Vail’s Terra Bistro: gourmet, tasty and healthy |

Vail’s Terra Bistro: gourmet, tasty and healthy

Caramie Schnell
Vail, CO Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyVail dining: Terra Bistro's heirloom tomato gazpacho and lemon grilled shrimp

VAIL, Colorado – Potatoes, yes. Corn, of course. But kale? After poaching the idea from his wife, Vail’s Terra Bistro Chef-Owner Kevin Nelson started using crinkly, chock-full-of-vitamins greens to make baked chips. In place of the typical bread basket, Nelson serves the delicate shards with his own blend of Middle Eastern spices.

Not long after starting as a cook at Terra Bistro in the early ’90s, Nelson’s food philosophy took a major healthy-living turn thanks to the then-executive chef who made it clear she believed in food as more than something to satisfy hunger.

“I too believe you really are what you eat,” Nelson says. “Food is fuel – the choices we make with food affects us in many ways.”

Knowing that, it makes sense that nearly half the menu items are gluten free or vegetarian or both.

The restaurant’s menu and dining room recently underwent a makeover – Nelson wanted everything about Terra Bistro, menu included, to feel more hip and inviting. The menu’s focus is on small bites – nearly 20 offerings in all – with small price tags. All in all, the hors d’oeuvre lover will certainly be in heaven.

For those diners really missing the carb course, start with the white cheddar cheese puffs. Made with tapioca flour, the golden balls of goodness are fair game for those with gluten allergies.

Next, nibble on the sweet potato ravioli topped with a chopped mesclun, blue cheese and walnut salad and finished with brown butter-shallot dressing. And if you’ve never tried a fried avocado, you’d be remiss to skip Terra’s version, which is coated with crunchy pepitas and served with coriander crema and chewy posole.

If appetizers alone aren’t enough to fill the void, there are still plenty of entrees to choose from. The Amish beef tenderloin, served with mashed potatoes, sauteed kale and a rich smoked tomato demi-glace, is no-knife-needed tender and wholly satisfying. It’s hard to go wrong with Terra’s signature dish – ahi tuna. In the dish’s latest incarnation, the fish is rubbed with toasted coriander, seared rare and served with a crisp edamame cake and mustard greens. Who knew healthy could taste so darn good?

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