La Tour Eiffel, Le Moulin de Galette, and Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose” have one
defining characteristic in common: they’re classics, and undeniably French. In a word, vintage.
And so it goes with the menu and overall concept of a new brasserie of that name just off of Vail Village’s primary traffic circle. Over the summer, Vintage boldly reimagined the contemporary American landmark eatery vacated by the valley’s most celebrated chef (Kelly Liken) in the Gateway Plaza building.
Take the steak frites. You don’t need your server to explain it; you can taste the cognac-cream-and-spice-enhanced sirloin and crisp spuds as soon as you see the dish on the menu. But you may need a sommelier to help you pair it with the sanguine 2012 Château Chabiran Bordeaux.
“We wanted something that never goes out of style and tapped into our older memories,” says owner and general manager Brodie Broderick.
Restaurant Kelly Liken habitués will notice the difference as soon as they enter. Gone is Carrie Fell’s signature True West, replaced by eclectic French works from Broderick’s family art collection, including authentic Parisian posters and a wall of classic telephones in the lounge. Unfamiliar faces include those of visitors staying at the nearby Four Seasons, Sebastian, and Sonnenalp hotels, who decamp from their rooms en masse and linger, joined late at night by a merry coterie of local service workers—waiters, bartenders, drivers, and cooks—who drift in after 10 p.m.
“I noticed that when hotel and restaurant people get off work at night, there were limited options for a drink and a bite to eat,” Broderick explains. “We wanted a place where they could hang out.”
The kitchen remains open until midnight, dishing shareable plates including frites with cheddar, crispy pancetta, and crème fraîche; a bacon-and-egg breakfast sandwich; and highly craveable bacon-wrapped figs with Roquefort—all the work of chef Matt Tarr, who defected from Juniper at the Riverwalk in Edwards. Brunch devotees will appreciate the range of upscaled classics from steak and eggs Benedict on toasted baguette to Tarr’s signature breakfast galette (well worth the 20 minutes it takes to bake puff pastry with an egg and a crown of toppings like sautéed fresh mushrooms, onions, Gruyère, and white truffle oil). And be sure to order a side of chef’s irresistible “smashbrowns,” a nest of roasted, skin-on fingerling potatoes with bacon, molded and griddled until crispy brown on the bottom. Inner children crave the scratch-made buttermilk pancakes that come with a choice of mix-ins like huckleberries and chocolate chips alongside house-made syrups.
Post-après, Vintage sates Amendment 64–enhanced appetites with such iconic French starters as sautéed frog’s legs, foie gras terrine, and traditional onion soup gratinée. The menu includes delicate fresh sole meunière, Niçoise salad, and steaks with béarnaise. Of course, there must be moules: deep bowls of black mussels simmered in traditional or curry broth and graced with a heap of hot frites. Desserts are mini portions of caramel chocolate mousse, lemon-huckleberry crème brûlée, and peach blueberry pie à la mode.
Vintage sommelier John Thompson has curated a roster of French, Spanish, Italian, and American reds and whites with an ambition to be not the thickest or priciest wine book in the valley, just the most interesting. (Liquid Geography, a 2013 Spanish rosé, earned a spot because it pairs well with rich brasserie preparations like coq au vin.) At least 12 wines (including pinot noirs and chardonnays to match boards of pungent Italian stracapra cheese, air-dried Uruguayan bresaola, and accoutrements from honeycomb to cornichons) will always be available by the glass using a Cruvinet wine preservation system. And with Vintage’s emphasis on brunch, Bloody Marys are de rigueur, along with a Hemingway daiquiri and negronis made with the bar’s top-shelf spirits including 10th Mountain whiskey.
But the best-selling cocktail? Bien sur, it’s the old-fashioned.