Turkey and gravy: A year-round stuffing | VailDaily.com

Turkey and gravy: A year-round stuffing

Andrew Harley
AE Tom's Turkey BH 11-18

Take ‘er easy there, pilgrim.

Don’t fret about “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence” while giving thanks Thursday. Instead, consider rambling down toward Lionshead for the Thanksgiving Day opening of Tom’s Turkey Farm.

Chef Tom McNeill, of Gourmet Cowboy fame, has partnered with his old friend Mark “Boule” Windell to create Tom’s Turkey Farm, and Boule’s Pub at the Lionshead Inn.

Tom’s Turkey Farm is a family-style restaurant, decorated with the work of local artists.

“I think family dining is a niche Vail needs. It’s something I always wanted to do; ever since I started making deep-fried cajun turkeys,” said McNeill.

The extensive, family-style menu includes two salads, two types of turkeys (deep-fried cajun and traditional), honey-baked ham, prime rib, mashed potatoes, corn bread stuffing, turkey gravy, cranberry chutney, buttered corn with broccoli tips, whipped yams with candied pecans, warm rolls, corn bread and butter. The cost is $19.95 per person – $12.50 for people under 10 – grilled salmon filets are available for an additional $5.00 and desserts are a la carte.

To top it all off, all of the items on the menu, from the cranberry chutney to the candied pecans, are homemade by Tom and his staff.

“I was raised in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. So, I’ve incorporated that with the cajun-turkey scene and Colorado cuisine,” said McNeill. “The menu is kind of a blend of all the places I’ve been.

“We just keep bringing food out, and we don’t recycle food, so we just ask that people eat what’s on their plates because there’s no doggy bags.”

“Think back, pilgrim’

McNeill has cooked his way across the country.

He graduated from the Culinary Institute in New York in 1974, and then he immediately moved out to Vail to become the first chef in the Lionshead Inn’s building when it was still known as the Enzian Hotel.

“I came out on a ski trip and stayed like everybody else,” said McNeill.

Then he moved around to places like Atlanta, Kentucky, Boston, Pittsburgh and New Orleans.

McNeill returned to Vail with his wife, Jane, and his six-year-old son, Gavin, to work for Westin Hotels – what is now the Cascade Resort – and run his own catering business, Gourmet Cowboy.

“I met and married my wife here, and I can’t think of a better place to raise my son,” McNeill said.

“What is it now, pilgrim?’

McNeill collaborated with local artist Alan Aarons to develop the restaurant into an art gallery as well.

“There wasn’t any space just for the showing of local artists’ work,” said Aarons. “So, we put together a consortium of (four) local artists with all different styles.”

Aarons, an acrylic painter, Renee Peterson, a quilt artist, Jon Sheppard, a photographer, and Morgan Douglas, a watercolor artist, met at the restaurant and chose sides.

“It turned out everyone wanted a different wall, so it worked out fine,” said Aarons.

The restaurant has informational exhibit signs located at the entrance that tell patrons all about the artists and their work.

“There are a lot of galleries in this town, and most are high-end. So, the work has to be priced quite high for commissions,” said Aarons. “It’s our hope to get local artists more exposure.

“We had this gallery-within-a-restaurant concept, but it’s not like one guy went and hung a bunch of paintings around the walls of a restaurant. It’s more of an exhibit in style,” he said.

“You’re a persistent cuss, pilgrim’

Boule’s Pub at Tom’s Turkey Farm serves food nightly “from 4 p.m. ’til the party’s over,” said McNeill.

The pub features an extensive menu of appetizers, soups and salads and sandwiches, and it has Fat Tire on tap.

“It should be a lot of fun,” said McNeill. “There’s a lot of old-timers working here. We’ve got some girls who’ve been in the valley for 30 years-plus working the bar. It should make for a comical atmosphere.”

No reservations are taken at Tom’s Turkey Farm. The place seats approximately 100 people. For more information, including wait time, call 479-1001.

Andrew Harley can be contacted at (970) 949-0555 ext. 610 or at aharley@vaildaily.com.

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