Tavern on the Square in Vail mixes upscale sophistication with warm and welcoming atmosphere | VailDaily.com

Tavern on the Square in Vail mixes upscale sophistication with warm and welcoming atmosphere

Heather Hower
EAT Magazine

A favorite saying of many locals is that they came to Vail for the winter but stayed for the summer. Lounging on the sunny deck of Tavern on the Square at the base of the Eagle Bahn Gondola, it’s easy to see that truer words may never have been spoken. Tavern on the Square is part of the lovely Arrabelle but welcomes everyone to join for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

The restaurant, run by renowned Executive Chef Paul Wade is part of the Vail Resorts collection of restaurants. He, along with Chef Nick Steger, infuses the menu with sophisticated elements but keeps it easy on the palate — it has an upscale feel but is warm and welcoming, whether you’re dressed for the symphony or finishing a trail run. Snag a table on the patio where you can gaze up the mountain: the bright green meets the blaze of blue sky. Start your meal with one of the team’s signature summer cocktails. The bartenders thrive on creating innovative cocktails that feel at once fresh and new but with roots in the classics. The lavender-infused Collins, with its fresh mint sprig and lavender stalk, feels, and looks, like the taste of summer. The Fernet cocktail, served in a snifter, is herbaciously hearty.

New this summer is Sunday Brunch, with Chef Wade’s one-of-a-kind answer to the common brunch: a paella bar. Select from a bounty of ingredients and the chef will whip it up as you wait. The buffet area positively overflows with seafood and breakfast items, pastries, delicacies and the coveted Bloody Mary bar to start your morning off right. This mighty marriage of flavors will have you relaxing for most the day.

When in Vail — eat like the uber-healthy locals with the Super Food Salad that pairs nicely with a flavorful and healthful (seeming) cocktail. Antioxidants never tasted so good: The salad can definitely be a meal in itself with kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and broccoli, “quinoa tabbouleh,” toasted almonds and the most delightful artichoke heart artfully displayed on top of the phenomenal salad.

Many need more than a salad, and after a serious workout, it’s imperative to get the calories back in. Welcome the veal marsala, set atop a bed of salty, slightly crunchy and 100 percent delicious spetzl with foraged mushrooms that add a touch of the wild to the dish. Or slide toward the decadent side with bucatini. The big, juicy noodles are paired with julienned zucchini, diced pancetta (salty! crunchy!) in a garlic-lemon-anchovy sauce that is out of this world.

For goodness sake, save room for dessert. It’s not so easy to be polite if sharing Tavern’s version of a banana split. Pastry Chef Jenn Davis came up with something that knocks the socks off the original. The double chocolate chip cookie (served warm, naturally), topped with three flavors of homemade ice cream — roasted banana, strawberry swirl and caramel swirl. It’s all topped with a drizzle of chocolate sauce, a few dried banana chips, to-die-for homemade whipped cream, and, of course, a cherry on top. Which is just how life should be lived: deliciously sweet, a little crunchy, somewhat unexpected  and always with a cherry on top. Get to Tavern on the Square to celebrate summer in style.