Atwater on Gore Creek opens in Vail
Vail CO, Colorado
VAIL, Colorado ” Editor’s Note: High Life publishes restaurant features, not straight reviews. We can’t guarantee you’ll have the same experience we did.
From the indoor patio at Vail’s latest eatery, the diner can see snow falling through the angular glass windows, and hotel guests swimming in the heated pool below.
It is the kind of scene that nearly makes patrons jealous of themselves: “So I was warming myself by the bronze-plated fireplace in the Vail Cascade Resort’s new restaurant, admiring the view of the slopes … ”
Thanks to a $3 million makeover and advice from famous designer Elizabeth Blau, Atwater on Gore Creek has emerged chic and comfortable. The restaurant opened Dec. 19 in the former Chap’s Grill and Chophouse location.
The name, which has no relation to former Denver Bronco Steve Atwater, plays up the eatery’s location on Gore Creek.
The dining experience has already left an impression on customers like Dana Iliescu, a 25-year-old Los Angeles resident sharing a piece of chocolate cake with her boyfriend.
“I can honestly say this is my new favorite restaurant and I would pay to fly out here just to have another dinner,” she said.
Heading up the kitchen is Anthony Mazza, a 29-year-old Pittsburgh native who looks like a younger Matt Damon (sorry ladies, he’s married with a 9-month-old son).
Mazza created the contemporary American menu.
For instance, his nachos arrive piled with kobe beef chili. The nachos primo ($13) is warm, meaty comfort food perfect for apres ski.
“I wanted to do something different and a little four-star,” said Mazza, whose title is chef de cuisine.
Guests can choose between two dining areas ” a casual tavern and a fine dining room ” though customers can order off either menu.
Casual fare includes the “new mac-n-cheese,” made with small beads of pasta called acini de pepe smothered in cheddar, parmesan and heavy cream. The organic fried chicken ($16) is brined overnight, double battered in buttermilk and served with a sweet barbecue sauce.
Highlights from the fine dining dinner menu include the Colorado striped bass, served with its crispy skin ($25). Atwater also serves a full lunch menu and a breakfast buffet with offerings like blueberry and homemade ricotta cheese pancakes.
For Mazza, working in the kitchen is an extension of his upbringing. He learned to cook from his European grandparents.
“I remember my grandfather shooting a rabbit and braising it in his basement,” he recalled.
Here in the Vail Valley, Mazza has worked alongside some of the most famous chefs in town at Kelly Liken, Larkspur and Mirabelle. He is a hands-on chef who worked the fryer on Christmas Day.
“This is what I dream about,” he said, taking a break from chef duties to show family friends a picture of his baby. “This is what I was raised around: Family in the kitchen.”
High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or firstname.lastname@example.org.