Belly up to Edwards’ nostalgia bistro |

Belly up to Edwards’ nostalgia bistro

Caramie SchnellVail, CO Colorado
Theo Stroomer/Vail DailySharon Puczynski, of Vail, left, talks to Jon Boord of Edwards, facing away, and Craig Cohn of Vail at Rick and Kelly's on Saturday.

EDWARDS, Colorado Cuisine is not a word Kelly Liken uses when describing her newest restaurant, Rick & Kellys American Bistro, or the food they serve. Pick another word from the pile: Comfort, homemade, casual, fun; the list goes on. This is homegrown comfort food, Liken said. All-American, family dinner kind of food. Youre never going to see foie gras or caviar, thats not what we do here.And indeed, Liken is saving the avant garde ingredients for Restaurant Kelly Liken, her fine dining establishment in Vail. Rick & Kellys is as accessible for a couple on a first date as it is for a family of five. Its a place where your kids can eat the same thing you can, Liken said.

The bistro is located in Riverwalk in Edwards, in the space which most recently housed Frites. The restaurant opened nearly two weeks ago and has been cranking ever since. On a recent Tuesday night nearly every table in the house was filled. Mom, dad and kids sat next to young couples grabbing a bite to eat after a movie at the nearby theater. The place has a laid-back vibe that at times feels like a 1950s-style diner: Waiters don T-shirts, blue jeans and Chuck Taylors. The large-scale contemporary chandeliers that used to hang from the ceiling have been replaced with glittering, round light fixtures. More recent pop art Andy Warhols soups cans and bright prints by Roy Lichtenstein decorate the walls. And forget fresh flowers or candles Rubiks Cubes dot every table. The only thing missing is a jukebox and perhaps Elvis crooning Hound Dog in the background.Thats actually a good idea, Liken said, referring to the jukebox. Ive had people ask, Are you going after the 50s, 60s or 70s? And the answer is all of them. Were trying to hit all these little quintessential things. People go, I havent played with a Rubiks Cube in so long. Were trying to pique peoples interest in all these fun things.Its the fun part of the concept that Liken hopes will attract a steady local clientele.The initial concept was to create a fun, high-energy gathering place, at a very comfortable price point, and have a lot of different entertainment options for people, Liken said. I dont think its changed. It seems like people in Edwards are really taking to the concept, she said, noting that the restaurant has sold out of the daily specials every night the first week.And indeed, at least one Edwards resident is pleased. Hans Berglund, owner of Berglund Architects in Edwards, visited the restaurant with a group of six people last week.I always liked that restaurant space, its really a fun atmosphere, he said. I thought the interior was great, I like the feel of it. The outdoor patio is great. We were trying to sit outside, but it was too full.Berglund also appreciated the wide range of food, available, he said. While he opted for the grilled mahi mahi fish tacos, his wife, a vegetarian, had the portabella stack ($17), which is layers of roasted red pepper, spinach, carmelized onion, sun-dried tomato and cilantro pesto. She was excited about (Rick & Kellys) opening because for vegetarians, there arent great options in Edwards, other than just getting a basic salad, Berglund said. Along with the usual salad suspects chopped vegetable, classic caesar and spinach with goat cheese, pickled shallots and candied pecans there are three vegetarian pizza offerings, one with barbecued tofu. Veg-heads can even enjoy faux wings, made from vegetable protein called seitan, which is fried and tossed in tangy wing sauce. Berglund called the housemade veggie burger, which one person in his group ordered, great not just a hockey puck.Executive chef Jude Wargo is responsible for the creative vegetarian fare, including the veggie burgers which are made from lentils, barley and tons of herbs and spices, Liken said. Its just phenomenal. We have a lot of people who arent vegetarian eating them.The tempura-fried green beans are light and crisp. While I wouldnt go as far as calling them a healthy alternative to fries, like the menu does, our waiter pointed out that they are fried in soybean oil instead of peanut oil and hey, at least theyre green, right? he said. Calorie counting aside, the little beans are addictive.And whats Likens favorite dish on the menu? I love the barbecue chicken, she said, without hesitation. Its a half chicken with the bone in. We brine it overnight its my moms recipe. We cook it really slowly, turning it a lot and basting it with barbecue sauce. Its juicy and moist and delicious.The whole striped bass is cooked in the 600-degree woodburning oven, which is also used to bake the pizzas. As it roasts, the bass gets a little charred, which is a great contrast with the lemon and herb marinade, Liken said.Whatever you do, dont skip dessert. Along with housemade ice cream sandwiches, milkshakes and ice cream floats, theres fresh fruit cobbler made with whatever is in season. If thats not comfort food, what is?High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or

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