The Fitz Bar & Restaurant
Modern and spacious with plenty of outdoor seating, great views and fresh food; the perfect segue to/from Bravo! Vail and Hot Summer Nights
The Boulder Chicken;
The Fitz Burger
An extensive, Colorado-sourced kids menu
Manor Vail Lodge | 595 East Vail Valley Drive | Vail | 970.476.5000 | manorvail.com
Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, it’s not news one of Vail’s oldest accommodations, Manor Vail Lodge, underwent a dramatic transformation recently. You may not know, however, the lodge’s food-and-beverage operations have been completely revamped, too, and the changes are truly refreshing.
“This is our first summer season as The Fitz Bar & Restaurant. We’re really looking forward to it,” says Marketing Manager Nicole Martin, invoking the resulting new establishment’s slogan: “Comfort Food Elevated.”
Long gone, indeed, are the old-fashioned, stuffy Lord Gore Restaurant, which opened in the 1960s as a private club for homeowner-members, and the somewhat cramped piano bar, the Fitz, which came later, in the ’90s. Now, the entire second floor above the lobby — including a fresh, contemporary new restaurant space, a remodeled bar area and spacious outdoor decks looking out to Vail Mountain on one side and Gore Creek on the other — is one vast, four-venue fine-dining and drinking establishment.
Last fall, just before ski season, Executive Chef Ken Butler and his right-hand man, Chef de Cuisine Gage Smit, arrived for their first assignment together after working side-by-side at Andaz Maui, at Wailea Resort in Hawaii; and their youthful exuberance for fresh, exotic and innovative new dishes are on display the moment you take a seat on the back deck looking over the roaring creek and out to Ford Park and the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater.
There’s no better way to begin taking it all in, of course, than with a hand-crafted cocktail designed by Bar and Restaurant Manager Taryn Miletti, whose original menu exudes freshness with powerful elixers like the Infused Mezcal — Sombra mezcal infused for a week with grilled pineapple, jalapeño, cilantro and lime. For something a bit less piquant, try the Blueberry Lavender Mojito or The Drunken Down Under, her “spin-off on a Moscow Mule,” this one teaming with effervescent eucalyptus.
Then, for a mouthful of something fresh and floral by Chefs Ken and Gage, say “aloha” to the watermelon salad, with local goat cheese from Haystack Mountain and fresh arugula tossed in lemon vinaigrette sitting nice and pretty on perfect slices of seedless watermelon oozing with compression-infused jalapeño simple syrup — all topped with a colorful array of fragrant petals from Manor Vail’s own garden flowers, grown on-site, along with most of the restaurant’s herbs and some of its vegetables.
The Heirloom Tomato salad, with fresh basil, creamy burrata cheese, smoked salt and a splash of balsamic, is equally bright and lively; and the warm, foraged mushroom salad with watercress and asparagus tossed in melon vinaigrette and herb chevre is a real treat, the combination of a half-dozen or so fresh fungi worth writing home about.
There’s heartier fare, too, with appetizers ranging from design-your-own bruschetta to perfect pieces of pork belly braised by Chef Gage for 10 hours with thyme and brown sugar and served with broccolini and a poached egg. For something more substantial, there’s the classic Fitz Burger with bacon and aged white cheddar; and he’s super proud of his sous-vide Boulder chicken entrée, served on a bed of black quinoa with a corn purée, chopped asparagus and simple, sliced, fresh Black Mission figs.
“Simple, summery, healthy,” he says. “Nice and light.”
The Fitz’s wine list, meanwhile, is “simple, not outrageous,” adds Chef Ken, an accredited level-one sommelier. Half-a-dozen Colorado draft beers are on offer, as well.
Reservations at The Fitz are recommended, but not necessary. And Manor Vail Lodge offers plenty of free guest parking on-site; just buzz the front desk and tell ’em you’re heading to The Fitz.