Vail Beaver Creek Restaurant week kicks off Friday, continues through Oct. 5
If you go ...
What: Vail Beaver Creek Restaurant Week.
Where: A total of 46 restaurants in Vail and Beaver Creek are participating.
When: Kicks off Friday, goes through Oct. 5.
Cost: The specials are all $20.14. Check the website for details.
More information: Comprehensive listing of the specials available at http://www.diningataltitude.com.
Unless you can pack in five meals a day over the next 10 days, and are ready to buy pants at least a size larger, it’d be impossible to take advantage of all the specials local restaurants are serving up for Restaurant Week. Nearly 50 restaurants in Vail and Beaver Creek are participating in this year’s Vail Beaver Creek Restaurant Week, which kicks off today and continues through Oct. 5. It’s the second year in a row Restaurant Week is taking place.
There are a slew of deals — from the pretty-standard-but-still-awesome “all entrees” to the more creative, like a punch card for six draft beers (Dusty Boot), or eight pizza slices (Blue Moose) — all for $20.14 each.
The Met in Beaver Creek is offering one of the more buzzed-about options — two small plates and a $20 Enomatic wine card, which Cameron Douglas, director of operations for Dionysus Hospitality Group (Dusty Boot, The Met and others), calls a “fantastic deal.”
“We’re excited about turning a traditionally slow offseason time period into a fun culinary experience,” Douglas said. “We had tremendous success last year and are looking forward to an even better year. Obviously it’s an awesome time of the year in the valley, with the perfect weather and fall colors.”
At the Dusty Boot, also owned by John Shipp, diners can try any of the Black Angus steaks on the menu, or score the punch card for any six draft beers.
“It’s like a flashback to menu prices 25 years ago,” Douglas said.
Forty-six restaurants have signed on this year. Last year there were 48, according to event organizer Sarah Franke, the director of marketing and communications for Group970 Restaurants, which owns the Blue Moose and Chophouse in both Vail and Beaver Creek.
“Participation has really been amazing, to have that many sign on the first year was incredible,” Franke said. “The only ones we had drop out were just because they’re not open at that time. Larkspur, for example, with the change in their model. Basically everyone else signed back on.
“I think (Restaurant Week) exposes people to restaurants that you may otherwise not think of or have in your mind, either because of the crowd that comes through, the price point or it’s just not your area of the valley that you’re in,” Franke said. “It reminds you of the options out there. It’s a cool way to bring the community together for that.”
‘SHOW THEM WHAT WE DO’
The affordable price point lets valley locals experience restaurants that might not normally fall within their budget. Case in point, Matsuhisa in Vail, which is participating for the first year.
The restaurant is offering its bento box, which includes rock shrimp, creamy and spicy tuna sashimi salad, four pieces of chef’s choice sushi and miso soup, for $20.14.
“It’s a great way to try some of our most popular dishes in a traditional Japanese way and get a great meal at the same time,” said Matsuhisa Restaurant Manager Jordan Harrill.
In Beaver Creek, Grouse Mountain Grill is offering two entree options for $20.14 — either the restaurant’s ever-popular Ritz cracker-crusted walleye with local tomato salad and fries or a chicken special that will only be served this week as the restaurant doesn’t usually have chicken on the menu, according to Executive Chef David Gutowski.
The restaurant is getting in whole Boulder Natural Chickens for the special and plan to incorporate the entire chicken into the meal.
“We’re breaking the chickens down, taking the breast meat and brining it for two days,” Gutowski said. “We braise the legs, pull the meat off and press it into a brick, press that and fry it until it’s crispy. We’ll take the livers and make a mousse out of that, and use the carcass to make au jus.”
It’s served with roasted beets grown in Eagle County and fresh chanterelles.
“That was our goal — get people in here and show them what we do,” Gutowski said. “It’s not caviar and lobster, but it’s extremely local and extremely time consuming.”
And where will Gutowski eat for Restaurant Week? There are two spots on his list. Mountain Standard in Vail where all the dinner entrees are $20.14.
“We’re big fans,” he said. “They do a good job.”
Or Yellowbelly in West Vail, where the special — lunch or dinner for two with a sampling of both rotisserie and fried chicken and a selection of all six side dishes — is available all day, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“It seemed like a great deal,” Gutowski said.
SEAFOOD BY THE SKI MOUNTAIN
There’s a plethora of good seafood options scattered among the deals. The Chophouse in both Vail and Beaver Creek got in a shipment of live lobsters this week for the one and half pound lobsters with corn and potatoes they’re serving.
Also at Mountain Standard, along Gore Creek in Vail, you can get a half pound of Alaskan snow crab with house-made cocktail sauce and Joe’s mustard sauce.
Upstairs, at sister restaurant Sweet Basil, score any of their entrees for $20.14, including Rocky Mountain trout with green beans, key lime butter and braised almonds.
Flame, inside the Four Seasons in Vail, is offering up Colorado surf and turf, with Colorado striped bass from Alamosa with arugula and sweet corn pudding paired with braised Duroc pork cheek with Colorado porcini.
“I like the ones that went out and did something that’s unique to their concept as well,” Franke said in regards to the Flame offer.
At Elway’s, in the Lodge at Vail, one of two entree choices available for the special is grilled, whole Colorado trout with roasted fingerling potatoes, grilled asparagus and lemon miso buerre blanc.
Over at Hooked in Beaver Creek, you can get the restaurant’s signature Crimpster.
“We delicately de-shell the lobster tail, stuff it with a shrimp that was stuffed with a snow crab leg. How could this all get better? It’s all wrapped in bacon,” said restaurant owner Riley Romanin.
Or opt for the signature whole fish “Hook Up,” as Romanin calls it, which is a whole Colorado striped bass from Alamosa; half of the fish is served sashimi style in a citrus chili ponzu and the other half, crispy flash fried on the bone and dressed in chimichurri.
“The guest may also choose to select their own two preparations from our u-call-it section on the menu, which is a list of 14 different cooked options,” Romanin said. “For example, one of our pan-fried options would be macadamia nut crust with vanilla bean buerre blanc or a flame-broiled option would ‘gratin,’ with our tomato jam and roasted garlic aioli placed under direct flame until it’s sizzling and starts to smell like Sicily.”
It might smell like Italy, but it also smells like a great deal.
High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 970-748-2984 or follow her on Twitter @caramieschnell.