Grouse Mountain Grill, Beaver Creek, seasonal cuisine
Vail CO, Colorado
Grouse Mountain Grill
The Pines Lodge, Beaver Creek
This Beaver Creek stalwart has been pleasing palates for years with a relatively conservative menu of American and Continental cuisine. The past year has seen a change at the kitchen helm, with Executive Chef Joe Ritchie taking over after relocating from the Seattle area and the famed Herb Farm restaurant.
Those familiar with the Grouse Mountain Grill will still find old favorites on the menu, although Ritchie has lightened it up a bit for the summer months. True to his experience at Herb Farm – where fresh, local ingredients are key – Ritchie says he’s focused on finding such ingredients in Colorado and beyond, and he names off some of the herbs growing outside the restaurant: sage, oregano, basil and rosemary. The latter finds its place in a fragrant presentation of smoked mussels served as a first course.
Grouse Mountain Grill is something of a find, tucked away as it is at the end of a cul-de-sac and inside The Pines Lodge. It’s a beautiful dining room that affords excellent views of the mountainside. Celebrated jazz pianist Tony Gulizia is there most nights playing standards and favorites, and the staff is so friendly that it sometimes seems like dinner at the Grouse is taking place in a favorite uncle’s mountain retreat.
Tops on the list for entrees is the rack of lamb from Jamison Farm in Pennsylvania, but close behind is a wonderfully prepared Long Island duck breast or Alaskan halibut. One vegetarian item, a house-made fettuccini with succulent morel mushrooms, is well worth trying, as is a unique appetizer of a pasta “handkerchief” stuffed with braised pheasant.
Long-time server Bill Minett is now director of wine, and he oversees the 500 or so wines on the impressive list with formidable knowledge and fun anecdotes about some of the vintners.
Top it off with a warm apple bread pudding or rich tres leches cake from pastry chef Jessica Cutter (and a nightcap) and it’s easy to see how Grouse Mountain Grill stays busy year-round. It’s one Vail Valley restaurant that simply has to be on the list of places to try this summer.