7 one 5 has your number in Vail
July 30, 2010
Editor’s note: High Life publishes restaurant features, not straight reviews. We can’t guarantee you’ll have the same experience we did.VAIL – It takes a deft culinary craftsman to avoid the trap that catches many gourmet kitchens: Focus too much on a specialty, and you risk sacrificing variety; get too creative, and you might stray from the best you can offer. The chefs at 7 one 5 in Vail negotiate those pitfalls with deep knowledge of a wide selection of ingredients and a menu that shows a flair for experimentation without losing the tried and tested techniques that ensure a positive dining experience.The latest incarnation of the second-floor restaurant in the Vail Marriott continues the tradition of using organic ingredients like the location’s previous occupant, Ocotillo, but 7 one 5 departs from its predecessor by diversifying its offerings beyond Ocotillo’s Southwestern-steakhouse theme. The seasonally adjusted menu includes large raviolis made in-house and stuffed full of wild mushroom and goat cheese for a deep richness that is cut nicely by sweet, whole figs and a fig balsamic jam. The Colorado striped bass is pan-seared to perfection and is one of the menu items labeled “sustainable,” which the restaurant says are made only with ingredients raised through practices that take less from the environment than they put back. The location still offers cuts of beef, including an excellent Colorado-beef filet served with fingerling potatoes and complemented by the tang of oven-roasted tomatoes. A decent list of wines are available by the bottle or glass to accompany your entree.
The restaurant particularly shines with its small plates, a collection of lighter dishes with loads of variety that show off the chefs’ inventiveness. Grilled asparagus over a wilted frisee salad tossed with pancetta is all topped with a poached egg that, when broken to allow the yolk to flow through the dish, turns it into an unusual, tasty and visual treat. A fire-marinated Ecuadoran shrimp ceviche is served in a martini glass rimmed with habanero sugar and accompanied by lime-salted popcorn. And my favorite goes back to executive sous chef Scott Nesbitt’s roots — a dish of sliced, fresh tomatoes topped with house-made ricotta cheese to complement thin strips of pork rubbed and marinated with achiote. The flavor and consistency of the dish, based on a recipe Nesbitt’s grandmother used to make in Hawaii. are similar to Chinese twice-cooked pork. A key component of the 7 one 5 concept is the inclusion of sandwiches and burgers to make a casual gourmet meal more accessible to families.”We’re trying to make it a little more user-friendly for people to come in with their kids,” said executive chef Mark Millwood.The dining room is casually elegant and airy with an open layout that allows enough breathing room for a personal experience. It’s just separated enough from the bustle of the resort to allow a serene outdoor view through large picture windows in the far hotel wall.Being somewhat hidden inside a hotel, let alone one that’s off the more beaten paths of Vail Village and Lionshead, might make 7 one 5 a more obvious choice for the Marriott’s guests than for others. But with a comfortable atmosphere, great variety and summer prices below $10 for small plates and no more than $30 for entrees, there’s no reason not to take advantage.The Vail Marriott Mountain Resort & Spa is located at 715 W. Lionshead Circle in Vail (hence “7 one 5”). Call 970-476-4444 for reservations.