EAT: Step into a fine dining fairytale at Almresi in Vail
Special to the Daily
Editor’s note: This story first appeared as a paid feature in EAT magazine, highlighting restaurants across the valley.
All good stories start with “once upon a time.” In Vail, dining at Almresi means immersing yourself in a fairytale created by the Thoma family. It has all of the elements of a good story: a journey up the stairs to the restaurant; meeting friends and making new ones once you arrive; helpful guides that attend to your every wish; a table of plenty of good things to eat; magical elixirs that warm the belly and, of course, a happy ending in the form of decadent desserts.
The path you take to Almresi might vary. Some adventurers are winter warriors, racking up more than 25,000 vertical feet to claim their prize: a free pint at Almresi’s bar from 3-4 p.m. The tales of derring-do flow as readily as the brews, but when the cowbell sounds, it’s time to venture out to another watering hole or settle in for dinner.
Others map their journey ahead of time (at least two weeks is advisable) to ensure their spot at the table. After presenting the password (their name for the reservation), they are led to their table. Questing parties of almost any size can be accommodated: Small and intimate nooks allow for cozy conversation, while a large communal table, crowned by a large light fixture festooned with authentic Austrian cowbells, is fantastic for extended families. Reclaimed rustic wood paneling provides a cabin-like feel; faux fur throws, cowhides and other ornaments complete the impression that you’ve been transported to a faraway land.
The cuisine seems conjured directly from the Alps with such classics as schweinshaxe, a pork shank with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes and Resi’s schnitzel. However, magic is served when new favorites such as Resi’s Lachs steamed salmon poached in butter sauce, alpen gnocchi with chestnut truffle filling and tomato-gorgonzola sauce and foie gras bratwurst appear.
For a hands-on experience, choose the Austrian original. Translated as “eat your hat,” hutessen is a hot, iron hat upon which guests cook their beef to their own liking, served along with salad, potatoes and various dipping sauces. Like magic, the plates will be scraped clean in no time.
No story is complete without a sweet ending. Kaiserschmarrn, a fluffy pancake, ripped into little pieces with caramelized, powdered sugar on top and cherry compote on the side, is a classic treat, and chocolate fondue for two is a fitting finale for chocolate lovers. For one more magic trick, order the Feuerzangenbowle, a specialty drink in which a rum-soaked sugarloaf is set on fire and drips into spicy hot wine. From cowbells to (contained) conflagrations, Almresi has it all. Reserve your own fabulous journey and experience the twists, turns and surprises your evening will take.
An enchanted forest cabin (with nary an elf in sight)
Hutessen, “eat your hat”
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