Up the Creek, Vail, seasonal/seafood
Vail CO, Colorado
Up the Creek
Gore Creek Drive
With an unrivaled location on the banks of the Gore Creek, a fresh, inventive menu from a fairly new and ingenious chef and a specialty cocktail list that is as long as it is inviting, Up the Creek is a Vail Village gem. Add to that the laid-back decor (think: pots of fresh herbs as centerpieces that the chef comes and pinches from) and unpretentious but excellent service and you have an unbeatable equation. Long classified a secret stash, Up the Creek is now one of the hottest tickets in town.
In a sea of countless sleek, urban-inspired dining rooms, Up the Creek stands out for its genuine bistro decor and emphasis of its greatest cosmetic asset: the Gore Creek. A wrap-around deck makes for extended seating on the brick patio only steps from the white waters of the river, and a solarium-like dining room affords even the inside diners an unobstructed view of the water.
If you haven’t been adventurous with your libations lately, now is the time to experiment. The drink menu -for adult cocktails and non-alcoholic juice blends alike – is extensive and unique. From hand crafted “boat drinks” like the pineapple mojito and ginger pink lemonade to colorful and refreshing blends like the prickly pear cactus nectar juice, bring your thirst when you dine at Up the Creek. All of this in addition to an impressive wine list make for a well rounded dining experience.
Don’t let the friendly-place-next-door atmosphere disarm you: the food at Up the Creek is out of this world. Chef Kyle Cowan joined the establishment in November ’06 and has been revolutionizing the menu since. Following what he calls his “flavor profile,” Cowan’s menu features light sauces and vinaigrettes that lend themselves perfectly to the season. Most notable for the summer months are his incredible fish dishes made with product flown in fresh from Hawaii, where Cowan’s “fish guy” updates him daily on the freshest catch. Top menu items include the Ahi tuna nachos (a fresh wasabi-free take on the often overused classic, this item lets the sushi grade fish speak for itself) and the blackened Hawaiian sunfish (served over quinoa and topped with a sweet but never overwhelming pineapple sauce). And fret not if meat is more your style. Cowan’s special “off-the-rack” boneless lamb dish is sensational, and his Kobe Beef Ribeye (served over smoked gouda “grown up mac and cheese”) is enough to incite a riot.
Though superb in flavors, Cowan’s plates are unfussy and simply presented. “I think if you have great food, you don’t need all that,” he said. And that very well could be a theme on a plaque above the door.