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February 5, 2013
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Rocky Mountain comfort food in Avon

AVON - Change is good. At the Red Mountain Grill change is great.

Steve Kaufman and his crew have operated a Red Mountain Grill in Dillon for years. That one went so well that they decided to put one here. When the old Outback Steakhouse space opened in Avon, they jumped on it.

It's amazing what you can accomplish when you improve every single thing about a place. Kaufman and the crew created room for you and your friends. They changed the color scheme to brighten the room, and it worked beautifully. It's not so bright that it feels like they're trying to run you off, but they warmed the atmosphere noticeably.

You can gaze across the table at your own personal Reason for Living and tell her how cute she is. When she says you don't know what you're talking about, which is one of those things non-guy girl-type female persons say but don't mean, you can reach across the table, take her hand gently and say, "Oh yes I do. Steve and the crew brightened up the place and I can see you as clearly as the blue Colorado sky."

She'll set new indoor records for eye rolling, but she'll like it. You can thank Steve later.

But we were talking about the restaurant.

You can see the game. You can see your friends. You can see your Reason for Living. Other than that you don't need to see anything else except the menu, which is varied and right in everyone's wheelhouse.

It's Rocky Mountain comfort food with a southwest flair.

Executive Chef John Arpin says his target is "honest, affordable food that tastes good." He and manager Sean Roberts hit it.

"You can bring the family or come in for a game. There's something for everyone," Kaufman said. "If two or three families are traveling together, they often want a place they can all sit down together," Kaufman said.

The acoustics change, along with everything else, as you stroll through the place. When you're close to the bar it sounds like a bar - jovial, friendly, fun loving.

Ease into the dining area and things quiet down, even as the tables get bigger as families gather.

"It's casual dining in a social atmosphere," Kaufman said.

Family food for food lovers

They build every morsel from scratch, and you can tell. And because life can be uncertain, we'll go straight to dessert.

If you love our Reason for Living, and you do, you'll want to split a caramel apple cobbler. It's Colorado apples baked in a rich homemade dough with butterscotch chips, streusel topping, homemade caramel sauce and topped with vanilla ice cream.

Or maybe you won't want to split it. Maybe you'll want to show her how much you care by ordering one for her. That, and you won't have to split it.

Year in and year out their biggest sellers are the prime rib, trout, fish and chips and fish tacos.

Visitors love coming to the mountains and trying Colorado Rocky Mountain trout, Kaufman said. It's crusted with chopped pistachios and topped with red grapes, fresh basil and a nice lemon butter sauce.

You cannot go wrong with the "Chicken and Shrimp Vasquez." It's a pan-seared and lightly breaded fresh chicken breast, topped with wild caught Gulf jumbo shrimp, green onions and sweet and creamy chipotle sauce.

For a burger, Roberts suggested the Black and Blue burger, a char-broiled burger dredged in seasonings and topped with blue cheese. Did we mention they have 28 beers on tap? They do. Your servers know them all and which one goes with what. Trust them.

For starters try the ahi tuna stack. They dice the sushi grade tuna in house and mix it with a ginger salsa. They top it with a wasabi cream and sweet soy reduction and serve it on wonton crisps.

Lucky for you it comes in an even number of servings so you won't have to battle for the last one. On the other hand, do the chivalrous thing and let your Reason for Living have it. And if he does that, ladies, do not forget to swoon just a little. It's important not to over-swoon; you want just enough so he knows you appreciate it.

Or start with the Chili Rellenos Raviolis, crispy squares of pasta stuffed with roasted green chili and cheddar cheese and flash fried. Each one is topped with housemade chipotle sauce and slivers of fresh avocado.

Then there's the PEI mussels and shrimp appetizer. Tender seafood swims in a red curry and coconut broth. You are required to soak up the leftover sauce with the toasted fresh bread that comes with it. Show off a little and order a Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar with it.

Or better yet, ask your server for suggestions. It'll impress your Reason for Living almost as much as asking for directions.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Feb 5, 2013 05:55PM Published Feb 5, 2013 05:51PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.