8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill at the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek
BEAVER CREEK, Colroado A pair of chefs stood sentry in front of 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grills centerpiece on Friday night a 66-inch wood-burning grill thats in full view of restaurant diners. I like the fact that every guest that walks in gets to walk past the kitchen, they get to see whats going on as they walk to their table, said Reese Hay, the restaurants executive chef. The grill, which is kept between 550 and 600 degrees on the right side and 250 degrees on the left side, infuses meat with flavor, Hays said.We burn oak and throw a couple of mesquite logs in there right before service for the smoke, he said. It gives it just enough smoke to enhance the flavor of the meat without overpowering it.
8100, the new restaurant in the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek, opened its doors to the public on Friday, though a few hundred locals got a sneak peek at the restaurant now with nearly 1,900 more square feet of dining space on Thursday night during an invite-only party. The restaurant, which replaces Bivans and Whiskey Elk, has been in the works since August. If you walked into Bivans a year ago and then walked into the new restaurant today, you wouldnt be able to tell its the same place, Hay said. Hes absolutely right. The interior space of the restaurant has been completely transformed, with a much brighter, more open feel and a more stream-lined contemporary look that includes leopard-print carpet (its a great soil concealer, designer Peter Niemitz wrote in an e-mail interview) and cast stainless-steel antelope heads. Niemitz is president and designer at Niemitz Design Group, the Boston-based firm responsible for 8100s new look.We also wanted this to be a casual, approachable venue that would be popular with the Valley residents and visitors, Niemitz wrote. The bar and exhibition grill are the new focus and heart of the space.But the restaurant is much more than the bar and grill areas. Walking into the restaurant its hard to miss the 1,000-bottle wine cabinet, which serves double duty as a buffer for the 10-seat chefs table tucked on the other side. Previously wasted space, according to Niemitz, the area is one of the architects favorite spots, he said. And on the other side of the restaurant, a gas fireplace set in a large column separates a large dining area, allowing guests on either side of the divider to dine fireside.
The space isnt the only thing thats gotten a makeover. Hay has been working on writing the menu and setting up local purveyors and suppliers since May, he said.Its the beef dishes the filet and the dry-aged New York steak ($32) served with asparagus, chestnuts and bacon in a red wine sauce that are the stand-out dishes for Hay. Not surprising considering hes a self-proclaimed red meat kind of guy.The filet mignon ($34) tastes buttery even before you slide it through the decadent bernaise sauce. And the elk, which for now is being shipped in from Alberta, Canada (until an elk farm located near Steamboat gets the go ahead to sell to restaurants, Hay said), is very flavorful without even a hint of gaminess. Three good-sized pieces of elk loin ($29) are served with blackberry, sage and roasted shallot compote studded with whole berries and topped with crispy fried sage leaves. And theres plenty to choose from if beef isnt your bag, including spiced duck, chicken, and a trio of chops lamb, veal and pork. There are four seafood options, including tender halibut ($30) served with grapes and roasted pine nuts on a bed of quinoa risotto and Alaskan salmon with mushroom puree, lemon zest and sauted porcini mushrooms.The fare is American, with kind of a French twist with the sauces, Hay said. Were trying to highlight the flavors of Colorado and keep it pretty basic, pretty simple.Its admittedly harder to get Colorado products, especially produce, during the winter, he said. Thats why Hay planned ahead, ordering 1,000 pounds of Colorado onions so he can serve his roasted onion soup with gruyere cheese ($12) throughout the season. He handpicked nearly 100 pounds of porcini mushrooms near Beaver Lake in Beaver Creek with his sous chef Matt Paula and bought another 200 pounds of the mushrooms from local hunters in order to serve Vail Valley porcini mushroom soup all winter long. Though Colorado edibles speckle the menu now, Hays hopes to showcase a lot more Colorado-bred fare on the spring and summer menus. High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or email@example.com.