If you are a “foodie” living in, or visiting the mountain resort of Vail, Colorado, sometimes you just want to “elevate” your dining game. There are a myriad of dining options in Vail, as there would be in any modern resort. Most choices will be casual to semi-formal, and you will find your favorites in Vail Village or Lionshead. Sometimes you just want to escape the hustle of the village streets, especially during peak weeks. I have been visiting Vail for nearly 30 years, and living there for the last 6, but there are still a few restaurants I have not tried. Recently I was attending a trade-tasting event and made some new acquaintances. One of these industry professionals suggested that I try the Game Creek Club at the top of Vail mountain. This idea really intrigued me and a few days later, I find myself (and my husband) heading up the Eagle Bahn Gondola towards our dinner reservation.
We choose an early dinner reservation to savor the last daylight moments of a January evening. It had been a cloudless day, what we call “bluebird” in this mountain town. We were greeted at the bottom of the gondola by a host, offering us a plush blanket for the ride up. On the short ride up to Eagle’s Nest we watched the sky change. To the east was the surreal color gradient of pink to lavender to indigo over the Gore Range. To the west the sun setting beyond the hills turning them to the color of glowing embers of a campfire.
At the top of the gondola is another greeter helping to connect you to your snow cat driver for your short ride to the restaurant. The lodge is nicely appointed and warm. At the entrance to the bar and dining area you will be greeted by someone offering to take your coat, before being greeted again by your hostess. What struck me about each of these touch points was how excited each person was for us to have this experience. I know you can train people to do this, but clearly each was authentic and shaped by the happy diners that have left the Club in the past.
The club is consistent with the Bavarian architecture of the Village below. Lots of pale wood with artistic carvings. You can just picture yourself in a European mountain village. Every staff member is committed to your enjoyment. I was immediately aware of what a relaxing evening I would be having, once I put our happiness in their hands. Typically I have a “job” to do when we go out to eat. I am usually the one that peruses the menu and then attempts to predict the best food and wine pairings. This is more challenging, the more diners I am trying to please. But, on this night, we had the expertise of sommelier, Josh MacLean, to curate our meal. Josh has taken this wine program to the level of being awarded Wine Spectator’s “Best Of” Award of Excellence for the last three years in a row.
Not only did we leave the meal to the Chef and his team, we left the wine pairings to the sommelier. I think this sommelier has such a rewarding job, he touches every table and almost every guest, having the opportunity to enhance each of their evenings. He knows the menu and has selected wine options for each course. If you choose the sommelier’s wine pairings, you will most certainly be introduced to wines you may not have selected for yourself. If you have a preference for a different wine, you will be accommodated graciously. The wines available by-the-glass is extensive, with a focus on selections from France. If you are a food and wine enthusiast, this is the way to go.
As a dining experience, this one was flawless. I would expect that a 5-course meal with amuse-bouche would take all evening, but the flow of service and the attentiveness of the staff was perfect.
A few facts of which to be aware-