. Mid-Vail’s dual levels offer great views, and different dining experiences. The top-level (Look Ma) serves everything from the new E-3 Burger (three patties) to gourmet deli sandwiches, veggie burgers and chicken potpies. It also offers a full bar and signature coffees. One level below, the smell of barbecue

wafts from the outdoor Terrace, while indoors, the largest salad bar on the mountain awaits. Pair fresh fixings with tilapia fish tacos, fresh sushi or the create-your-own stir-fry shrimp, beef, chicken and tofu at the Asian station. Either way you go, it’s classic.


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by Kim Fuller

Eagle’s Nest by Kim Nicoletti

Atop Eagle Bahn Gondola in Lionshead, Eagle’s Nest offers a variety of dining experiences, including Gondoly’s Pizza (and paninis), the outdoor Grand Press coffee bar, the Marketplace and Bistro 14. On the top floor, the Marketplace serves up lamb and beef gyros, deli sandwiches, and fresh soups. Specialty stations offer pasta, burritos, grilled items and a salad bar. This year, the E3 Burger rivals the already popular Epic Burger, with three 1/4-pound patties. Downstairs, Bistro Fourteens’s sit-down dining experience includes appetizers like buffalo nachos, crab dip and steamed mussels; entrees such as Colorado rack of lamb, lobster linguini and Rocky Mountain Trout; house-made desserts; and a $10 kids’ menu. “Ninety-eight percent of the food is made here, in house,” says chef Jack Ridenour. •

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Nothing beats good BBQ, especially when you’re sitting at the top of the world. You’ll smell the meat smoking from Wildwood Smokehouse when you get off the top of the Wildwood Express Lift (#3) and Game Creek Express Lift (#7), but the true test is in the taste. Smokehouse specialties include beef brisket, pulled pork, a half rack of ribs and smoked sausage. Get a combo platter with a sandwich, soup and side, or go big with the 2 Mile High Platter, a generous serving of your choice of three meats, one side and a side of cornbread. Waffle fries, mac and cheese and onion rings are sides that truly complement the meat, but it’s Wildwood’s signature soup that keeps guests warm and coming back for more. “The chicken and wild rice soup has been famous for over a decade,” says Scott Dodd, Wildwood executive chef. Come in for “the best deal on the mountain,” according to Dodd: soup, salad and a piece of cornbread for $10.75. “Everything is made from scratch,” he says. “From the smoked meats out front, to the soups, salad dressings and the croutons.”

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Build-yourown-sandwich and a side of wild rice salad at Marketplace in Eagle’s Nest. left Wildwood’s famous house smoked ribs in the smoker overlooking Sundown Bowl. above Buffalo chlli and corn bread with a mountain vista from the Two Elk Lodge on Vail Mountain. right Honey teriyaki beef on stir fried noodles and Thai coconut chicken curry with fried rice from the Wok Station at Mid-Vail. top left

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The Tenth Located at the top of Gondola One 970.754.1010 / the10thvail.com by Lauren Glendenning photos by Jesse Starr and Ric Stovall

Dinner apps $10-$26, Dinner entrees$29-$38 Ambiance Alpine lodge with world cuisine • Signature dish Apple cider and chili-braised beef short ribs; lobster and brie bisque Price

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t’s hard to imagine a better way to finish off a long ski day than with dinner at The Tenth. You head back to your room, maybe get a massage, shower and change before returning to the gondola for a tranquil ride to the top of Vail Mountain. Heated seats and fleece blankets make the gondola ride warm and cozy while the lights from Vail Village disappear farther and farther into the distance. When you arrive in the dining room fit for royalty, set amongst a panoramic backdrop of the spectacular Gore Range mountains, it almost doesn’t seem like a real place.

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For lunch, you can kick off your ski boots and trade them for slippers, but dinner offers a more serene setting without all of the hustle and bustle that goes along with skiing hours. Either option is a great way to taste the food and take in the views that make The Tenth one of the most special restaurants in all of Vail. Executive chef Vishwatej Nath calls the cuisine alpine-inspired, with influences from ski regions in France, Switzerland and Italy, as well as the Rocky Mountains. The result is a menu that has something for everyone, all done with the kind of flavorful mountain twists guests want to experience while in Vail.

Nath uses the freshest ingredients and often adds complex flavors that create intrigue. The apple cider and chili-braised beef short ribs, for example, exude subtle hints of clove and nutmeg — just enough so that you want to take bite after bite to taste how Nath is able to complement the chili and cider so beautifully. It’s an exciting way to eat — to find yourself intrigued by the delicate balance of flavors and textures with every bite in every dish.

To find such differences in cuisine on a menu, yet have them all work so well together is a hard thing to achieve. Take the Iberico ham appetizer served atop seasonal melon and put it next to the hazelnut and ginger buffalo carpaccio. Both are perfect modern alpine dishes, but the ham dish screams Spanish influence while the carpaccio is Rocky Mountain-inspired all the way. You can eat them side-by-side and it feels like you’re on a world tour of global cuisine. The crushed hazelnuts and a fascinating olive oil powder give the carpaccio dish a playfulness, while still keeping all of the traditional qualities of a carpaccio dish — like fresh greens and a truffle essence — that make it so popular. Indulge in entrees like certified Angus beef market steak, rack of lamb or a molasses-rubbed elk loin. Or try the pan-seared halibut marinated in cilantro and served over lobster risotto. The fish will make you feel as if you’re eating at a restaurant in Seattle, while the steak brings you right back to Colorado. That’s the beauty of Nath’s talent — he can take you through some of the best stops in world cuisine, but you’ll always taste a little bit of Colorado in every dish. And you certainly won’t forget where you are or how beautiful it is — just have a look outside. And don’t skip out on the peanut butter sundae. • Heritage chicken coq au vin with herbed mascarpone polenta, carrots, mushrooms and red wine reduction sauce. left The 10th has a great view of the surrounding mountains as well as the Milky Way. above


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•••

Ambiance

Casual, comfortable and inviting •••

Signature dish

16-ounce bone-in ribeye with sautéed crimini mushrooms •••

PERFECT FOR

True slopeside dining

Vail Chophouse & Beaver Creek Chophouse Base of the Gondola, Lionshead / 970.477.0555 / vailchophouse.com Base of Centennial Lift, Beaver Creek / 970.845.0555 / beavercreekchophouse.com

by John LaConte photos by Justin McCarty and DOMINIQUE TAYLOR

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alk into the slope-side Vail Chophouse and breathe a satisfied sigh of contentment. This is a place to relax, kick back and enjoy a parade of people, tantalizing scents and laughter. And that’s before the magician approaches the table. Six nights per week a roving performer works the room, entertaining guests with a tableside routine tailored to complement the vibe in the restaurant. Whether it’s kids on a family vacation or couples out on a date, the magician wows his audience. “To me, it’s like Broadway ... you’ve got multiple shows per night, the play’s the same but every audience is different,” says Dan Fleshman, one of the Chophouse’s magicians. “I love it.” American comfort And while the audience is from all parts of the world, the cuisine is truly American at the Chophouse. Steak and seafood are the specialties, and comfort foods like bacon and bleu mac’ and

cheese, lobster chowder and the elk jalapeño cheddar sausage plate adorn the menu alongside those items. From the American West, find Colorado bass, grilled double-bone Colorado lamb chops, alpine buffalo meatballs and the chef’s favorite — the 32-ounce buffalo tomahawk chop. Named for its resemblance to a large hatchet, the tomahawk chop comes to the plate with nothing more than a few delicious sauces and a small branch from an evergreen tree. “That’s all the greens it comes with,” general manager Marvin Melson says with a laugh. Feel free to order any of the sides as ride-alongs, but know that there’s no shame in channeling your inner caveman and digging in to the meaty delight. The buffalo tomahawk chop is only available in limited quantities. Without the bone, it’s still more than 20 ounces of meat — plenty enough to share. Season of celebration For the entire season at both Chophouse locations, when the bell rings at 3:30 p.m. every day, it means exactly one thing: a glass of complimentary champagne for everyone seated in the restaurant. Those who want to extend their time of revelry should check out

the après scene — buckets of beer, jalapeño-bacon bloody Marys and the après sampler platter (buffalo meatballs, fresh and hot soft pretzels and seasonal sausage). It’s all part of the ever-evolving culinary scene at the Chophouse. Corporate chef Jay McCarthy and his new team of chefs have created a menu that has retained customer favorites as well as added some new options. All in all, it’s going to be a great season at the Chophouse. •

top Dan Fleshman watches all of his money in his wallet burn up while performing magic tricks for the dinner crowd at the Vail Chophouse. Magicians perform at both the Vail and Beaver Creek Chophouse six nights a week. above The buffalo Tomahawk steak weighs in at 32 ounces.

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Lunch $11-$23 Après plates $10-$18 Dinner apps $12-$17 Dinner entrees $27-$79

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Price

Apps from $13-$99; entrees from $30 - $56.

Left Bank

•••

Ambiance

Vintage French country •••

Signature dishes

Bouillabaisse de crustacés au fenouil; steak au poivre blanc

183 Gore Creek Drive Sitzmark Lodge, Vail 970.476.3696 leftbankvail.com

•••

PERFECT FOR

Groups, family visits, date night

by Katie Coakley photos by Kimberly Gavin

•••

what’s new

The creation of a six-page cocktail menu is just the beginning of a renewal seven years in the making that will commence in the spring.

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ail is full of classics — icons that stand the test of time and keep locals and visitors coming back: witnessing end-of-the-day runs (or slides) down Pepi’s Face; enjoying après ski festivities at the Red Lion; Helmut Fricker. The Left Bank, a classic French independent restaurant located in the Sitzmark Lodge, is an institution in Vail and has been satisfying Vail’s Francophile cravings for more than 40 years. “We have couples that come in and tell us that they celebrated their anniversary here 30 years ago,” says Kimberly Chelain, owner of The Left Bank with her husband and executive chef Jean-Michel. “They remember exactly what they ate and exactly where they sat.” Recreating memories like these is easy at the Left Bank because the restaurant maintains a traditional menu and vintage atmosphere. You won’t find any “fusion” dishes here. What you’ll enjoy is authentic French cuisine, masterfully prepared. Take, for example, a classic appetizer: escargots à la Bourguignonne. Baked in their own shell with butter, parsley and garlic — a combination that creates a divine aroma that wafts through the dining room, signaling the arrival of the dish —these little nuggets are worth the dexterity required to free them from their spiral homes.

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Tradition and creativity But don’t presume that a meal at the Left Bank is predictable. Executive chef Jean-Michel is a master at creating sumptuous French cuisine, but he also adds a contemporary feel that can be seen as well as tasted.

“We keep the traditional dishes, but we always add new things,” Jean-Michel explains. “For example, the bouillabaisse: In the old days, you would just serve it with everything in the bowl. We’ve changed that by reinventing it a bit, bringing in a bit of service.” The bouillabaisse arrives in a bowl with a domed cover, which is removed tableside to reveal a selection of fresh shrimp, mussels, lobster and scallops — the heart of the dish. The complex lobster broth is then poured over the seafood, creating the classic stew; rice, garlic croutons and rouille (a creamy concoction that adds a touch of spice) can be added according to your preference. The resulting dish is warm and decadent, hearty but not heavy. “In the cooking, you always have the classic elements like veal, elk, lamb, chicken, quail, duck…after that, it’s up to you to be a bit more creative and try to bring that meat or fish you’re serving to a different level,“ Jean-Michel says. There are many elements that make The Left Bank one of Vail’s most timeless restaurants: the service is impeccable, the preparation is flawless and the cuisine—c’est magnifique.

But perhaps the element that keeps guests and locals coming back is the feeling that, for just a few hours, you’re transported by taste to a place where one more sip of wine is permissible and dessert should never be missed. • top Lobster bisque with fresh lobster. right Tenderloin of beef in pastry.


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Full breakfast buffet $33; après bites from $8 to $16 •••

Ambiance

Casual fine dining •••

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f Vail didn’t have heated cobblestone streets, Cucina at The Lodge at Vail would be ski-in/ski-out. As it is, the friendly restaurant in The Lodge at Vail is mere steps from the slopes, making it an easy spot for both breakfast and après ski. Every morning, beginning at 7 a.m., the winter breakfast buffet runs along one entire side of the large, two-part dining room. Justin Thompson, restaurant manager, explains that the buffet offers value and variety, as well as extensive options of high quality ingredients. An omelet station, classic continental selections, fresh fruit and baked goods are available in the all-you-can-eat buffet, and guests can also choose to purchase the omelet-only or continental-only buffet options. The kids full buffet option is almost half price, and will leave them ready for a full day of powder play. A la carte entrée selections are also available for breakfast, including a hearty steel-cut organic oatmeal dish, served with kiln-dried fruit and brown sugar. More savory appetites will enjoy the egg white frittata with spinach, goat cheese, heirloom tomatoes, arugula and fruit. Be sure to stop by the new juice bar to try daily selections of health-boosting fruit and veggie juices, and grab your morning jolt with a smoothie, coffee, tea or espresso drinks. Apres ski for family and friends While Justin calls breakfast Cucina’s “bread and butter,” the restaurant’s new

Cucina at The Lodge at Vail Lodge at Vail 970.754.7872 / lodgeatvail.rockresorts.com

Signature dish

Egg white frittata with veggies and goat cheese •••

PERFECT FOR

Pre-ski breakfast, post-ski bites

by KIM FULLER photos by DOMINIQUE TAYLOR

après that runs nearly all day (from noon until 8 p.m.), is a great scene for visitors and locals. Kids are welcome, though they might prefer to play games inside.Acoustic music fills the space on most afternoons, and an outdoor fire pit offers a spot to thaw out from the day. Libations can take the edge off as well, especially traditional cocktails and “fireside warmers” — drink selections like Irish coffees, hot toddies and autumn chai teas. Soups and small bites are available during après and offer great options to share, including beef and buffalo chili, tomato soup, crispy pork potstickers, chicken potpie, nachos and a cheese board. Sides of French fries, sweet potato fries, and chips and salsa can be perfect additions as well. Larger après bites include a blackened chicken spinach salad, a buffalo burger, a Portobello mushroom panini, a buffalo chicken wrap and a turkey artichoke sandwich. Always be sure to check the chalkboard for daily variations.

“Outside of this menu, we will be doing specials to showcase the talents of the chefs,” Justin says. “Those will change daily, and we will also always have a daily wine and drink special.” •

top Assorted fresh pastries served daily at Cucina at The Lodge at Vail’s breakfast buffet. above Brioche French toast with fresh seasonal berries, bananas, chocolate syrup and powdered sugar.

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Apps $8-$18, entrees $22-$42 •••

Ambiance

Mountain elegance •••

Signature dish

Sea scallops, short ribs •••

PERFECT FOR

Quiet, beautiful dining at its best

Lord Gore at Manor Vail 595 vail valley drive, manor vail / 970.476.4959 by Brenda Himelfarb photos by Justin McCarty

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hen Eric Berggren, chef de cuisine, and executive chef Weston Schroeder of Lord Gore Restaurant create a dish, not only do they have a taste in mind but a vision as well. Like artists, they begin with the raw materials, then lay colors and elements down onto the plate to present not only a sumptuous meal but edible art, as well. Schroeder already had a degree in commercial business art, before entering the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York; Gerggren attended the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, California. Their passion for creating dishes with unforgettable flavors and textures coupled with eye-catching presentation is evident in every plate set before you. “It’s how we’re cooking it, how we’re plating it, how we’re presenting it,” says Schroeder of every dish that is served. “It’s not just about cooking. It’s even how the dish is placed on the table. How it’s going to look.” Tasting Notes At Lord Gore, each plate is a marriage

of ingenuity, which I experienced when I attended a tasting. The first course, a roasted baby beet salad, included roasted red and pickled yellow beets served with goat cheese and topped with vinaigrette and an elegant candied nut mix, touched off with hearts of flower and sea salt. Not only was it delicious, but also the plate resembled a small painting. Served with this humming dish was Anselmi Pinot Grifio, a very expressive, delicious wine full of apple and the scents of flowers. Picking an appetizer is a hard call; as the list includes foie gras torchon, crab cakes and gnocchi. I was served the prosciutto-wrapped, semi – boneless quail drumsticks, that are pan seared in a parsnip purée, then sautéed in veal stock with a lingonberry purée. Accompanying this dish was Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel, which combined tantalizing aromas of black cherry, raspberry, warm spice and vanilla. Bergrenn has added his personal touch — pork belly brined for two days — to the sea scallops. “It’s about a three-hour process,” he explains. “After brining, I pack in coriander, brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper, which gives it sort of a salty,

spicy taste, and roast it slow and low for about an hour. After that, it’s wrapped in plastic, then foil, and put iback into the oven for a while. It really pairs well with the scallops and is a nice surprise.” It was wonderful — especially when paired with the crisp, zesty flavors of lemon and lime of the Sonoma Cutrer Russian River Ranches Chardonnay. The last course, short ribs, were served with truffle mashies and heirloom carrots. “This is such a winter staple for me. Something that’s rich and hearty,” relates Schroeder. “They’re lightly seared, then braised in a cabernet and veal stock demiglace for about six to eight hours. If you can cut through with a fork, I did my job right.” With the full-bodied, Paso Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, the heart meal was complete.

And then came the scrumptious dessert: pumpkin pie cheesecake with crème Brule and a salted caramel sauce and blackberry reduction sauce and a side of cinnamon cream. Outrageously good. Because I was in the hands of two outstanding chefs, as well as the expertise of Chris De Jager, the sommelier, I could not have asked for a more tantalizing food experience. Schroeder says that he wants the guests to “see that we have passion and commitment.” I can certainly vouch for that. • top Wild salmon with risotto, golden beets and trumpet mushrooms. above Peanut butter chocolate barwith salted chocolate ganache, peanut butter mousse and a pretzel crust.


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4695 Vail Racquet Club Drive / Vail 970.476.3113 / blusrestaurant.com by Kim fuller photos by Kristin Anderson

Breakfast $8-$12, Dinner apps $8-$11, Dinner entrees $10-$27 Ambiance Electic American cuisine • Signature dish Chile relleno with goat cheese and pine nuts; Provencal seafood stew perfect for Dinner with family, groups of friends Price

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or 30 years, Blu’s has been a Vail institution. The well-known establishment was once located in the heart of the Vail Village, known as a consistent go-to for locals and visitors alike. Last year, the restaurant found a new home at the Vail Racquet Club, settling into East Vail’s serene qualities of mountain ease and spaciousness. “I like the new location,” said Blu’s owner, T.J. Armstrong. “We definitely have potential for growth out here, and I think we do have an advantage for guests, since the closest restaurant is nine miles away.”

The idyllic scene from Blu’s expansive east-facing windows is picturesque at any time of day, but to catch a glimpse of evening alpenglow on the towering Gore Range peaks is the perfect way to sink into an evening meal. “To me, it feels like where it is,” said Armstrong as we sat at a window table, enveloped by warmth from the dining room’s large wrap-around fireplace. “Here, you really get to see the subalpine environment that is East Vail, and really the essence of Vail itself.” The restaurant’s “continental American cuisine” is a tribute to ski town

dining in every aspect of its comfortable approach and contemporary style. Executive chef Peter Millette offers a wide range of delicious and affordable dishes — including salads, soups, pizzas, sandwiches and pastas — all perfect to please wallets and palates alike. Eclectic by design Sink into après or start your dinner with the light and flavorful blackened tuna sashimi. The appetizer features

thick slices of ahi seared rare, served on crispy wontons with avocado, Sriracha mayonnaise and sweet soy. Millette has also brought some Latin fusion into the mix with one of his signature dishes: a poblano chile relleno. With a crispy cornmeal crust, this is far from your average Mexican food; the chile is stuffed with goat cheese and mozzarella, and topped with currant-pine nut butter. “We were, and have been, eclectic by design,” Armstrong explains. “We have always wanted to offer reasonably priced items that are still upscale, and we wanted people to have that choice in one location.” The wine list at Blu’s reflects Armstrong’s tried-and-true vision, capturing a variety of vintage and unique selections. Upstairs, a cozy bar-lounge area may be the perfect place to come for a light bite and libation after a full day on the slopes. Elaborate entrees will hit the spot as well. Try the New York strip steak, grilled with a poblano-pumpkin seed crust, and served with a roasted tomato-chili demi glaze and chipotle mashed potatoes. “This is a lot different than you normal steak,” says Millette. “There is something for everyone here, and I think for the quality of the food, there’s a true value.” Blu’s offers breakfast from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. on the weekends and on holidays, and their front-door parking makes it easy to come and go during the busy winter season. The restaurant is open at 5 p.m. for dinner, seven days a week. • Chile relleno with goat cheese, pine nuts and currants. left Provencal fish stew with roasted sea bass and mussels in a tomato, red pepper and saffron broth. above

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Blue Moose Pizza

76 Avondale Lane, Beaver Creek Plaza / 970.845.8666 675 Lionshead Place, Lionshead / 970.476.8666 bluemoosepizza.com

by Brenda Himelfarb photos by Sarah Franke

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f “Life is short, eat more pizza,” were the 11th commandment, you can be sure that it would be the one directive to which most everyone would adhere. As it is, it’s friendly advice from the crew at Blue Moose Pizza. The Moose (that’s how the locals refer to the place) is geared to the four “Fs”: family, friendly, fast and fun. “It’s conducive to big groups, parties, “ says Ruthie Carlson, who does marketing and community relations for the restaurant. “We want everyone to enjoy the food and have a good time.” And having a good time is not hard to do in this hoppin’ place where just the energetic atmosphere can make you hungry. It’s a favorite haunt of pizza-obsessed souls who murmur about the thickness of a crust, or the amount of sauce verses the amount of cheese. In addition to the pizza, the menu is chock-full of starters, soup, salads and a list of Italian entrees and sandwiches that include items such as traditional lasagna, fettuccine Alfredo, crimini mushroom hoagies and more. Oh, the pie A creative approach to the Moose’s pizza can be found in “The Vonderful,” which has grilled chicken, artichoke hearts, roasted garlic, sundried tomato

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and pesto, then sprinkled with mozzarella and goat cheese. Created by alpine ski racer Lindsey Vonn, the restaurant donates $1 to the Eagle County SOS Outreach from the sale of each pie. The appealing pizza choices cleverly continues, catering to vegetarians with its Mediterranean Salad Pizza on stone ground whole wheat crust — roasted red pepper and pesto hummus, light mozzarella, onions, artichoke and feta cheese, topped with spinach, tomatoes and basil vinaigrette, or to meat lovers with their aptly named Meat Lovers Pizza covered with pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon, ground beef, marinara sauce and mozzarella. For an additional “wow,” give the baked lemon ricotta a shot or add the newly added farro chicken

Après specials $4-$6, all-day starters $5-$10, all-day entrees $11-$23 Ambiance Fun and lively pizzeria • Signature dish Pizza, pizza and more pizza - Try the Buffalo Wing Pizza with diced chicken, buffalo wing sauce and cheddar and mozzarella cheese perfect for Pizza lovers of all ages

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salad with roasted cherry tomatoes and fire-roasted chicken. Unique and scrumptious. When it comes to après ski, it’s hard to pass up the Moose. They offer three three-inch pizza sliders – cheese, pepperoni and buffalo wing – for just $4. Marry that with a beer flight of three local Colorado draft brews — including Crazy Mountain Amber Ale, Bonfire Brewery Firestarter IPA, Boulder Beer Never Summer Ale, New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale or New Belgium Sunshine Wheat - and you get the whole kit and caboodle for $6. Seriously? How can you pass this up? What’s more, the Moose offers pizza by-the-slice (you can even create your own) and a Little Moose menu for kids — with the proverbial Mac n’ cheese, chicken fingers and a corn dog with fries.

And for dessert? Not to be missed are the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Bet you can eat at least one. So, to be on the safe side, pick up the Grab n’ Go Cookie Pack of six warm, soft, filled-with-melty-chocolate treats that will take chocolate cookie lovers to another place. With over 19 years of experience in the valley, Blue Moose Pizza is mainstay. And a terrific one at that. • top Mediterranean Salad pizza with roasted red pepper and pesto hummus, onions, artichoke, feta, light mozzarella and fresh spinach left Both the Blue Moose in Vail (pictured) and Beaver Creek cater to large groups and families.


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Apps $9-$14, entrees $17-$32 •••

Ambiance

Casual dining with great food •••

Signature dish

Rack of lamb with a mustard-breadcrumb crust •••

PERFECT FOR

Ski lunch, family dinner, date night, après ski

Bistro Fourteen Eagles Nest via Eagle Bah gondola / Vail Mountain 970.754. 4530 / vail.com by WREN BOVA photos by DOMINIQUE TAYLOR

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ome restaurants happen to be located in the Colorado Rockies. Others claim it. Bistro Fourteen was born because of it. In full view of the Mount of the Holy Cross fourteener — a mountain peak that rises past the 14,000-foot-elevation mark — the restaurant at the top of the Eagle Bahn gondola offers a tasty haven for midday skiers, evening adventurers and the après crowd. As part of the triumvirate of on-mountain restaurants that serve lunch and dinner, Bistro Fourteen has a niche all carved out. Adjacent to Adventure Ridge and outdoor fire pits, its mountaintop location is easy to get to and offers a pretty incredible view. Executive sous chef Webster Lee and his team produce the kind of casual and comforting fare that winter wanderers will delight in. Plus, it’s just plain fun to be in a restaurant where the staff is able (and encouraged) to ski or snowboard before work.

Made From Scratch Families will always be a part of the Bistro Fourteen scene, and so a selection of kick-back options is key: burgers, a flank steak sandwich and a fried chicken sandwich that packs a little heat and is topped with marinated cucumbers for a sweet and spicy kick. But it gets better than that, too. “I don’t know what they expect when they come up here, but we do seem to surprise them,” says the chef about his clientele. “Up here, I try to cook everything from scratch; that makes a difference.” Case in point: the beef bourguignon. Web, as his crew calls him, dismisses it as one of those easy dishes that work as long as you give it enough time to cook. How long is that? “All night long,” he says. “It becomes really tender and just falls apart.” Served with crispy spinach, it’s a fulfilling dish. His own favorite, though, is the rack of lamb with a mustard-breadcrumb crust, jalapeño

jelly and corn-mashed potatoes. Other menu highlights include chicken pot pie, spicy lobster linguine and Rocky Mountain trout. But what is Lee really excited about? “Our desserts are so good,” he enthuses. “Anne Armstrong has made them for years. Lately, she’s been doing all petite desserts. It’s basically two bites. You can order one for $3 or three for $8. So you could have just a taste if you wanted, or you could order three and get a full-sized dessert. I think it’s nice because even if you’re full, you can

finish with something sweet.” Try the dulce de leche cheesecake, served with chocolate and white chocolate mousse, or the pumpkin bread pudding. And toast the pastry chef who can ply her skills at 10,200 feet above sea level. • top Mustard herb crusted Colorado rack of lamb with jalapeño jelly, red wine demi-glaze, parmesan corn mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus. left Brown butter apple and almond tart with roasted cherry gelato.

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Atwater on Gore Creek 1300 Westhaven Drive / Vail Cascade Resort & Spa 970.479.7014 / vailcascade.com by Krista Driscoll photos by Kristin Anderson

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reating inventive food is a team sport, each chef adding his own touch. And at Atwater on Gore Creek in the Vail Cascade, executive chef Todd Bemis, chef de cuisine Jay Spickelmier and Atwater chef Adam Smith have been working together long enough that building this winter’s menu was a seamless ebb and flow of creativity. “We got rid of the low-hanging fruit,” Smith says. “It was an evolution, not a heavy-handed approach, with changing the menu.” One of the new arrivals is the buffalo chili, which replaces the restaurant’s pork green chili. This gluten-free edition is made with big, hearty chunks of buffalo meat and topped with cheddar cheese, sour cream and scallions. Perfect for après, pair the chili with a beer from Atwater’s extensive and ever-changing beer list. Every item on the menu includes a suggested beer pairing, including the warm spinach salad. Topped with a soft poached egg, salt roasted beets, sunflower seeds and kumquat vinaigrette, the salad marries perfectly

with a Dry Dock Hefeweizen. The crispy pork shank has been a staple at Atwater for a few rotations of the menu, each iteration coming closer to the visually stunning version the restaurant now serves, with white bean ragout, sherry-apricot glaze and an herb pesto topped with crisp peppers. An entirely new arrival is the sweet pea tarragon ravioli. Each perfect pocket of pasta is hand-made by a company in Santa Barbara and shipped frozen to Atwater. The decision to make the ravioli out of house did not come lightly. “Because of the volume and everything else we’re doing, we didn’t feel like we’d do this justice,” Smith says, but his faith in his contractor is justified. Cut each pillow carefully with the side of a fork to reveal the bright-green sweet pea center, and twirl it through the lemon-white wine sauce, scooping up bits of sautéed butternut squash, pumpkin seeds and lemon-zest ricotta. Another decadent treat is the 7X Colorado Kobe beef. The Paonia purveyor breeds only 100 percent Red Japanese

Apps from $7 to $16; entrees from $22 to $74 • ambiance Upscale but comfortable • Signature dish Crispy pork shank, 7X Colorado Kobe beef • perfect for Beer lovers and adventurous eaters

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cows, which are raised without antibiotics and without contact with other animals, from birth through butchering. The current cut — on this day, a sirloin cap — is served with mashed potatoes, asparagus succotash and a choice of Atwater’s own steak sauce or a housemade chimichurri. Complete the meal with a dessert originally formulated for one of Atwater’s Brewmaster Weekends. The events, which pair small plates with craft beers, allow the culinary team to experiment with new recipes, and the AB&J was such a hit that it made its way onto the

restaurant’s winter menu. A take on classic peanut butter and jelly, the dessert features sourdough bread sandwiched around almond butter and strawberry preserves, then deep-fried and served with house-made peanut brittle and Rocky Road ice cream. The suggested beer pairing is a Vanilla Porter from nearby Breckenridge Brewery. • Albacore tuna tacos. Crispy pork shank paired with Lost Abbey Mayan Apocalypse beer. above Warm spinach salad paired with Dry Dock Hefeweizen. top left

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458 VAIL VALLEY Drive / Golden Peak, Vail 970.754.8050 / larkspurvail.com by Ashlee Bratton photos by Marc Piscotty and Anthony Thornton

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hey say the devil’s in the details here at Larkspur restaurant, but Angel’s in the back. Really — Angel, the long-time butcher at Larkspur Restaurant for over 14 years, is in the back cutting today’s choice veal. No pre-bought, pre-cut, pre-portioned stacks here. The carefully planned menu with top-notch ingredients from around the world did not come together accidentally. Not at all. Director of operations Allana Smith’s eyes light up as she explains how, “Everything gets truly vetted before a menu item actually ever gets to a guest.” Research trips to New York and the 25th version of this winter’s menu point to that. Slide into the bar side of the restaurant and you’ll find the warm tones of the newly remodeled contemporary and sleek décor are the perfect match for the breathtaking front-row view of Golden Peak. (The walk around to the back patio and the Gore range view is equally impressive.) The carefully spaced tables, custom lighting and glassware give it a feel of refined elegance that you can still relax and shed your skiwear to enjoy. Sip a “Purkisset” with Cap Rock gin, rosemary, lemongrass, lychee and lime juice, or delve into one of Larkspur’s 5,000 bottles of wine from around the world. Smith explains that although product quality wins over cost every time, they “remain hospitality-driven.” Dinner at Larkspur is no well-kept secret. Each season, the dining room buzzes with the happy hum of locals and visitors alike, dipping into the most perfect rendition of veal scaloppini around, or the five-course tasting menu paired with wines. But lunch… lunch at Larkspur is one of those winter-season treats. Drop the kids at ski school, ski chair 6 at Golden Peak for a couple hours, then walk the 20 steps past the lift and sink into the valley’s most delectable lunch. On demand are palate-tempting menu items such as the oysters on the half shell with champagne mignonette consisting of shallots, half champagne vinegar, and half champagne for a less acidic

mixture than you might find elsewhere. Or give in to temptation and order the Mushroom Royal pizza with leeks, truffle-lemon vinaigrette and rocket carefully and artistically placed for that just-so touch. This year, a veal meatball version has been added with caramelized onions and Sicilian oregano. Should a little extra treat be needed, those with a nose for truffles can be delighted to know that white Alba and black Perigords carefully selected from three different vendors as far away as Italy can be added upon request to any dish. At Larkspur Restaurant the attention to detail never ceases. Yes, the devil may be in the details (and there are a lot of them), but dining at this slope-side establishment comes with details prepared by master chefs Thomas Salamunovich, Anthony La Rosa… and of course, Larkspur’s own Angel, the butcher. • Larkspur’s continually evolving menu is a testament to the chefs’ commitment to seasonality as well as the desire to continually tweak and improve their creations. middle A pristine shucked shigoku oyster. right The view of Golden Peak from Larkspur’s front door.

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Price

Lunch $10-$25, Dinner $15-$35 •••

Ambiance

Luxurious and comfortable hospitality •••

Signature dish

Lunch - Lobster and rocket sandwich, daily bacon, garnet yam chips Dinner - Veal scallopini, twice baked potatoes, creamed spinach •••

PERFECT FOR

Ski-in/ski-out lunch, date night, dinner with friends, après ski

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avern on the Gore has taken the best features of alpine taverns, sports bars and Colorado dining and wrapped it into one great mountain experience. The Tavern is well named, as it offers the largest list of Colorado microbrews in town — 32 craft beers in total, plus standard domestics. In keeping with the friendly nature general manager John McKenzie fosters, he personally compiled the book of beers, complete with beer-related quotes on every page — from Plato to Homer Simpson. McKenzie and his new executive chef, Chris Moulton, take pride in the quality of the food they serve. The Tavern’s fresh oysters, flown in daily from the East Coast, are a big hit for $1.50 a pop. They include Chesapeake Bay oysters (where 10 percent of retail proceeds benefit oyster reef restoration) and Chincoteague Salt Oysters, which stand up to their salty name. When it comes to hearty entrees, McKenzie buys 100 percent Colorado chicken, beef, bison and lamb that are all natural, with no hormones, steroids or animal by-products. Moulton focuses on using fresh ingredients to bring out natural flavors. Dishes like the chicken marsala and the lamb lollipops, the latter of which feature a special coffee-spiced rub, are savory, without being overpowering. Likewise, side dishes such as the whipped potatoes and fresh vegetables present light and fresh, rather than overly rich. And, for those who want to begin on a festive note, the Tavern offers an array of appetizers — from clams and mussels to bruschetta or sweet potato fried. Or you can dive immediately into one of the Angus burgers, packed with extras like smoked gouda, banana peppers, bacon, spicy slaw and more.

Tavern on the Gore 223 Gore Creek Drive / 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. (kitchen until 10 p.m.) 970.476.2828 / tavernonthegore.com by Kim Nicoletti

photos by Kristin Anderson

Top of the Game In addition to the juicy burgers, several wide-screen, high-definition televisions hint that the Tavern may be the place to watch big games. Add to those several smaller, “personal” high-def TVs strategically embedded in wooden panels

Price

Apps $9-$18, entrees $10-$30 •••

Ambiance

Casual dining with great spirits, food and sports •••

Signature dish

Fresh oysters •••

PERFECT FOR

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High-energy meals, game day

along tables and booths, and you’d be correct if you guessed that “it gets crazy — you can’t even walk around in here during a Broncos game,” McKenzie said. Still, he distinguishes: “We’re not a sports bar, but we just happen to be the best bar to watch sports in. You can watch sports in style at your own table.” The restaurant’s dry-stacked stone columns, rich wooden walls and huge windows complement the mountain environment outside. In fact, the Tavern’s deck and dining room sits right over the Gore Creek. And, beginning in March, the entertainment extends outside, with live music on the heated deck. The Tavern’s entertainment factor, along with its Colorado microbrews and all-natural meat sourcing — plus its oyster bar — make it an unparalleled experience in Vail’s casual dining scene. • Tavern burger with fries, smoked gouda, sauteed onions, mushrooms, banana peppers, spicy slaw, bacon and fried tomato. left Bone-in sweet apple pork chop. above


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Vail Ale House vail

2161 North Frontage Road / West Vail 970.476.4314 / vailalehouse.com by Kim Fuller photos by Justin McCarty

Apps $7-$14, Entrees $12-$19 • Ambiance Warm, comfortable and friendly • Signature dish Rattlesnakes — the Vail Ale House bacon-wrapped jalapeño popper • perfect for Beer aficionados, groups of friends, sports fans Price

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very community needs a coveted local watering hole like the Vail Ale House Kitchen & Tap — a place where camaraderie and traditions are born from food, friends and football Sundays. The West Vail establishment has not only brought in a consistent local social scene, but has also created a diverse menu highlighting pub fare’s potential as true contemporary comfort. “We are really excited to be going into our second winter,” explains Jason Barber, Vail Ale House general manager. “I think the word is out there a little bit more than it was last year, and we are

looking forward to getting more people in here and to showcase what we have been doing.” The central, double horseshoe bar is a definite draw into the large space, where more than 20 taps are aligned and dedicated to the best brews from around Colorado and all over the country, with 10 out of the 20 selections in frequent rotation. The Ale House has started to incorporate beer dinners into their list of annual events, which can be the perfect way to taste a variety of menu items with themed beer pairings. Craft food for craft beer For a game-day snack or to start off dinner, try the signature “Rattlesnakes” appetizer. This staple is the Ale House version of jalapeño poppers — crispy, savory and spicy bites of bacon-wrapped and herbed cream-cheese-stuffed jalapeños. A pint of Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s Pivo Hoppy Pilsner is a good choice to cut the heat from the peppers, or try New Belgium Brewery’s seasonal selection, the Accumulation White IPA — both beers have distinctive flavor, but share the same lightweight and flavor-heavy characteristics. Healthier fare is readily available as well. The hummus plate is a house-made favorite, as well as the side of brussel sprouts, roasted with sea salt, garlic and honey red wine drizzle. Entrees include creatively crafted variations of comfort food, such as the fig flatbread— homemade pizza crust topped with crème fresh, goat cheese,

and red wine-balsamic poached figs, balsamic onions and fried sage, and the braised beef taco—made with beef braised in Bonfire Brewery’s Vanilla Porter, and served with cotija cheese, salsa verde, pico de gallo, sour cream and jalapeño. Barber says the top-notch cuisine, microbrews and craft cocktails at the Ale House are all elements that are aiming to create new awareness of the delicious dining available outside of the village. “It’s hard to walk into a strip mall and expect this great space when you come in,” he says. “As well as the quality of food and beer you get to experience while you are here.” But that’s precisely what happens at the Vail Ale House. •

top Pan seared Scottish salmon with basil cream sauce over mixed greens with Brussels sprouts paired with a Dead Guy English Strong Ale from Rouge Ales. left Rattlesnakes: jalapeños stuffed with herbed cream cheese, wrapped in double-cut bacon, paired with an Accumulation White IPA from New Belgium.

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Pepi’s Bar & Restaurant 231 EAST GORE CREEK / 970.476.5626 / PEPIS.COM by BRENDA HIMELFARB photos by dominique taylor

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here are very few people who have visited Vail who have not heard of Pepi’s. Whether it be the hotel, Gasthof Gramshammer, Pepi’s porch, Pepi’s bar, Pepi’s restaurant or the Antler’s room, there’s no denying that the place is a beloved Vail institution, smack-dab in the middle of Bridge Street. It was a great favorite of President Ford’s when he vacationed in Vail. Pepi — and his wife, Sheika — have been Vail mainstays since the very beginning. In fact, the run, Forever, is named for Pepi. When he got a tour of the mountain before they built the resort, he decided to ski it all. He then had to hike back up to where the rest of the tour group was. How long did it take? Forever. At the main restaurant you will find familiar dishes: veal picatta, wiener schnitzel, spiced-rubbed ribeye, roasted half duckling and seafood risotto, to name just a few. But the Antler’s Room, internationally known for its wild game, features an array of dishes that will take you on a culinary journey — all under the watchful eye of chef Helmut. Those eating in the main restaurant are able to order from the Antler’s Room menu if they so desire. You might begin with a house specialty, steak tartare, that is served with German rye bread. Seasoned perfectly with capers and subtle spices, the tartare is especially tender and assuages the most discerning diner’s hunger. The Graubündner teller, air-dried beef from Graüden, served with Gruyere cheese and German rye bread, is also a savory choice. Seafood lovers might try the ahi tuna sashimi, seared rare on mixed fi eld greens with pickled ginger and a spicy wasabi dip or the locally smoked salmon served with a dill cream cheese and toast points. Light and creamy, the lobster bisque delivers a boost to the palate. Or you

might want to order the Caesar salad, served tableside — for two or more — with Pepi’s homemade Caesar dressing and garlic croutons. It’s the wild game specialties that are a must. The Wilddieb platter features braised quail, wild boar and elk accompanied with Minnesota wild rice and a selection of sauces. There is also wild Russian boar loin with a smetna sauce and Canadian caribou cutlet with a porcini mushroom sauce, both served with creamy polenta and red cabbage. Two or more persons can share a rack of caribou, or roasted Alaskan elk loin, on a chanterelle mushroom demi-glace served with spätzle. Rack of venison, buffalo tenderloin and antelope are also on the menu. The fish entrées are charismatic enough to stand up to their wild com-

Price

Lunch apps $6-$8 Lunch entrees $12-$17 Dinner apps $6-$17 Dinner entrees $21-$38 •••

Ambiance

Friendly Old World alpine cuisine •••

Signature dish

Any of the wild game •••

PERFECT FOR

Lunch, apres ski, dinner with friends

rades. Be it the Dover sole almondine, fi lleted table side with an almond-lemon butter, salmon in tomato-olive sauce with puttanesca — tomatoes, onions, capers, olives, garlic and pickled jalapeños — or the sea bass with parsley sauce, pan sautéed in butter and topped with a lemony, parsley sauce. And Hiesse Liebe, which means “hot love,” is the ideal light dessert of vanilla ice cream covered with hot raspberries and whipped cream. The Antler’s room with its European decor is particularly cozy and lends itself to a very intimate dinner. That ambiance, together with Pepi’s distinctive menu and extensive wine list, make for an outstanding wild evening. • top Canadian caribou cutlet with wild boletus sauce.


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What’s cooking in the kitchen

Food trends come and go

photo by Anthony Thornton – Elk carpaccio with pickled huckleberries from 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill.

Local chefs are more interested in carving out what works for Vail Valley diners than chasing national trends

by Lauren Glendenning

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I

remember the

first time I walked

into Magnolia Bakery in New York City’s West Village and tasted that vanilla buttercream. Long lines had already been forming around the block at the bakery for a couple of years, but in my mind that was the day the cupcake trend was born.

Locals and tourists alike would line up, hoping to get their mouths around one of those beautiful pastel-colored cakes. When I bought mine, I peeled the paper off and took a bite before my feet even touched the city pavement outside. When I tasted it, I immediately knew why Magnolia had single-handedly made a trend out of a simple dessert that Americans have been enjoying for decades. When something is that good, it’s hard for others not to follow suit. I remember seeing cupcake shops on every street corner not long after that day, just like how a decade later every dish in every restaurant would seemingly be drizzled with truffle oil. Food trends are inevitable, and while some seem to spread like seared foie gras on a piece of buttery toast, others spread more like an out-of-control wildfire that just won’t burn out. Trends pop up in our valley all the time, too. Perhaps it’s because we have great chefs here who feed off their collective creativity, or it’s because they’re a savvy bunch and stay abreast of what’s happening with American and global cuisine.

In the Rocky Mountains, we see ingredients like elk loin and bison, kampachi and oysters — ingredients that tend to be as luxurious as the guests who dine here. But trends from afar also penetrate our borders, and some local chefs are really happy to see some of them go.

Good bye, huge portions

Trends such as huge portions, for example, are being replaced with a penchant for healthy eating. It’s something Chef Christian Apetz, of 8100 Mountainside Grill at the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek, is thrilled to see. “Unfortunately, with the climb in portion sizes and calories came a drop in nutrient density. Foods were packed with calories but not with nutrition,” Apetz said. “It’s great to see chefs getting back to basics, so to speak, by preparing foods more simply, more nutritionally balanced and with greater care and respect for the individuals growing and harvesting their products.” Having that awareness of locally available products is a responsibility chefs have to their guests. It helps chefs create those back-to-the-basics type

dishes that are so popular right now. Chef David Walford, owner of Splendido at the Chateau in Beaver Creek, likes that chefs now seem to know and respect the environment. Restaurants have a place in the world and can either positively or negatively affect it. Walford likes that more chefs are choosing to

make positive impacts. And while locally harvested ingredients have been king for a few years now, other factors also keep the so-called locovore movement alive in restaurant kitchens. The prices of meat have skyrocketed, which helps vegetables steal the spotlight.

House-made elk sausage corndogs from Flame.

photo by kristin anderson


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“With the prices of meat these days, it has forced us to catch up with the rest of the world as far as the center of the plate goes,” said David Gutowski, executive chef at Grouse Mountain Grill in Beaver Creek. “Look at kale, the kale salad has become the new pork belly.” People’s perceptions of what constitutes healthy eating have also changed over the years, and chefs don’t always like it. Gluten-free, for example, is something we see on menus all across the valley. Chef Jason Harrison, of Flame at the Four Seasons in Vail, thinks the trend might be on its way out. He admits that might just be wishful thinking, though.

The ‘Healthy Coalition’

A trend that’s popping up on menus that Harrison does really like is updated versions of classic comfort foods. “Gourmet fried chicken and so on,” Harrison said. “The idea that those simple dishes from your childhood can be amazing culinary adventures with great ingredients.” Harrison has found success through

that train of thought on his own menu with his Rocky Mountain elk corn dogs, a gourmet version of a carnival classic. But Harrison is also growing his own herbs and vegetables, a practice chefs all over the valley have started even with the challenges of growing anything at 8,000 feet. And kids menus — oh the valley’s kids menus! Gone are the days of chicken fingers and pizza. Kids lucky enough to dine out with their parents in this valley are getting “main course” options like grilled Gulf shrimp and salted edamame as a first course. “The chefs here in the Vail Valley are especially passionate when it comes to our children’s meals,” Apetz said. “The Vail Valley has put together a ‘Healthy

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Brussels sprouts with Asian flavors from the Wolcott Yacht Club.

“When something is that good, it’s hard for others not to follow suit.”

Fresh oysters from Bol.

Coalition’ comprised of chefs, industry professionals, teachers and even just passionate parents, all expressing an interest in serving better foods within Eagle County schools. Children love the image of chefs and we need to carry the torch by engaging them and getting them passionate about eating well.” That’s a trend nobody would argue with, unlike a few other trends that chefs say are thankfully on their way out. Many local chefs aren’t sad to see molecular gastronomy, for example, start to fade away. “Not gone away and in the right hands it still has its place,” Gutowski says. “(But) I’m glad to see it go because it is creating a generation of cooks that can’t emulsify something without xanthan gum.” The molecular trend goes against the continuously emerging and evolving locovore trend. How can chefs be talking about local produce one minute yet use an ingredient nobody can pronounce the next minute? Or take perfectly good ingredients and make them look like science experiments? The answer is that most chefs around this valley are sticking to real

food, and they’re serving it beautifully in its almost-natural state. You might see some blow-torching going on at Flame, pickling at Grouse Mountain Grill, deep, rich sauces and braising at Splendido or a lot of salt blocks being used as serving dishes at 8100, but all of the ingredients used in those ways will be the freshest available. That’s not to say you won’t find gelee or spherification dishes on menus here because chefs know those dishes do have their place, but you’re more like to see a Vail Valley chef shopping for local produce that liquid nitrogen. “The produce department at City Market is Avon’s real town hall,” Gutowski said. “That is one of the few places where buying lettuce takes 1½ hours. In a town where everyone lives such an active life, the only way to get everyone together is to go out for dinner.” •

photos by justin mccarty

69


70

E AT

w i n t e r

2 0 1 4

Emperor Nero ate

There are really only four types of oysters, but different waters impart different flavors.

in hopes of improving his singing voice.

Cookies used to be called

jumbles. Shout,

in Russian, and you’ve just said hello.

Fusilli Farfalle Conchiglie

Ghiottole

Ruote

a mixture of eggs, milk, sugar, spices, rum, brandy, and — headache.” The New York Times, 1895


“A PALETTE “A PALETTE OF TASTE” OF TASTE” © ARTIST, © ARTIST, CHARMAYNE CHARMAYNE BERNHARDT. BERNHARDT. ALL RIGHTS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. RESERVED.

TASTE OF VAIL 2014 | April 2-5 | Elevate Your Palate TASTE OF VAIL 2014 | April 2-5 | Elevate Your Palate

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EAT  

The Winter 2014 magazine for eating and drinking establishments throughout the Vail Valley featuring restaurant reviews, photo essays, food...