Beaver Creek’s Grouse Mountain Grill epitomizes mountain-style fine dining | VailDaily.com
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Beaver Creek’s Grouse Mountain Grill epitomizes mountain-style fine dining

Wren Wertin
Special Sections Editor
Beaver Creek, CO Colorado
EAT Grouse Mountain Grill 2 DT 6-27-09
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On the patio, there’s the view of Beaver Creek and a riot of aspens. Inside, cool cat Tony Gulizia works the piano. Choosing a table is a tricky choice indeed.

Tucked into The Pines Lodge in Beaver Creek, Grouse Mountain Grill has long been a destination that epitomizes mountain-style fine dining that incorporates comfortably rustic portion sizes with ingredient-driven respect for each element. This summer there’s a wider variety in menu pricing in order to make the restaurant accessible to more people.

“We’ve still got the menu items people are used to seeing at Grouse,” says Executive Chef Joe Ritchie. “But we’ve also got some food that’s a little more casual than what we’ve done in the recent past. And we’ve expanded the appetizer list with some really fun things.”

One such fun thing is the glazed duck over Asian noodles. It’s reminiscent of pho, the traditional Vietnamese soup. The duck’s sweetly crisp skin lends itself beautifully to the spicy broth.

It would be difficult to overstate the manchego tart with a trio of beets. Baked low and slow, the homemade pastry is filled with the cheese – fluffed up with eggs – and intense caramelized onions. Topped with a spike of arugula, the tart is good as a stand-alone. But the beets act as a counterpoint to all of that decadence: yellows, slow-roasted in olive oil until they’re as creamy as the tart itself; pinks, pickled and cubed to bring a briny shock; reds pureed into a zippy vinaigrette, saucing the plate.

When Ritchie is writing his menus, he’s got a running tally in his head that balances local ingredients and house-made products with the other components of any well rounded, accessible menu. He’s committed to buying as locally as possible.

“It makes every dish slightly more special,” he says. “Plus, there are long-term ramifications of how we buy what we buy. Who wouldn’t rather eat something grown in Colorado?”

It’s not just the fresh produce on the plates, though, that has a local streak. If Ritchie were a historian, he’d be a romantic one. He’s enamored of the timeless traditions of putting up, preserving and canning products while they’re ripe and abundant. You’ll find them on the menu with descriptors like “Last Summer’s Pears.” Ritchie is also having a love affair with charcuterie, so many of the sausages that occasionally dot the menu are house-made.

Wine Director Bill Minnet has expanded his list from an All-American concept to include other parts of the New World, such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Pastry Chef Rebecca DeAngelo has beautifully reinvented Grouse’s signature dessert, the apple bread pudding with a whiskey-caramel sauce. But don’t pass up the ice cream-laced tiramisu spiked with French espresso.


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