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Vail/Beaver Creek CO (Splendido in particular)

I'm returning to Vail/Beaver Creek after a 12 year absence. I'd love recommendations on great places to go for dinner, lunch, drinks, and really good pancakes.

A more specific question: Splendido - when last I lived in the area as a college student I supported my hiking/biking habit by hostessing here. I'd love to have dinner there, but only if my fellow 'hounds deem it chow-worthy. I don't want to rely on my memory as my tastes were much simpler (and less adventurous then). Is it worth the expense?

If not Splendido, where else would you recommend for our "splurge" dinner?

Thanks in advance, I'll happily return the favor with Boston-area recommendations!

heathermb

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  1. Although it's not my favorite in the valley, Splendido is one of the best. My wife and I have had many excellent meals there. It is clearly the best looking room in Beaver Creek and it always makes you feel special to enter that beautiful room, even though you are in jeans and a sweater. Food is usually excellent, though very expensive, and there is still no better rack of lamb than the pomegranate-marinated one David Wolford serves there.

    Our favorite in Beaver Creek is Grouse Mountain Grill at The Pines Lodge. It is also very expensive, but not quite at the level as Splendido. The chef there has some innovative dishes -- the pretzel-crusted pork chops are superb. The off-the-menu specials are often excellent. The room is warm and "mountain-y" in contrast to Splendido, which is more "fancy."

    Our absolute favorite in the valley is Larkspur in Vail. I have never had a dish there that was not excellent. They do a great job with fish dishes and the beef and game dishes are over the top. Service has always been top-notch and it's the best looking room in the valley.

    There are lots of older threads on this board if you do a search. Look for posts from Blue Ox, the real local guy on this forum who knows what he's talking about.

    Oh, don't forget to take a look at Juniper in Edwards. It's several years old, but new since you have been there.

    Bon apetit!

    8 Replies
    1. re: ddavis

      Well, Mr Davis nailed it again. He's really laid it out the best places to eat in the Vail Valley. And a lot depends on when you are visiting, if its during mud season (now until June), you'll find the Beav kind of empty. Also during mud season, the dinner specials are going strong. I was surprised to see that the place in the Hyatt, Bivans has a 3 course $32 deal going. RR have you ever tried Bivans and what is your opinion? The Ritz dining room (formerly Remmingtons) has been demolished and Spago is going in. From what I hear about the remodeling budget, folks will finally have a place to spend $250 per person.

      My take is for the best food in the Valley, its Larkspur, Juniper and Sweet Basil (for lunch).

      For really good food, its Dish (small plates) in Edwards, Balata in Singletree, Bottega in Vail, the Lodge in Vail, Ti Amo in Eagle Vail and Red Sky Ranch Club House (run by the Larkspur folks).

      For fun its Mango's in Redcliff, The Saloon in Ginnturn, Walcott Yacht Club (lunch) in Walcott. The fun makes up for the food at the Saloon and WYC. Also, the burgers at Larkburger for you red meat eaters are good.

      The time of year you visit the Valley has a lot to do with the service you'll receive.

      1. re: BlueOx

        Thanks so much for the suggestions so far. We're arriving over the Memorial Day weekend and will be there for the week, so definitely mud season. Still hoping to get in some good hiking though!

        1. re: heathermb

          Heather, looks like Splendido is out, this from their web site:

          Splendido will close April 2 for major kitchen renovations. We are tentatively going to re-open June 15, serving dinners Tuesday through Saturday (our normal Summer Season schedule).

          I know they have a kitchen remodeling building permit for $600K.

          Starting the Thursday after Memorial Day are the Teva Games. That means lots going on. And Memorial Day usually is reopening for Larkspur.

          1. re: BlueOx

            BlueOx, thanks so much for taking the time to look this up, that is really kind of you. I'm disappointed that we won't be able to go to Splendido, but I guess it wasn't meant to be! What would you recommend as our alternative splurge dinner? Larkspur? Bivin's?

            Also, is it possible to go to Beano's for just drinks and not the whole dinner?

            1. re: heathermb

              I’d do Grouse Mountain Grill as an alternative to Splendido.
              http://www.grousemountaingrill.com/in...
              The setting is as nice as any place in the Valley and the jazz piano player in the lounge is really good. I don’t think you can do just drinks at Beanos. But check with the Beanos resv office which is right across from the chairlift 6 (Centennial).

              And the annual Blues, Brews & BBQ is at the Beav May 26 & 27. http://beavercreek.snow.com/info/summ...

        2. re: BlueOx

          I have never tried Bivins, but at $32 for a 3 course dinner I might give it a try. I notice that Larkspur has a menu on their website that I guess is their mud season special -- 3 courses for $36.50. That's less than a lot of their normal prices for an entree alone, and they have some wonderful starters. Gosh, I would love to pay $250 per person for "California cuisine." (Note sarcasm.) How nineties!

          1. re: BlueOx

            Just returned from a very early dinner at La Bottega in Vail. What a wonderful meal! We sat at a high top in the bar area and enjoyed sharing three items while chatting with the friendly gents manning the pizza oven.

            First: salad of baby spinach with goat cheese, preserved duck (warm), tomatoes, and duck prosciutto with a raspberry vinaigrette. Salad was delicious although there could have been a bit more dressing to my taste.

            Next: Margherita pizza with Parmesan cheese and prosciutto added. Wonderful - great crust, cooked perfectly and they were more than happy to accommodate our request to have the parmesan melted onto the pizza - YUM!

            Last: Gemelli pasta with spicy sausage in a vodka cream sauce. Very rich, but oh so good. Sausage was just the right balance to the creaminess of the sauce.

            Had to pass on dessert, but I enjoyed a cup of freshly-brewed coffee and BF a glass of Muscat.

            Bill, including three glasses of prosecco (hiccup!), a glass of white wine and the muscat was $84.00 after a discount on the pasta with tax (10% - yikes!!) but before tip. Well worth it! Thanks for the recommendation! (BF is laughing at me for posting this so quickly, but oh well!)

            1. re: heathermb

              Thank you - I love this place, but have gotten shot down for it. We had 3 fabulous meals there - all at the pizza bar!

        3. Any thoughts on the French Press in Edwards? I saw it recommended as a good breakfast spot on another site. Is it substantial food (eggs and pancakes) or more muffins and scones?

          Also, what's the best place for a burger and beers?

          Thanks for all your help!

          2 Replies
          1. re: heathermb

            Lot's of folks like the French Press. They used to have a service problem, I walked in no one said a thing, sat a table and waited, after 10 minutes got up and walked out. I've heard similar stories. I think they might have fixed the problem.

            I tried eTown in Edwards Riverwalk last night, the place is going to be a good locals hangout. They are working to get it right, service for a start up is very good and they ask for feedback as though they want to hear it. Families and a younger crowd.

            The best burger is Larkburger, but you don't want to eat in, the place looks like a plastic fast food joint. Stay away from Finnegins Wake in Avon, food has gone downhill. I know Dick won't agree, but for the Beav, the Dusty Boot is OK. Also, Bagili's in West Vail is pretty good. Gore Range Brew Pub in Edwards is OK and the outdoor seating makes it a nice place to chill.

            1. re: BlueOx

              The minimalist interior of Larkburger (http://www.larkburger.com/) didn’t bother us (especially since it was so clean). There’s a decent amount of wood in the place, and they’re really into biodegradable products and recycling, so it’s far from being plastic (although you’re definitely not going there for the décor). The friendly gent manning the front counter told us they were looking into possibly opening another one in Boulder. If it happens, I see lots of luscious truffle burgers and truffle-parmesan fries in my future. There’s not much info on their website, but this is a good article in the Vail Daily: http://www.vaildaily.com/article/2007...

              Dish’s 7-course chef’s tasting menu is only $25 during the off-season (an unbelievable value). I’m not sure when the price will go back up. They will also pair wines with the courses for you if you ask (and the pricing on that was very reasonable as well). I had been told it was safe to leave everything in their hands, and that turned out to be a good call. Part of the fun was having no idea what delectable treat would be placed in front of us next and what wine it would arrive with. The surprising stand-out item was “Thai Melon and Cukes” (cantaloupe, English cucumber, spicy Panang Thai curry, and roasted peanuts). The food is all over the map, but it works (and they get points for bringing out truffle popcorn while we were perusing the menu). Fun-n-funky atmosphere and friendly staffers. Another off-season benefit: We were able to walk in and get a table with only a 30-minute wait on a Friday (and since the bar and chef’s counter were full, it was fortuitous that their “sister” spot Eat! Drink! downstairs was still pouring vino).

              I was happy to see that Eat! Drink! now sells the beautiful Bottega del Vino glasses that Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder has a few of (in case a guest has a Barolo emergency). I don’t like how they have to separate the retail food/cafe and wine portions of the business with different entry doors and such (silly alcohol regulations), but I like how they open up the front of the place so you can relax and enjoy a lovely breeze while nibbling on some cheese, charcuterie, or bruschetti.

              I like the free, full-color Vail Valley Dining Guides that the local chapter of the CO Restaurant Association publishes (available online at http://www.vailvalleydiningguide.com/) .

          2. So I'm heading out your way tomorrow... spending Saturday night near the airport in denver and driving up to Vail on Sunday morning. We are actually staying at they Hyatt in Beaver Creek so my guess is we'll check out the blues/BBQ fest on Sunday. Bivans will definitely be on our list as well since it's right in the hotel! Grouse Mtn Grill as well, I think...

            I really appreciate all your suggestions...any other last-minute tips before we leave?

            1. Okay, so I'm on vacation and should really be staying far away from my laptop, but I wanted to be sure to post about Bivans before their current price-fixe menu changes. We had it last night and if my BF had his way we'd have it three more times!!

              First off, wow what a bargain it is. $32 for three courses - most of the entrees on the regular menu come close to this price!

              The choices on the current menu (ends June 2nd) are:

              Appetizer:
              Seared tuna with wasabi dipping sauce and an asian slaw - delicious although the dipping sauce could have had more bite.

              OR

              Buffalo skewers with apple BBQ sauce served on sauteed spinach and grilled apple slices - DELICIOUS.

              Entrees:
              Lamb t-bone steaks on white bean puree and sauteed greens with a tomato-mint salsa. This was really wonderful (although it wasn't my dish) the lamb was cooked perfectly MR and had a delicious char on the outside. I wasn't a huge fan of the bean puree but BF loved it.
              I had a lobster ravioli with a cognac (IIRC) lobster cream sauce topped with generous amounts of lobster meat and a lightly dressed shaved fennel salad. This was extraordinary. I am amazed at the amount of lobster that was included in this dish given the current high prices of lobster (we are seeing $30 lobster rolls at home in Boston right now). I can also say with a high level of confidence that the lobster was fresh, not frozen. If we were not in public I'd have licked the bowl - the sauce was that good.

              Portions were very generous as well.

              For dessert we had a strawberry cake and a warm apple tart. Both were good, not amazing.

              Service was impeccable, but we were the only diners in the restaurant! I'm sure it would have been just as good even if the place were crowded though.

              It was a delightful evening and we are looking forward to possibly repeating it before we leave the valley on Friday!

              4 Replies
              1. re: heathermb

                Heather, thanks for taking the time to post. Now for sure we'll have to try Bivans. Sorry about the weather today (and tomorrow), looks like snow tonight. Its springtime in the Rockies.

                1. re: BlueOx

                  PS: did you see the hail this morning! Never seen anything like it in my life!

                2. re: heathermb

                  Thanks for the report. I am in Beaver Creek about four weeks a year and have never been to Bivans. Wish I were there now -- I would make it a point to go. Hope you have fun the rest of your time there. I strongly encourage you to try out Dish in Edwards for some great small plates.

                  A friend in BC and told me about the hail -- she said the golf course looked like it was covered in snow! Strange weather.

                  1. re: foodissexy

                    Our experience with French Press is that it's just OK. Not horrible, but not worth spending lunch on when there are much better places. Agree on Fiesta's. Breakfast served only on Saturdays and Sundays. Always good. Side order of bacon is a real heart-stopper!

                3. Last night was Dish for dinner and Marble Slab for dessert. Loved both. Service and menu at Dish were fantastic. BF had a cucumber mojito that he loved and I enjoyed a sparkling rose. For eats we had:

                  The original - a slice of serrano ham and a little piece of manchego cheese with a small glass of sherry for dipping - great start.
                  Lump crab and egg salad with asparagus - delicious and very generous for a small plate.
                  Lamb flautas - maybe the best of the night - blue tortillas wrapped around lamb-chorizo and cheese with a slightly spice salsa for dipping.
                  Purple potato salad with a bacon/shallot vinaigrette
                  Corned beef with crispy potatoes, sauteed onions, succotash and prosciutto - also quite good.

                  It was the perfect place to eat as we were a little hungry, but not too hungry, so small plates were perfect. If this place was located in Boston I can say with confidence that I'd be a regular! I love their dedication to local, seasonal, and organic ingredients!

                  Thanks for yet another fantastic recommendation! All the dishes above, plus two mojitos and two glasses of sparkling rose came to $62 before tax and tip.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: heathermb

                    Locals steered us away from French Press, but we were encouraged to try the excellent crepes at the cafe in the back of independent bookseller Bookworm in the Riverwalk area of Edwards. http://www.bookwormofedwards.com They only have their coffee drinks listed on the wall menu, but there are several delicious breakfast/lunch and dessert crepes detailed in the paper menu by the register (and the names are in tune with the literary theme, so if you've ever wanted to order Camus, Machiavelli, or Voltaire for brunch, here's the place to do it). A particular favorite was The Jungle with artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, goat cheese, and pesto.

                    What's the best thing to order at Fiesta's for breakfast? I've only been there for lunch and it was over a year ago.

                    1. re: rlm

                      Hey RLM, thanks for the heads up on Bookworm. When I go to Fiesta's, 9 out of 10 times I get the "special". Even for breakfast.

                      1. re: BlueOx

                        ditto on the bookworm. I haven't been to starbucks in Edwards since they opened in their new location serving great crepes, wine by the glass and amazing local novo coffee. Another great addition to Vail's newest culinary mecca!!

                        1. re: foodissexy

                          So it looks like Thomas Salamunovich and Co. are actually close to opening a Boulder outpost of Larkburger! Woo-hoo! This is per 5280's Table Talk newsletter this week. Supposed to open in October at 28th and Arapahoe. A Denver location may happen later.

                          1. re: rlm

                            Well, that's slightly dangerous! Thanks for the update rlm.

                  2. Sweet Basil in Vail Village is a perennial favorite of ours ... and the carnivores in my family have a real soft spot for Lancelots as well.

                    1. Splendido is offering 40% off on food and selected wines. We will probably see more interesting deals this summer, hotel bookings are down.