Grouse Mountain Grill
Sophisticated, cozy and romantic with live jazz
& panoramic views
Crispy pork belly; the pan-roasted Alaskan halibut
Finest, freshest kids menu in town
141 Scott Hill Road | The Pines Lodge | Beaver Creek | grousemountaingrill.com | 970.949.0600
Have you ever returned home from dinner at a fine restaurant with flavors of great food still swirling ’round your tongue … and later, way past bedtime, even finer notes still dancing through your mind? Welcome to summer dining at Grouse Mountain Grill, at the Pines Lodge high above Beaver Creek Village.
Whether you’re an honest-to-God foodie in pursuit of the latest in regionally-influenced, seasonally-focused cuisine or just someone looking for that extra-special place to impress your date with a romantic table by the window, panoramic views, live-but-unassuming jazz music and sincerely impeccable service, “Grouse” always lives up to its reputation as one of the Vail Valley’s greatest culinary experiences. And owners David and Nancy Dowell continue to bolster that renown not only with an extraordinary staff in the kitchen, led since 2009 by Executive Chef David Gutowski, but with a host of fine talent in the dining room and behind the bar.
Worth noting this summer is expert bar chef Carlos Matorell’s assuming the role of head bartender with free reign now to create a cocktails menu that will entertain your palate, and mind, well beyond the meal. Take his Cuke-a-Racha, for instance, a variation on the standard margarita, with white tequila and fresh lime juice, of course, but jazzed up with his own, surreptitious jalapeño simple syrup, muddled cilantro for “herbal flavors” and cucumber for a powerful but “cooling effect.”
Servers extraordinaire like David Blackmore, meanwhile, are well-versed on how the staff back in the kitchen prepares dishes you’ll dream about later. His take on Gutowski’s absolutely delectable new summer tomatoes appetizer, with pickled ramps, smoked aioli, micro basil and a crispy, poached egg, is quite entertaining.
“They soft-boil the egg, take the shell off, carefully lay some bread crumb on it and flash fry it,” he says. “The white’s cooked but the yolk’s still runny.”
Conversations take on a different complexion when Certified Sommelier Rob Farrar visits the table. His pairing of Auxerrois, a fine Alsace white, with Gutowski’s new brined-and-braised crispy pork belly appetizer, is a prime example.
“It’s very reminiscent of Chardonnay but with a lighter body, a bit acidic but with a nice, round fleshiness,” he says, “and you still have this flowery aromatic, which keeps it light and lifted.”
Farrar can talk with abandon, too, about pairing a “very, very dry” Reisling, with Grouse’s exquisite pan-roasted halibut entrée.
“That really dry acidity and complex aroma help a lot of these lighter flavors really come through,” he says.
After all that lofty conversation, you might just consider savoring dessert with only the local voice of jazz, Tony “G” Gulizia, at the piano for company. For the perfect ending to this culinary dream, try the new, orange-vanilla flavored Dreamsicle crème brûlée, a superb new creation by Grouse’s revered pastry chef, Jessica Anderson.
Grouse is open for dinner Sunday through Saturday, 5:30-9:30 p.m. The Pines Lodge offers free valet parking; reservations are highly recommended.
photos by justin mccarty
Fall means food and wine festivals and also a chance to see the colors just starting to turn over Vail Pass during a bike ride for charity.