Kelly Liken |

Kelly Liken

Wren Wertin
Shane Macomber/Vail DailyChef-owner Kelly Liken delivers four-star fare with clean flavors, such as the roasted beef salad and seared elk carpaccio.

Designed to feel like a cosmopolitan hot spot, Kelly Liken is an energetic restaurant with four-star fare. Owned by Chef Kelly Liken and her husband, Rick Colomitz, the seasonal American cuisine is both inventive and striking.

Since they approach their signature cocktail program the same way they do their food (start everything from scratch, use nothing superfluous), order one with an easy mind. With Kelly’s autumn pear cider or Rick’s pomegranate sparkler in hand, peruse the menu, which relies heavily upon local Colorado ingredients.

The elk carpaccio is seared before it’s sliced, so the thin pieces have a savory crust. Finishing salt gives a bit of crunch, and mustard sauce offers grainy kick. It’s a beautiful beginning, but my favorite is the Colorado roasted beet salad paired with a glass of Roederer sparkling wine. Drizzled with a goat cheese sabayon, there’s a mellow tang that leans inward from the sweet and earthy beets.

The warming duck confit ravioli is brimming with flavor, served swimming in a duck consomme enhanced with a sweet onion jam. It’s an excellent excuse to drink a glass of Des Perrieres Cotes du Rhone.

The most popular dish on the menu is Kelly’s signature potato-crusted trout filet, which arrives with sweetly caramelized Brussels sprouts. The fish stands up wonderfully to the savory latticework of potatoes, neither overpowering the other in texture or flavor. The roasted rack of lamb is succulent, playing off the flavors of the mellow braised endive and quinoa-pomegranate salad. Carb-hounds, we ordered a side of mustard spaetzle with the lamb, which soaked up the juices.

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.

Despite all the cleanly sophisticated options, my favorite item on the menu remains the pot-roasted poussin, a wee chicken with a crisp skin. Served with tiny root vegetables, mushrooms and “grandma’s gravy,” it’s down-home flavor with a deft hand.

I hate having to share even a bite.

With a passion for wine that matches his wife’s for food, Colomitz and any on his staff are more than capable at pairing wines by the half-glass, glass, half-bottle or bottle. Check out the extensive wine list, but don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations.

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