Big Horn Bistro: a haven in East Vail
As the only restaurant in East Vail, Big Horn Bistro could get by as a burger joint. So says Mike McCann, Bistro server since the restaurant’s inception 10 years ago. But rather than a grab-and-go greasy spoon or low-key hotel restaurant, everything is gourmet at Big Horn, from the pappadam (big, paper-thin crackers) and bread bowl to the fresh seafood, tender beef, occasional venison and delicately cooked, molten chocolate-infused s’mores. Oh yes. Despite its fine-dining status, the most expensive item on the Bistro’s menu is $28 (the rib-eye) and a half-pound burger with homemade chile-ketchup will set you back $10.50.
On cold, snowy nights, an icy walk doesn’t have to be part of the experience, as the Bistro is nestled into the cozy A-frame quarters of the Vail Racquet Club with parking right outside.
Mindful of vegetarians and other special diets, Chef Webster Lee is well -read and enjoys experimenting with ethnic flavors. Hence the subtly spiced lemongrass mussels, Moroccan Tasmanian Salmon and blue-cheese dabbled tenderloin.
Kids can choose between a mini version of the rib-eye to the likes of chicken fingers or grilled cheese (nearly all between $7 and $10). Adults, too, can opt for the more traditional but still succulent marinated pork chop, fish and chips or roasted chicken breast, all with sauces and sides flaunting a fair share of attention and originality. The Sesame-Crusted Yellow Fin Tuna is almost buttery in texture, surrounded by a fresh blend of slaw, sprouts and lima beans drizzled with a light vinaigrette.
The Shrimp and Curry Rice Noodles have been with the Bistro since the beginning, as certain long-time regulars (many of whom stop through every time they drive up from Denver) are addicted to the dish. When it comes to red meat, though the beef carpaccio has a light black pepper rub and the tenderloin (available as a special) has a trace of truffle reduction and drop of blue cheese, the cuts speak for themselves, so tender they separate with a gentle slice of the fork.