Montauk Seafood Grill is making waves in Vail this summer season
The tides have changed in Vail this season as Montauk Seafood Grill rolls into summer season with a new owner, an invigorated space and revitalized menu. Cameron Douglas purchased the restaurant in October, and after a three week renovation process, Montauk reopened in early November in its longtime home of Lionshead Village. “We had nothing but awesome feedback all Winter, customers really enjoyed seeing one their favorites restaurants in Vail come back to life again” says Douglas.
The restaurant has been a staple seafood spot for three decades. Douglas gave the space the facelift it needed, with fresh paint, all new lights, new art and furniture. Darker wood panels were white washed to brighten up the dining room, with fun nautical additions, including a few jelly fish-style overhead lights.
The menu still offers some of Montauk’s classics, such as the calamari and the Hawaiian Ahi Seared Rare, but a lot of new additions have been incorporated. Veteran Vail chef Dimitri Souvorin was part-owner of Montauk for years, and he’s back as executive chef to the delight of many.
• Yellowfin Tuna
• Ceviche Tostada
• Charred Spanish Octopus Salad
• Herb Encrusted Alaskan Halibut
• Hawaiian Ahi Seared Rare
• Louisiana Rock Shrimp Stir Fry
• Slow Roasted Duck and Filet Mignon
• Alaskan King Crab Legs
• The Filthy Martini
• Watermelon Mojito
549 LIONSHEAD CIRCLE, VAIL
The menu is no longer presented like a book you need to flip through, but is now a square sheet with all your options on the front and back side. New appetizers such as the Montacos feature a chile rubbed Yellowfin Tuna, creamy avocado slaw and heirloom pico de gallo. Another fresh addition is the Scallop Ceviche Tostada, lime cured Baja bay scallops, smashed avocado, heirloom tomato, cucumber and Bermuda onions, both are “perfect Summertime appetizers”, according to Dimitri.
Lunch will be running Friday through Sunday during the Summer months. Montauk has traditionally been dinner only, “We are going to take full advantage of the gorgeous Summer months in Vail. Our patio only sees sun in the Summer. Between the flowers and people watching, it’s absolutely beautiful in Lionshead.” The Summer menu will continue the East Coast fish house feel with plenty of lighter seafood options.
Bistro-style salads and soups are available, such as a classic Wedge salad or Manhattan fish chowder, along with more innovative dishes such as the charred Spanish octopus salad, served with roasted peppers, oranges, garbanzo beans, arugula, olives and blood orange vinaigrette, topped with marinated and charred octopus.
Dinner entreés on the menu include dishes such as Herb Encrusted Alaskan Halibut with buttermilk whipped potatoes, mixed baby greens, tomato cucumber relish and basil vinaigrette, as well as Montauk signatures like the Hawaiian ahi seared rare, served with a crispy vegetable and Louisiana rock shrimp stir fry, sesame sushi rice, soy ginger vinaigrette, pickled ginger and wasabi.
Montauk’s raw bar is the place to get a selection of fresh oysters and more from both of the country’s coasts. The kitchen gets its fish and seafood from Seattle Fish Co., a wholesaler based in Denver.
“They have very strict standards on their purchasing,” Douglas said. “It’s all very fresh and sustainably sourced.”
Many “land” options are available as well, including slow roasted sesame glazed duck and filet mignon. Add “surf to your turf” with any of the plates, such as a six-ounce lobster tail or Alaskan king crab legs.
All of the main dishes can be ordered “naked” — simply grilled and seasoned fish or meat with a choice of two sides.
“Every one of the items that is chef’s preparation is unbelievable,” said Douglas, “but a lot of people want lighter options, so they can order an entreé naked and choose their own sides.”
Drink selections include beer and a well-balanced wine list, along with classic cocktails given a unique twist.
Try the Filthy Martini, with pancetta and bleu cheese stuffed olives for a taste of ocean-like brine, or for a creative Summer concoction creation, the Watermelon Mojito. “It’s Summer in a glass”, says bar manager Rob Niehaus.
“Classic cocktails are our best sellers, we just elaborated on them a little bit,” Douglas said.
Cameron moved to Vail in the fall of 2004 to chase the snow, and started working as a server for a locally owned restaurant in Lionshead. After over 13 years with the same company, he left as Vice President of Operations, helping grow the organization into one of Colorado’s largest locally owned restaurant groups.
“I had awesome mentors along the way, they really helped me understand the restaurant industry within the ski resort environment”.
Cameron, his wife Heather, and their two daughters truly enjoy everything the mountain lifestyle has to offer. When Cameron is not working, they spend most of their time camping, rafting, biking, paddle-boarding, hiking, skiing and snowboarding. “We hardly ever find ourselves bored!”
“People can come and get some of the freshest seafood available in Colorado,” Douglas said of his new endeavor. “We’ve modernized the menu and freshened up the space, and we’ve kept all the great seafood appeal.”
Fall means food and wine festivals and also a chance to see the colors just starting to turn over Vail Pass during a bike ride for charity.