Game Creek Restaurant |

Game Creek Restaurant

Cassie Pence
Vail, CO Colorado

It’s the journey: Game Creek Restaurant sits high atop Vail Mountain, and the journey that takes you there is an experience in of itself. A gondola whisks you to the top of Eagle’s Nest where you load into a shuttle van and roll along High Country roads to a cozy European-style chalet. Out on the deck among the blooming aspens ” bubbly in hand ” you watch the sun dip behind the craggy peaks of Holy Cross Mountain. The sky blazes with magenta and orange, making you almost forget the reason why you’re here ” dinner.

New menu, new concept

Executive Chef Darrell Jensen has written a brand new menu with a “create-your-own-tasting” concept at its center. Jensen invites diners to choose three, four or five courses. But forget what you know about conventional, structured dining. There are no rules to ordering like there was in the past at Game Creek. Diners can choose one salad and three desserts if the mood strikes them. With the exception of Jensen’s signature seared scallops with lemon thyme dressing, all the dishes are fresh to Game Creek – and approachable. “I want people to look at the menu and understand everything that’s on it. But I want them to find a few surprises, too,”Jensen says.

The surprises

It’s the extra touches, Jensen says, that takes his menu from good to great. The chilled golden beet soup, for example, is served with goat cheese panna cotta, a rich Italian cooked cream usually reserved for dessert. It’s common to serve venison with a fruit sauce, but Jensen chooses an unexpected variety. He prepares his with Mathurini sauce made from brandy and raisons, and then lightens the whole dish up accompanying it with a raw, crunchy cabbage salad. His green bean salad is reminiscent of mom’s version at Thanksgiving, but he infuses almonds into the crispy shallots and tops it with a fried quail egg for an interesting, tasty twist.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

One for the East

Eli’s lobster roll promises to attract a cult following of home-sick East Coasters. It’s a nod to sous chef Eli Odell’s roots. A lobster roll is a lot like a chicken salad sandwich but fashioned from the freshest lobster. At first take, it eats more like picnic food than fine dining fare, but when Game Creek bakes its own bread daily and prepares all the acoutrements from scratch ” mayonaise dressing, whole grain mustard and pickles – the lobster roll becomes haute cuisine.

Food chemistry

Jensen cooks his olive oil poached Scottish salmon slowly at 118 degrees and then finishes it off with a little lemon oil and serves it with kohlrabi puree. The temperature precision is important, because the oils release at 120 degrees, causing that fishy taste and smell. “At 118 degrees,” Jensen says, “it looks almost raw, but it’s cooked, and there’s no oder. It just melts in your mouth.”

Game Creek Restaurant

Game Creek Bowl, Vail Mountain

970.479.4275, reservations required

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