I have two basic approaches to Larkspur: Come in for a leisurely dinner (and stay all night), or pop in for a quick bite at the bar (and stay all night).
Eating Larkspur’s inspired regional American fare, listening to a room full of satisfied people ” suddenly there’s no other place I’d rather be. And so I order one more thing, and another, and before I know it it’s time to go home and sleep the sleep of the well-fed.
Located at the base of Vail Mountain, Larkspur’s rooms are whimsically chic, with an emphasis on comfort.
A flock of wee wooden birds flies from one wall, while another shows a glassed-in wine room. In the back of the room the kitchen is visible, white jackets a blur of motion.
Larkspur’s menu changes often, depending on what’s striking the chefs’ collective fancies. Chef-owner Thomas Salamunovich, Executive Chef Mark Curran and Chef du Cuisine Dan Kent present a tasting menu in addition to the regular menu, and anything might show up. They recently served a pasta dish made with tender calamari cut into linguini-sized strips, with a light tomato sauce.
The squid’s texture was a perfect al-dente, and a savory alternative to traditional noodles.
The Caesar salad is a signature dish, mostly because the croutons are little cubes of fried potatoes. The beet salad is a colorful checkerboard of red and gold, while the French onion consomme is an easier-to-eat and tastier interpretation of the traditional soup.
A few menu standards are obvious meditations on single ingredients with multiple personalities. The porcini-dusted tenderloin is paired with a braised short rib. Two cuts of beef, they’re on opposite ends of the spectrum: one lean and tender, the other a full hit of flavor and decadence.
The veal scallopini is a crowd favorite, as the accompanying twice-baked potatoes are the sort a person craves out of the blue.
Pastry Chef Allana Smith keeps her staff busy all through the bounty of summer, pitting cherries and putting up peaches. During the long winter months,
in addition to homemade doughnuts, sorbets and chocolate morsels, she shares her
summer stash in a variety of inventive desserts.
I inevitably opt to try a few of her artisan dairy-made cheeses. Served with a bit of fruit, savory crisps and a glass of vintage port, there’s no better way to end the night.