On this trip to the mountains, my wife and I decided to try only places were had not been to before. Turned out to be a good idea. We had lunches at Sapphire in Vail and at Vail Bakery & Deli in Avon. Dinners were at Remington's at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, Tavolaccio in Edwards and La Tour and Larkspur in Vail.
Sapphire -- Nice place, outside patio is good for a quick lunch. Sweet & Spicy Rock Shrimp and Calamari Rings were good, but not as good as at Sweet Basil down the street. Same with the Parmesan French Fries Drizzled with Truffle Oil. Best thing we had was the Spinach Salad with Duck Confit and Strawberries. Service was friendly and prompt.
Vail Bakery & Deli -- Great sandwiches! They make their own breads, both for themselves and for other valley restaurants. My wife had tuna salad on whole wheat and I had chicken salad on rye. Both were huge and too much for one person.
Remington's -- Very good food for the most part. Service was sketchy. Beautiful dining room with floor to ceiling windows looking up at the mountains. Remington's Caesar, artfully done with whole romaine hearts encircled with an onion ring, with oven-dried tomatoes, Parmesan Reggiano and an ancho chili crouton. Lobster & Mushroom Risotto was perfectly cooked rice with crisp asparagus, pine nuts and St. Andre triple cream cheese. Entrees were a Dry Aged Angus Bone-in Rib Eye Steak and Roasted Maine Lobster Stuffed with Crab. The steak was a great piece of meat, but had way too much green peppercorn sauce on it. (Why can't people figure out that if you have a good piece of beef you don't need sauce?) The lobster was excellent, split in half and roasted and topped with lump crabmeat. The lobster was so sweet and moist that there was no need to touch the drawn butter.
Tavolaccio -- Nice mid-level northern Italian. Very good service and good food. Pepperoni pizza and a plate of antipasti were very tasty appetizers -- way too much food for appetizers. If we'd had a small salad with these, we wouldn't have needed entrees. But of course we did have entrees and the Italian Sausage with marinara, artichokes and pine nuts was very good. Wild King Salmon, pan roasted and served with fettucini and a white sauce, was likewise good.
La Tour -- Now we go east a few miles to Vail, where the snoot factor skyrockets. Although we had made a 7:15 reservation several days in advance and there were several nice vacant tables visible when we arrived, on top of the fact that it's "mud season" and most of the restaurants in Vail, including La Tour, are offering specials to try to get people to come in, the hostess had to go into the back room to see if she had a table for us. When she came back she tried to seat us at a cocktail table in a crowded corner. When I told her that would not be acceptable, she sighed heavily and finally seated us at an acceptable in another room. Finally seated, we had long waits for everything. Service was slow and somewhat haughty. It was obvious these folks weren't really thrilled to serve these Texans! We did, however, have excellent food. My wife had prosciutto wrapped asparagus salad with marinated artichokes, watercress, baby tomatoes, parmigiano-reggiano and basil vinaigrette, followed by pan seared Alaskan halibut, artichoke, cauliflower and carrots a la grecque, preserved meyer lemon, organic pearl barley "risotto" with lemon butter. I had the cold, roasted Colorado lamb salad, romaine lettuce, toasted pine nuts, fresh basil and mint dressing, followed by a very flavorful and moist "rack of pork" (really a nice bone-in pork chop) with warm chipotle, puree of cauliflower and potato chip salad. In summary, the food was good, the service was not.
Larkspur -- Far and away the finest meal we had this time. Service was friendly and excellent and our server actually acted like she was having fun and enjoyed having us there. What an improvement over La Tour! They had a three course deal for $31, which is unbelievable for this restaurant, as you will see. My wife had the Seasonal Melon with parma ham, watercress and aged balsamic (normally $13.50) and the Organic Scottish Salmon with herb ravioli, english peas and rhubarb beurre fondue ($29.50). I had Dungeness Crab Cake with celeriac remoulade, applewood smoked bacon and old bay vinaigrette ($15.50) and Colorado Rack of Lamb with chevre, artichoke barigoule and bella cerignola salsa ($42.00). I have no idea what those last two things are, but they sure were good! Dessert was a shared "Luxury" Chocolate Tasting featuring guittard prestige, scharffen-berger 80%, valrhona guanaja, godiva, el rey venezuelan white and milk, and Hawaiian vintage 2005 ($16.00). The chocolates were prepared in six different ways, from hot chocolate to a milk shake. Overall this place was near perfect. One of the best meals we have ever had in the Vail Valley.
As always, too many options, too little time. We'll be back soon and do it again!