Vail’s Tavern on the Square’s ‘new nostalgic’
When crafting the vision for Tavern on the Square’s winter season, Food and Beverage Director Paul Wade didn’t simply sit down and write menus. He tapped into a sense of longing — his own, his staff’s, his guests’. And then he spread his arms open wide.
“We’re calling our approach ‘New Nostalgic,’” Wade said. “We’re harking back to times that were a little bit more carefree and easier. We’ve all had to grow up more than we’d like to the past couple of years.”
Tavern is about grand gestures and relaxed comfort. There’s a sense of occasion, but an easiness of spirit.
“We’re really excited about the winter,” he said. “As craftsmen we feel the need to prove ourselves again. We’re back to a full-blast menu, with all the cool hooks.”
And those hooks start early and go late — breakfast, lunch, après, dinner, late night. They’ve embraced their base area grand hotel status, and manage to bring a theatrical flair while eschewing the fussy.
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Starters are all over the globe, from Andalusian crispy wings to grilled asparagus, baked triple crème brie to flatbreads and a mezze platter. Flavors are big, and everyone has an option. Of course they’ve retained their “pub grub” faves — think gastropub with options such as an ahi tuna poke bowl with kimchi and sesame-peanut dressing, or the grilled cheese on a semolina pullman with sharp cheddar, tomato jam and cup of tomato soup.
But don’t miss the new entrée list, which embraces an edgy comfort food sentiment. There are some homey options, like chicken pot pie, beef stroganoff with hand-cut, sheeted noodles and seared diver scallops with corn pudding. But the piece de resistance?
“We’re actually bringing back whole steamship prime rib, right off the ‘60s cruise ships,” Wade said.
Chef Nick Steger’s 1962 Herb Fired Prime Rib comes with horseradish-watercress crema, blue cheese and walnut potato Savoyard and crispy haystack onions. And there’s a trifecta of reasons it’s so good.
“The rub and the quality of beef,” Steger said. “And we perfectly slow-roast it in a custom oven designed just for that, with dry and wet heat you can adjust as time goes on. It means you can maximize juiciness.” As for the beverage program, General Manager John Dooley has upgraded the wine list. And there are some seriously fun cocktails, from a bourbon rickey to a build-your-own mule. But do try the homage to Vail’s 60th anniversary, the Maple Old Fashion made with 10th Mtn rye, maple, orange and a Luxardo cherry. It’s a fitting way to toast the “new nostalgic.”
675 Lionshead Place
Apps start at $14
Mains start at $32
1962 Herb Fired Prime Rib with horseradish-watercress crema, blue cheese and walnut potatoes and crispy onions