New look, new staff for White Bison restaurant in Vail Village | VailDaily.com

New look, new staff for White Bison restaurant in Vail Village

VAIL — White Bison, located on Gore Creek in Vail Village, will reopen its doors in December with a new management team, an updated menu and a new look for the restaurant's bar area.

Owner Elevation Vail Partners has brought on San Francisco-based hospitality management company PlumpJack Group to manage both White Bison and Pendulum, a new restaurant also scheduled to open in December in the old Ore House space.

PlumpJack has enlisted Jake Burkhardt, formerly of Aspen Kitchen, to serve as executive chef for both properties, and general manager Mitch Fox and beverage director Brandon Bigalke will round out the management team overseeing the company's first two projects outside of California.

"We've come in and reconcepted it and brought in our management structure and our corporate support," Burkhardt said. "We redesigned the kitchen, as well, to make it more efficient, to give it more power to execute the food quicker."

The new White Bison menu items will have a rustic presentation that includes dishes served in cast-iron pans and on wooden boards, as well as family-style, shareable desserts.

"We want to appeal to the masses, so show up in your ski gear, or show up in a pair of jeans or if you want to wear a suit," Burkhardt said. "It's going to be a very wide spectrum that we're targeting."

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On the menu

The restaurant's previous menu needed reorganization and revamping to give it a stronger nucleus, Burkhardt said.

"The cuisine will be American, with not a lot of different infusions like they had before — there was a little bit of Spanish, a little bit of Greek — it was kind of not focused," he said. "So what I'm creating is a farm-driven, seasonal menu."

Burkhardt is connecting with local farms and putting programs in place to supply a lot of the produce and protein for the restaurant.

"For the protein, we're going to do strictly Colorado products — Colorado buffalo, Colorado striped bass — and we're going to do our best to utilize as many local, seasonal ingredients as possible," he said.

Lunch options will include a local kale salad with Asian pears, golden raisins, Marcona almonds and a yogurt dressing; duck confit poutine, with garlic fries, caramelized onion gravy, duck prosciutto and white cheddar curds; and the signature White Bison burger, with two seared bison patties, caramelized onions, American cheese, house-made pickles and smoked tomato aioli on an English muffin.

The apres menu features dishes such as French-style bison tartare, with quail egg, crispy mushroom chips, watercress, asiago cheese, pickled pearl onions and sourdough bread, and walleye tacos with cilantro-lime slaw, pico de gallo and chipotle aioli.

Dinner fare includes roasted winter vegetables with quinoa pilaf, Romanesco and beets; a braised bison short rib served with Brussels sprout hash, roasted onion puree, pomegranate and chestnuts; and the ash-crusted Wagyu, seared with sage, rosemary and thyme ashes in a pizza oven and served with smashed marvel potatoes, brasicas and black truffle chimichurri.

"There are a lot of items that can be shared, for apres especially, and we're also going to offer a late-night menu, so you'll be able to come in at 11:30 or 12 o'clock and get a burger," Burkhardt said. "There will be some great items available when most restaurants are closed here — that's something that will be unique to us, as well."

The restaurant also will be launching Saturday and Sunday brunch this winter, with seasonal, farm-driven, a la carte dishes that deviate from the standard American breakfast. Burkhardt said the goal is to create a more family-friendly environment and an interactive dining experience that supports a gathering culture.

"We're trying to make White Bison a very approachable restaurant and menu and not get too far outside the box," he said. "I feel like with a restaurant like Bison, we keep focused on our dishes and our ingredients and not try tot have 15 different components in a dish. Let the vegetables and the protein speak for themselves."

White Bison hours

White Bison will open for lunch, apres, dinner and late-night service starting in December. Daily hours will be 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch (brunch on Saturdays and Sundays), 3 to 5:30 p.m. for apres, dinner from 5:30 to 11 p.m. and late night from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Visit whitebisonvail.com for more information.