The Fitz offers elevated comfort food
Editor’s note: This story is reprinted from EAT magazine, featuring the best restaurants in the valley. EAT is available on magazine racks and in hotel lobbies for free.
Great chefs know that cuisine is never truly mastered because the paradigm of dining is ever-evolving. There is always something new to learn in the kitchen — a new technique to try or a fun flavor to include. This refreshing revelation gives these talented and creative chefs like Ken Butler a clean plate of possibility for every new meal, every new season. As Executive Chef at The Fitz Bar & Restaurant, Butler continues to create comfort food in an elevated way. A dining experience at The Fitz can range from a festive apres ski with friends to a couple’s more intimate date night. Guests will quickly realize that this classic Vail establishment has a fine way of honoring ski-town tradition while keeping the eats, drinks and atmosphere modern and lively. Located right across from Vail Mountain at Golden Peak, The Fitz is inside Manor Vail Lodge and has proved a welcoming destination for decades. Come in after a day of skiing and warm up by the fire with a cocktail like the Prosecco Refashioned, made with peach bitters, muddled cherry, blackberry and orange, topped playfully with bubbly wine. Butler develops his dishes the same way he creates a menu: combinations that focus on quality ingredients, balanced flavors and dynamic textures. It’s the single dimension of one element — like the raw asparagus he uses in an asparagus salad — that can be combined with another layer, then another and another, to create the perfect dish. That salad gets its depth from the citrus in the dressing, salt in the prosciutto and crunch of the asparagus. All Butler’s dishes come together this way; food that rises above just being consumed and into the relevance of table conversation. “We keep it simple,” he says, “often including just four or five ingredients to allow the food to speak for itself.” You won’t go wrong ordering from Butler’s menu, from lighter choices like roasted cauliflower or a diced ahi poke salad to more robust main dishes of roasted duck breast, rack of lamb and braised beef cheeks. And for that last dose of comfort, the s’mores cheesecake from Pastry Chef Justin Heredia is a whipped delight, complete with a brulee of marshmallow cream.