So you’ve had brunch. But have you had a gourmet brunch in an alpine chalet accessible only by gondola, horseback or on-foot? Here’s your chance:
One of our favorite local secrets around Vail is the brunch at Game Creek Restaurant. Renowned for its setting in Vail’s Game Creek Bowl and its elegant Modern American, internationally influenced dinner menu; the exquisite breakfast buffet is usually reserved for Game Creek Club members in winter. Every Sunday of the summer the public gets a chance to experience this incredible spread for themselves.
On a recent Sunday we opted for the easiest route to Game Creek: a ride up the Eagle Bahn Gondola from Lionshead to Eagle’s Nest. Shuttle drivers make regular loops to escort brunch patrons the ½ mile ride into Game Creek Bowl and straight to the door of the restaurant. Hardier folks will opt to work up an appetite by hiking the dirt path to the restaurant or on a guided horseback ride. If you’re feeling especially industrious you could even ride your mountain bike to the restaurant – just be warned that the ride back up the path may prove tough with what will undoubtedly be a very full stomach.
Once at the restaurant you may choose to sit either outside on the multi-tiered deck, with views spreading west down the Gore Creek Valley and south of Holy Cross Mountain, or in the European chalet styled dining room.
After selecting a large round table to accommodate our large party, we placed our drink orders and were directed to the brunch buffet. “Buffet” feels too glib a term for the gourmet spread. Each Sunday Game Creek’s Executive Chef K. David Clawson changes the selection to make the most of seasonal ingredients. “We definitely try to take advantage of local summer produce,” says Clawson, “anything Colorado and seasonal, we like to get out there on the menu.”
He also builds the menu around a certain theme each week, with Coloradan, South Western and Asian flavors inspiring many of the menus. While the dishes change, the structure of the buffet is constant: a selection of hot breakfast staples with distinctive gourmet twists, an omelet station, selection of composed salads, freshly baked breads with various dips and spreads, antipastos and tapas, piles of fresh fruit and an extensive dessert display. On our visit there was even Colorado lamb at a carving station. The one menu item that does not change each week is Game Creek’s signature cedar planked smoked salmon – a favorite among members.
While perusing the food options, our gluten-free friends found that the clearly labeled dishes made their selection process much easier. Chef Clawson pays special attention to dietary restrictions with an emphasis on gluten free offerings, going so far as to replace soy sauce with Tamari in all recipes. Cooks are also present to answer any questions about ingredients in the dishes.
After many return trips to the buffet, a few mimosas and a round of cappuccinos to cap things off, our group happily loaded back on the shuttle for our return gondola ride down the mountain. Gluttony may not be required of such a decadent lunch spread, but how could we leave without sampling all the incredible creations Game Creek Restaurant had to offer? Our final consensus: the food was so good and the setting so exquisite that we’re returning every Sunday that we can this summer. Hoping we see you there.