VAIL - After a long day on the mountain and countless runs, nobody wants to order a $30+ entree that delivers two or three bites before the plate is clean.
At Flame, located in the Four Seasons in Vail, the portions are for hungry skiers. The food is hearty and plentiful, and new menu items this winter are putting Chef Jason Harrison's vivacious passion for cooking into the spotlight.
The restaurant might be in one of Vail's most luxurious hotels, but there's no pretension. It's fine dining, sure, but it's also fun.
Take the apres ski burger bar, for example. It's something new this season in which up to 8 guests can make a reservation to dine in the kitchen, assembling their own gourmet burgers. Specialty cocktails and wine pairings are available, too.
A chef that is daring enough to put homemade elk sausage corn dogs on a Four Seasons restaurant menu is obviously a chef that has fun with food and also doesn't take himself too seriously.
That being said, Harrison's elk sausage takes three days to prepare. And that's just for an ingredient that's later fried and served with ketchup and mustard (house-made, of course).
The steakhouse classics like French onion soup, Kobe beef carpaccio and an iceberg wedge are staples, but something as simple as shrimp cocktail can pack a nice surprise. Harrison does it deconstructed - it looks completely different than a standard shrimp cocktail, yet the classic flavors of horseradish, tomato and citrus are all there.
Seafood selections are also vast and include Colorado trout, striped bass, Skuna Bay salmon, diver scallops and Maine lobster. The wild boar bacon-wrapped tiger prawns are massive and fresh, and the crabcake is refreshingly authentic.
The real highlight at Flame, however, is the meat.
Referred to as "The Pasture" on the menu, Harrison serves up chicken, pork, venison, lamb chops, veal chop and many glorious cuts of cow.
Every cut - Filet Mignon, rib-eye, New York strip, Kobe flat iron, Waygu rib-eye, the 36-ounce long bone Tomahawk or 42-ounce cowboy porterhouse - can be "rubbed down" and also sauced.
Rubs include a beer bath or the Maui Wowie, and sauces served on the side include traditional chimichurri, a Carolina BBQ truffle, black peppercorn or creamy yuzu for an Asian flare.
Ask to meet Harrison and for him to prepare a tasting menu - the experience will leave you smiling and full.
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.