Larkspur, Vail, New American cuisine
Vail CO, Colorado
Golden Peak, Vail
For eight years, chef-owner Thomas Salamunovich has been shaping his concept of Larkspur. The intuitive service, seasonal new American fare and high-energy room are the product of his vision and his staff’s teamwork.
In the kitchen executive chef Mike Regrut, pastry chef Allana Smith and sous chefs Katie Routh and Luke Venner have a synergy about them that transcends any one meal. On the plate, nothing feels accidental. “We’re focusing on pure flavors,” said Salamunovich. “We keep trying to strip away anything superfluous and get to the essence of it.”
It’s trendy to talk about local, organic ingredients, but Larkspur has taken it to an entirely different level. Thanks to a long-term relationship with a farmer in Gypsum (they won’t divulge her name), they now have access to a cold-weather greenhouse in the winter and field-fresh produce in the summer.
And it gets better.
Chef Regrut drives to the farm with his own containers, picks out what he wants, and then returns to the restaurant to cook to his heart’s content. “Mike is absolutely passionate about the produce,” said Salamunovich. “He’s the most ingredient-driven chef I’ve worked with.” Parting with tradition, the Larkspur menu is built around produce, rather than proteins.
The menu changes so frequently there’s no need for a specials list, but the tasting menu comes pretty close.
Comprised of five to seven petite courses, It’s an entire meal orchestrated by the chefs. Though the wine list is extensive and fun to peruse, the recommended pairings are a sure bet.
Larkspur’s latest crab cake incarnation is petite, and hovers dead center in a bowl of sweet Olathe corn puree.
Embellished with viney pea tendrils, it speaks of summer abundance. The short rib is served Wellington-style: The tender morsel of meat falls apart as soon as a fork looks at it, but is held together by a savory crust. The cheese list is always extensive, and is usually served with a sweet burst of summer fruit. Chef Smith is honing her gelato skills, practicing for adventure to come.
She offers at least one nightly, and it’s always a beauty.