Feel the Island breeze at Billy’s Island Grill | VailDaily.com

Feel the Island breeze at Billy’s Island Grill

Cassie Pence
Bret Hartman/Vail DailyBilly's Island Grill is located Lionshead.

Tucked away off a sunny deck in Lionshead among electrified palm trees and cabana-blue umbrellas is a haven for hand-carved steaks.Billy’s Island Grill is the only restaurant in town that cuts its steaks in-house according to how the meat will be cooked.

“If someone orders a steak rare, the cut will be much thicker. Cutting steaks to how we’re going to cook them makes the meat more flavorful with less gristle and fewer imperfections,” Billy Suarez, owner and mastermind behind Billy’s Island Grill, said.Suarez has been in the restaurant business since ’72. He’s incorporated all of his favorite restaurant ideas into his own place. Spending a lot of time in Cabo San Lucas, a lot of Suarez’s dishes carry island finesse.I started with the coconut crunchy shrimp ($10.95) with plum dipping sauce. The crust is light and crisp, and the plum sauce adds to the dish’s underlying sweetness. I also sampled sautéed jumbo lump crab ($13.75). The moist Maryland blue crab meat, cooked in lemon and garlic, rests on a piece of toast. The rich, but not too heavy, appetizer was one of chef Matt Jones’ creations.

In between starters and the main course, I had to order a half portion of Chef Matt’s Pacific rim special – scallops ($12/$24). Orange glaze and sirache chili sauce with Asian noodles and tossed peppers, onions and cilantro host the sesame seared scallops. The sauce is a delicate juxtaposition of spicy and sweet – one of life’s true pleasures. You can order many of Billy Island Grill’s favorites in half portions. It allows you to experience more of the menu.FIlet mignon with Cabo shrimp ($34.95) and grilled halibut with mango salsa ($22.95) graced our plates for dinner. Suarez discovered the Cabo shrimp during one of his many stints in Mexico. “Me and some friends went into some back-street bar in Cabo. We asked for the special,” Suarez said.

When the waiter returned, he brought Suarez jumbo shrimp wrapped in bacon and stuffed with asadera, a Mexican cheese. After one bite, Suarez vowed to include the dish on his menu.Chopped mango, pineapple, jicama and a little cilantro pair perfectly with the fresh grilled halibut. Suarez originally hails from California. He uses his West Coast connection to import the freshest seafood.

Maybe it’s Suarez’s “live and let live” attitude or the extra skip in the server’s step, but the laid-back atmosphere swirling around Billy’s Island Grill beckons you to linger. As you sit, sipping on a coconut-infused Mai Tai and forking the last bit of homemade key lime pie, you might even feel the blow of an island breeze.Billy’s Island Grill

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Fish-and-steak house(970) 476-8811LionsheadVail Colorado

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