Splendido at the Chateau serving new American cuisine at Beaver Creek | VailDaily.com

Splendido at the Chateau serving new American cuisine at Beaver Creek

Kim Fuller
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.

A pane of glass is the only separation between the magic that's sparked in Splendido's kitchen and the restaurant's delighted guests. Curious diners can watch the talent in motion, from servers gliding in and out with plates and fresh cutlery, to the focused stature of chef-owner Brian Ackerman, perfecting every dish before it's whisked away.

Impressive elements of presentation and taste ensure that everything at Splendido is a "wow," from start to finish.

The tarte flambee appetizer is inspired from a staple food in the French hometown of pastry chef Sebastien Schmitt. Its look is simple, almost like a small thin crust pizza, and this truly mouthwatering appetizer is inviting to eat with your hands and impossible to put down. Even knowing we had many courses to come, we ate every last ounce, following each bite with a sip of champagne, then a delightful lick of our fingers.

Ackerman incorporates a playful combination of innovation and refinery into his menu, keeping it interesting and fun while still completely gourmet. His kampachi appetizer features a lovely and nearly translucent fish, topped with beautiful green ice crystals that seem to temper the fire from the jalapeno that's present.

The rich and earthy porcini soup is one that Ackerman truly lets speak for itself in all the best ways. It has an arborio rice ball in the middle that's divine to scoop into every bite, but the heart of the soup is undoubtedly the porcini mushrooms.

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"Most of our dishes are inspired from one ingredient," Ackerman says. "Whether it be a vegetable or a protein, we pull from what stands out."

The wild striped bass entree is reminiscent of a warming chowder with a curry twist. A glass of Chateauneuf-du-Pape red wine aligns nicely with the hearty fish and bed of sauce with squash and shrimp.

Those in the mood for an incredible piece of meat can order the Idaho bavette, a Wagyu flank steak from the Snake River in Idaho that stands on the plate beside a substantial piece of bone marrow. All the deep and rustic flavors coming from the steak jus and chanterelle mushrooms is matched perfectly by a pour of Saint-Emilion from Chateau Haut-Simard.

Back in Schmitt's pastry lab, the French chef is always successfully experimenting with sweet and savory flavors for his impressive and delicious desserts. His rendition this season on lemon includes a fennel crumble and olive oil gel. Its pleasing viscosity and tart sweetness leaves your palate refreshed and satisfied, especially when each bite is enjoyed with a taste of Sauternes.

If you Go …

What: Splendido at the Chateau, new American cuisine served in an elegant mountainside dining room with a piano lounge.

Where: 17 Chateau Lane, Beaver Creek

Cost: Appetizers $14-$24; entrees $34-$49.

Signature dish: Snake River Idaho Wagyu bavette with bone marrow, chanterelle mushrooms, arugula and chive.

More information: Call 970-845-8808 or visit http://www.splendidorestaurant.com.