Vista at Arrowhead offers seasonally inspired menu | VailDaily.com

Vista at Arrowhead offers seasonally inspired menu

Katie Coakley
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.

In a resort area where there is always something new and shiny, an establishment that remains a locals' favorite is truly special. Vista at Arrowhead, which has been charming guests since 2007, offers genuine warmth at every turn, from the gracious staff to the heart-warming cuisine, all enhanced with a soundtrack provided by the valley's favorite piano man, Micky Poage.

Settle in for dinner and you'll face the most difficult choice of the evening: what to order. Start with a handcrafted cocktail to prime your palate and jumpstart your stomach (the signature margarita is always a good choice). Then, gather your dining companions for a "divide and conquer" approach to ordering. By everyone choosing something different, there's more opportunity to sample the menu.

Vista's menu is seasonally inspired with a Colorado focus. Plates are beautifully composed, with individual elements working together in perfect harmony. A deceptively simple dish like mussels is intensified by the addition of hand-crafted Italian sausage and oregano-roasted tomatoes; the resulting dish will have you unapologetically cleaning the bowl with the last bit of bread. Or try the roasted butternut squash carpaccio, a vegetarian version of a classic that will have even the most dedicated carnivores battling for a bite.

Digging In

But the real brilliance of Vista shines with the entrées. Here, diners have a choice: choose a chef-composed entrée, thoughtfully composed and considered, or create your own. The winter "Chef's Composed" menu includes soul-warming fare like homemade chicken pot pie, shrimp and grits and a dry-aged, bone-in pork chop. For those looking for a life-changing experience, try the Colorado braised lamb shank with goat cheese polenta gatto, roasted baby Brussels sprouts, lingonberry jam and pan jus — just don't be surprised if your eyes involuntarily roll back in your head in ecstasy.

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But guests who prefer to call the shots will love the customer composed entrée. Pick a protein — the winter menu includes two cuts of signature Colorado lamb, swordfish and lobster tail — before pairing it with a homemade sauce like fresh horseradish cream, lemon picatta or soy ginger butter. Accessorize with sides and the resulting plate is a completely customized culinary adventure.

Vista has been employing this mix-and-match style for several years, allowing guests to employ their creativity (and address any dietary restrictions) while streamlining the magic in the kitchen. The brainchild of co-owner Daryl DeYoung and Executive Chef David Collins, the menu epitomizes DeYoung's approach to the guest experience.

"We still wanted to have dishes that we've put together, but this gives guests the opportunity to choose exactly what they want," DeYoung explains.

And while the chef-composed entrées are set for the season, DeYoung is looking forward to shaking up the options for customization.

"We like to offer different sauces and sides: If we can get pineapple, we'll do pineapple salsa, or we'll add purple potatoes from Colorado," DeYoung says. "We like to look for ingredients to have as specialty items, to add to what we have on the menu."

Even the dessert menu allows for choice: For those who want "just a bite," the dessert sampler is a necessity. With mini versions of classics like crème brulee, lemon tart and cheesecake, the sampler is a sweet solution for anyone with dessert FOMO (fear of missing out).

Though life is all about choices, there are few as fun — or tasty — as those awaiting you at Vista.

If you go …

What: Vista at Arrowhead, a classic and casual spot.

Where: Arrowhead, 676 Sawatch Drive, Edwards.

Cost: First courses $9-$15; entrees $23-$39; sides $5.

Signature dish: Seared rare tuna with wasabi mashed potatoes, sesame bok choy and soy ginger butter sauce.

More information: Call 970-926-2111 or visit http://www.vista-arrowhead.com.