Wildflower | VailDaily.com


Wren Wertin
Bret Hartman/Vail DailyExecutive Sous Chef Steven Topple, right, and Sous Chef Dan Spurlock have an eclectic menu including a gingerbread-crusted rack of lamb and a beet trio.

At Wildflower, a friendly welcome includes a bit of bubbly before I even glance at the menu. Followed by an abundant breadbasket with both savory and sweet selections, it’s an auspicious beginning that sets the tone for the whole evening.

The dining rooms are as warm as the staff, which works in tandem with each other. The same can be said for the kitchen, as chefs Steven Topple and Dan Spurlock have created a contemporary menu that honors classic combinations.

Back from a stint at the James Beard House, Topple is full of multiple preparations of a single ingredient. The beetroot tapas arrives as a triptych: pickled beets, a beet and goat cheese napoleon and a beet and duck consomme: from earthy to creamy to rich.

The La Belle Farm foie gras tourchon appetizer is easily one of the best foie gras dishes I’ve eaten. The gingerbread crust gives a sweet nip to the creamy foie, complemented by a pear chutney. Smeared onto lightly toasted slices of brioche, it’s pure delight.

Just as the appetizer list ranges from light to hearty, so too does the entree selection. The monkfish is a colorful exclamation, vaguely exotic with a carrot-ginger butter sauce. The duo of trout includes two classic preparations: pan-seared and smoked with potato hash.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

The gingerbread-crusted rack of lamb can be cut with a dinner knife, and is a study in flavors robust and sweet. Sauced with an intense lamb jus, the meat sits atop braised red cabbage and a sweet potato puree. The maple-bourbon reduction pulls the whole dish together.

Wildflower sommelier Garth Koelhosser makes excellent pairings. The Tokaj he poured with my orange-flavored scallops was especially good, and the ZD chardonnay, with tropical fruit notes, sank right into the lobster bisque with potato gnocchi.

From fun options (Bonny Doon’s Le Cigare Volant) to classic (Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe’s Chauteauneuf-du-Pape), the wine list is extensive.

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