Vail’s Atwater on Gore Creek debuts new chef, new menu
VAIL, Colorado – At Atwater on Gore Greek in Vail, Colorado, the third chef may or may not be the charm, but he’s certainly charming. Atwater, the restaurant inside the Cascade Club Resort & Spa in Vail, has had three chefs since it first debuted around this time last year. The latest is Chef Adam Votaw, a handsome, bald man who is indeed charismatic, as well as dead set on making sure his diners leave satiated – if not bursting full. He most recently worked as the corporate chef at the Riviera Resort & Spa in Palm Springs.”Three times is definitely a charm,” Votaw said. “I’m here to stay.”Votaw started at the restaurant in September and has spent the last few months developing new menus for the restaurant’s three distinctly different ways to dine – apres in the Fireside Bar, casual eats in the Tavern and the white-cloth experience in the dining room. While a few “crowd favorite” dishes were carried over or reintroduced from past menus – the Tavern nachos, the Atwater salad, the corn and pheasant soup, the monkey bread brioche dessert – the majority of the menu is brand new. The food you craveThe Adam’s Apres ski menu debuted in mid-December and diners can nosh on small-plates like bison, organic chicken and barbecue pork sliders, then also can sip cocktails like Thin Air, a mixture of Acai blueberry vodka, pomegranate liqueur, liquid oxygen drops and charred orange peel. The Tavern menu is full of stick-to-your ribs fare. There’s three different types of chili, which Votaw likes to serve together in small portions of each. The vegetarian chili has three kinds of beans, chick peas and hominy and is topped with avocado salsa. If you’re looking for a meatier option, try the short rib and braised pork chili topped with sour cream, cheddar and scallions. The Hatch green chili was on the menu before, but Votaw revamped it and made it spicier. This is the kind of food your body craves after a long day on the hill. “I love chili and in general, soups are a really great, quick comfort food,” Votaw said. In California, Votaw made a lot of “composed protein salads,” he said. His style has warmed up tremendously since moving to our colder clime. “I do a little more comforting, warmer dishes. A lot more braised items and a lot more chilis and soups. Here, it’s more fun because I’m cooking heartier types of cuisine.” Harmonious, yet funWhile Votaw was classically trained at the Culinary Institute of America, he also spent time in Europe, fine-tuning his French techniques, and he’s also studied Asian and Latin food, two of his favorite cuisines. Votaw owned a few Latin restaurants in Miami prior to his stint in Palm Springs. “I love the Latin cuisine flavor and history,” he said. That love manifests itself in different ways on the menu. The mussels on the Tavern menu are rife with spicy hunks of chorizo and the same smokey Spanish sausage is used to make the pan-seared red trout entree shine. “We’ve had probably a dozen people tell us that’s the best trout dish they’ve ever had,” Votaw said. “I know that has a lot to do with the chorizo. It’s a fantastic dish.”Votaw thickens the green chili with with masa instead of flour “to bring out the corn flavors.” “We finish it with hominy and lime, which really makes it pop.”The fine dining side of the menu is where Votaw’s creativity comes through. The grilled filet of beef is double the red meat fun – the steak is served over a succulent short rib hash.The lobster, crab and scallop cake is almost all shellfish and very little cake. It’s served with a lobster and lemongrass sauce and a savory tomato jam.”I love that flavor,” Votaw said. “I came up with it when I was messing around with some Moroccan food. You have all these types of sweet vinegars that go well with the lighter cuisine.”The appetizer is also indicative of most of Votaw’s food: harmonious, yet fun and a touch surprising, too.High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or email@example.com.
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