La Tour brings modern French flare to Vail | VailDaily.com

La Tour brings modern French flare to Vail

Melanie Wong
Speical to the Weekly

Editor's note: This article was previously published as a paid feature in EAT, a compendium of restaurant snapshots featuring the best in Vail Valley dining. Look for it on newsstands everywhere.

La Tour has been giving diners a reason to linger in Vail Village for almost two decades, yet Chef-Proprietor Paul Ferzacca and his kitchen staff still have new tricks up their sleeves. Modern French in concept, La Tour takes food lovers

on a globetrotting culinary adventure, whether they're cutting into a classic French chicken paillard or diving into Asian-inspired pork belly buns.

"Our food is the highest quality and uses the best products available. We strive to be the best, yet the food is still approachable," says Ferzacca, who has been a culinary mentor to the valley's younger generation for over a decade.

CLASSIC, MEET PLAYFUL

While diners come year after year for La Tour's spot-on service and perfectly executed French dishes, Ferzacca's kitchen also keeps guests guessing with new ingredients, imaginative presentations and modern cooking techniques. For example, the Dover sole meuniere is a crowd favorite

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and French staple, with its delicate textures and lip-smacking brown-butter sauce. However, La Tour abandons the tried-and-true fillet version of the dish for creative, bite-sized spirals accompanied by creamy potatoes and bright, crispy carrots and string beans.

"The Dover sole has been on the menu for 19-plus years. People come just for this dish," says Ferzacca. "It's a classic dish, just with a twist."

He also points to playful items like the yellowfin tuna poke, a traditional rendition of the in-vogue Hawaiian fish salad. However, La Tour's version is served in a latch-sealed mason jar and infused with smoke. The sweet scent wafts out as you open the lid, seducing the nostrils right before the taste buds savor the poke's rich umami flavors. The entire experience — the jar, the scents, the colorful fish and seaweed — is downright fun.

WINTER LUXURY

During the summer, diners flock to La Tour's sunny patio, a bright spot looking out onto Meadow Drive. In the winter, the restaurant becomes a modern, cozy space with an intimate dining room and frosty views of the Gore Creek.

"When it comes to our winter menu, we're going for luxury," says Executive Chef Sammy Shipman. Whether it's a perfectly prepared cut of ribeye steak that melts in your mouth (a new addition to the La Tour menu) or bourbon-infused chocolate mousse served with pistachio ice cream, decadence and full flavors take center stage during the colder months, he says.

Shipman hails from North Carolina, where the cuisine bears little resemblance to La Tour fare. However, Shipman still finds inspiration in his Southern roots. He was thinking of vegetables tucked under the drippings of a roasting whole hog when he created the menu's coal-roasted carrots. The dish features slightly charred, still crunchy carrots and sweet, roasted baby beets served with peppery frisee, creamy sheep feta and crunchy, Indian-spiced puffed farro. The medley of tastes, textures and bright colors make for the perfect starter or vegetarian entrée.

Another aspect of Shipman's North Carolina heritage? Southern hospitality.

"At La Tour, it's about making sure folks are happy and treating the dining room like it's your house," he says. "Every single detail matters here."

If you go …

What: La Tour, a warm, friendly and fun restaurant.

Where: 122 E. MEADOW DRIVE, VAIL.

Cost: Appetizers $14-$18; entrees $25-$40.

Signature dish: Dover sole meuniere served in brown butter sauce with haricots verts.

More information: Call 970-476-4403 or visit http://www.LATOUR-VAIL.COM.