Ludwig’s serves up breakfast extravaganza in Vail | VailDaily.com

Ludwig’s serves up breakfast extravaganza in Vail

Melanie Wong
Special 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.

It would be misleading to call the morning meal at Vail's Sonnenalp Hotel a "breakfast buffet" — breakfast extravaganza is a far more fitting term.

Diners are greeted in the Sonnenalp's newly remodeled Ludwig's dining room with picture-perfect baked goods, brightly colored berries and tropical fruits, exotic-looking cheeses and meats and rows of bright copper trays emitting enticing aromas. There's even a whole honeycomb dripping fresh honey into a lovely porcelain dish. It's a feast for the eyes as well as the other senses, and for a few moments, the display looks too beautiful to eat.

That impulse is fleeting, though, and the next dilemma is deciding what you'll eat first. Vanilla creme-filled blintz and lox bagel? Miniature salmon mousse cones alongside a slice of cheesy quiche? Or maybe you'll go light with a petite acai bowl and a tiny mason jar filled with juicy blueberries.

"Breakfast at the Sonnenalp is legendary and well-known," says General Manager Stefan Schmid. "Everything is carefully and freshly prepared. The dishes are constantly changing, and the setting is romantic. Our new remodel took the entire experience up a notch. I think of it as a breakfast celebration."

The multifarious, luxurious spread laid out every morning matches Ludwig's Old World-meets-mountain-modern decor: Bavarian-style carved-wood ceilings, moody paintings by Austrian and German artists, romantic windows that look out onto the Gore Creek, and sunlight flooding in from a glass atrium. Those who loved the Sonnenalp's traditional European look need not fear. The restaurant's remodel maintained Ludwig's signature look and feel, but created an airy, open floor plan and added a circular dining station where guests can get made-to-order omelets. Light wooden floors replaced dark carpet, and the buffet line looks striking on a chilled black granite countertop, which doubles as a way to keep items cold.

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Even the side dish stations are far from simple. The bread table is laden with artisan rolls, loafs and even fresh, oversized German-style pretzels. Gluten-sensitive diners are typically shocked to learn they have not only one, but several options from this table on any given morning. Don't mistake the bread spread with the pastry station, where delicate cakes are baked into individualized containers, croissants are drizzled with chocolate and kids ogle handmade cake pops.

Besides the aesthetic appeal of the spread, the attention to detail and individual portions also make for a special experience, says Sonnenalp Food and Beverage Director Daniel Spingler.

"Many buffets have big bowls of food. Everyone's dipping into the same bowl," explains Spingler, who is constantly working on little ways to further perfect the breakfast buffet. "There's nothing wrong with that, but here, we elevate the experience by serving everything in individualized portions, like cakes baked in little jars or mini smoothies. You get the feeling it's made just for you."

Ready for an indulgent brunch or leisurely breakfast? Hours are 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and 7 a.m. to noon on Sundays.

If you go …

What: Ludwig’s breakfast at The Sonnenalp, European-style breakfast in Bavarian-inspired setting.

Where: 20 Vail Road, Vail.

Cost: $34 per adult.

Signature dish: Made-to-order omelets.

More information: Call 970-479-5429 or visit http://www.sonnenalp.com.