In the culinary industry, change is inevitable, whether it’s the ebb and flow of business in a resort area, the rotation of produce as the seasons pass or the constant influx of new faces, both in the kitchen and in service roles. Atwater on Gore Creek in the Vail Cascade Resort has experienced all of these evolutions in its recent history, but a core staff has allowed the restaurant to thrive.
“With change comes opportunity,” says Chris Bates, executive sous chef. “We have a solid base of experienced professionals who are energetic and passionate.”
Compared with the rush of the Vail winter, summer brings the culinary team more time to play, allowing it to build a lot of seasonality into the menu, said Atwater chef Adam Smith. As a result, Atwater is constantly updating its offerings with things that will come and go, like fresh, cold soups.
“We can stay true to our seasonal nature, stay more locally sourced,”
A glance at the menu reveals a huge amount of variety, especially in the area of proteins. Choose from sandwiches featuring salmon, lamb, sirloin, buffalo or beets or the eye-popping turkey burger. Light and just right for summer, the burger is draped with a fresh, colorful array of alfalfa sprouts, lettuce, tomato and sweet red onion, accented with avocado spread and beer-mustard dijonaise and topped with bacon.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, all of Atwater’s menus allow the kitchen a lot of flexibility to be mindful of food allergies.
“Ninety percent of it is built to be gluten-free,” Smith says of the dinner menu. “The possibility is there. We pay attention to how people are eating. These aren’t trends, they’re lifestyles, and there’s such a wide variety of lifestyles that we try to keep in mind with every dish.”
This is evident in the large plate selections, which range from Scottish salmon to crispy pork shank to black bean cake. Try the free-range half chicken on a bed of bok choy, accented with pepperonata, Serrano chili and chimichuri sauce. The accompanying corn tamale adds texture and a bit of sweetness to bring together the other flavors in the dish. If red meat is your passion, don’t miss the Colorado Kobe 7X steak. This ultra-premium, all-natural Colorado beef is fork tender and arrives with beefsteak tomato, asparagus spears and bleu cheese fritters, little bits of fried bleu cheese that add a bit of crunch to the decadent plate.
Round out the evening with a dark, malty after-dinner beer from Atwater’s extensive draft and bottle list or tart cherry pie on house-made piecrust, a homespun, not-too-sweet comfort food, with or without pistachio ice cream. •