Russell’s: Vail’s neighborhood steakhouse
For decades, Russell’s has occupied a prime location in the center of Vail Village, with windows facing out toward the bustle of Bridge Street and the beauty of Gore Creek. A classic steakhouse with all the trimmings, its reputation was built on consistency and the tried-and-true. Fresh off a remodel, Russell’s reopened with a new chef earlier in 2022, and things have never been better.
“We’re still the heart of the Vail Village — your neighborhood steakhouse,” explained long-time General Manager Michele Lewis. “The remodel is really just an update, a little facelift.”
Lewis has been at the restaurant for more than 15 years, and is one of those people who is so good at her job that she makes it seem effortless. Of course she can remember guests’ names year after year. Of course she can reconfigure the dining room nightly to fit the varying reservation sizes. Of course she can recommend that bottle of wine that perfectly complements the king crab legs and the bone-in pork chop, the Skuna Bay salmon and the ribeye.
As for Lewis, she’s most excited about Executive Chef Jason Bayle, who moved to Vail from Naples, Florida.
“He’s brought more elevated standards, using more local farms,” she said.
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After spending a summer season learning the ins and outs of Russell’s, he’s bringing in a few changes here and there.
“The idea was to maintain Russell’s identity, since we’ve been the heart of the village for 33 years,” said Bayle. “And the menu hasn’t changed too much, but we’re more from-scratch, completely in-house. We’ve started to source with the smaller farms, and we’re putting the same effort into our seafood as our beef — finding what’s sustainable.”
Look for his new A5 Wagyu steak appetizer with Yakiniku sauce — A5 is the highest Wagyu rating possible in the U.S. And instead of the de facto-shrimp cocktail, try the seafood Campechana, a mix of shrimp, octopus and crab with olives, avocado and tomato. The tuna sashimi appetizer is still a go-to favorite, with delicately seasoned sushi-grade ahi, barely seared and served with a crunch of marinated cabbage, ginger and wasabi. And the bacon-wrapped scallops are another great option with staying power.
The most popular item on the menu is the filet mignon, often embellished with the aforementioned king crab leg. The massive crab leg, perfectly steamed, brings the melt-in-your-mouth tender beef to another plane entirely. And unlike a la carte steakhouses, Russell’s provides the full meal: scalloped potatoes plus veggies and a hit of béarnaise sauce round out the plate.
“The upgrades are great, but people come here because they know what they’re going to get,” said Lewis. “They know they’re going to be greeted by a welcoming staff, including our kitchen staff, that has been here for 10, 20, 30 years.”
It’s just in a fresher, more contemporary dining room — and all the views are intact.
228 Bridge Street
Vail, CO 81657