Vail Valley dining: Cordillera’s restaurants have distinctive personalities
Vail Valley, CO Colorado
It seems far away only until you get there. That’s when you realize the 10-minute Vail Valley drive was all about the view. Perched on a hillside between Edwards and Wolcott, The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera seems to have a monopoly on far-reaching vistas. Inside is Mirador, which includes both a fine-dining establishment and a family-friendly room. Across the street is Grouse on the Green, a traditional Irish pub.
Look at the menu and all the bases are covered: soups, salads, crab cakes, steak, fish. But Executive Chef Sarah Kornfield has a way of making the tried and true quite new. Each dish offers a surprise, from the crab duo – a crisp-creamy lump crab cake next to a chilled crab salad with Meyer lemon dressing – to the smoked buffalo carpaccio invigorated by the pungent romesco sauce and almost-oozingly-tender risotto cakes.
The menu’s piece de resistance is the potato-encrusted walleye, splayed atop a tower of slow-roasted, darkly caramelized tomatoes. The pine nut and celery relish is startlingly good; I’m still wondering why I’ve never had such a thing before. Crunchy with a nice roasty flavor, the tender fish and tomatoes take to the textural counterpoint beautifully.
Food and Beverage Director Adam Lewis has a far-reaching wine list.
“We have everything from value conscious gems from around the globe, to the acclaimed labels that will satisfy the most discriminating palate,” he says. “We want people to feel comfortable with our recommendations, so we spend an ample amount of time discussing their desired flavor profiles, food pairings and price range to make the perfect selection for their experience.”
For groups of up to 12 who want their own space, the wine room is a fun nook. One central table is walled in by wine. It’s both romantic and chic, just like the main dining room.
Sometimes a little revelry is called for, and that’s where Grouse on the Green comes in. Designed and made in Ireland and then reassembled in Cordillera, the Irish watering hole takes its heritage seriously. The chefs aren’t averse to mixing in other culinary traditions, but it has to be centered on Irish ingredients. So the Pub Rolls are egg rolls made with corned beef and cabbage, and served with whole-grain mustard. The Reuben is a delight of melting cheese, sweet dressing, sauerkraut and a pile of corned beef, and is made for a Smithwick’s draft beer. Ask the bartender how to pronounce it and you’ll feel like you’re in the club.
If people knew how good the Irish soda bread is, there’d be a constant line out the door. Made with ground oats and molasses, the cayenne-spiked honey butter is a necessity. And so is the cold frosty one on its way. •