Splendido at the Chateau | VailDaily.com

Splendido at the Chateau

Nicole Frey

You can find tuna at lots of restaurants. Same goes for salads or pork chops. Even the once-elusive foie gras is becoming commonplace. But Splendido at the Chateau takes these simple ingredients, albeit of the highest quality, and elevates them into exquisite fine dining. Splendido’s foie literally melts in your mouth – you have only to sit back in one of the plush chairs, the strains of Peter Vavra’s piano in the background, and savor the generous piece of pan-seared duck liver surrounded by restrained accoutrements of Earl Grey apricot jam, wild Georgia honeycomb and orange-and-ginger shortbread. “After 14 years, I don’t want to say we’ve arrived, but we have accomplished a lot of what we set out to do,” says executive chef and owner David Walford.

Splendido also takes chances. The Iowa organic rabbit is one of Walford’s favorites, but rabbit is still relatively rare on area menus. “It’s a delightful little creature to eat,” Walford says. “I’d rather have a couple things on the menu that are a little different.” The mild, light flesh of the rabbit leg, rack and loin is pan-roasted to perfection. Pancetta, pungent mushrooms and cheesy späzle add punch to the subtle rabbit. Pair it with the 2005 Willamette Valley Domaine Serene pinot noir – a wine with a gorgeous bouquet and intense flavor of fruit layered with coffee, chocolate and tobacco.

Because Splendido has such a loyal following, consistency is key, Walford said, but so is keeping things fresh and interesting. “The goal is to stay as good as we can and stay really, really consistent, which is the challenge most restaurants have,” Walford says. While the Vail Valley’s transient nature means kitchen staffs often turn over seasonally, Walford is proud to say everyone in his team has been at Splendido for at least two years, and some have been there for more than 10. It’s because of the entire team’s dedication that the restaurant is a success. Beloved dishes like lobster and the Dover sole will likely never disappear from the menu, but each season bring new preparations and ingredients, like fresh herbs from Splendido’s own garden just beyond the restaurant’s deck. “Everything we have here is top of the line,” says chef de cuisine Brian Ackerman, referring to the ingredients and the new state-of-the-art kitchen. “Splendido is the whole package,” he says “You’re not rushed out when you’re here. You can spend the whole evening here.”

Splendido at the Chateau 17 Chateau Lane, the Chateau at Beaver Creek 970.845.8808 splendidobeavercreek.com

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