Letting flavors shine at Gessner in West Vail
Simple, fresh and good: That’s the philosophy of Gessner Restaurant’s Executive Chef Pascal Coudouy.
“Simple is when you read a menu and you understand what’s on the menu; simple is the right cooking technique and less ingredients to let the main ingredient stand out,” he said.
Coudouy is following the tradition of Gessner’s European mountain inspirations fused with Colorado influences, using as many local ingredients as possible.
The menu is small and approachable, yet the variety of fine cuisine and flavors on the dinner menu will make you want to come back for more, from the butternut squash and chorizo ravioli to the 8-ounce filet, pan-seared half chicken or olive oil-poached Artic char. The braised short ribs are served in a very ample portion, and the soft meat pulls away easily with a fork, while the creamy polenta adds a subtly sweetness, complemented with perfectly roasted baby carrots and spinach and just the right amount of natural jus.
The elevated dishes also cater to vegans, not just with a sweet and savory chestnut bisque or warm grain and cold salads, but also with a hearty entry: The charcoal-rubbed beet steak will surprise, and perhaps even confuse, your palate; the first bite pops with flavors reminiscent of steak seasoning. You hardly know you’re eating beets — especially if you’re not a fan of the root vegetable. This entrée is worth trying just for its innovation; along with its tasty parsnip puree, caramelized brussels sprouts, vegan demi-glaze and pistou sauce, it makes being a vegan not only delightful, but easy — and it’s a filling culinary delight.
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Named after Conrad Gessner, known as the father of modern scientific bibliography, zoology and botany, the restaurant takes guests on a journey to explore globally- and locally-inspired ingredients, techniques and uniquely curated preparations, from shared appetizers like brie en croute to memorable desserts, like a warm, light and fluffy sponge cake with ice cream, spiced syrup, a delicate pastry cream and fresh winter berries, or baked Vail: a pinecone-shaped bittersweet chocolate ice cream, flambeed meringue, graham cracker crumble and chocolate sauce.
A well-curated wine list and fun cocktail list (check out the smooth s’mores espresso martini with marshmallows that get toasted at the bar or tableside) round out the Gessner experience within the creekside and slopeside sophisticated dining room.
The adjacent Fireside Lounge offers an inviting social ambiance, along with live music and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the mountains. From 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, it extends the family-friendly welcoming of Gessner but offers more casual culinary favorites, from a warming bison chili to sweet potato truffle fries, a Bavarian pretzel with spicy mustard and beer cheese, twice-cooked chicken wings and salads. Kids and adults alike will love the elevated pizzas, burgers and sandwiches, including a bison burger, smoked brisket French dip, fish and chips and steak and frites. As the Grand Hyatt’s signature restaurant, which is open breakfast through dinner, Gessner offers some of the finest cuisine in Vail. Meanwhile, Fireside Lounge and Gore Creek Market offer a more casual dining experience, and kids especially love the PlayStations, X-Boxes and other games at Gore Creek Market. It’s all part of the Grand Hyatt package.