An in-depth analysis of new and existing restaurants in the Vail Valley.
Another attempt for me at La Tour.
This was a follow up try on my part to find out why this local iconic dining spot continues to get outstanding ratings. It's crazy that I've had such mediocre meals (by my measure) here in the past. Tonight was our 2nd (Leap Year) wedding anniversary, so Sue & I celebrated by making reservations at this restaurant one more time.
Despite my having suffered at least modest gustatory pain every time I've visited the place, we resolved to have a good meal tonight. It almost happened.
Here's our order and the results that followed. For starters Sue chose the braised shortbreads, I the Kumamoto oysters. Our mains were pork tenderloin for her and duck breast (plus leg) for me.
That our crème brulee to complete the meal was given to us on the house might hint at what transpired............
Meal Highlights: Sue's sweetbreads were described as simply outstanding. The service by a very large staff of wait people, servers, sommeliers, and management was friendly and attentive. An award winning wine list was fun to examine though we did have some difficulty locating anything we regarded as affordable.
The crème brulee, which we tend to use as a benchmark for desert quality, was terrific - caramelizing of the sugar topping being accomplished by flaming Grand Marnier instead of the normal use of a small blow torch. All the presentations from appetizers through main courses were nicely designed.
Lowlights: Both main courses could simply be described as utterly bland. While the duck and pork slices were obviously quality pieces of those respective meats, neither had anything in the way of an interesting flavor, nor was the sauce in which they were presented any more compelling. Just pretty disappointing. What the restaurant described as a choice portion of maple cured bacon accompanying Sue's pork loin turned out to be a thick chunk of fat resembling and tasting like a piece of lard.
Use of the same single shaped glass for both the red and the white wines does not smack of a good follow through to what qualifies as a high end wine list. If that sounds like a snobby comment, it's not intended to be so. We just expect different styles and colors of wines to be served in correctly matched stemware as is the norm with any other higher end restaurant in town.
My handful of small Kumamoto oysters (very pricey) came with a dipping sauce that was clearly too bitter to be wasted on more than one of those tiny treasures - apparently excessive vinegar in the sauce was the culprit.
Synopsis: Given La Tour's touted reputation, I truly expected a more quality experience. When we quietly gave some feedback about our problems with the meal to our wait person, management quickly responded which we appreciated, but that still didn't leave a better taste in our mouths about the dinner itself.
Our feelings about this place are decidedly mixed. While Sue has had good meals in the past here, frankly I never have been really satisfied leaving the restaurant - and it probably will be a long time before we return here.
Reviewed by ORP on 03/01/2008
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