Ludwig’s at the Sonnenalp Hotel | VailDaily.com

Ludwig’s at the Sonnenalp Hotel

20 Vail Road | VAIL
970.479.5429 | ludwigsrestaurant.com

by Kimberly Nicoletti
photos by Justin Q. McCarty

Ludwig's immerses all of your senses in the Old World tradition of hospitality and fine dining.

Walking through Sonnenalp Hotel heightens the wonder of European elegance, and once you wind your way into Ludwig's, tucked into a quiet corner, any stress melts away, as impeccable, warm service greets you.

Every season, executive chef Florian Schwarz hires some of the best chefs, some of which come from Europe, where culinary apprenticeships take three years. The dedicated staff works together to present spectacular cuisine with the precision of clockwork.

“Everything is made in house, so I know all the ingredients are fresh and gluten free,” Schwarz says.

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Because Ludwig's is a winter-only restaurant, Schwarz spends his summers experimenting with unique combinations; he deconstructs traditional alpine and other European staples, incorporates Colorado classics, then uses simple, fresh ingredients to generate new tastes and textures every winter. He describes his recipes as a mixture of "craziness, creativity and hard work." Every dish satisfies multiple areas of the palate.

For example, his signature sea bass, served with quinoa last year, is even more amazing this winter, with its delicate, yet flavorful, broth.

Sophisticated diners, such as a group from New York City visitors enjoying another one of their many meals at Ludwig's just before Christmas, spontaneously made comments to each another: "They don't disappoint," one man said. "He's the best chef in Vail," another commented. "Every bite is delicious," a woman exclaimed as she relished Chef's most tender venison, served in a light chocolate sauce.

With all the savory starters, main courses and even desserts like carrot cake pieces artfully displayed with small dollops of vanilla ice cream and pumpkin sauces, it's hard to believe everything Ludwig's serves is gluten free. While an unaware diner would never guess, guests, like one woman who literally cried with gratitude that she could order anything off the menu, don't have to worry about gluten cross-contamination.

The ornate wood and copper work within Ludwig's complements each artfully displayed dish. In addition to a friendly, professional staff, Schwarz believes an intimate dining experience includes perfection in artful presentation; each dish appears distinct in its details, which entice the eyes, because, as Schwarz puts it, "The eyes are actually eating, too." He strives to surprise guests with unexpected flavors and creative presentation.

"They're simple ingredients, but you can make so much out of it when you combine them differently," he says.

Meanwhile, Ludwig's sommelier, Joel Cabrera, is building a wine selection focused on drier wines with less fruit that feel more graceful on the palate, he says. He looks for full-bodied wines without flavors that overpower the cuisine.

Through every detail, Ludwig's makes you feel like you're a guest in an intimate home filled with hosts who are committed to the finest of Old World dining, while still providing modern, innovative spins on traditional cuisine. •

Price
Mains from $29-$49 •••
Ambiance
Modern gluten-free cuisine in a timeless Bavarian setting
•••
Signature dish
Colorado rack of lamb with roasted vegetables