Garden Fresh menu:
$8 - $30;
$11 - $65
Relaxed and welcoming; the patio
is worth lingering
Any of the U.S.D.A. Prime hand-cut steaks or the Alaskan crab legs
They’ll love the amped up burgers almost as much as the adults do
174 East Gore Creek Drive | Lodge at Vail | Vail | 970.754.7818 | elways.com/vail
Shh…don’t tell anyone, but there’s a secret escape hiding in Vail. Surrounded by gorgeous greenery, with the whirr of hummingbirds’ wings cutting the balmy evening air, the patio at Elway’s in Vail Village is a veritable oasis, offering up refreshment of the food, drink and social sort.
In addition to the world-class steaks, seafood and other classics that Elway’s is known for, summertime brings a garden fresh menu that features lighter fare, seasonal ingredients and some dream-inducing burgers. However, as befits a hidden gem, there are little touches that make a favorite find something special.
Take the heirloom tomato salad, for instance. Vibrantly hued heirloom tomatoes are paired with fresh mozzarella, basil oil and balsamic vinegar. The prize: Giardiniera, a blend of pickled vegetables, scattered across the top. The vegetables add a pleasant crunch along with a tart note that cuts through the basil oil nicely.
“A few years ago, three years now, we wanted to do something that…used more seasonal ingredients,” says Tyler Wiard, culinary director of Elway’s. “We thought, ‘why not start a separate menu?’ We change it every year and, to be honest, the inspiration is just…what I read or what I feel…Sometimes it just comes to me and sometimes I think of an item and I’m like, what can I do with it?”
One of those items is the trout, which makes an appearance both as an appetizer and as an entrée. The house-smoked trout is a refreshing riff on a classic: the trout is perfectly smoked, without an overwhelming campfire smell or flavor; a caper-cream cheese aioli gives enough creaminess to impart a pleasant texture; a salad of slivered radishes, peppers, celery and chives adds color and crunch. Pile it precariously high on grilled pita bread, top with crispy leeks and it’s a dish that seems created specifically for an early evening dalliance.
“A couple of things that I’ve experienced as a chef is with smoked fish and smoked salmon or trout, I get disappointed when all I taste is smoke, or cream cheese,” says Wiard. “What I tried to do is lighten the smoke up a bit so you can taste the trout and balance those flavors. It balanced into a lighter dish.”
These lighter flavors, so perfect on a summer patio, are not constrained to the summer menu. Classic Elway’s offerings like the roasted Alaskan halibut are paired with a bacon potato salad (which is beautifully vinegar-based), which plays perfectly with the flaky fish. Be sure to ask about the specials—you never know what the chefs may have conjured that day, like the 7x filet, perfectly cooked to melt-in-your-mouth and accompanied by an heirloom tomato-chipotle reduction, a combination of sweet and spicy that is just as attractive on a plate as it is on a date.
“Not only do I get to have fun creating stuff,” says Wiard, with a twinkle in his eye, “but I usually like to eat it, too.”