2009-10 Vail Valley Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM

Another ski season, another season of eating in the Vail Valley! 

 We went to many more restaurants during our first season in Vail.  Click here 
to read our 2008-09 Vail Valley Restaurant Reviews or go to: http://travelingloveaffair.blogspot.com/2009/05/2008-09-vail-valley-co-restaurant.html

NOTE: we always share our meals, typically ordering one starter, one main and one dessert for the two of us. That makes a big difference in the cost of our meals and the expansion of our waistlines. We don’t have the kitchen split the meals because ALE doesn’t eat as much as DM. We just ask for an extra plate and ALE takes what she thinks she should eat.

ALE and DM discussed adding ratings to our restaurant reviews and compromised on the following ratings:
HR: Highly recommended
R: Recommended
NR: Not recommended
A: Awful

1.    Vail

1.1.                 HR: Terra Bistro, 352 E. Meadow Dr., Vail, CO 81657, Tel. 970-476-6836. We had another wonderful meal at this restaurant during the pre-season when it was offering a 50% discount on all entrées. We spent $60.17 plus tip. First delicious bread with lentil dip was served by our very good waiter, Dan. We ordered one Stuffed Portobello, Smoked Tomato Ratatouille, Artichoke Hearts, Melted blue, Balsamic Reduction ($25 less 50% = $12.50), one Toasted Coriander Ahi, Crisp Edamame Cake, Asian Cabbage Greens, Tamari Vinaigrette ($36 less 50% = $18), two glasses of Terra Rosa Malbec Mendoza ($9 x 2 = $18) and, for dessert a Guava Cheesecake ($7). We had a lovely evening, with delicious food, and at a price that was affordable price for us.

1.2.                 HR: Up the Creek, 223 Gore Creek Drive, Ste. 103, Vail, CO Tel. 970-476-8141. We spent $66.34 plus tip. We liked this restaurant during the 2008-09 ski season and we liked it again this season during the period it was offering 50% discount on entrées and 25% off wine. We ordered a bottle of Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz S. Australia ’07 ($40 less $13.80) and it was good.  For our starter we ordered an entrée of Roasted vegetable risotto with artichokes, tomatoes, wild mushrooms, spinach, achiote prawns ($26 less $13) and it was delicious. For our main entrée we ordered the Colorado Lamb Loin with Roasted butternut squash, asparagus, veal reduction, bourbon maple ($32 less $16). The meal was very good and we enjoyed our server, Stacey. There wasn’t a dessert that DM wanted so we passed on that.

1.3.                 R: Sapphire Restaurant & Oyster Bar, 223 Gore Creek Dr., Vail, CO 81657, Tel. 970-476-2828, web: www.sapphirerestaurant.com. We spent $49.90 plus tip and were under-whelmed. We went because they were offering a 50% discount on entrées. This was the first time for us at this restaurant. When we got there, it was cold inside. We were brought a portable heater and it was still cold. We ordered one Grilled Rocky Mountain Trout Filet with warm spinach salad, sweet potatoes, apple smoked bacon, maple mustard vinaigrette ($28) and one Asian marinated sesame pork tenderloin, sticky rice, sugar snap peas ($30). And, we had 2 glasses of Two Rivers Vineyards Syrah ($9 x 2 = 18).

1.4.                 HR: Lancelot Restaurant, 201 Gore Creek Dr., Vail, CO 81657, Tel. 970-476-5828, web: lancelotvail.com. We went because Lancelot’s was offering 50% off entrées, 25 % off Lancelot’s famous prime rib and 20% off all bottles of wine. We spent  $74.15 plus tip and had a wonderful meal. We were surprised and delighted. This is an honest, unpretentious restaurant that serves good, honest food. It’s unusual for Vail and the crowd eating there reflects the atmosphere, as do the servers. The space is comfortable and Nickolas, our server, was good. We ordered 2 entrées and had enough to take home for another meal. Audre really likes to gnaw on prime rib bones and the one served at Lancelot was perfect for that. The meat was as tender as butter and the taste delicious.

We ordered the Linguine Neptune because it was the only pasta without a cream sauce.
The Linguine Neptune at Lancelot's in Vail

This dish was great! The mussels were tender and delicious, as were the scallops and shrimp. The sauce was very good. The apple strudel was also very, very good. We would recommend this restaurant. It does what it does very well!

1.5.                 R: Larkspur, in the Golden Peak Lodge, 458 Vail Valley Dr., Vail, CO 81657, Tel. 970-754-8050, web: larkspurvail.com. We spent $78.37 plus tip, after the 40% discount on the entire check. This review is long and detailed because so many of our foodie friends love this restaurant. We think we gave it a fair shake and it isn’t ever going to be our favorite Vail restaurant. For us, it’s a little too pretentious for us and we think that the food is good, not great. The room is nice and it was quite crowded for late November, which was low season. There were white table cloths, a nice–looking open kitchen, and an open view to wine “cellar.” For some reason, we didn’t “take to” our server, Maureen. She wasn’t friendly and warm enough for us. There was an amuse bouche of carrot-curry soup with a chantarelle (marinated) mushroom which was good; we love amuse bouche. We were served a (homemade) multi-grain bread that was delicious. We started with the Torchon of duck foie gras (which according to www.foodwords.com is a method of cooking foie gras by which it is placed in a towel--torchon in French--and poached), crusted with Italian pistachios and port pearls and served with a ginger brioche and cranberry relish ($19). We shared it at our table and so we were not charged the extra sharing charge. Paté by any other name is still paté. It was good, however, as paté.

Then we had 2 main courses: Heritage Farm pork chops with potato purée, yams and natural pork demi ($34.50). Before ordering the pork chop Dimitri asked whether it was dry and was told it was not. (As always) the cut of meat was a bit too dry for our taste. The other main we ordered was Veal scaloppini ($34.50). Instead of the regular accompaniments of twice baked potatoes, creamed spinach and lemon beurre-fondue, we asked for the accompaniments to another dish—the duck confit accompaniments--which were good: roasted chestnuts (just one, actually) and Anson Mills cheddar grits with cherry gastrique. They went well with the veal, we liked them and we were happy that the restaurant was flexible enough to make the change for us. The veal was good, not great. [For those unfamiliar with Anson Mills in Columbia, SC this is a description: “Anson Mills will rock your world. ‘….Made from the heirloom corn varieties that put Anson’s original grits on the map, the quick grits are milled slightly finer, yet still retain 100% of their flavorful germ.’” Gourmet Magazine, Oct. 2009. The Anson Mills grits was good but did not rock our world.]

The 2 mains were very large and we had enough leftovers to take home for another meal. We each had a glass of wine, one was Beringer cabernet sauvignon $12 (too expensive) and the other was a Le Font de Vent grenache $10 (also too expensive). For dessert we shared a roasted banana and caramel bread pudding, with sesame bark, and malt ice cream $10.50. The bread pudding itself was good. The ice cream tasted like vanilla and the sesame bark was another way of saying sesame crunch candy. We recommend that  you try it and decide for yourself.

1.4.                  NR: Vendetta's, 291 Bridge St., Vail, CO 81657, tel. 970-476-5070. So many people love this place we had to try it. We went for lunch and we weren’t impressed. We had soup.

1.5.                 R: Sweet Basil, 193 Gore Creek Dr., Ste 201, Vail, CO 81657, tel. 970-476-0125, web: www.sweetbasil-vail.com. We went to a reception there and were able to try Paul Anders food. It was very good, but because Sweet Basil never discounts, we won’t go there for dinner on our frugality chic budget.

1.6.                 HR: La Tour, 122 East Meadow Dr., Vail, CO 81657, tel. 970-476-4403, web: www.latour-vail.com. We spent $94.72 and had another excellent meal at La Tour. It was offering a 50% discount on entrées. Austin was our waiter and we liked him. We ordered a bottle of Tierra Secreta Malbec Mendoza ’06 ($38) which we liked.
Toasting with our Argentinean Malbec at La Tour in Vail. We love the sculptures on the tables

We had one Grant Family Farms Organic Kabocha Squash Agnolotti, Organic Haricots Verts & Carrots, Sage Beurre Noisette ($27). DM loved it; ALE thought that the agnolotti was too pasty. We also ordered the award winning (at the Taste of Vail) cumin scented grilled Colorado Lamb Rack Chops, Roasted Baby Beets, Haystack Farms Goat Cheese Gougere, pickled red onions, chanterelle mushroom, smoked red wine sauce ($39).
La Tour's award-winning Colorado lamb

 It was delicious! For dessert we had the raspberry & mango sorbet  with house made waffle cones and fresh berries $9. We were happy.

1.7.                 R: Cucina Rustica, Lodge at Vail, 174 East Gore Creek Dr., Vail, CO 81657, tel. 970-754-7809, www.rockresorts.com.  We went because of they were offering a  50% discount. We had 1 papperdelle ($16) that was very good, 1 lamb that was also very good ($36),  and 2 glasses of wine $20. The discount we were given turned out to be on everything (not just entrées) so our total was $39.02 plus tip! At that price, it was an excellent meal.

1.8.                 R: Ludwig’s at the Sonnenalp Resort, 20 Vail Road, Vail, CO, Tel. 970-479-5429, web: www.sonnenalp.com. We chose this restaurant because they were having a special to celebrate their 30th anniversary: 3 courses for $30.
We're having dinner at Ludwig's with our friends; it's a lovely room and we had a nice meal

We spent $56.37 plus tip. They served an amuse bouche and very good bread and bread sticks (did we mention that we love amuse bouche?). We ordered the shrimp pops on bok choy cole slaw (á la carte price $15) which were unusual and good.
The Shrimp Pops at Ludwig's in Vail

Then we had the steamed mussels and baked barbequed fresh water eel with braised jicama pesto, wasabi green tea cauliflower puree and house made eel sauce (á la carte price $32) that was unusual and delicious. With our meal we had  two pinot 2 worlds at $11 each (which we thought was a bit steep). For dessert we had the ricotta cheese cake with cinnamon ice cream (á la carte price $12). It was a delightful meal with our friends and the good food and service.

2.    Minturn

2.1.                  HR: Minturn Country Club, 99 Main Street, Minturn, CO, Tel. 970-827-4114. We went when they had their $2.99 steak dinner special and it has to be the best deal in the USA! We spent $20 for 2 steak dinners, one salad bar, French fries and onion rings. It was delicious!

3.    Avon

3.1.                 NR: Nozawa, Chapal Square, Avon (in the location where Masatos  used to be), Tel. 970-949-0330. We went because they were offering 50% off entrées and sushi rolls (dine in only). (At the time they were also offering 30% off beer and sake during 4-6 happy hour.) We spent $20 plus tip. We had one udon chicken soup and one eggplant and pork stir fry. It shouldn’t have been so expensive for what it was, but we had enough leftovers to take home.

3.2.                 HR: Avon Bakery & Deli, 0025 Hurd Lane #4, Avon, CO 81620, tel. 970-949-3354, web: www.avonbakeryanddeli.com. We really like the soups and the breads at Avon Bakery. We went often and enjoyed it. This year we even won a free lunch!

3.3.                 R: Ticino, 100 W Beaver Creek Blvd, Avon, CO 81620, Tel. 970-748-6792. This restaurant (affiliated with Columbine Bakery, 51 Beaver Creek Place, Avon) had been recommended to us as a good place for dinner (and for pizza). We decided to try it for lunch and it was good (but not the kind of place we would want to go to for dinner. It’s too much like a café). For lunch, we had two soups that were good at a reasonable price.

3.4.                 NR: China Garden, 100 W. Beaver Creek Blvd., Avon, CO 81620 tel. 970-949-4986, www.chinagardenavon.com. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t good either. We had a nice time there with friends, however.

4.    Eagle-Vail

4.1.                  NR: Route 6 Cafe, 41290 Hwy 6 & 24, Eagle-Vail, CO 970-949-8393. We had high hopes but Route 6 Café disappointed us.

5.    Edwards

5.1.                 HR:  Juniper, 97 Main Street (at 1st and Main in Riverwalk), Suite #E101, Edwards, CO 81632, Tel. 970-926-7001. They were having a 50% off on entrées special, so we went. The room is nice but plain. The open kitchen is fun to watch. Our server, Angela, was very, very good. Our only complaint was that we’d like to see some glasses of wine under $10. We shared one Sesame crusted Yellowfin Tuna with spring Vegetable Wonton, Shitake-Bok Choy-tofu and miso broth ($34).
This dish was not only beautiful it was also delicious at Juniper in Edwards

This dish was a triumph and the fried fish skin an innovation that reminded us our our eatery in Aberdeen, Hong Kong that served deep fried fish skin at lunch. We loved it in Hong Kong and we loved it at Juniper.

And we shared a Colorado Rack of Lamb with Baba Ghanoush Raviolis, Sautéed Cauliflower and sundried tomato pesto ($38). Both dishes were excellent and there was enough to take home for another meal. We had 2 glasses of Colome Malbec ($20) that we liked. For dessert we had 1 pecan tart ($10). The chef, Todd Bullis is delightful and we have enjoyed his food at the Taste of Vail and other venues. We spent $69.25 plus tip at Juniper and we really liked this restaurant.

5.2.                 R: Vista at Arrowhead, 676 Sawatch Dr., Edwards, CO 81632 (at the County Club of the Rockies), Tel. 970-926-2111, web: www.vista-arrowhead.com. We spent $46.46 plus tip and had another lovely meal at this restaurant. We went because of the Special $10 and $15 price on entrées. It’s a lovely room and the service is good. Our server, Jeff, forgot a few things, however. Janine Glennon (owner, with husband and chef) was hopping from table to table, as was the front of the house manager, Daryl. We were repeatedly asked how we were liking the food—too often, actually. We had 2 glasses of Yealands Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough at $7.25 per glass which we liked and thought was a good price for it. We ordered 1 cioppino (shrimp, crab, mussels, scallops, lemon tomato broth with fresh pasta) for $30 and thought it was very good. Then we shared 1 Parmesan crusted Alaskan cod with potato purée, sautéed red chard, roasted red pepper sauce ($31.50) that we liked very much.
This dish was wonderful at Vista in Edwards

The meal was delicious but there wasn’t a dessert that DM wanted so we went home for coffee and dessert.

5.3.                 HR: Asian Spice Bistro, 69 Edwards Access Road, Unit 6, Edwards, CO 81632, Tel. 970-926-6628. This restaurant was new during the 2009-2010 season and we went many times for both lunch and dinner and take-away. We were never disappointed (and this is after spending 7 months during the previous summer eating our way through Asia!) It is in the space previously occupied by Matthews (a restaurant that disappointed us during the 2008-09 season). We only wish that they didn’t charge $2 for a cup of ordinary Chinese tea.

5.4.                 R: Dish, 56 Edwards Village Blvd., Edwards, CO 81632, tel. 970-926-1393/970-926-3433, web: www.eatdrinkdish.com. This restaurant was highly recommended. It is not our kind of place; we don’t like the small dish “formule” and we really didn’t like our server, Scoie. We ordered the Gnocchi (described as “a dish favorite..pan seared, fromage d’affinois and boursin cheese cream”) for $9,  followed by Sweetbreads (described as “pan seared, lemon beurre blanc, capers, wilted rainbow kale & baby spinach”) for $21 with bread for $6. The dishes were not particularly tasty or unique. For dessert we had a tart tartin ($7). The meal was fun because we were with people we liked but we wouldn’t return to this restaurant.

6.    Eagle

6.1.                  R: Paradigms, 343 Capitol St., Eagle, CO 81631, 970-328-7990, web: www.paradigmsrestaurant.com. We spent about $75 with a bottle of Pircas Negras Malbec red wine that cost $28. We had one starter of tempura artichoke hearts ($12), one main of duck ($22), and one dessert of Cheesecake ($8). The room is cozy and warm with a lovely fireplace. Lindsey was a good server and the evening was lovely.

6.2.                 NR: Eagle Diner, Eagle, CO, tel. 970-328-1919. We went for lunch and we wouldn’t recommend it (it was just this side of awful).

7.    Red Cliff

7.1.                  Red Cliff, tel. 970-827-9109, www.mangosmountaingrill.com. We had lunch there and it was good. We spent $9.75 for vegetable quesadilla.

8.    Caterers

8.1.                  HR: Vail Catering Concepts, Eric Berg (owner/executive chef), PO Box 3172, Vail, CO 81658, tel (cell) 970-376-5263, e-mail: eric@vailcateringconcepts.com and web: vailcateringconcepts.com. We had a wonderful meal catered by Eric Berg. No expense was spared and Eric’s food was delicious.
Eric Berg's main course lamb dish

And here is a snap of the man himself.
Eric Berg, Vail's caterer

8.2.                 R: Your Personal Chef, Inc. (Michelle New), Serving the Eagle Vail Valley, 970-524-7150. Web: www.thecateredevent.com. We enjoyed this afternoon Christmas party. Michelle did a very good job.

8.3.                 R: Anthony Mazza, Cuisine Consultants, personal chef and consultant, 970-376-2823, e-mail: anthonymazza@hotmail.com. We tasted one or two canapés that he made and they were good.

9.    Events

9.1.                  HR: Beaver Creek Master Chef Classic Presented by Bon Appétit Magazine. For the second year we volunteered to work at the Master Chef Classic. The events are really fun and the Grand Tasting at the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch is an event not to be missed, if you can possibly be there. It is scheduled for January 27 to 29, 2011 and this is the website: http://www.beavercreek.com/events-and-activities/culinary-festival.aspx

9.2.                  HR: The Taste of Vail is an event we have also volunteered to work at for two years. This is another event we would highly recommend. The Mountaintop Picnic is one of the most fun events we’ve ever attended.
Atwater on Gore Creek's lamb ribs and salad offering at the 2010 Taste of Vail Mountaintop Picnic

The wine flows freely at the Taste of Vail
We liked the chilling method at the 2010 Taste of Vail Mountaintop Picnic

And the food was yummy
Up the Creek's delicious quail and caribou sausage at the 2010 Taste of Vail Mountaintop Picnic

How did we eat so much?
The Marketplace on Meadow Drive Restaurant's ceviche was very good and easy to eat at the 2010 Taste of Vail Mountaintop Picnic.

And the Grand Tasting is a wonderful event. It is scheduled for April 6 to 9, 2011—be there or be square! This is the website: http://tasteofvail.com/
The 2010 Taste of Vail Grand Tasting


  1. What a gastronomic feast you had. You really enjoyed food hopping for the best food in Vail Valley.

  2. There's a lot of restaurants you can choose from. So you will never get bored of the same food everytime you visit.

  3. Even in the Valley, barbecue parties are still in demand and people really go there and enjoy.

  4. Even in the Valley, barbecue parties are still in demand and people really go there and enjoy.

  5. The foods you ordered looks really good to the last bites. Hope you had a blast tasting all of the dishes.

  6. The festival is really well attended specially the Mountain Top Picnic. Good food plus Good company equals success.