Terra Bistro features summer menu of light fare that is high in quality
Chef-owner Kevin Nelson has been with Terra Bistro in the Vail Mountain Lodge in Vail Village since 1993, when he started as a chef’s apprentice. His more than two and a half decades at the helm provide a consistency of quality not found in many other restaurants.
The focus of Nelson’s summer menu is lighter fare, with an emphasis on seafood and a broad range of garden-grown herbs, greens and vegetables.
“A chef-owner cares a bit more about the food and experience,” Executive Manager Katie Fiedler Anderson says, pointing to Terra Bistro’s dedication to high-quality, locally sourced ingredients and the impeccable service of its wait staff. The restaurant also happily adapts to gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and allergy-restricted diets. The menu begins with a slew of starters that run the gamut from fried goat cheese with vanilla honey, roasted beets, pine nuts and watercress to sushi-grade ahi poke tuna with fried rice “tots,” sesame-Sriracha dressing and yuzu aioli.
The standout is the Wagyu tartare, mini bites of surf and turf built from Idaho-raised beef with an oyster emulsion, accented by lemon oil, capers and pickled mustard seeds and served with gaufrette potato chips for scooping.
The idea, Fiedler Anderson says, is to take a central ingredient and prepare it in a surprising way. Another prime example of this is the creamy basil carrot salad: roasted carrots crowning crisp harvest greens, herbs and crunchy pumpkin seeds all tossed in a vivid yellow, peppery basil-carrot dressing.
The main course selections allow the restaurant’s focus on globally inspired, multicultural cuisine to really shine. If you’re craving seafood, the lobster tagliatelle combines Maine lobster claw meat with an aromatic mirepoix, mild jalapeño-basil butter and pine nuts, or choose the new Icelandic cod with marrow beans, bacon broth and black garlic-apricot preserves.
Terra Bistro boasts one of the best happy hours in town from 5 to 6 p.m. daily, with $3 Coors and Coors Light, $8 glasses of select wines and $11 specialty cocktails featuring spirits sourced from across the state. Small plates range from $7 to $9 and include tastes from the starters and salads sections of the dinner menu, plus a few unique choices such as the corn soup with coconut, basil and Old Bay spice or the beef skewers with socarrat, pineapple and coconut cream.
Wine and food pairings are expertly crafted by Terra Bistro’s in-house sommelier from an extensive list of glasses and bottles, and chocolate molten or dense, sweet tres leches cake provides a sweet conclusion to the meal.
The newest and quite possibly the most unique dining experience in the Valley Valley isn’t at a new restaurant, but rather in a old gondola car in a new setting.