Editor’s note: This story originally ran as a paid feature in EAT Magazine, featuring the best restaurants in the Vail Valley. EAT is available on magazine racks and in hotel lobbies for free.
In a resort area where there is always something new and shiny, an establishment that remains a locals’ favorite is truly special. Vista at Arrowhead, which has been charming guests since 2007, offers genuine warmth at every turn, from the gracious staff to the heart-warming cuisine, all enhanced with a soundtrack provided by the valley’s favorite piano man, Micky Poage.
Settle in for dinner and you’ll face the most difficult choice of the evening: what to order. Start with a handcrafted cocktail to prime your palate and jumpstart your stomach — the Litigator, Vista’s take on a Manhattan, is always a good choice. Then, gather your dining companions for a “divide and conquer” approach to ordering. By everyone choosing something different, there’s more opportunity to sample the menu.
Vista’s menu is seasonally inspired with a Colorado focus. Plates are beautifully composed, with individual elements working together in perfect harmony. A deceptively simple dish like mussels is intensified by the addition of ‘nduja, onions and confit tomatoes. The resulting dish will have you unapologetically cleaning out the last bit of garlicky white wine broth with the accompanying grilled cheese bread. Or try the fried cheese ravioli, served with marinara and artisan Italian sausage.
But the real brilliance of Vista shines with the entrées. Here, diners have a choice: choose a chef-composed entrée, thoughtfully composed and considered, or create your own. The winter “Chef’s Composed” menu includes soul-warming fare like homemade chicken pot pie, pan-seared jumbo scallops and a dry-aged, bone-in pork chop. For those looking for a life-changing experience, try the Colorado braised buffalo osso bucco with sauteed spinach, roasted winter vegetables, stilton blue and pan jus — just don’t be surprised if your eyes involuntarily roll back in your head in ecstasy.
But guests who prefer to call the shots will love the customer composed entrée. Pick a protein — the winter menu includes Colorado beef, lamb and buffalo, as well as fish and seafood — before pairing it with a homemade sauce like fresh horseradish cream, lemon picatta or soy ginger butter. Accessorize with sides and the resulting plate is a completely customized culinary adventure.
Vista has been employing this mix-and-match style for several years, allowing guests to employ their creativity (and address any dietary restrictions) while streamlining the magic in the kitchen. The brainchild of co-owner Daryl DeYoung and Executive Chef David Collins, the menu epitomizes DeYoung’s approach to the guest experience.
“We still wanted to have dishes that we’ve put together, but this gives guests the opportunity to choose exactly what they want,” DeYoung explains.
And while the chef-composed entrées are set for the season, DeYoung is looking forward to shaking up the options for customization.
“We like to offer different sauces and sides,” DeYoung says. “We like to look for ingredients to have as specialty items, to add to what we have on the menu.”
Even the dessert menu allows for choice: For those who want “just a bite,” the dessert sampler is a necessity. With mini versions of classics like cheesecake and warm apple crisp, the sampler is a sweet solution for anyone with dessert FOMO (fear of missing out).
Though life is all about choices, there are few as fun — or tasty — as those awaiting you at Vista.