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Ridge + River serves up creative cuisine and mountain views

Iconic lodge has housed many restaurants and historical gatherings since 1965

Ridge + River Mountainside Kitchen was designed to be comfortably elegant and versatile and suitable for use as a restaurant, wedding venue or meeting space with a scenic backdrop.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

Three years after Vail Mountain opened to the public in 1962, the Manor Vail Lodge was built and has been an iconic property and landmark throughout Vail’s short yet impressive history. The lodge has housed many restaurants throughout its nearly 60 years, and if you’ve been here long enough, you remember the Lord Gore restaurant. But no matter the name or the cuisine at the various establishments throughout the years, one thing remains the same and that is the view of Vail Mountain.

Ridge + River Mountainside Kitchen is located across from Golden Peak, which was named for the bright yellow aspen leaves that fill the groves during the fall. The proximity to Vail Mountain has provided guests with great views of the slopes especially during the torchlight ski-down parades on New Year’s Eve.

“In contrast to the Lord Gore, the room now boasts a modern feel. The design team prioritized the Golden Peak view, incorporating floor-to-ceiling windows and a grand fireplace as the centerpiece,” said Shawn Parker, food and beverage director at the Manor Vail Lodge. “The aim was to create a space that is comfortably elegant.”  



The menu at Ridge + River Mountainside Kitchen at the base of Golden Peak revolves around mountain cuisine and aims to showcase as much of what Colorado has to offer as possible.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

In keeping true to its name, Ridge + River’s menu features dishes from the hillsides and the waterways with appetizers like a stewed leg of lamb with ricotta gnocchi or grilled halibut with wilted chard, caramelized fennel, apples, white bean broth and a white balsamic reduction.

“The concept for Ridge + River revolves around mountain cuisine, aiming to showcase as much of what Colorado has to offer as possible. Our cooking style incorporates French techniques with an American twist,” said Stu Turner, executive chef at the Manor Vail Lodge.

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When it was time to order, we thought we’d try something different on the menu and started out with the bone marrow with tomato caper relish, charred lemon oil, oyster mushrooms, microgreens and a garlic crostini. We also splurged on the mushroom strudel with thyme, shaved Brussels sprouts, feta, leeks, shallot and onion soubise. It was all so delicious, but we knew we had the entrees coming next.

The bone marrow appetizer is popular for sharing at the dinner table at Ridge + River Mountainside Kitchen at the Manor Vail Lodge.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

Ridge + River serves up an 8-ounce beef tenderloin and a bison New York strip as well as the halibut mentioned above and Bolognese ragu. We went for the red wine braised short ribs and the scallops.

The portions are generous at Ridge + River, so it’s a good thing we didn’t eat all of that mushroom strudel. The short rib is 8 to 10 ounces served with celery root puree, leek fondue, potato dauphine, baby carrots and braising jus. The other entr茅e offered three large scallops with smoked cheddar grits, crispy potatoes, blistered shishito peppers and shishito butter sauce.

Ridge + River has many entrees to chose from including the scallops with smoked cheddar grits and shishito peppers.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

Fortunately, we were able to have enough willpower to not devour the whole entr茅e because we also heard there were good desserts on the menu. Cheesecake, pana cotta and cr猫me brulee have different selections that your server guides you through but the s’mores with the marshmallow fluff and chocolate ganache was also very inviting. We settled on the profiterole ice cream trio and ordered chocolate, cinnamon and bourbon-flavored ice cream served with chocolate sauce, cr猫me anglaise and powdered sugar.

The restaurant was so inviting. At various tables, we saw a group of friends with goggle tans, a couple on a romantic date and then a family who was celebrating a couple who tied the knot earlier that day.

“When utilized for weddings, groups or events, the room’s table layout comfortably accommodates 70 people. With tables removed, it can host up to 90 guests for dancing or cocktail setups. Additionally, in the summer we offer the option to expand onto our covered patio, equipped with a retractable awning,” Parker said.

Even after a big meal, there’s always room for dessert, especially when it involves homemade ice cream.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

As we left with our to-go boxes due to the generous portions, I couldn’t help but think about the history of this space. It’s been used to host gatherings for Vail co-founder Pete Seibert and the other founding fathers of Vail Mountain, it has housed the best dancers and musicians from the Vail Dance Festival and Bravo! Vail Music Festival, and I remember having dinner here the year President Gerald R. Ford passed away in December 2006. A few days later, there was a special torchlight ski down in his honor at the base of Golden Peak that we could see from the windows of the restaurant. So many memories and more memories to come.

“With Ridge + River, our aspiration is to become a hidden gem-like destination that guests want to tell their friends about,” Parker said. “Being off the beaten path gives us a unique opportunity to be one of the few places people consider a secret. But not too secret.”


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