Powder 8 Kitchen & Tap is the new McCoy’s | VailDaily.com

Powder 8 Kitchen & Tap is the new McCoy’s

Phil Lindeman
Special to the Weekly
Guests sit around the new fire pit in front of Powder 8 restaurant in Beaver Creek on Thursday. Powder 8 is a Park Hyatt restaurant located at the base of the Centennial lift.
Townsend Bessent | Townsend@vaildaily.com |

If you go ...

What: Powder 8 Kitchen and Tap.

Where: Located in Ford Hall, Beaver Creek.

Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Grand opening set for XXXX.

More information: http://beavercreek.hyatt.com. The premiere party for Warren Miller’s “No Turning Back” is on Saturday at Powder 8 Kitchen and Tap. All ticket holders will need to bring their tickets from the film with them and present them to the bartenders for one free draft, one well cocktail or one non-alcoholic beverage.

MUST EAT at Powder 8 Kitchen and Tap

• Margherita pizza – The restaurant’s new plaything is a massive, 900-degree brick pizza oven, perfect for traditional Neapolitan pies. The margherita is the godfather of the style, made simply with roasted tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella. And don’t toss your crust — the singed edges are packed with flavor. $7 per slice or $20 for a whole pie (après pricing varies).

• The Jersey – Chef Christian Apetz grew up in New Jersey, where meaty Italian subs are king. The Jersey is an ode to his East Coast roots with ham, cappicola, salami, lettuce, tomato, onion, vinegar and oregano on a fresh-baked amarosa roll. Servings are sliced to order from a two-foot sub. $14

• Powder 8 burger — Something about a hamburger at breakfast just seems decadent, and the Powder 8 version doesn’t disappoint. Like every burger on the menu, it starts with a 1/3-pound all-natural patty cooked on a griddle, Smashburger style. It’s then topped with bacon and a fried egg, plus optional cheese and other toppings for early birds craving the equivalent of a good omelet — on a bun. $15

• Pizza box nachos — The concept is simple enough: take a pizza box, fill it with pub-style nacho fixings (think fresh jalapeños and homemade guac), then sit back and enjoy by the outdoor fire pit, preferably over a round of draughts with friends. The nachos are a fixture on the après menu, served daily from 2:30 to 6 p.m. $18.

BEAVER CREEK — For nearly three decades, the clever catchphrase “Meet me at McCoy’s” has been the restaurant’s sole claim to fame. Beaver Creek regulars tend to say it with a mix of good humor and melancholy, right before shuffling past the entrance and into the village for an apres round somewhere else. Anywhere else.

But regulars know McCoy’s is a veritable diamond in the rough. It has the makings of a slopeside hotspot on par with Garfinkels in Vail or Peak 8’s Ski Hill Grill in Breckenridge, complete with a sprawling patio found just steps from the base of Centennial Express. But the grub is standard, the bar is almost invisible and the decor is more in line with some amalgamated ballroom/cafeteria than a cozy hangout. At least there’s always the catchphrase.

Until now. This autumn, just a few short months before the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, McCoy’s went through a much-needed facelift. Gone is the catchphrase, replaced with patio fire pits, apres cocktail service, an entirely revamped menu and, at the center of it all, a massive brick-lined oven heated to 900 degrees. Even the name is more enticing: Powder 8 Kitchen & Tap, a nod to retro skiing and the restaurant’s selection of 16 craft brews.

“Since inception, the entire design of McCoy’s was terrible for a kitchen,” said Christian Apetz, the executive chef for Powder 8’s parent establishment, Park Hyatt Beaver Creek. “Apres is so important to this resort. We’ve done all we can to enhance the apres experience — really the overall experience — and we’re proud of what we’ve built. Now, it’s really our baby, not just a cafeteria.”

THE EARLY BIRDS

Powder 8 may be far removed from McCoy’s, at least on paper, but they share the same spirit. The restaurant isn’t directly tied to the Park Hyatt — 8100 Mountainside Bar and Grill near the Buckaroo Express gondola already draws a faithful following — but Apetz still wants Powder 8 to reflect the resort’s best-of-the-best mentality, albeit filtered through the laid-back charm of an old-school establishment like McCoy’s. As the chef said, the apres experience at Beaver Creek should be on par with the skiing, and when it comes to apres, location and atmosphere reign supreme.

Powder 8 is blessed with prime real estate, so next came atmosphere. Now, that’s the tricky part, but as a lifelong foodie, Apetz knows the best way to win new converts is with a stellar menu. He appointed Martin “Marty” Russell as the head chef — Russell and Powder 8 will operate nearly alone from 8100 — and together they crafted a menu with the two most important ski meals in mind: breakfast and apres.

For breakfast, Apetz and Russell wanted to keep the menu simple, with plenty of items made for a ride on the chairlift. And the offerings aren’t limited to granola bars and Gatorade. Powder 8’s take on a tried-and-true breakfast sandwich ($10) is made with egg, cheese and all-natural sausage on a toasted bagel or English muffin. Sure, McDonald’s does the same for half the price, but this is Beaver Creek, where the sandwich is made fresh by a chef as you watch, not whipped together at drive-through speeds with microwave-heated sausage. You’re in and out in five minutes — still plenty of time to catch first chair a few feet away. The same goes for the enticing Belgian waffle on a stick ($8), the sort of thing kids can take on the lift while mom and dad sit back with traditional huevos rancheros ($8) or made-to-order omelets ($10).

“Breakfast was always at McCoy’s, but we never talked about it as much,” said Tom Puntel, the Park Hyatt director of sales and marketing, who oversaw the Powder 8 re-branding with Apetz. “When you’re on the way to the mountain, what better way to start the day than with a quick bite at Powder 8?”

THE APRES SCENE

If ski-town breakfast is about getting in and out and on the hill, ski-town apres is about kicking back for a long, leisurely afternoon on a sun-drenched patio. The Powder 8 apres menu features everything found on the lunch menu — think gourmet sandwiches, a soup and salad bar, fresh tacos, 1⁄3-pound burgers and scratch-made pizza — but here’s the kicker: On days with at least 8 inches of fresh snow, everything on the apres menu drops to $8.

Not a bad incentive at all, especially when the apres menu includes pizzas flash-cooked to perfection in the new brick oven. Apetz comes from a Sicilian family and has a deep love for Neapolitan-style pizza, crafted the East Coast way with thin, scratch-made dough and sauce from fresh-pressed tomatoes. He and Russell spent several months fine-tuning the dough recipe until it was perfect for the super-heated oven, which can cook whole pies in less than 10 minutes. Call the restaurant before making your final run and it’ll be waiting when you unbuckle at the base.

Basics such as cheese, pepperoni and an incredibly fresh margherita pizza can be ordered by the slice — another grab-and-go option for late risers — while the specialty pies are made whole to showcase off-beat flavors. There’s the Powder 8 twist on a Hawaiian, made with scallions, pineapple and shaved ham, plus the Asian-inspired Thai chicken with bean sprouts, shredded carrots, scallions and shiitake mushrooms over a base of Thai peanut sauce.

“The pizza oven is the star of the show,” Apetz said. “It’s really the centerpiece, and what we’re shooting for is to have the absolute best pizza in Beaver Creek, hands down.”

Like any self-respecting apres grub, the whole pies are made to be shared, and Powder 8’s patio is made for the sharing. For the first time, diners can sit around a sprawling fire pit — one of the only cosmetic changes outside — and order drinks or food from patio servers. Those servers are part of the apres atmosphere: There’s no need to leave your seat for the next round of beers, and as Apetz said, “the name is kitchen and tap, right?” The 16 taps will rotate regularly between local, regional and international craft brews, along with domestic stalwarts such as Coors Light.

“I want to have superior, high-quality food, but it needs to be served quickly so people can do what they came here to do, and that’s to get back on the mountain,” Apetz said. “It feeds into the whole concept behind Powder 8.”




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