Alpenrose brings Swiss flavor to Vail

By Katie Coakley EAT Magazine
If you go ... What: Alpenrose, refreshed rustic with a homey feel. Where: 100 E Meadow Dr #25, Vail Cost: Lunch: $9-$34; Dinner: $9-$44 Signature dish: Tomato cheese fondue More information: Call 970.476.8899.

For more than 40 years, Alpenrose has been luring guests and locals alike away from “what they should do” onto their appealing patio, plying them with liters of authentic German beer and cuisine to match. And while the new owners, the Thomas (who created Almresi), are making some changes, the decades of warmth, comfort and family cheer remain.

Though there are some similarities to Almresi (Diana Thoma’s designer eye is unmistakable) there are distinct differences, too. The family was adamant about keeping the Alpenrose name and celebrating the history of the restaurant — but with a bit of freshening up.

Alpenrose glows with fresh white paint and reclaimed wood from a farmhouse in Switzerland. Community tables “invite guests to become friends,” and antique ski chairs add a resort flair to the décor. The feel is rustic and traditional, with touches that evoke a visit to a German grandmother’s home.

“When you go to your grandma (or at least in Germany), they have different colors and the plates they don’t fit, but you put everything on the table,” Alyssa Thoma explains. “It’s just a mix and match kind of thing and then it still looks cute. So, it’s more really being at home, at a grandma’s place.”

The menu showcases Austrian, German and Swiss dishes that will chase the chill from your bones. Warming soups like potato soup and a ravioli-filled consommé are on offer, as are hearty entrées like Alpengnocchi, filled with a chestnut truffle and topped with Gorgonzola cream sauce.

A few favorites from Almresi, like the rosti and the crispy pork shank, have migrated to Alpenrose (“because they’re too good not to have them,” Joshua Thoma says), but the menu also features new dishes that are bound to become Alpenrose favorites, like the Walliser tomaten-kasefondue, a tomato cheese fondue that the Thomas discovered in Zermatt, Switzerland. The traditional raclette is a bit different at Alpenrose, too: Instead of cooking in the middle of the table, adorable individual raclettes are stationed at each setting. Duck, lamb, veal, pork and chicken are presented in dishes both familiar and new, but there are vegetarian options as well.

For those who are looking for a bit of liquid warmth, Alpenrose is bringing the Austrian tradition of schnapps “before, during and after skiing” to Vail. The schnapps menu is extensive with flavors ranging from plum to zirbenschnaps, a traditional stone pine liquor. A specialty schnapps shot board is on offer for those with several brave friends; the presentation is as striking as the schnapps.
Alpenrose has been an iconic destination in Vail for more than four decades and it’s now shining with new life, preserving the heart while welcoming new friends. So sidle up for a schnapps or sit down for a meal — Alpenrose will warm you in more ways than one.

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