Eat This Week: Creating a new locals’ favorite with The Slope Room
Special to the Daily
It’s difficult to open a new restaurant during COVID. It can be even more challenging when you’re taking over and renovating a space that has been a locals’ favorite for many years. However, if the initial offerings of Slope Room, the new restaurant at Gravity Haus Vail (formerly Vail Mountain Lodge) is any indication, the space that we loved so much as Terra Bistro is back and better than ever.
Slope Room hosted a soft opening for Gravity Haus members and friends on Dec. 17, 2020 and opened its doors to the public the next day. Since then, the reservations have filled up quickly – so much so that Gravity Haus CEO Jim Deters said that they’ve had people calling to tell them that Open Table must be malfunctioning because they can’t get in.
“Now we’re doing (reservations) manually to make sure that we can fit you in,” Deters said.
At first glance, everything is different when you enter. To begin with, the main entrance has been relocated to a more prominent position, welcoming guests as soon as they ascend the stairs to Gravity Haus. The layout of the space has been modified and the décor updated to what Deters calls “a nod to the nostalgia of the old West.” Cool white walls are offset with plush navy seating, gray rugs and the warmth of wood; a black and white David Yarrow piece titled “Last Orders” features a bear bellied up to a saloon bar. However, the warmth and friendliness of Terra remain.
With the current COVID restrictions, the number of guests is naturally limited, but the space still seems filled with energy. Après is available on a first-come, first-served basis and it’s worth getting there early to peruse the menu and partake in Chef Alberto Soto’s twists on classic steakhouse fare.
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To wit: two of Slope Room’s instant favorites for après – chips and dip and the Colorado Wagyu hot stone. The Wagyu is excellent for sharing and appeals to anyone who prefers their snacking hands-on. Thin slices of steak are laid on the sizzling hot stone until the preferred temperature is achieved (a few seconds on each side suffices); a shiso chimichurri, aji amarillo, shishito peppers and pickled red onions provide flavor foils for the protein. The chips and dip are nothing short of fancy with crab and the option to gild the lily with two types of caviar. Other appetizers include a charcuterie plate, mussels, beef tartare and a melt-in-your-mouth Hamachi crudo as well as several soups and salads.
While it would be easy to make a meal from these offerings, don’t miss out on the mains. Soto, who worked for Denver chef and restaurateur Kevin Taylor for the past decade, remains true to the steakhouse idea with several cuts of thoughtfully sourced beef as well as salmon and scallops as a la carte options. Sides include lobster mac and cheese, roasted broccolini and baked potato croquettes.
However, the composed dishes offer some new twists like roasted chicken with pumpkin grits, the seared scallops with tasso ham and apples, and the cauliflower chiles en nogada that’s so good you might not notice it’s vegan.
“When we were looking at our clientele with the guests being from Mexico and from Texas, I was thinking…there’s a really cool dish, the chiles en nogada from Mexico, it’s just a very like traditional great dish and I remembered it’s one of my dad’s favorite dishes,” Soto said. “So I was like, how cool would it be if we did this vegan stuffed pepper and then people came in and they were like, ‘Holy… they have chiles en nogada on the menu.’ This is something you don’t see. So, to put something on the menu that’s really cool for my dad and then also just cool for the guests. And it came out really great.”
These additions—vegan dishes that appeal to almost anyone, gluten-free options and more—make Slope Room more than a traditional steakhouse. Deters, who with his wife, Alicia Pokoik Deters and Chef Lon Symensma, opened downtown Denver’s ChoLon Modern Asian Bistro, understands the challenge of replacing an icon like Terra Bistro; he’s up for it.
“We wanted to reinvent the idea of what a hotel restaurant could be and reestablish the connection between food and flavors and the people and places where they come from,” Deters said. “And always be evolving. In order to stay the same, you have to change all the time and just progress and provide that elevated dining experience.”
In addition to après and dinner, Slope Room is also serving breakfast and lunch; Unravel Coffee offers up “haus-roasted” coffee and bites. Visit Slope Room at Gravity Haus Vail, 352 E Meadow Dr., Vail.