Vail’s Lord Gore: A show for the taste buds
AT MANOR VAIL
595 VAIL VALLEY DRIVE, MANOR VAIL
The passion and creativity of chef de cuisine Eric Berggren is clearly evident at Lord Gore, located at Manor Vail Lodge. And his passion for the food — as well as his exacting standards — comes through in each offering. “We’re using local and organic seasonal ingredients,” says Berggren. “We’re letting those ingredients speak for themselves.”
If the ingredients are doing the talking, the resulting dishes are a culinary Cirque du Soleil show: surprising and unexpected, beautifully presented and, ultimately, overwhelmingly successful.
The salads are the first act. A caprese, complete with traditional mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes and homemade pesto is elevated with the addition of faro, which adds a wonderful nutty heartiness. The crab salad, a simple combination of crab meat, jicama and shaved radish and celery, is placed over homemade mango jelly. The result is a playful riff on texture, ranging from crunchy and crisp to soft and succulent.
Berggren eagerly describes the different courses, grinning with delight as he reveals a hidden gem in the dish. The shrimp and grits, that has become almost a staple on many menus, has a unique flavor due to the crawfish butter which melts like a savory stream over the creamy grits, the spiced shrimp and crispy pancetta balancing the sweetness.
For the main act, Corvina sea bass is perched on a warm lentil salad with “broken” heirloom tomato vinaigrette. The fish is perfectly cooked and the vinaigrette, which adds a bright acid tang to the dish, cuts cleanly through the hearty lentils. It’s as if a trapeze artist crashed the gymnasts’ floor routine, but everyone ended up flying together.
The encore, dessert, is a reiteration of the whimsy and unanticipated nature of the earlier courses. Homemade fig Newtons are stacked next to a dollop of homemade whipped cream and a mason jar filled with chocolate cookie crumbs, lemon curd and a melted marshmallow topping. These childhood friends are dressed up in new clothes and are looking mighty spiffy.
“I worked in southern California and we had a saying there,” Berggren explains. “Let the main actor be the main actor and let the supporting actors be supporting.”
In this performance, Berggren has his casting spot-on. The main ingredients are indeed the stars, but the supporting players are just as talented, if sometimes a bit quirky. But that’s the show at Lord Gore — and it’s one that shouldn’t be missed. •
This story first ran in EAT! Magazine, available in stand-alone locations throughout the community. The stories are sponsored by each restaurant.