2010-2011 (updated in 2012) Vail Valley & Beyond Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM (on a frugally chic budget)


Separately, we reviewed
  •  Matsuhisa Vail; click here to read our review,
  • Richard Sandoval's Cima; click here to read that review.
     We’ve been reviewing the restaurants we have visited since our first season in Vail. For our 2008-09 Vail Valley Restaurant Reviews click here.

     and, for our 2009-2010 Vail Valley Restaurant Reviews click here.

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. When we go to a restaurant having a fixed price multi-course meal special, we ask for permission to only order one meal when we make the reservation. If the restaurant doesn’t like that, we won’t go.

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
Okay, now the reviews:

1.              Vail

1.1.        HR: Wildflower, Lodge at Vail, Vail, CO, tel. 970-476-5011, web: www.rockresorts.com. We had a wonderful meal in a beautiful room with terrific service by Emma Campbell. The room has floor to ceiling windows looking out on a quiet area of Vail Village. We went because there was a three course meal for $35 that we were permitted to share. Also they were having a 50% discount on wines by the bottle (when seated before 6:30 p.m.). We ordered a $45 Italian Montepulciano d’Abruzzo but they didn’t have it. They substituted a $80 Rosso Casanova di Neri ’06 from Montalcino which was superb (90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Casanova di Neri's 2006 Rosso di Casanova di Neri is a cask-aged blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Colorino grown in the Sant-Antimo appellation which lies just beyond the southern border of the Brunello zone”). We were charged $22.50 for that bottle of wine—less than you can buy it for online! We were brought poppadoms with an Indian-spiced baba ganouch that was very good. Next we were each brought an amuse bouche even though we only ordered one 3-course meal. The amuse bouche was delicious: a glass of carrot juice and a cup of frissé lettuce with blue cheese, crispy fried artichoke heart and a crispy purple potato chip. For our starter we ordered the soft shelled crab on a bed of mixed lettuce and frissé with tobiko (flying fish roe), tomato, radish and blood orange slices. It was very good. Then Emma brought us each an Intermezzo of guava and mango sorbet. It was refreshing and tasty. For our main we ordered the lamb shank with green beans and Wildflower’s version of a tatertot. The portion was huge and it was delicious. The sauce that the lamb shank was made with was superb. For dessert we ordered the beignets with brown sugar gelato and stewed peaches and fresh raspberries. The beignets were more like sugar donuts so we didn’t like them. The gelato was very good, as were the peaches. Each dish was prepared with care and had intense, distinct and interesting flavors. Lastly we were brought mignardise, which we love! This is an excellent restaurant and it is a shame that it will be closing forever at the end of the summer. Rock Resorts has sold the space to a steak restaurant chain. We’re sad.
We had another wonderful meal in a beautiful room with terrific service by Emma Campbell in April before they closed for the shoulder season.  We went because there was a three course meal for $35 that we were permitted to share. Also they were having a 50% discount on wines by the bottle (when seated before 6:30 p.m.). We ordered a $45 Italian Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and were charged $22.50 for that bottle. It was excellent. We were brought poppadoms with an Indian-spiced baba ganouch that was very good. Next we were each brought an amuse bouche even though we only ordered one 3-course meal. The amuse bouche was very good: a cup of frissé lettuce with a delicious morsel of smoked eel, tobiko (flying fish roe) and seaweed. For our starter we shared the home-cured bacon (pork belly) on a bed of mixed lettuce and frissé, tomato, radish and blood orange slices with a maple vinaigrette. It was very good. On this visit there was no Intermezzo. Emma had arranged for us to have the braised rabbit for our main (instead of the mains offered with the 3-course meal). The rabbit was braised with tomatoes, mushrooms, fungus, broccolini, edamame and a delicious pecorino broth. In the dish were “gnocchi brioche” which could have been omitted and it would have been a better dish. The portion was huge and it was delicious (we had enough to take home for a lunch). On the menu for dessert were 3 sorbets: apple, passion fruit and peach with a cookie. They had intensely distinct flavors and we loved them. Lastly we were brought mignardise. This is an excellent restaurant and we spent $62 plus tip for dinner.

1.2.        HR: Terra Bistro, 352 E. Meadow Dr., Vail, CO 81657, Tel. 970-476-6836, web: www.vailmountainlodge.com/terra or www.terrabistrovail.com.  We had another delightful meal at Terra Bistro during the pre-season when it was offering a 50% discount on all entrées. Our server was Jennifer and she is a veteran; very good and professional.  We went because of the 50% discount on entrées. We shared everything and had 2 entrées. We were brought bread and the signature lentil dip which we like. We started with the “truffle onion and ricotta gnudi (in a parmesan consommé with steamed spinach, artichoke heart and chanterelle smoked tomato ragout)” for $26, before the discount. It was an interesting and unusual dish. We liked it. For our main we had the “Muscovy duck breast with chocolate mole sauce, sweet potato cubes with crunchy green beans, frissé lettuce and tangerine, accompanied by spoon bread with bacon” for $36, before the discount. It was delicious. We each had a glass of Tilia Malbec ($8 x 2) that we liked and for dessert we had the Masala chai and Medjool date bread pudding that was unusual and very good ($9). The subtotal was $87 less $31, plus tax $4.71. The total was $60.71 plus tip.
We went again in May because they were offering a $39 three-course meal. We got permission to share one meal. We liked our server, Thrasher, who is a veteran there. There was some choice in the 3 course meal so we started with the “tequila & sage organic chicken tamale, caldo verde, salsa cruda, yogurt crema”. It’s the first time we’ve had that there and it was very good. The next course was a “simple arugala salad with maple vinaigrette”. It was good but something we never would have ordered (preferring our 3rd course to be a dessert). For our main we shared the “kale crusted sea bass, mushroom & baby artichoke broth with spinach, white beans, roasted tomato and lemon-caper butter”. It was a large piece of sea bass, perfectly cooked and sweet. The accompaniments were delicious too. With our main we had one glass of Pinot Grigio Alta Adige for $9. For dessert we ordered the “Raspberry Yogurt Moose Bombe, Lemon curd quinoa cake, puffed rice tuile” for $9. This was an unusual and very good desert. The total was $52.04 with tax (evidently we weren’t charged for dessert), plus tip.

1.3.        HR: La Tour, 122 East Meadow Dr., Vail, CO 81657, tel. 970-476-4403, web: www.latour-vail.com. In November, we had a wonderful meal at La Tour. We went because they were offering a 50% discount on entrées. We liked our server, Paul, and we liked where we were sitting. We shared everything as usual. We split the dishes ourselves at the table, the way we like to. We started with an appetizer of “Seared Sea Scallops, ginger braised oxtail ragoût, mushrooms, cilantro, sesame cracker” ($15). It was an excellent dish. For our main we had the “Pan Roasted Saigon Cinnamon Scented Venison, Grilled Peaches, Cranberry-wild rice bread pudding, rosemary-hazelnut brown butter” ($42). The venison was tender, perfectly cooked and delicious. And the amount of venison on the plate was large. The accompaniments were also excellent. The brown butter was distinctive too. For dessert we shared the Banana Pecan Bread Pudding, spiked cinnamon syrup, caramel ice cream, cocoa nib tuile ($10). That was one yummy meal! Our subtotal was $83, less $21, plus $5.21 tax for a total of $67.21 plus tip.
We went again after the ski season ended in April the 50% off entrées was being offered again. It was packed and it seemed, from the conversations that we could hear, that they were locals. We sat in a back room where we had never eaten before. It was the farthest from the door, but because of the glass walls, we could see the front room. We had another wonderful meal at La Tour. DM thought that our server, Rob, was too flowery. He was definitely correct and attentive enough, even with all of the customers. We shared everything as usual. First we were brought bread and butter. The bread was good. We split the two entrées that we ordered ourselves at the table, the way we like to. We had them both come at the same time. We ordered the “Organic Egg Yolk Pappardelle, Lobster, Scallops, English Peas, Myer-Lemon Cheese, Pea Tendrils, Mint, Saba” ($38). It was very tasty and the scallops were particularly sweet (but maybe too much salt was added). With that we had the venison again. This time it was served with “Red Wine Poached Pear, Cranberry-wild rice bread pudding, haricots verts, rosemary-hazelnut brown butter” and the regular price was $44. The venison was tender, perfectly cooked and delicious. And the amount of venison on the plate was large. The accompaniments were also excellent. The brown butter was distinctive too. We had one glass of Malbec ($8) with the meal. For dessert we shared the Ginger Bread Pudding, stewed blueberries, crème fraîche ice cream, hazelnut sugar ($11). That was a huge amount of food and one yummy meal! Our subtotal was $101, less $41, plus $5.01 tax for a total of $65.04 plus tip.

In May La Tour was still offering the 50% discount on entrées so we went again and again had a wonderful meal and evening. We liked our server, Lauren, who was professional and charming. We sat in the front room, by the fireplace, and watched the snow. We particularly liked the piece of sculpture by Harold Linke on our table--a woman soaring towards the sky. We shared everything as usual and had two entrées. We started with the “Butternut Squash-Hazelnut Ravioli, Black Truffle, Parmigiano Reggiano, Organic Spinach, Lemon thyme brown butter" (regularly $34). 
The ravioli looked as good as it tasted

The flavors were terrific and the truffle added an earthy and delicious taste. The ravioli were superb, stuffed with a delicious-tasting squash mixture and cooked correctly. With our main entrée we had two glasses of the Colores del Sol Malbec ($8 x 2) which we like. We had the “Butter poached Alaskan Halibut, Morel Mushrooms, Wild Ramps, asparagus, heirloom potatoes, tarragon” (regularly $42). It was a very good dish. We were glad to taste ramps. The Vail Daily had just done an article on garlicky, sweet green onion flavor of ramps and we wanted to try them. The taste was subtle and yummy. The fish was nicely cooked and the dish was very good.

The halibut with the delicious accompaniments, including the ramps

For dessert we shared the “Rhubarb Cheesecake, Pistachio Crust, Strawberry Compote” ($11).
The rhubarb cheesecake was beautiful and delicious

The regular price of the meal would have been $103. We spent $70.46 plus tip. We were very happy.

1.4.        HR: Montauk Seafood Grill, 549 E. Lionshead Circle, Vail, CO 81657, tel. 970-476-2601. We had a delicious meal in November—our first at this restaurant. We went because of the $20 entrée offer and the restaurant was crowded. Our server, Bob, a veteran, was friendly and professional. We sat at a large table and enjoyed sharing our meal. We started with the Mariner’s Mussels ($12) from Prince Edward Island. They were delicious and tender. The juice was yummy. For our main we shared the Ahi Tuna, “Our Signature Dish…Hawaiian Ahi, Seared Rare, rock shrimp and vegetable stir-fry, sushi rice cake, soy-ginger vinaigrette with ginger and wasabi ($20 promotion). It was perfectly cooked, tasty and a large enough portion for 2. The entrée accompaniments were very good too. We had one glass of Beringer White Zinfandel ($5.50) that was pink and a little sweet. DM had a glass of Banyan Riesling ($7.75) that he liked. Our subtotal was $45.25, tax was $3.80 and our total was $49.05 plus tip.
In May Montauk had another special to celebrate their 25th anniversary. Every entrée was $25. We had the same exact meal and again it was yummy.  From the hostess, to our server (Peter from the Czech Republic), to the owner-chef Dimitri Souvarin, we enjoyed the people who work at Montauk. This time we accompanied our meal with 2 glasses of Coppola Pinot Grigio ($8 x 2) which were very big and good. We spent $57.45 plus tip and enjoyed the evening.
The third time during this season that we went to Montauk we decided to try the crab legs. We started with the “Crispy Rhode Island Calamari, basil aioli and tomato-caper dipping sauces” ($11). They were tender and small and quite tasty. Then we shared “1 pound Alaskan Dungeness Crab, Herbed Yukon Potatoes, Fresh vegetables and drawn butter” ($25). The crab was good and the amount of food plenty for the two of us. With the crab we ordered two glasses of Coppola Pinot Grigio ($8 x2). We enjoyed ourselves and our server, Edward, was quite personable. Our total was $56.35 plus tip.

1.5.        HR: Ludwig’s at the Sonnenalp Resort of Vail (across from the Vail Chapel), tel. 970-479-5429, www.sonnenalp.com .  It’s a beautiful room and we had it to ourselves in the pre-season. Our server, John, was very good. They brought what they call amusée (grammatically it should be amusement, probably) of salmon and it was good. They also bring 2 kinds of bread, a sourdough and a pumpernickel, with butter and olive oil. The breads are made in-house and are very good. We went because the restaurant was offering a 3-course tasting menu for $35 and they permitted us to have only one. We shared it at the table, with ALE getting an extra plate and taking some off of the main plate. We started with a shrimp dish that was sweet and tasty. For our main we had the swordfish. It was beautifully cooked, succulent and delicious. With our main we each had a glass of St. Michelle Chardonnay. We had one of the desserts and thought it was very good. The meal cost $57.46 plus tip and was one of our better meals in Vail. One more thing, the china at Ludwig’s si Tafelstern and it lovely.
We went again in the pre-season for the 3-course for $35 menu. We started with crispy sweet breads, preserved lemon, capers, tomato concasse and cilantro salad. It was delicious. Our main was a pan seared wild caught salmon with winter asparagus, Pappardelle, caramelized heirloom cauliflower and sun dried tomatoes. The salmon was dry even though we had asked for it rare. We had 2 glasses of an Austrian blend—St. Lauren and cabernet $9 each that were good. For dessert we had the cranberry, walnut jello tartlet with thyme-Grande Marnier ice cream. It was crowded that night and so our service wasn’t as good as we’ve been used to there. Nonetheless it was a good enough meal.

1.6.        HR: Sweet Basil, 193 E. Gore Creek Dr., Suite 201, Vail, CO 81657, tel. 970-476-0125, web: www.sweetbasil-vail.com. We have been waiting to try Sweet Basil when they were having a discounted meal. Our wait was rewarded in May 2011 when a three-course meal was priced at $42 per person. We telephoned to confirm that we could order 1 three-course meal and an extra plate so that we could share at the table. They said that would be fine. This was our first meal at Sweet Basil and we were prepared to be disappointed. The restaurant gets so much hype; it would be difficult for it to live up to all of it. Well, we enjoyed our meal. It was very, very good. The room is nice, with big windows overlooking the raging Gore Creek. It got very crowded but the service was professional and attentive. Rita our server had a bit of an attitude but it didn’t affect our enjoyment of the meal. We were brought (Avon Bakery) bread and butter. For $42, we could choose from any appetizer, any entrée and any dessert. For our starter, we chose the “Portuguese Baby Octopus a la Plancha, Dry Aged Chorizo, Olive Oil Poached Potatoes, Grilled Piquillo Peppers, Saffron Lemon Aioli Oil.” It was quite delicious and picturesque (too bad we didn’t take a snap). Each element of the dish had a distinctive taste and we like that. For our main, we chose the “Braised Free Range Veal Short Ribs, Spring Vegetable Blanquette, Abalone Mushrooms, Green Garlic, Pink Peppercorns, Horseradish Gremolata” (regular price $30). It was yummy! There were 3 ribs—plenty of meat and accompaniments for the two of us. While we didn’t taste the pink peppercorns or the horseradish gremolata, the green garlic and abalone mushrooms were particularly delicious. With dinner we had one glass of Amalaya Malbec ($9) which turned out to be a very large glass of very good wine. For dessert we chose the” Valrhona Chocolate and Hazelnut Pavé, Malted Caramel, Hazelnut Crunch Candied Cocoa Nibs, Banana Ice Cream” (regular price $10). It was good but the chocolate mousse on top of the pave was overwhelming! The pastry chef, Alex Daley, out-does himself. We had met Executive Chef Paul Anders at foodie events in the Vail Valley and we were glad to try the restaurant. We saw Chef de Cuisine Brian Brouillard but he didn’t come around to talk to the guests. The meal was $51 plus $4.28 tax and tip.

We had another lovely meal at Sweet Basil during the Spring Special $42 three-course menu (which we shared). This time we really liked our server, Sean, too. We started with the “Walnut and Mascarpone Tortelli, Rapini with Garlic and Chili, Wild Spring Onions, Grilled King Trumpet Mushrooms, Smoked Mushroom Brodo.” It was a lovely dish and we really liked the trumpet mushrooms. For our main we chose the “Gold Canyon Angus Hanger Steak, Gorgonzola Gnocchi di Pane, Anise Spinach Puree, Spicy Garlic Wilted Spinach, Gilled Onion, Bordelaise” (usually $30). We asked for it medium rare and it came out perfectly. The portion was large and the dish was really delicious (although something in the dish was too salty for ALE). With our main we each had a glass of the Amalaya Malbec ($9 x 2). For dessert we chose the new addition to the menu: “Warm Blueberry Crostata-Balsamic macerated blueberries, toasted almonds, ricotta sherbet” (regularly $10) by Pastry Chef Alex Daley.
This new addition to Sweet Basil's dessert menu was very, very good.

 We saw that one of the entrées included fresh ramps so we asked if we could buy some. We were given about ½ pound of ramps and charged $5. We couldn't wait to cook with them. A very successful evening all-around! We spent $65.46 plus tip on the meal.

1.7. HR: Flame, One Vail Rd. at the Four Seasons, Vail, CO 81657, tel. 970-477-8650, e-mail: flame.restaurant@fourseasons.com. We had a perfect meal even though we didn’t “take to” our server, John; he’s a little too casual and overly friendly. The room was nice and the big windows, overlooking the swimming pool and outdoor fire place with the snow falling, were entertaining. We hadn’t been there before because we thought it was a steak restaurant—you know, the name is Flame. We went, however, because they were having a 3-course meal for $40. When I made the reservation, Steven at the front of the house, said there would be no problem if we shared one menu. Flame’s menu had much more than just meat—it had very interesting selections on it and we could chose any three courses from the regular menu. We started with the “Pan Roasted Foie Gras, house made granola, grilled apple, calvados caramel” (regularly $14). It was exquisite. We had two glasses of Cypress Point cabernet sauvignon ($9 each) that were good. For our main, we shared the “Milk fed 12 oz. Veal Chop, truffle tempura haricot verts, thyme aioli, cabernet jus” (regularly $27). The chop was huge, tender and tasty. The bone was great to gnaw. The truffle tempura haricot verts were fabulous. They were crunchy and actually had some pieces of truffle in them. One of the chefs, Jay Sturtz, came to our table to talk and he was engaging and interesting. We suggested that the name of the restaurant be changed because it’s so much more than a grill restaurant and he agreed. He suggested that we speak with Hans Willimann, the GM of the hotel, about that. We shared the “Sweet Potato Pie, smoked honey dip with marshmallow and cream cheese ice cream” (regularly $9) for dessert. It was yummy. We thought that they were more like beignets than pies. The meal was a great success. We spent $73.71 plus tip.

We went back to Flame in the Fall of 2012 for their “$44 three course” dinner special on a Tuesday. We had really enjoyed the $40 three course special in the Fall of 2011 and thought at the time that Flame was much more than “a modern mountain steakhouse.” Before going we spoke to Steven on the telephone and cleared that we would only be having one meal (because we are “old and small” and don’t eat much). He said that would be “fine”. When we arrived in 2012 we were told that the three course special was a set menu of heirloom cherry tomato salad with a truffle reduction and a champagne vinaigrette, followed by a 6 oz. filet with mashed potatoes and broccolini and, for dessert, there would be bacon filled doughnuts with a maple glaze. Well we were very disappointed. We had been looking forward to an “important” meal, like we had the year before. We looked at the menu to choose something else and again we were disappointed. This was not the interesting menu we had seen last year. So, we toyed leaving and going elsewhere but decided just to stay and have one of the three course special menus. We also didn’t take to our first server (Olga?) but she was soon replaced by a Kiwi named Cameron who was charming, attentive and professional. The salad was very good and the truffle reduction was excellent. The filet was tasty and cooked to our specifications (which may have emphasized medium rather than rare) and the accompaniments were very good. It was plenty of food. The doughnuts were kind of weird and Dimitri, the dessert eater, didn’t have more than one bit. All in all, although Chef Harrison is talented, this is not our kind of restaurant anymore. So we won’t be recommending it. We didn't have any wine and spent $47.70 plus tip.

1.8. R: Lancelot, Restaurant, 201 Gore Creek Drive, Vail, CO 81657, tel. 970-476-5828. We had another very good meal at Lancelot’s—with their early season discount of 25% off of entrees and 25% off of bottles of wine. Our server, Jason, is a veteran and is professional, friendly and good. We shared everything and started with a Clam Chowder ($6.95) and then a Kings Cut Prime Rib ($25.95). The meat was excellent and so were the accompaniments. We ordered a bottle of Gascon Malbec ($35) and had enough prime rib and wine to take home and enjoy. The Subtotal was $67.90 and the discounts totaled $15.24 so (with Vail tax $2.72 and state tax $2.99) the total was $58.37 plus tip. Since our meal at Lancelot, DM decided he doesn’t like slow roasted beef any more he doesn’t want to go back to Lancelot. Oh well.

1.9.        R: Alpenrose, 100 E. Meadow Dr., Vail, CO (Gunther Schmidt chef), tel. 970-476-8899. Our server, Paul, also worked behind the bar. He was good and the room was fine. We were seated at the window in the bar area. There was a large party in the upstairs area but it wasn’t too noisy. The restaurant was very full but the service was good. We went for the 3-course Crispy Duck special with Alpenrose salad and apple struedel for dessert.  We had one glass of Rodney Shiraz ($8).The duck order was huge and good. The salad was uninspired and the struedel was okay. We spent $41.14 plus tip.

1.10.        R: La Bottega, 100 E. Meadow Dr., Suite 37, Vail, CO 81657, tel. 970-476-0280, web: www.labottegavail.com.We went because they were offering a 30% discount off of the entire bill. It’s a series of small rooms and it was crowded. The chairs have hard seats and the wines (even from Chile and Argentina) were over-priced. We thought our server, Armando was good and professional, although he failed to return DM's American Express card when he brought the check. We had to go back the next day to get it. We had one Soup del Giorno ($8) which was a Portobello mushroom and good. For our main we shared the Duck with grappa glaze and polenta ($29.50) that was very good and too much for the two of us to finish. We each had a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon ($8 x 2). We saw others having a traditional Zabaglione and we ordered that. At first a whipped cream thing arrived and we pointed to the one that was traditional and waited for the good one to arrive ($12). It was a good meal. Subtotal: $65.50, less $19.65. The tax was $3.85 and the total after discount was $49.70 plus tip.
            We went again in April because they were offering 25% discount on the total bill. This is our second visit to that restaurant and it was good. We shared everything and ordered 1 baked cannelloni with spinach ($20.50) and one Ahi Tuna ($28.50). With that we bought a bottle of Pinot Noir ($32). We took home half of the cannelloni and half of the wine. Our server, Jose, was pleasant and the meal was nice. There were enough people to create a nice buzz. The total before the discount was $81. The discount was $20.26, the tax was $5.11 and so the total after the discount was $65.85 plus tip.

1.11.     R: Lord Gore Restaurant, Manor Vail Lodge, 595 E. Vail Valley Dr., Golden Peak, CO 81657, tel. 970-343-6188, www.lordgorevail.com. We went because they were offering a 50% discount on all food and 25% off selected wines. It’s a room with a very high-ceiling and floor to ceiling windows looking out on Golden Peak. There’s a big stone fireplace with a gas fire and some nice art on the walls. The place was packed! Our server was Gavin and he was good and helpful (although his voice is too loud for us—we could hear him from across the room). We shared everything as usual. We started with the “Brule Berkshire Pork Belly, Green Lentil Ragoût” for $12 and it was very good. The dish would have been better if there had been more lentils. There were other starters that also looked interesting too: the crab cake, the Ahi tuna Tamaki, the scallops and the sweetbreads. It’s unusual that there are so many starters that we might have ordered. For our main we shared the “Elk New York, Seared Tournedos of Elk, Sticky Rice, Young Bok Choy, Blackberry-Teriyaki Sauce” in the large plate portion for $38 (the small plate portion was $27). It was good and tender although again the accompaniments were meager. The 2 carrots and tiny bok choy looked lost on the plate. There were two small portions of sticky rice that were sufficient for us. With our main we had 2 glasses of Diseno Malbec at $9 each (there was no reasonably priced red wine on the discounted wine list). For dessert we had the “Warm White Chocolate Bread Pudding, whiskey crème anglaise” for $8. It wasn’t a big hit because it was too goopy. The Executive Chef Richard Bailey does a good job. Dave Osbourne, the Outlets Manager came to our table and chatted which was nice—we like that. It was a good meal, not a great one. The total was $50.95 plus tip. (Without the discount the total would have been $82.38.)

1.12.     R: Russell's, Bridge Street's Cozy Little Steakhouse, 228 Bridge St., Vail, CO 81657, tel. 970-476-6700, web: www.russellsvailcom. We went because Russell’s was offering a 50% discount on all entrées. It looks like a steakhouse—lots of dark wood. We had a good server named Kate and the meal was good too.  First we were brought bread and whipped butter. We shared one fish entrée which came with rice pilaf with a tarragon cream sauce and vegetables. The kitchen split the meal even though we had said we would do that at the table. The vegetables were zucchini and yellow squash and it was a big portion. The portion of grouper was good-sized too and we asked for it blackened. It was a good preparation. We also ordered a side of mushrooms. They were white mushrooms sautéed in a tasty and slightly spicy brown sauce of black pepper and sherry. We each had a glass of wine, one Postales Malbec $8 and one Graf Riesling $8. Both were good too. The total bill was $61 less $19.50 plus tax of $3.50 equaled $45.

1.13.     R: Bistro 14, Eagle Bahn, Vail Mountain Five of us enjoyed sharing the mussels and the Ahi tuna for starters. ALE had the ½ rack of hoisen bbq ribs ($18), another had the chicken pot pie, another had the French dip sandwich, another the crab cakes and another the mussels for her main. Everyone was happy. It’s an experience and we would recommend it.

1.14.        R: with caveat: Yama, 168 E. Gore Creek Dr., Vail, CO 81657, tel. 970-476-7332, web: http://www.yamasushivail.com/. We went for dinner because Yama was offering a 30% discount off of all food and we had enjoyed the lunch that we had there. The food was good and tasty but the atmosphere was not for us. It’s a small space and there was rock music that we didn’t like, the bar was too prominent and we were twice as old as any of the other customers. We started with the “Tempura fried rock shrimp drizzled with a yuzu avocado coulis and red ginger” ($16) which we shared. For our main we shared the “Grilled Japanese spiced Ahi Tuna loin with steamed rice, glazed baby bok choy and a kim chee butter sauce” ($26). We had one  sake Gekkeikan ($9) and it was enough for the 2 of us. The total after the discount was $49.32 plus tip.

1.15.        R for lunch, with caveat: Nozawa Sushi, 2211 N Frontage Rd W, Vail, CO 81657 $970-476-9355. We have been to Nozawa before for lunch and thought that the bento box at $7.95 was very good. The problem for us with this restaurant is that the space is drab and should be totally renovated. It just isn’t pleasant. This time we shared the bento box with Pad Thai pork. There was a huge amount of food, starting with a miso soup, the box came with vegetable tempura, 3 pieces of sushi (made with avocado, crab and cucumber), rice, the Pad Thai and I think that was all. We had enough to take home for another lunch! Jennifer, our server was efficient and the sushi chef was friendly.

1.16.        NR: Up the Creek, 223 Gore Creek Dr. Suite 103, Vail, CO 81657, tel. 970-476-8141, web:http://vailupthecreek.com. We’ve been to Up the Creek three times. In our 2008-09 Vail Valley, CO Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM we put it in the Very Good Category.  In our 2009-10 Vail Valley Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM we Highly Recommended it. This visit was a disappointment and we would no longer recommend you go to Up the Creek. We went because the restaurant was offering a $35 three-course dinner. We got special permission to only order one and to have an extra plate. The location of the restaurant beside the raging Gore Creek is very nice. The tables are highly lacquered which is a good look when there are no tablecloths. The restaurant got crowded and had a large “to go” order as well. The kitchen was excruciatingly slow and the server was harried—over her head—although one of the owners was helping her. Even without all of the server’s rushing around, we would not have liked Tricia. She was overly gushy and phony. For our starter we ordered the “Maine Diver Scallops, Pan Seared, Cauliflower Puree, Sweet Corn Medley, Citrus Zest”. This dish is usually $16 and usually comes with 3 scallops. The offering for the 3-course menu included one scallop. It was good but looked silly. For our main, we ordered the “Duck Two Ways, Pan Seared Breast, Confit, Herb Roasted Potatoes, Broccolini, Morel Mushroom Sauce”. This dish is usually $34 and we don’t know how much duck usually is served. On our plate was one, small piece of duck breast, a couple of flakes of confit and the accompaniments. The duck breast was nicely cooked (the flakes of confit were too small to have any taste) and the dish was good, particularly the morel mushroom sauce. It was enough for us but again it looked silly on the plate because it was so skimpy. We didn’t order any wine because there was no glass of wine under $10. There was no bottle of wine under $40. For dessert we ordered the “Pecan Tart, Cinnamon Gelato, Whipped Cream, Caramel” which is usually $10. It tasted like a medium-grade store bought pecan pie and as did the cinnamon gelato. We think that the restaurant is over-priced and pretentious for what it is. Fortunately we didn’t spend much for this meal: $37.94 plus tip.

1.17.        NR: Cucina Rustica, Lodge at Vail, Gore Creek Dr., Vail, CO, tel. 970-754-7809. We think that the restaurant has lost its way. The menu says it is “Spanish Alpine Inspired Cuisine” which surprised us—we thought it was rustic Italian. Oh well. The room is nice although the chairs could be more comfortable if they had backs. Brett was our server and very good. We went because of the $35 three-course dinner (which they said we could share one of) and because the last time we went we enjoyed the meal. For our starter we shared the “Wood Roasted Mussels, Faro Risotto, wine, parsley, garlic, shallots, aioli and chicharonnes” ($16 regular price). The mussels were good (2 different kinds) and the faro risotto was excellent. There were no chicharonnes and we didn’t taste any aioli. For our main we ordered the “Churrasco Suckling Pig Asado, Caraway & Winter Pears, Porcini Risotto” ($23 regular price). The order was huge, suckling pig tasted like ham, the pear was dry and the porcini mushrooms didn’t have much taste. It was disappointing. For dessert we shared the Churros “Doughnuts with red grapes and amaretto crema ($9 regular price). With our meal we ordered a bottle of Weinert Malbec (Mendoza) ’04 for $45 which was good and better value than two glasses of Carmenere for a total of $22 (which was the cheapest red on the menu and too expensive for what it is). The meal was overall not as good as it should have been. (Food $33, wine $45, tax $6.55, total $84.55 plus tip.)

1.18.        NR: Kelly Liken, 12 Vail Road, Suite 100, Vail, CO 81657, tel. 970-479-0175, www.kellyliken.com. We decided to go in 2011 because they were having a three-course meal for $45, after not eating there during our second season in Vail because the restaurant didn’t offer an. After much (too much) discussion with Oliver, we were allowed to order only one three-course meal and have an empty plate put in front of ALE so that I could take some. We remembered our meal in November, 2008 as having been delightful and Kelly Liken being one of our favorite restaurants in Vail. Well, two and one-half years and Iron Chef and Top Chef Competitions later, it was a disappointing meal. The room was noisy, with the music too loud and the kitchen too loud. Our service by Kevin was not to our liking and the food was only good, not great. We were each brought an amuse bouche of a cauliflower soup even though we only ordered one three-course meal. The soup was good but it was tepid. We were served very good (Avon Bakery) bread and butter. For our appetizer we ordered the “Crispy Veal Sweetbreads, with honey-sage laced turnips, pickled cabbage and carrots with a veal demi”. The sweetbreads were breaded and that is not how we like them. The cubed turnips were good but the dish was not flavorful or interesting.  For our main, we ordered the “Braised Veal Cheeks, crisp pork belly and fennel studded lentils, herb infused fennel confit, whole grain mustard demi”. Again the dish lacked distinctive tastes and was uninteresting. The portions were small compared to the other restaurants in Vail but there was enough food for the two of us. With the main, we had one glass of ’08 Covidae Wine Co. ‘Rook” Syrah Blend for $14 (less 50%). For our dessert, we ordered the “Vanilla Orange Cheesecake, glossy port glazed figs, vanilla pear puree, caramelized white chocolate shards, crisp hazelnut tuile.” It was good but the whole experience was tinged with a feeling that Kelly Liken is greedy and we wondered why we thought it was such a great restaurant the first time we went. We were served mignardise with the check.

1.19.        NR: Centre V Arabelle, Lionshead, tel. 970-754-770.The room is nice and we had a good server named Caitin. Our table with its center pedestal was uncomfortable for our legs. There is an amuse bouche of cheese puffs with a chipotle sauce. We think that amuse bouche are fun but this one lacked taste and so was a waste of the calories. The kinds of bread that were served were good. It. The bread came with a dish of kalamata olives, olive oil and truffle butter. We went because of the special Thursday 3-course dinner for $33. There was no problem with us ordering only one dinner and sharing it at the table. The menu included a “Trio of Pierogies:”  Potato-Brie, Sauerkraut and beef with a spicy Portobello-marinara. The pierogies were good but the different tastes difficult to differentiate. For our main there was a choice of beef or salmon. We chose the “Basil Roasted Organic Salmon, Rock Shrimp, grilled radicchio, tomato confit”. We ordered the salmon rare; it didn’t come out rare but it was moist enough. It came with rock shrimp, grilled radicchio, a sautéed mixed vegetable accompaniment of zucchini, tomato, olives, Brussels sprouts and pepper. We each had a glass of Terazzas Malbec ($9 x2). The salmon was good but too much for us to finish. We asked for the rest to be packed up for us but they forgot. The restaurant gave us a discount of 15% on the entire meal as a result. For dessert we were served Traditional Profiteroles with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. Instead of the chocolate sauce we asked for honey and that was okay with the restaurant. DM thought that they were good; ALE didn’t. The meal was $46.99 (after the 15% discount). The meal was okay but not worth repeating.

1.20.        NR: The Left Bank, 183 Gore Creek Dr., (at the Stizmark Lodge) Vail, CO 81657, tel. 970-476-3696, web: www.leftbankvail.com. We went for the special “3 for $33;” it was our first time at the Left Bank. Kimberly Chelain, the chef’s wife, was welcoming. The room is large and overlooks Gore Creek (from the left bank). The décor is tired, with old-fashioned black and white gingham valances. We sat by the window and had Tricia, an enthusiastic young new-comer to Vail for our server. The “3 for $33” is a starter, a salad and a main—not exactly the 3 courses (starter, main and dessert) we had assumed. But okay, we were there to try the food. For our starter we chose the country pâté which was “en croûte.” It was good but small and we wondered whether the chef, Jean-Michel Chelain, was from Lyon. The salad came next and was insipid. For our main we chose the pasta with shrimp in a garlic butter sauce. The pasta was a dollop of angel hair pasta (not our favorite) with 3 medium-sized shrimp on top. There were 3 dots of squash purée on the plate as well. There was enough food for us but the plate looked skimpy. Our main was good but not good enough to warrant a return visit. With our meal we had two glasses of Rutherford Merlot ($8 x 2) at the same price we had paid for a ½ bottle of Rutherford Merlot at Juniper the night before. We decided not to have any of the desserts. Our food total was $49 and with tax the bill was $53.37 plus tip.

1.21.        NR: Market at Vail Cascade, We spent $8 for a cubed vegetable salad with no particular taste.

1.22. NR but read why: Blu's, 193 E. Gore Creek Dr., Vail, CO 81657, tel. 970-476-3113, web: http://www.blusrestaurant.com/, $42.28 plus tip (but see below). May 2011was the first time we’ve been to Blu’s and we went to try their 3-course meal for $25. There is a great view of the Gore Creek and we saw the kayakers practicing for the Teva Games. The space is pleasant in a down-market kind of way. The chairs and benches are wooden and thus hard and uncomfortable on the butt. Our server, Lauren, was nice and attentive. We were told we could order any soup or salad, any entrée except the whole rack of ribs, and any dessert for $25. We shared everything as usual, with one empty plate being put in front of Audre. We chose the spinach and pear salad to start. The “Spinach and Pear salad, with walnuts, sliced pears, strawberries and gorgonzola cheese tossed in balsamic vinaigrette” (regularly $9.50). The spinach was nice and fresh as were the pears. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough dressing or it wasn’t tasty enough so it seemed like the salad was un-dressed. For our main we chose the “Grilled Beef Tenderloin, topped with blue cheese and caramelized onions; served with mashed potatoes, Colorado green beans and huckleberries” (regularly $22.50). It was cooked as we had asked—rare and it was very good. With the tenderloin we had two glasses of the night’s special of shiraz ($7 x2) which were huge and went nicely with the meat. For dessert we had the cheesecake and it was good too.

While it was probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience, we were glad we tried it until we got our American Express bill. Our total had been increased by $4 in the tip portion. We were astounded because that has never happened to us before. We called and spoke to the manager who never apologized and who said that kind of thing happens a lot. Blu's did give us a refund on our American Express card for the over-charge.

2.    Avon

2.1.        HR: Splendido at the Chateau, 17 Chateau Lane (off of Scott Hill Rd.), Beaver Creek (PO Box 2498, Avon, CO 81620, Tel. 970-845-8808, web: http://www.splendidobeavercreek.com/. We had another lovely meal at Splendido but not as perfect as the one in April 2009. At first, we were seated at a banquette near a big, loud group at the front of the restaurant. The banquette was too low for the table (and ALE is too short). The hostess had a loud voice as did our first server. We changed tables and were seated at a table with comfortable chairs (that were the correct height for the table) in front of the open kitchen windows. We were much happier. Our second server, Josh, was good. We went because they were offering a three-course menu for $42 which they said we could share. Because we had the plates brought to the table and we split the dishes ourselves, we were not charged a splitting fee. The three kinds of bread that we were brought were very good—particularly the parmesan crisps. We were each brought an amuse bouche of edamame purée on crackers. We started with a Hawaiian tuna poke, with tuna sashimi cubes, in a soy, macadamia and seaweed sauce. It was a big portion and very tasty. For our main, we ordered the “Long Island Duck Breast-Just Smoked, whole wheat couscous tabouli style and grilled asparagus”. The portion was very large, the duck was tender and tasty, and the couscous very good. The asparagus were brought in a separate dish, straight from the oven and were thick and surprisingly tender. They had a thin layer of cheese on them and were very good. Usually DM doesn’t like smoked meat but he liked the duck! We ordered one glass of Newton Claret, which at $10 a glass was very good. For dessert we ordered the “Guitard Chocolate Terrine with crème anglaise and dark chocolate ice cream”. Man, was that good! Ordinarily DM doesn’t order anything chocolate but the other desserts on the menu didn’t interest him. He actually liked this dessert. David Walford, the Executive Chef stopped by to chat and to thank us for coming. We really, really liked that. We were brought mignardises and we actually couldn’t finish them! It was an enjoyable meal! The total cost was $52 plus $4.19 tax and $1 liquor tax.

2.2.        HR: Grouse Mountain Grill, Pines Lodge at Beaver Creek, 141 Scott Hill Road, Avon, CO, Tel. 970-949-0600, e-mail restaurant manager, Tony McNally, at: tony@grousemountaingrill.com, web: www.grousemountaingrill.com. The restaurant describes itself as "Mountain fine dining—regionally influenced, seasonally focused.' We went because they were having a 3 course dinner special for $33 from their spring menu. When we made the reservation we pre-cleared that we were having only one menu and an extra plate. That was fine. The room is large and has windows overlooking the Beaver Creek snow-covered slopes. The last time we went to Grouse Mountain Grill in 2009 we had a delicious meal and our second visit was delicious too. Our server was good. While we were waiting for our starter we were brought homemade rye and potato sourdough bread with a plate of three accompaniments: olive oil, butter and a marmalade spread which we enjoyed. We started with the daily soup which was a cream of butternut squash soup with Thai spices, coconut cream and black sesame seeds. It was very good and came out hot. We ordered two glasses of a Masi Malbec that were also good ($9 each). For our main we had the “Tomato Braised Colorado Lamb Shank—creamy thyme polenta, parsley, lemon and black olive salad.”  It was a huge and excellent dish; the lamb was great. For dessert we ordered an apple bread pudding with caramelized apples, 7 bean vanilla ice cream and a bourbon caramel sauce. It was also huge order and very good. The meal was lovely. The subtotal was $56.09, to which was added a BC assessment of $2.73 and tax of $2.36. We added a tip for our server.

2.3.        HR: Vin 48, 48 E Beaver Creek Blvd., Suite 101, Avon, CO 81620, tel. 970-748-9463, www.vin48.com. We were sorry it took us 3 seasons in the Vail Valley to try this restaurant. We had a very good meal at Vin 48. We went because all large plates were $18 (with the purchase of a small plate) and because people had told us that it is good. We sat in front of the windows with a view of Beaver Creek mountains. We liked our server, Patrick, and we liked the food. As usual we shared everything. Bread came with 3 very good sauces: a red pepper, a honey butter and a tarragon oil. For our small plate we ordered the “sautéed sea scallops, red onion purée, crispy onions, chive butter” ($14). The scallops were sweet and the red onion purée was delicious. The onions were good but not crispy. For our main we ordered the “Colorado lamb t-bones, cheese ravioli, mint pesto, baby carrots, lamb jus” (regularly $33). The lamb t-bones (2 of them) were tasty, tender and enough for 2 people. The accompaniments were very good too. With the main course, we had one glass of La Posta Malbec for $9. We didn’t have any dessert. The total was $44.45 with tax. We would recommend this restaurant.

2.4.        HR for lunch: Avon Bakery & Deli, 0025 Hurd Lane #4, Avon, Co 81620, tel. 970-949-3354, web: www.avonbakeryanddeli.com. We probably go to the Avon Bakery once a week for lunch (usually on 2-for-1 Tuesdays). While some things are better than others, we generally have enough for lunch by sharing one large soup, or one salad or one sandwich (with enough extra sandwich to take home for another lunch). We spend about $10 and are happy. After the ski season, they had luncheon sandwich specials for $5.99 instead of $8-something.

2.5.        R for lunch: Ticino, 100 W Beaver Creek Blvd, Avon, CO 81620, tel. 970-748-6792. We spent $9.60 for the pasta of the day (with carrot cake cupcake for dessert). It was good and plentiful. The space is pleasant enough.

2.6.      NR: Blue Plate Bistro, 47 E. Beaver Creek Blvd., Avon, CO 81620, tel. 970-845-2252. We went because of the “Whole Rotisserie Roasted Lamb” and we decided to take it home rather than staying. The atmosphere wasn’t bad but it didn’t appeal to stay—the meal would have cost more than it was worth had we stayed and had wine and dessert. The Lamb special plate was $26 and included rice pilaf, vegetables and a garlic sauce. The lamb was on the bone and was plenty for the 2 of us. It was good but a little dry. This was a once in a lifetime experience.

2.7. A:  Panda City, 222 Beaver Creek Place (next to Office Depot in Chapel Square, Avon, CO 81620, tel. 970-949-5188. We spent $27 for takeaway and it was uniformly awful. We ordered Szechuan Chicken $10.95, Szechuan Bean Curd $8.50, and Hot & Sour Soup $6.50.

3.    Edwards

3.1       HR: Juniper, 97 Main St., #E101, Edwards, CO 81632, tel. 970-926-7001, Douglas Abel owner: e-mail: doug@juniperrestaurant.com). A 20% discount on the entire meal was being offered. We sat across from the bar which we don’t want to do again. Angie was our server. She’s a veteran and she’s good. Douglas Abel, the owner, was there and came to talk to us (which we like). Chef Todd Bullis wasn’t there. We shared everything as usual and started with 1 Grilled Calamari Stuffed with House Made Sausage, Puttanesca Sauce and Grana Padano ($13). It was excellent and the Puttanesca sauce was original and added to the special quality of the dish. For our main we shared the Chilean Sea Bass with Crispy Pancetta, Sautéed Julienne Squash, Mint Pea Purée and Vanilla Beurre Fondue ($36). The piece of sea bass was large, thick, perfectly cooked and delicious. There was lots of pea purée and squash and the beurre was lovely. We each had a glass of Dry Creek (CA) Sauvignon Blanc ($8) that was very good. For dessert we shared a Warm Brandy Braised Apple with Thyme Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce ($10).
The delectable dessert at Juniper

The thyme ice cream was very good as was the apple. The caramel sauce was more like a hard candy shell and we didn’t eat it. It was a delightful meal and cost $62.96 plus tip.
            We went again in April because of the 50% discount being offered on all entrées. We had an enjoyable meal in spite of the noise and the hard chair seats. We liked our server, Gavin, but didn’t like the woman who was hostessing (she had some kind of attitude) or the man helping her (he wasn’t friendly). We asked to be seated at the front of the restaurant because we don’t like the high tables and chairs at the back. We had our “regular” table right behind the hostess’ desk and near the bar. It was crowded on a Sunday night at the end of the season. Neither Chef Todd Bullis nor Douglas Abel was there that night but the food and service were very good. We shared everything and started with a “side” of Lobster Raviolis ($10) that were 3 large raviolis stuffed with delicious and sweet lobster. For our main we had a “Colorado Rack of Lamb with Brown Butter Gnocchi, Mint Verde, Grilled Eggplant and Goat Cheese Yogurt” ($38). It was a very large portion; the meat was cooked perfectly and was tasty (we had asked for it rare). The gnocchi and brown butter were yummy, the mint was very good and the eggplant had a delicious char-broiled taste. With the lamb we had one glass of Birillo ($10) that was good. For dessert we shared the crunchy cannoli ($10) that was also a large portion and was good. The subtotal was $68, less $19 for the discount, plus tax $2.17 and Riverwalk tax $.25; the total was $51.42 plus tip.

3.2.        HR: Vista at Arrowhead, 676 Sawatch Drive, Edwards, CO 81632, tel. 970-926-2111, web: www.vista-arrowhead.com. We had another wonderful meal. The dining room had been moved to the room with a fireplace. It has quite a different feel—a sort of club atmosphere with the large, leather arm chairs at the tables. Our server, Rachel, was good, friendly and professional. There were two large parties at the bar while we were there. It was very noisy, particularly with the rock music. Fortunately, when asked, the sound on the music was reduced. We went because of the 30% discount offered on all food items. We were brought bread and an olive and white bean dip that was very good. We shared everything as usual and ordered a starter of “Braised Pork Belly, with warm dried figs, caramelized cippolini onions and fontina grits” ($12). The taste was delicious and the combination original and exciting. We don’t often see pork belly on a menu and we had it because we like it, and also because Tony Bourdain raves about it on his shows. For our main we shared the “Vista Braised Colorado Lamb Shank, with cannellini bean and olive puree, roasted broccoli and citrus gremolata” ($28). It was a huge portion and very good (maybe too salty for our tastes). DM thought that the cannellini bean and olive puree was a bit too heavy. With our meal we each had a glass of Malbec ($7 x2) that was excellent with our meal choices. For dessert DM had the Sorbet Trio ($6.50) and liked the raspberry, mango and grapefruit champagne sorbets. The big groups eventually quieted down and we enjoyed our meal. We spent $48.60 plus tip.
We went again in May when Vista re-opened because Vista was offering 30% discount on all food. We had a delightful evening. We sat near the window and had a lovely view of the creek. Kevin was our server at first and then Sean took over. He isn’t a professional server but has an engaging personality. We had a lot of attention from Darryl who is a manager and usually works at the bar. The new menu included an intriguing appetizer called “Beignets with Italian Ham in a mustard seed cream sauce” ($9). The little balls were good (like round hush puppies) but too salty. The sauce was very good. When asked how the beignets were we told Darryl they were too salty. He went back to the kitchen and came back agreeing with us. As it turned out, Vista didn’t charge us for them. For our main we had the “Potato Crusted Alaska Halibut, exotic mushrooms, asparagus, citrus butter sauce” ($32). The mushrooms included trumpeters and white beech and they were delicious. The sauce and the asparagus were very good too. The halibut should have been cooked a little less, particularly since we asked for it medium rare but it was good nonetheless. With the main we had one glass of Riesling ($8) and one glass of Sauvignon Blanc ($7.25) both of which were good and reasonably priced. For dessert we chose the donut holes with chocolate ($6.50) which were delicious. The regular price of the meal would have been $62.75 but with the discount and the comp the total was $44.06 plus tip.

3.3.        R: Zino Ristorante, 27 Main St., #C101 Riverwalk, Edwards, CO 81632, tel. 970-926-0777, http://www.zinoristorante.com. The owner of Zino also owns Sweet Basil.  We went because they were having “Mussel Madness is Back! $6 Mussels Every Tuesday Night”.  It was our first time there and the mussels were recommended. Tom was our server and he was good. We sat downstairs in the restaurant area. The upstairs, bar area, looked uncomfortable. The chairs were wood and were thus hard. The space is large, with a long open kitchen and “double and ½” ceilings and old-fashioned tiled floors. The high ceiling and the massive amount of windows would make the space light and bright during the day. At night it seems like a large, cold space. The room itself was not cold; with the restaurant filling up and the kitchen working hard, it got quite hot in fact. We started with the “Cozze: Skillet roasted mussels, lemon butter fondue” (regular price $12). They were tender and tasty; the preparation was innovative and good (although there was a little too much sea salt for us). For our main we shared the “Linguini—scallops, lobster, shrimp and tomatoes in a spicy saffron arrabbiata sauce” ($28). It was good although the linguine was too thin for our taste and the dish was on the too spicy side of good. We had one glass of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo” and it was good ($9). There wasn’t anything on the menu that we wanted for dessert so we didn’t order any. The total was $45.12 with $1.90 tax and $.22 Riverwalk tax.

3.4.        R: Asian Spice Bistro, 69 Edwards Access Rd.,, Unit #6 (Edwards Plaza), Edwards, CO 81632, tel. 970-926-6628. The service is very good and so is the food. There were 4 of us and we shared everything. We had Crispy Bangkok Duck ($20) that was excellent. One Fried Rice that was good. One Coconut Shrimp that was very good and one Moo Shu Pork that was also very good. We had 3 glasses of $5 Zinfandel and 1 tea. For each couple it cost $45 and everyone was happy. And we had leftovers to take home.

3.5.        R: Main Street Grill, 97 Main St., Suite W101 Riverwalk, Edwards, CO 81632, tel. 970-926-2729, http://www.mainstgrill.org/index.html. In the front it’s a bar, in the back there are tables and a window overlooking the Eagle River. We shared everything and started with the Chilean Mussels sautéed in a savory, sherry cream sauce. The sauce was excellent and there was plenty of it. The mussels were small and a little chewy. Overall the dish was very good, however. They were usually $10 but on Monday night they were $7.  For our main we shared the Creole Jambalaya (chicken, andouille sausage and veggies, slow cooked with rice and Creole Sauce) which was regularly $16 but on Monday night all entrées were $12. The ingredients were overcooked as was the rice. The Creole sauce was not tasty. It was not a very good dish. With the main we had one St. Michelle Riesling for $6. The regular price of the meal was $37, less $5, plus tax $1.83, plus the automatic 18% tip, totaled $40.50. Tuesdays are two-for-one night so we might return but it isn’t good enough to return to pay full price.

3.6.        R for lunch: The Gashouse, 34185 US Hwy. 6, Edwards, CO 86632, tel. 970-926-3613. We’ve never been there for dinner so we don’t know how it is. Each lunch has been good but actually too much food. There was a 20% end-of-season discount in May and an 18% gratuity automatically added. We had the Maryland crab cakes with French fries. They were good but had too much bread in them. They were $14.95, less 2.99 plus tax .53 plus gratuity $2.69 = $15.20.

3.7.        R: The French Press, 34295 Hwy. 6, Riverwalk C-1-B, Edwards, CO 81632, tel. 970-926-4740. In past seasons we’ve had good dinners at the French Press. This year we tried lunch and it was very good indeed. We had the soup of the day which was a veal stew. It had the correct amount of spiciness and it was thick and a large portion. We asked for bread and slices of a very good baguette arrived. At $5 the price was right too.

3.8.        R for lunch: Bookworm of Edwards, 295 Main St., Edwards, CO 81632,  tel. 970-926-7323. We’ve been to the café at the Bookworm a few times for lunch. Each time we’ve had the luncheon special or the soup or the crepe & salad. We’ve enjoyed it each time and spent around $10.

3.9.        R for lunch: eat! drink!, 56 Edwards Village Blvd., Edwards, CO 81632, tel. 970-926-1393, web: www.eatdrinkinc.com. After vowing not to ever return to dish (see the review below) we decided to try the spring lunch special at eat! drink!  of a Panini and soup for $9 (regularly $12). Pollyanna Foster is the owner of eat! drink! And also dish! We have been to dish! twice—the first time we were under-whelmed and the second time we walked out because it was too noisy and we had waited 5 minutes without having the server appear at our table. We chose the Emilia which contained la quercia proscuitto, buffalo mozzarella, roasted tomato, pesto & truffle oil. The soup was a cheesy onion soup that was large, tasty but too salty for us. The Panini was very good and we had half to take home. It was an enjoyable lunch.

3.10.        NR: 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill, Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, 50 W. Thomas Place, Avon, CO 81620, tel. 970-827-6600, web: www.8100barandgrill.com. We had never been to this restaurant before and we wanted to try it. They were having a special $20 “’dish-n-drink’ (choose an entrée and drink combination for dinner)”. It wasn’t crowded but our server, Ryan, seemed overwhelmed by the 4 tables. The barman/host, Greg, helped out and was very personable. We ordered one appetizer from the menu and the special and we shared everything. We were brought bread and butter and were not impressed with the bread. At first we were brought all of our food at one time and Ryan, our server, apologized. We then started with our the starter that we had chosen-- the “Shrimp & Chorizo, Sweet Pink Prawns with garlic & cilantro” for $11. The prawns were sweet but the sauce was too salty and the chorizo was too dry. For our main we ordered the “Braised Short Rib, Cabernet Barbecue Glazed with Fries”. It was a very large portion; the fries were great the short ribs were too salty. For the “drink” portion of the special we ordered one glass of Murphy-Goode, Cabernet Sauvignon, CA (regularly $9). It was good. This was a “once in a lifetime” kind of place for us. We’re glad it wasn’t more expensive than $34.10 plus tip.

3.11.        NR: Dish, 56 Edwards Village Blvd., Edwards, CO 81632, tel. 970-926-1393, web: www.eatdrinkinc.com. We were under-whelmed with our first experience at dish in 2009 but we decided to try it again because they were having a special in the spring of 2011. We were seated in the bar area because there was a big party being seated in the back. Unfortunately the big party was still at the bar and it was very noisy. We were going to try the special $25 6-course tasting menu (chef’s choice) but no one came to take our order for a long time (it seemed). It was too noisy and unpleasant to stay so we left. It is unlikely that we will ever go back again.

3.12.        A: Henry's Chinese Cafe, 175 S. Main St., #C101, Edwards, CO 81682, tel. 970-926-3050  We spent $7.30 for the lunch special of Sesame Tofu that came with hot and sour soup and rice. It was uninspired and the server was snotty.

4.    Minturn

4.1.        R: The Saloon, 146 N. Main St., Minturn, CO 81645,  tel. 970-827-5954 The first time we went we were impressed but after each subsequent visit we were less enchanted. The quail is good but the atmosphere isn’t. We shared one order of Quail enchilada ($18.95) that comes with 2 quail and one sorry enchilada. The sopapillas for dessert were very good ($4.75). Our total with wine was $31.

4.2.        R: Minturn Country Club, 99 Main Street, Minturn, CO Tel. 970-827-4114  $20.83 plus tip. We went because of the legendary $2.99 8-oz steak special. We shared everything and had: Steak $2.99, Salad $2.50, Steak fries $3.75, Onion rings $3.99, Asparagus $5.95. DM did the cooking and did great. As usual it was fun.

4.3.        NR: Nicky's Quickie, 151 Main St., Minturn 81645, tel. 970-376-7387. The space isn’t too interesting or comfortable. The presentation of our falafel sandwich was weird and very difficult to eat. The portion was small and was only okay. We have subsequently bought dolmades there (from a jar) and they were okay.

5.    Eagle

5.1.        R: Paradigms, 343 Capitol St., Eagle, CO 81631, phone: 970-328-7990, www.paradigmsrestaurant.com .  We had a lovely lunch one weekday for the reasonable price of $11. We shared the chicken salad and truffle fries (there was enough leftover to take home for another day).The room is light even on a gray day and elegant.  There were a number of other diners so it had a nice buzz too. The service was very good and the food delicious.

5.2.         R for lunch: Gourmet China, 212 E. Chamber Ave., Eagle, CO 81631, tel. 970-328-0866.  We had one lunch special of Kung Poa Shrimp and it wasn’t bad. It came with rice, a salad and an egg roll. We spent $8.20 plus tip and had enough for another lunch to take home.

6.    Gypsum

6.1.  R: Gypsum Creek Grill, Gypsum Creek Golf Course, 530 Cotton Ranch Dr., Gypsum, CO 81637, tel. 970-524-6200, ext. 5. We had a lovely meal there. Rhonda Bell and our server, Matt, gave great service. The space is very comfortable with a gas fireplace in the middle We started with Seafood Rangoons ($8) that were home made. For our main, we shared one salmon on a cedar plank, served with fresh, mixed vegetables and home cut French fries ($16). It was a large portion, tasty and good. We had one glass of cabernet sauvignon ($5) For dessert, we shared the bread pudding which we liked too ($5). We didn’t get to meet the chef, Steve “Juice” O’Sullivan because it was his night off but the food he had prepared was very good and everyone at our table was happy.

7.    Frisco

7.1.        R: Food Hedz World Cafe, 842 Summit Blvd., #19, Frisco, CO 80443, tel. 970-668-2000, web: http://www.foodhedz.com. We went for lunch and had “Traditional Red Curry & Rice Noodles $9.75 with sautéed snow peas, peppers, cabbage, baby corn, scallions, mango and toasted cashews” We had a choice of seared tofu, tempura shrimp or sweet chili chicken and we chose the tofu. The space is pleasant for a café atmosphere but it’s pretentious and the prices are too high for what it is. We don’t like having to go to a counter to order our fancy food. Our dish was good but not great and not enough of the Thai flavors to make it interesting. The wine by the glass prices are about $1 to $2 over what they should be.

7.2.        R: Himalayan Cuisine, 409 Main St., Frisco, CO tel. 970-668-3330. We go for the “all you can eat” lunch buffets and take away 2 lunches for about $15. It is a terrific deal and the food is good. They have plastic containers for the dal and the desserts. The rest goes into “Styrofoam boxes” and if we’re not careful the sauces of the food leak on each other. We have a couple of meals of credibly good Indian food.

8.    Glenwood Springs

8.1.     R: Rivers Restaurant, 2525 S. Grand Ave., Glenwood Springs, CO 81601, tel. 970-928-8813, www.theriversrestaurant.com. We went because the thread on Chow (www.chow.com) had posts with good things to say about Rivers and because the $19.95 early bird special looked good on their website. Having the early bird special start at 4 p.m. worked well for us because we planned a hike around Glenwood Springs that afternoon. When we arrived at around 5 p.m. people were sitting on the deck in the beautiful 79° weather. We opted to sit inside. The dining room is large with starched white tablecloths and napkins. It has 2 parts, one carpeted, the other with tile that looked like early 20th century country-restaurant-style tile. The restaurant is right on the Roaring Fork River and the view is great. We had the western sun shining on us, as well as the river view. The restaurant is air conditioned and comfortable (although a little cold when the sun was less strong). The ceiling is high and the wood painted white again evokes early 20th century county-house décor, particularly with all of the ceiling fans. There is also a large (noisy) bar near the entrance of the restaurant. Our server (I think his name is Linc) was knowledgeable and professional. We ordered one early bird special 3-course meal and one other entrée. For our starter we chose the salad which was good and was enough for the two of us. The bread and butter that arrived was fine. For our main we shared the “Prime Rib of beef, au jus and horseradish sauce, garlic mashed potatoes”. Even though it was slow cooked we asked for a rare piece and it arrived rare. There was also a sautéed mixed vegetable accompaniment and a beet in a creamy horseradish sauce. The beets were really good as was the prime rib and the horseradish sauce. For our other entrée we ordered the “Roasted Vegetable Lasagna (Gluten Free) with butternut squash, zucchini, eggplant, red peppers, Portobello mushrooms, garlic & basil infused olive oil, local cheese with roasted heirloom tomato sauce” ($14). It was huge and was also accompanied by sautéed mixed vegetables and the beets in a creamy horseradish sauce. It was very good and we ended up taking most of it home with us. With dinner we had 1 glass of Shiraz ($5.50). For dessert we had the carrot cake, iced with cream cheese. It was also very good. The meal, the service and the surroundings were very enjoyable. We spent $42.85 plus tip.

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