Mirabelle | VailDaily.com

Mirabelle

Wren Wertin
Dining Guide/Shane MacomberDaniel Joly, left, stands tall with his Mirabelle kitchen staff at the base of Beaver Creek.
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Mirabelle Restaurant offers the ultimate in fine Belgian food with delicate nuance and refined balance.

“I’m not a shopping center kind of guy,” said Joly. “I prefer hidden places. You have to find it, and then think, ‘Wow! I didn’t know that was here. That’s something special.'”

This type of thinking made him buy Mirabelle, an old farmhouse-turned-restaurant at the base of Beaver Creek, years ago. More recently, he created Daniel’s Bistro, in the Arrowhead Clubhouse, where The Bristol used to be.

Mirabelle casts a definite first impression, which remains true throughout the meal. Instead of one big dining room, there are a series of smaller rooms, as befits a former home. Out the windows is the proverbial babbling brook, shade-giving trees and an herb garden the observant diner will occasionally see the chef wandering through with a pair of scissors.

There’s not a bad seat in the house ” and there’s certainly not a bad meal.

Belgian food is not that different from classic French food, the difference being it’s a little lighter. Joly’s cuisine is vibrant and tender. He’s a master of flavor combinations, and even the garnish should be eaten.

My date and I began our memorable meal the way all great meals should begin – with a bit of bubbly. The Perrier Jouet Grand Brut Champagne helped us unwind within the cocoon of Mirabelle’s hospitality.

We eased into our meal with the monkfish carpaccio ($11.75), sliced so thin it seemed like we were eating whispers. A smattering of almost-biting watercress salad, tempered with a honey vinaigrette, was a perfect complement. It was an auspicious beginning.

From there we moved on to a sauteed langostine ($12.50), served with an artichoke ravioli and goat cheese mousse. The marriage of decadent shellfish and deceptively airy ravioli was delicious, and the Louis La Tour pouilly fuisse paired well. We also dug into what’s become a Mirabelle classic, the crab egg roll ($12.95) fried crisp, served with an Asian-style salad.

I particularly like Joly’s foie gras ($17.95), enriched with pears and a passion fruit vinaigrette. Pan seared for a crisp outside, the center is still delicate and creamy.

Our server sang the praises of the roasted lobster with a garlic butter and mussel ragout, but we opted for the Dover sole ($36). Mirabelle has a beautifully classic interpretation, served with a frothy buerre blanc. Paired with a richly sweet onion infusion, white asparagus and snow pea fricassee, the potato galette gives a bit of crunch.

Another standout is the roasted elk filet ($32.50), sauced with a sage and wine reduction. To underscore the flavor of the lean meat, a cherry compote accompanies the dish. It’s delicious.

Joly’s style of cooking is such that when you leave, you don’t feel too full ” so don’t ignore the dessert cart. If you like creme brulee, dive right in. But for those of you who prefer to sip your dessert, a glass of Dolce should do the trick.

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