Grouse Mountain Grill dazzles guests with fine dining, cocktails and jazz | VailDaily.com

Grouse Mountain Grill dazzles guests with fine dining, cocktails and jazz

Traci J. Macnamara
EAT magazine
Crispy Duck Rillete | almond relish, pear mostarda, watercress salad from Grouse Mountain Grill in Beaver Creek.
Justin Q. McCarty
If you go ... What: grouse mountain grill, contemporary American cuisine in a sophisticated setting. Where: 141 scott hill road | the pines lodge | beaver creek. Cost: Appetizers: $12-$18; Entrées: $37-$44. Signature dish: Pretzel-crusted pork chop with crispy potato pavé, Brussels sprout gratin and honey mustard More information: 970.949.0600 | grousemountaingrill.coM

Editor’s note: This story first ran as a paid feature in EAT magazine.

Located inside Beaver Creek’s The Pines Lodge, Grouse Mountain Grill has a set-apart, holy feel. Even though it’s only a few minutes away from the bustle of Beaver Creek Village, this mountainside gem sits on top of a winding mountain road. Excitement mounts with each curve you’ll take to arrive at this high place that’s earned an even higher reputation among Beaver Creek’s renowned fine dining scene.

Sip your way into an evening at Grouse Mountain Grill with the Kentucky Lullaby, a festive and wintery cocktail that riffs on a classic Old Fashioned. Orange and grapefruit bitters highlight the citrus flavors in this drink that’s served with a pine ice cube bobbing on its caramel-colored surface. The live music of jazz master Tony Gulizia floats into the dining room, playful piano and upbeat vocals, fitting for choosing from a menu that blends the tried and true with some adventurous new additions.

Brian Busker joined Grouse Mountain Grill as executive chef in October after spending the past 7 years in that role at celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s restaurant, Matsuhisa Vail. With such change comes the spark of new possibility. Settling into the Grouse kitchen, Busker beams at the opportunity to refine an established menu — and to add his signature touch. “We’re lightening things up this winter,” says Busker. “You’ll see fewer heavy sauces, more of the light and fresh — more fish, more vegetables.”

Get a taste of this approach straightaway with a snack portion of crispy Brussels sprouts that are peeled and shaved for a lighter texture. A maple-cider gastrique and bacon are behind this tantalizing opener that awakens the palate to sweet, salty and tangy flavors. When paired with a glass of the Scharffenberger sparkling rosé, the flavor sensation gets multiplied amid bubble-bursting sips.

For a heartier vegetable starter that captures equally enticing flavors, try the roasted cauliflower, a dish that mingles the herbal essence of its pumpkin seed chimichurri with textural elements including crunchy radishes, toasted pepitas and spicy Serrano peppers.

Grouse is well known for the quality of its meaty dinner entreés that include its famous pretzel-crusted pork chop, and another to try this winter is the NY strip steak, which is cooked sous vide and then pan seared for an incredibly tender result. Savor these luscious morsels in a black garlic demi-glace among bites of creamed spinach soufflé and smoked onion rings.

A dinner entrée that brings more levity into the menu — and showcases Busker’s skill with seafood — is the vegetable-cured sea bass that’s plated with white bean purée, pickled ramp, bacon dashi and a nori spinach flake on top.

Throughout the Grouse Mountain Grill dining experience, Sommelier Rob Farrer makes an expansive wine list approachable by suggesting course-by-course pairings from a user-friendly menu that invites exploration. So sit back after your meal and continue sipping contentedly into the evening hours, or enjoy the flickering orange light of the fireplace while finding sweet pleasure in dessert, with options ranging from a delicious and intense dark chocolate custard to warm gingerbread pudding.