From a window seat at the Vail Chophouse, early June’s rising full moon is as magical as the twinkle lights falling in waves from the roof of the Eagle Bahn Gondola.
The wonder finds its way to our table while figures of hospitality and an actual magician make their smooth rounds, eventually settling upon us like the soft light that is still illuminating the Lionshead slopes. The summer beauty is in the simplicity, and the food follows suit.
“Our goal is to serve great steaks to everybody,” shares executive chef Benjamin LaPrade.
Try the turf, but don’t forget about the surf. The restaurant always has fresh seafood flown in, offering the cold seafood tower with a full spread of salt water fare that will feed up to four, and a seafood stack that’s made for two. Freshly shucked oysters stand beside a cluster of crab legs, lobster and mussels, along with an avocado and blue crab cocktail and succulent shrimp ceviche.
Point Reyes blue cheese crumbles dust the surface of the summer salad greens, dried apricots, red onions, spiced nuts and cucumber pieces — a nice starter alone or alongside more decadent appetizers of warm danish brie, slow roasted lamb short ribs or the elk jalepeno cheddar sausage plate.
While active days lead to full, well deserved appetites, LaPrade says the Chophouse patio is a also great place to stop before hitting the hill.
“Most people are going out to mountain bike or snowboard after lunch here, so they don’t want something big and heavy,” LaPrade explains. “We offer the grains and greens salad during the daytime, made with farrow, baby kale, apricots and oranges, which is another refreshing salad that’s full of protein but doesn’t over-fill you because it’s light.”
The pan seared Colorado bass entree is flaky and flavorful, served over a bed of quinoa, with sauteed kale lollipops and a heirloom tomato gastrique.
“We try to hit all different aspects, so that way instead of just meat and potatoes at your traditional steakhouse, we change the starches to other things so that people have the option to eat with health in mind,” shares LaPrade.
Just don’t miss out on the meat. Steak styles are plentiful, and a more curious choice will lead pork lovers to a robust rack of wild boar. The four bone-in pieces are dense and flavorful, held in a bed of savory bacon brussel sprouts.
If you have room for dessert, homemade key lime pie with a pour of Dolche from Far Niente tops off the evening sweetly, leaving a little magic in your mouth to linger from dinner into dreamland