A taste of the sea at Montauk in Vail’s Lionshead Village
In a world of revolving food trends and restaurant openings, it’s easy to get lost in ideas about the next new thing. But walk into Montauk Seafood Grill for a night out, and discover why the restaurant, which opened in 1987, has such staying power. It’s rooted in a laser focus on what they are.
“The main thing about Montauk is it is the premier seafood restaurant in Vail, Colorado. It’s that simple. That’s always been important to me,” said chef-partner Dimitri Souvorin. “Our whole menu revolves around showcasing the seafood itself. I love coming up with preparations where the seafood shines.”
As with any restaurant, Montauk’s success is the cumulative effect of getting all the details right: warm and friendly service, quality products, talented chefs, a comfortable and contemporary dining room, and a lively atmosphere filled with return customers. But the heart and soul is the pristine seafood. Souvorin sources the restaurant’s sustainable seafood from around the world. And though the menu changes frequently — people are often surprised to discover fish have seasons, just as vegetables — there are always many seafood selections in the lineup. As for a signature preparation?
“We are Montauk Seafood Grill — so it’s right in the name,” said Chef Dimitri, laughing. “We always offer simply grilled with just salt and pepper. That’s for the purists out there who love to come in and enjoy seafood in its purest form. Everything is available that way.”
Of course, there are many other preparations, too, from seared and sauced to grilled and topped. And Souvorin puts as much love into his steaks and chops as he does the seafood. But one way to get the party started quickly is with the raw and chilled shellfish selections.
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“We have the largest raw bar in town,” he said enthusiastically. “Oysters, king crab, lobster claws, caviar. We’re finding all kinds of great options to bring. After a hard day of skiing, sometimes coming in and having a raw bar plate and a couple of martinis is just the classic way to end the day. That is Vail: a fine day of skiing, oysters and champagne.”
To that end, go for it all and order The Tower, with its three amazing layers. The raw bar extravaganza includes abundant Alaskan King crab legs, Alaskan Dungeness crab, Maine lobster, jumbo white prawn cocktail, oysters and lump crab cocktail. And of course, add some caviar.
Montauk was opened in 1987, and Souvorin has been there since 1997. He worked his way up from line cook to sous chef to executive chef. He bought it, sold it, and then came back in as a partner with Cameron Douglas, who has a habit of finding passionate, talented people and offering them an ownership stake in their restaurants. (The restaurant group opened its third restaurant, El Segundo Eagle, earlier this season.) It’s part of the winning formula.
“There’s such a difference between having a job and having a career,” Souvorin said. “Most of my adult life I’ve spent in the hallways of Montauk Seafood Grill. It’s deeply a labor of love for me, and that’s something I’m really proud of.”
And that’s a delicious outcome for everyone else.
Montauk Seafood Grill
549 E. Lionshead Circle
Starters and Raw Bar
starting at $17;
Entrées: $41 – $84
Seafood grill meets mountain-modern aesthetic
Herb-crusted Alaskan halibut