Sneak peek at the new Restaurant Avondale |

Sneak peek at the new Restaurant Avondale

Wren Wertin
Vail CO, Colorado
HL Avondale TS 09-11-08

“Can you believe we’re in Avon?” The folks at my table weren’t the only people in the room asking this question. The creators of Restaurant Avondale at the Westin Riverfront Resort have been practicing on small groups of people as they gear up to fling wide the doors later this month. Sometimes it’s really good to be a test subject.

Restaurant Avondale isn’t simply located on the Eagle River at the base of Beaver Creek ” it revels in it. With floor-to-ceiling views of the river, the opposite bank and Beaver Creek mountain, talk about location, location, location. What a relief to finally have a spot in town that admits we’re in the Rockies. Think local gathering place.

But it wasn’t the view that had us purring ” it was the whole room.

Scrambled-alphabet fabric covers the curved alcoves and low booths of a good portion of the room, which is at the crossroads of natural world and modern sensibility. Table votives reference the large, round fire table tucked just inside the front door in the bar area where guests might indulge in an over-the-counter Percoset ” a gin-lychee concoction that’s one of two signature cocktails.

Chef-owner Thomas Salamunovich has become increasingly preoccupied with local produce in the past decade. He was pushing the locavore concept before it got hot. In fact, he’s sweet talked a farmer in Gypsum to supply him with everything she grows.

The Avondale menu is proof positive of his passion. On the front side is a list of all the produce currently in season; expect to find that produce in several dishes on the back. Man, it must be fun to be a Gypsum beet, revered and celebrated.

“The idea for Avondale is simple: Take the best local, seasonal ingredients and create simple dishes that are rich with flavor,” wrote Salamunovich. “Let the ingredients speak for themselves.”

And boy can they belt a tune. Olathe corn soup, watermelon-feta salad, smoked trout with those famous Gypsum beets and local greens ” their personalities are many and varied. Though the menu is West Coast in concept, there’s a bit of a Spanish current running through some of the starters: Serrano jamon forms a second skin for fresh sardines, served with a saute of Marcona almonds and greens. The veal meatballs over creamy polenta were a hit at our table, though nothing could induce me to skip the chicken liver mousse embellished with brandy, served with sweetly spiced apples. Try finding that anywhere else.

The mains are substantial, and there’s no protein that goes unmentioned. The roasted chicken for two promises to be a signature dish (thank the onion rings for that) but the pork spare ribs certainly give a bang. Layered into a tower, the savory meat quivers and falls off the bone at a glance. Served over spoon bread pudding, it was the envy of my table.

The dessert list runs the gamut from small tastes to large ones. Ah, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried sweet corn ice cream with plum crisp. But the doughnuts will prove big winners, served with icy cups of chocolate.

Restaurant Avondale opens to the public for dinner on Sept. 18. Breakfast, lunch and apres come later this month. Visit for a peek at the menu.

Special Sections Editor Wren Wertin can be reached at

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