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