Flame at the Four Seasons
One Vail Road | Vail
by Traci Macnamara
photos by dominique taylor
|Sir Loin tells you everything you need to know.|
When you reach the bottom of the grand staircase inside Four Seasons Resort Vail and approach the entrance to Flame, a regal-looking cow is there to greet you. This life-sized sculpture sports a name tag — Sir Loin — and serves as an apt introduction to a place that reveres one thing above all others: beef.
In this way, Sir Loin foreshadows the family-friendly fun and exquisite meat-centric menu you’ll enjoy once seated at your table inside Flame’s generously sized dining room that’s as appropriate for a group gathering as it is for a first date.
If you doubt the importance of the almighty cow, know that when executive chef Marcus Stewart isn’t doing one of the many things that need doing when running the kitchen of a five-star hotel, the chef might be found jetting over to Hotchkiss with a group of guests to tour the 7X Ranch. It’s where Chef Stewart buys all of the American Wagyu served at Flame, and is part of the restaurant’s Farm to Flame program that begins in a helicopter and ends with dinner at the chef’s table.
But for those who don’t want to cross the county line on a culinary adventure, simply get a table at Flame. Sip on an elixir from the bourbon-only special cocktail list while getting a sense of the menu’s offerings from Colorado suppliers and ranches.
“Our claim to fame is our variety of over-the-top quality meats you won’t find elsewhere. Elk, bison, pork, lamb and beef are all staples at Flame,” says Chef Stewart. “They’re what we do best.”
For starters, choose from Flame’s more interactive appetizer options with finger pickings served on a big butcher block. The whole table can get involved in this experience while trying a sampling of must-haves including the mini elk corn dogs served with house-smoked tomato ketchup and grainy mustard aioli for dipping, guajillo pepper-jelly-glazed pork belly with smoked goat cheese grits, and beef tenderloin tartare with quail eggs and lavash.
Next, get ready for the true spectacle, mains from the pasture, including the dry-aged lamb chops and the Wagyu bone-in rib-eye from Colorado’s 7X Ranch that packs amazing flavor and texture into every bite. The description “melt in your mouth” was created for this steak.
When ordering, choose from several house-created rubs that add more flavor explosion to your favorite piece of meat, and then enjoy dipping your selection in six different accompanying sauces that add even more flavor and fun, too, with names such as “Charleston Truffle” and “Black Pepper Love.” Plus, the sides — listed as “carboholics” on the menu — more than complete the meal. Of these, the decadent smoked Gouda and dill mac and cheese stands out as one you’ll want to return for as a standalone, though the Maine lobster mashed potatoes are hard to resist.
Don’t be afraid go over the top with dessert here: Outrageous is something that Flame does best. Even if you simply try one final bite, you’ll want to devote it either to the crème-anglaise-filled chocolate soufflé that arrives in a mini Staub — or to a trio of maple-glazed doughnuts topped with candied bacon. At least if you can’t eat all of the doughnuts for dessert, they’re a to-go that will pair perfectly with tomorrow morning’s coffee. •
Modern mountain steakhouse
NY strip steak
Yes, with a playful kids’ menu
Fall means food and wine festivals and also a chance to see the colors just starting to turn over Vail Pass during a bike ride for charity.