Dinner at the Joly’s | VailDaily.com

Dinner at the Joly’s

Laura A. Ball
AE Mirabelle2 SM 2-21

BEAVER CREEK – Like chef Daniel Joly’s traditional dish of Dover sole and potato tuile, when life serves up a morsel of goodness, a combination so ideal, it’s natural to come to the conclusion that such a rare slice of perfection must have always existed that way. Upon dining at Mirabelle, this is the exact romantic notion that strikes me as I witness and admire the chef and his wife run a successful marriage and business. Six nights a week, since the couple bought the establishment 11 years ago, Nathalie Joly stands out front greeting loyal guests, while in the back of the house, Daniel creates cuisine just as consistent as his wife’s smile. We are seated in an cozy corner in one of the intimate rooms the charming turn-of-the-century farmhouse boasts. A large picture window covets a snow-tipped pine tree beyond its glass. Sconces on the wall present an atmosphere of warmth and candlelight. It feels like home, and it should, the couple lives upstairs.

Nathalie appears with two glasses of champagne, and as my date and I clink glasses, I secretly wonder if my own fate will embody the same model for imitation.We started with the trio of French truffles ($47) or sophisticated tapas as Daniel calls it. “The trio is a food trend right now, and with a trilogy, you allow people a different flavor in each dish,” the chef said. “It’s interesting for someone to taste the variations side by side, and it’s fun to taste the value of the wine with each dish.”The starter offered a pastry pocket, cut open to reveal a warm, creamy truffle souffle, truffle vinaigrette splashed over leeks and rich langoustine and slivers of raw truffles mingling with a refreshing asparagus black diamonds salad and traces of prosciutto. Truffles have one of the most distinctive, delicious flavors in the world, making Daniel’s interpretation, showcasing different aspects of the same ingredient, even more exciting.

“Be careful,” Nathalie said as she passed by, flashing her trademark smile. “Truffles are an aphrodesiac.”Next, we tried the crispy sea scallops ($17) coupled with soft, earthy beet confit salad, organic beet salad and cool horseradish cream. “It’s very easy to be a talented chef if all you do is cook with dover sole and truffle,” Daniel said. “I think it’s really cool to cook with an ingredient like beets that you don’t use a lot at home. It’s nice to use some of those forgotten ingredients.”When the chef’s wife returned, I asked her how she and Daniel met. It was 23 years ago, she said, in Over Eyse, a suburb of Brussels. A neighboor had introduced them at a party, but Nathalie didn’t pay much attention to aspiring chef, just shy of 16, until the next day, when she noticed someone following while she walked her dog. “It was Daniel,” she said.

“It was yesterday,” he said.Then it’s true, I thought, the time and place where Mirabelle now exists, the chef and his wife, hasn’t always been so, just like this. But for some reason, when the Dover sole arrives, I find myself doubting this observation of reality again. The restaurant is perhaps most famous for its Dover sole Meuniere ($45), delicately sliced and sauteed generously with brown lemon butter and baby spinach, embraced by a slice of crispy Yukon gold potato tuile.”We used to do it only in the winter but we had so many people ask for it in the winter we decided to do it all year-round.”Desiring a heartier entree, my date feasted on another of the restaurant’s signature items, the Colorado rack of lamb ($37). Savory, sweet honey and garlic encase the outer edges of tender lamb served with soft baby red potato and a slightly tangy bechamel, herbal jus.”Truly, Nathalie is a big part of Mirabelle.” Daniel said. “I know very few people because I always cooking in the back. The guests all know her, and I think Mirabelle is successful because of the people. That and the consistency of the food.”

It’s that consistency, whether in Nathalie’s smile and familiar laugh or Daniel’s sole that always brings us back, I thought, plunging in to creme brulee so sweet it come only from Mirabelle. Sweet MirabelleServing contemporary French cuisine Moday through SaturdayBase of Beaver Creek

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For reservations, call 949-7278Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14641, or laball@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado

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