Kelly Liken |

Kelly Liken

Wren Wertin

If any season is meant to be served chilled, in a martini glass, it’s summer. Kelly Liken has managed to distill the season of plenty into her tomato consomme martini ” a clear, clean exercise in tomato, vodka and time. The painstakingly gathered tomato essence is so real and vibrant it makes succulent Southern tomatoes cry in self defeat. It’s no accident the cocktails shine, as both the chef and her staff start every little thing from scratch and take their beverage program as seriously as they do their food.

Follow the seasons

Restaurant Kelly Liken has become synonymous with seasonal Colorado cuisine. The menu moves seamlessly from asparagus to beets to peaches throughout the summer months, proof of chef-owner Liken’s wandering eye. In fact, she’s taking it one step further on Sundays when she scraps her regular menu. After trawling the farmers’ market right outside her restaurant, she serves a limited menu utilizing products found that day. Sundays used to be her day off. “But I’d rather do this,” she says. “This is what it’s all about. And I love that there are no rules.”

Because I like to capitalize on her restless culinary energy, I always opt for the four-course chef’s tasting menu, which is available the rest of the week. Using regular menu items as building blocks, she hand-crafts an experience for the table. Wine director Rick Colomitz pairs by the course. Half pours work for me, though they go as small as teasing quarter pours. Our tasting started with a spring vegetable ceviche, a fun alternative to lettuce salads. The 2004 Jusmeyer “Le Kottase” riesling tasted like a thunderstorm on sun-warmed rocks, an invigorating foil for the fragrant fennel and zucchini.

The favorites

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.

Our server was glad we got to try the prawns; one bite later I agreed. Simplicity in action, the pan-seared prawns are served atop a thin, lightly-crusted fried green tomato. The piece de resistance is the green tomato dressing, ever so slightly sweet. It accents the shrimp’s briny nature, and pulls the whole dish into sweet-savory harmony.

Not a day goes by without Colorado lamb on the menu. Liken roasts the rack at high heat, ensuring all the juices stay put inside. To underscore the meatiness, an intense lamb jus cradles the lamb, set against a frazzle of fresh veggies. Rich and seductive, it begged for the plummy flavors of Persistance, a wine with a story. Colomitz likes to tell tales, and Liken’s food makes you believe them.

Kelly Liken

In the Gateway Building, Vail Village


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