Splendido | VailDaily.com


Wren Wertin
Preston Utley/Vail DailySplendido serves American cuisine influenced by France and Italy, including buffalo tenderloin and potato-wrapped salmon.

Isn’t it romantic. And invigorating and inviting and delicious. Located in the Chateau of Beaver Creek, Splendido offers a complete evening of inspiring cuisine, cozy conversation and frolicsome entertainment.

Serving up French and Italian-influenced American fare that’s by turns gutsy and delicate, Executive Chef-proprietor David Walford is no pretender to the throne. He’s the real deal.

Sitting with a good friend, there seemed no better way to begin than a plate of kuomoto oysters and a flute of Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rose. Having stimulated our appetites, we dove into a platter of graceful tuna carpaccio flecked with preserved lemon and olive oil, and a delicious foie gras terrine, which we happily smeared onto the crisp triangles of dense raisin-walnut bread.

The potato-wrapped salmon appetizer arrives floating in a creamy caviar sauce generously studded with three types of roe. The golden crust is a marvelous counterpoint to the medium-rare fish, and the lemon-tinged sauce offers little bursts of flavor.

There are menu standards that can’t be removed, only tweaked: both the Maine lobster and the Colorado rack of lamb are roasted in the wood-burning oven at extremely high heat, which quickly seals in all of the flavorful juices.

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There’s rioting if either are removed from the menu. Since I’ve been known to pick up my lamb with my fingers in order to better get every last tidbit, I understand the sentiment.

Chef Walford has perfected his rabbit. A macaroni and cheese latticework lends an earthy tang to the tender dish, which is embellished with pancetta and sage. It manages to be light and flavorful.

But the peppered Dakota buffalo filet mignon, though lean, feels downright decadent. Dinner-knife tender, the generous portion is drizzled with a thick zinfandel sauce, which a creamy parsnip puree soaks up beautifully.

Only a fool would skip dessert, which is as thorough as the entree list. It includes both chocolate and lemon souffles and an artisan cheese platter.

The creme brulee trio is easy to share, as is the warm gingerbread pudding. But perhaps best of all is Sommelier Jim Lay’s selection of dessert wines. Also dining room manager, Lay has a master’s palate.

He’s able to ascertain the sort of wines you enjoy, and can pair by course accordingly. Trust him.

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