Tag Archive | "vail"

Rick and Kelly’s Bistro – Vail Valley

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Gayle Hendrix

As a 2009 James Beard award semi-finalist, Chef Kelly Liken’s namesake restaurant in Vail, CO is synonymous with exquisite food, exemplary service, and overall probably the best dining experience to be had in Vail. She has gained national notoriety towards the end of 2009 with master chef Mario Batali selecting her for his top emerging contemporary chef in the country for Phaidon Press’ book, COCO, stating “….Kelly is raising the bar for good seasonal food in the Rockies…and serves what people crave.”

So what happens when such a decorated young chef, along with her husband, decide to open a bistro serving traditional American comfort food? The answer comes in the form of Rick and Kelly’s Bistro. A remarkably casual, yet sophisticated local’s hang out that impresses and entertains even the most posh Vail Valley guests. After all, it is the ski town locals that create that incredible vibe, and who wouldn’t want to live vicariously through it, even just for a night?

Just imagine homemade pierogies, cheesy poofs and stone oven pizzas done by a chef that is used to putting out intensely simple, yet detail oriented dishes for top dollar. It’s like she’s doing you a favor people, because she is. With a creative cocktail menu and a fabulous beer selection, why wouldn’t you want to come here on a Sunday for brunch and work your way into a full day of football, all the while indulging in gourmet style ribs and fried chicken? It’s the kind of place where you can get a little messy and maintain your dignity at the same time. Seriously, when is the last time you got to eat some cheesy poofs? And as far as the burger menu goes, anytime you want to put a fried egg and some bleu cheese, bacon and caramelized onions on my burger, I will love you forever.

But let’s talk about the real stars of the menu. For one, the chicken pot pie. I am always hesitant to order a pot pie due to the fact that you usually get a heavy, overly rich and creamy pot pie that makes your stomach turn after the first three bites. Not the case at Rick and Kelly’s. I don’t think I can put into words the way I feel about this pot pie. I was expecting the usual, but was given the contrary. It is an anomaly in the world of pot pies. It was so light and packed with veggies that I could swear I was doing my body a favor and being healthy even though my mind was telling me otherwise. It defies logic I tell you. The puff pastry was perfectly golden and weightless, and I felt comfortable on a cold winter’s night in the Rockies.

With live music playing and a room full of glowing people fresh off a long day on the mountain, I couldn’t help but smile at the energy of the room. Sipping on my cilantro margarita and stealing sips of my husbands homemade ginger beer, I sunk into the most fall off the bone, perfectly caramelized skin, cinnamon, chipotle glazed pork shank. Tender as can be and perfectly seasoned, I don’t know that I have encountered the delicacy of this before. It was braising done to perfection.

As for dessert, admittedly, I am one prone to go for chocolate without a second thought, yet this time I was enticed into an orange flavored tiramisu. Honestly, it shook my being to the core. I would NEVER order orange anything, but this, this was other worldly. One might associate chocolate with tiramisu, understandably. Not a hint in this one. The mascarpone whipped to perfection, fluffy and the orange flavor present but not overpowering, I am a changed woman.

As my evening winds down, I come to an understanding. There is no need to break the bank in such a place as the Vail Valley to enjoy oneself and suffice the senses. One just needs to be pointed in the right direction, which is what I am doing here. I am allowing you into the world of locals. These are things we generally like to keep secret, but I would be doing a great disservice to mankind if I weren’t to let you in on it.

27 Main Street
Edwards, CO 81632-8109
(970) 926-3423

La Bottega Vail Village

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By Gayle Hendrix

Vail’s best kept secret!

If you are already familiar with this Vail mainstay, you may ask yourself “what secret?  This place is always packed!”  However, if you are not familiar with it, listen up! In a small ski village full of fine dining or quickie  sandwich  shops, La bottega finds a nice middle ground.  Offering up Vail’s tastiest and heartiest sandwiches by day and comforting pastas and entrees by night, you cannot go wrong here.
Enter through the cozy wine bar lined with cushioned benches and Ron Wood artwork.  You feel as though you have stepped into a chic grotto.  You immediately feel comfortable here, as if you could just melt into your seat after a long day on the slopes. If  your table is not ready, have a seat and enjoy an aperitif or one of their signature mixed drinks like “sex on the slopes”.
When your table is ready you are escorted into the busy dining room, modeled after a Tuscan farmhouse.  Thick wooden planked floors and stone pillars guide you through. It is a casual dining room.  Simple white lace curtains line the windows.  You are overwhelmed by a feeling of coziness and comfort.
The wood burning oven is decorated in beautiful, hand painted Italian tiles of gold and blue.  This is where their traditional, thin crust Italian pizzas are made.  With a peek inside the oven as you pass, you already know that you want to try one. But, before I can think about food, I glance through their impressive wine list.  With over 200 bottles of mostly Italian wines to choose from, one might feel intimidated.  But don’t worry.  You can just request that owner Elisabetta Virion stop by your table and pick something for you.  After all, she has handpicked every one of these wines by herself. The pizzas make for a great starter.  I went for the simple, yet delicious Margherita.  With some guidance from our server, we decide that it is best to go “family style”.  We order a number of dishes that we are told are must haves. There are so many options and everything sounds good.  Penne “Frutti di Mare”, grappa glazed duckling, rapini and asiago soup.
We opt for the bresaola, arugula and parmesan bruschetta topped with fresh lemon. We are also informed that the jumbo bowl of mussels makes a great appetizer. Sauteed in butter, white wine and lots of garlic and herbs, this truly jumbo bowl of mussels does not disappoint.  This holds true for the white truffle gnocchi as well.  The gnocchi are like little bites of heaven!
So now I am pretty full and feeling as though I cannot go on.  But I am told that I cannot miss out on the award winning tiramisu.  I don’t usually like tiramisu but I go for it….. after a glass of grappa of course!  My server was right.  It is not to be missed. Do yourself a favor if you are in Vail and stop by La Bottega.
100 E Meadow Dr # 37
Vail, CO 81657
(970) 476-0280