Monthly Archives: January 2013

Vail and Beaver Creek


Splendidolocated in the Chateau Hotel in Beaver Creek, right next to Grouse Mountain Grill; one of the Vail area’s most highly rated restaurants on Zagat; lovely patio overlooking the mountains where we enjoyed drinks and could have eaten what looked to be a great bar menu cheeseburger, dinner menu is also served outside; equally lovely interior with live music; started with steak tartare and moved on to roasted rabbit (served three ways — ribs, loin, and sausage), sided with mac and cheese, and buffalo steak diane; a wonderful experience that we’d highly recommend, on par with Grouse Mountain Grill (service perhaps a notch better there)

La Tour — good as ever and popular as ever; reservations required for weekends; this was our third visit for dinner; same well-priced 3-course dinner as on our prior trips; dover sole was fabulous again, as were the roasted oysters cleverly served on a mini hibachi

Up the Creek — a lovely, tranquil setting right on Goose Creek in Vail Village; we’ve lunched there on a couple visits; our ‘go to’ place when we arrive just off the plane from Houston, drinks in hand, sitting outside as we soak in the mountain air; well executed food and good service

Bonus Review — Boulder, Colorado — The Kitchen — had a great dinner at this extremely popular, community-focused restaurant; casual in vibe and innovative in food; enjoyed crispy pig’s ears,  a charcuterie plate (select your own from a variety of meats, pates, and cheeses; we picked duck rillettes, chicken liver pate, and country terrine ), and pasta bolognese


To escape the heat, we headed to the Vail area one recent weekend —

La Tour — to celebrate its 10 year anniversary, this French restaurant featured a great 3-course dinner for $39; we loved the contemporary yet warm vibe of this place and thoroughly enjoyed our meal; for starters we had beautifully done crispy sweetbreads and beef carpaccio (improved with an extra touch of olive oil); we continued with the duo of lamb chop (nicely cooked medium rare) and braised leg of lamb (yum) and the sautéed dover sole (both of which required a fee supplement but well worth it); we finished with a strawberry rhubarb feuillette, which was decent but a disappointment compared to the rest of the meal, and a selection of ice creams on chocolate foam

Kelly Liken — we had high hopes for this namesake restaurant of a chef recently named as a rising star by Bon Appetit magazine; this is a tough reservation, call well in advance; we were put off initially when we asked for a different table, were told none were available, and then 5 minutes later had a couple seated banquette style at a table right next to ours; this was one of those places where, although the service was not snooty, you felt they played favorites with the clientèle; we started with an overpriced, average tasting, and small portioned duo of a pulled pork tostada and pork belly; our entrées were rack of lamb and the chef’s signature potato crusted trout, both of which were very good; one of the best parts of the meal were the sides — morel potato hash and parmesan grits; we didn’t have any dessert; on leaving, we got two blueberry muffins, a nice touch but with only about one blueberry per muffin; we much preferred La Tour and Grouse Mountain Grill; also, be prepared to spend well over $100 a bottle for wine, as they had a very small number (no more than you can count on one hand) of red wines below $100

Grouse Mountain Grill — our one trip over to Beaver Creek proved a wonderful experience; we loved everything about this restaurant, from the gracious manager to the down to earth and very knowledgeable sommelier to our friendly and accommodating waitress; located in The Pines Lodge, the restaurant has a warm, comfortable atmosphere; this was everything we expected from Kelly Liken but did not receive there; we initially enjoyed a drink in the bar while they graciously put together a lovely table by the window; the food was great; we started with the ritz (cracker) crusted walleye (a unique dish that’s a diner favorite) and continued with the pretzel crusted pork chops (a delicious combination) and venison loin, both of which were perfectly cooked with generous sides; there was a lot of food, and we were too full for dessert, which did look very tempting and which we look forward to on our next visit; if you have one restaurant that you can pick on your vacation in the Vail area, this is it

Alpenrose — popular, longstanding classic German restaurant; other than the friendly service and pleasant outdoor patio, we weren’t excited about the food; the weinerschnitzel was a marginal version of the Vienna classic; the reuben sandwich was good but nothing special that you couldn’t find at an average deli

Bully Ranch — very overpriced and average (located in the Sonnenalp Resort where we stayed — get the B&B package as the breakfast buffet is great, you won’t need lunch); the cheeseburger was overcooked and the fries were wimpy; the roasted chicken was dry and only a quarter of a small chicken (perhaps they used a guinea hen, still trying to figure out where they got a baby chicken), not the usual half chicken serving yet costing more then you would typically pay for a larger serving

Buffalo Restaurant and  Bar — on the drive west on I-70 over to Vail, just about half an hour outside Denver, is Idaho Springs; although touristy, we’ve twice enjoyed lunch at this restaurant (located on Main Street about 5 minutes off the interstate); as the name suggests, this casual spot features numerous items with (and without) buffalo; particularly tasty is the buffalo reuben; we weren’t impressed with the overpriced onion rings; the Main Street shops aren’t much, but it’s nice to walk a little after the big meal before you get back in the car