Grouse Mountain Grill
Vail, CO Colorado
Tony Gulizia is the workingest musician in the valley. He plays a full range of jazz standards in the bar six nights a week, and there’s no song he doesn’t know.
If any restaurant can make you feel smug, it’s Grouse Mountain Grill. Tucked into The Pines Lodge in Beaver Creek, it’s the sort of place you have to know about to find. Once you do, a round of congratulations is in order ” and that’s before you take a sip or eat a bite. Floor-to-ceiling windows running the length of the room let the mountain right in, and friendly servers are a blur of action answering questions and delivering food. It’s a room built for solid comfort.
Close to home
A West Coast transplant, Executive Chef Joe Ritchie has spent his Colorado time getting downright intimate with the local produce. Now that the season of plenty is upon us, he’s got plenty to work with. Every dish on the menu either highlights a local product (think peaches or sweet corn) or is made with some unusual tidbit that’s house-made (such as bacon or elk sausage). Utilizing Palisade cherries, the pan-seared muscovy duck breast is an exercise in sexy mouth-feel. Parsnip blintzes, tempered by the slightest addition of maple syrup, offer a tangy counterpoint to the robust meat. But it’s those insanely sweet cherries, plumped by heat and port, that take the dish over the edge. Paired with a spicy 2006 Stoller JV pinot noir, the dish unleashes the inner hedonist. Other stand-out entrees include the grilled venison tenderloin with house-made elk sausage. If ever a red meat were meant for summer it’s this one: clean, clear and light, without even a nod to gaminess. And the rainbow trout is stuffed and roasted, crowning a blue corn polenta cake.
Ritchie has substantially expanded the appetizer menu. This is good news for people who want to stop by the bar, listen to a few tunes by jazz cat Tony Gulizia, and nosh on a couple of small plates. “We want people to drop in a couple nights a week rather than just for a special occasion,” Ritchie explains. “We’ve still got the Grouse Mountain Grill experience, but you can have a less formal one, too.” On the new appetizer list is a refreshing diver scallop salad. Grilled and then quickly chilled, the sweet seafood is slightly smoky. Perched atop matchstick-thin fennel and apple, it’s summertime incarnate. A 2006 Livon Braide Grande pinot grigio makes a lively, almost effervescent, pairing ” and an excellent start to the evening.
Grouse Mountain Grill
In the Pines Lodge, Beaver Creek