Live, eat and drink like a local at Gore Range Brewery
Your first hint that you are in for something delicious is the aroma floating through the air. You know right from the start that the Gore Range Brewery is more than your typical brewery. Owner and chef Pascal Courdouy made sure of it when he bought the restaurant eight years ago. Here, the simple, fresh food is the star and the beer is a lovely supporting accompaniment.
Locals know the place well — it is, after all, the original brewery in the Vail Valley. Courdouy has a host of accolades and awards, stars and Zagat ratings, to his name. None of the pomp matters, though, when you settle in for what is sure to be a meal that completes the day. You’re happy to be one of the many who have found their way to this spacious restaurant and surprisingly sunny deck, in the company of a chef who loves to create.
Settle back and listen to the always-changing list of specials, decide on a craft brew (or go for a sampler) and let the day take its course. Pascal and brewing partner Richard Carnes craft the beers to pair with the food; and like the food, it seems every local has a favorite. The French Rose Wheat goes down easily, perhaps a little too easily: fruity and not too sweet and oh so thirst quenching. Great Sex Honey Lager. It feels naughty to order it but the laid-back flavor has earned favorite status for a reason.
Start off with the ahi tuna tacos — thin slices of rare ahi in a wonton, topped with a salty seaweed salad, a bit of brightness from the mango and barely kissed by wasabi mayo. Courdouy explains that the locals know what they like and have come to expect certain menu staples: fish-n-chips, wood-fired pizza or the brisket sandwich. It’s easy to see why one wouldn’t deviate from delicious; the brisket, on a homemade, just-salty-enough pretzel bun, a light layer of slaw and salty, smoky meat with a peppy, surprising zing. When Chef Pascal doesn’t know what to eat, he chooses the brisket.
The Seasonal Salad is — surprise — another favorite. The menu description really doesn’t do the salad justice. It’s when its delivered with bold bursts of color laid out like an artist’s palette with the deep maroon of beets juxtaposed to slender stalks of spring green asparagus, sitting along side the healthy the quinoa salad, that it becomes clear: Chef Courdouy knows how to create what we want to eat.
The specials, the answer to Pascal’s penchant for creativity. This chef who worked in fine dining much of his life melds gourmet with simple and fresh for a menu that goes well beyond typical pub fare.
Courdouy, originally from France, came to Vail via Manhattan. Somewhere between working 18-hour days, being on TV shows with the likes of Robin Leech, of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous fame, a celebrity chef on cooking programs and running fine dining kitchens in New York, it stopped being fun. This is one of Courdouy’s tenets — stop when it stops being fun. Eagle County locals lucked out because he brought his passion, his inspiration and his creativity to us. Gore Range Brewery is a welcome respite for visitors, but it’s a second home to locals.