The tunes are cranking as we step inside to take our place at one of the round riveted leather booths to hunker down for the best view of any of the 14 televisions showcasing the game. The two pool tables are taken, maybe we’ll hold out for the Foosball table instead. The two little boys currently rocking the table look like they’re having a good time and might take awhile.
The oversized black and white historic photograph of what looks like mountain miners in overalls “cheersing” each other sets off the exposed stone walls quarried from Telluride highlighting the high-top tables made of 150-year-old hardwood sporting mason jar décor. The renovations turning the former Sandbar into the now stylishly comfortable Vail Ale House has paid off. The upgrades to the nitrogen cooler that houses their wide selection of Colorado beers and 20-plus taps have also paid off. In fact, that’s why we we’re here.
Should we start with a pint of Avery White Rascal, a Bonfire Tent Pole, or a Left Hand Milk Stout? Choices, choices. Being one of six alehouses in its restaurant family, but the only one based in Colorado, it’s easy to see the mountain influence and beer-friendly atmosphere that differentiates the Vail Ale House from their other five California restaurants. Fittingly, it has been touted as “West Coast cool meets Alpine chill.” Look closely and you’ll see hints all around of the mining roots Colorado’s known for reflected throughout the décor and menu.
As part of its tribute to its roots, the restaurant brought back its famous Mahi Mahi grilled or Baja-style fish tacos, one of its most popular items from days gone by. The cast iron skillet, full of a blend of creamy black beans and corn topped with goat cheese, is a nice addition to the satisfying entrée.
If fish is what you crave, definitely choose the blackened Scottish salmon in basil cream sauce, partnered with grit cakes and mixed greens. Or for lighter fare, try the summer salad, sporting generous portions of strawberries and blueberries topped with toasted almonds, cucumbers sprinkles of goat cheese and citrus vinaigrette. This goes nicely with a pint of Summer Shandy or chai-spiced Sah’tea Ale — highly recommended.
The pasta duo will have your taste buds choosing between half-portions of the basil cream option or the spicy marinara served with chicken. And, watch out, the spicy marinara is just that — spicy. Be prepared for a little kick.
Not quite ready to go, we made room for the mouthwatering bread pudding and vanilla ice cream, polished off just in time for our turn at the Foosball table.
Vail Ale House in West Vail… a fun way to spend some time soaking up the Rocky Mountains.