The review. An in-depth analysis of new and existing restaurants in the Vail Valley.

An interesting experience at  Ludwig's in the Sonnenalp.

Acknowledged as one of Vail's better resort hotels, we'd not tried the primary restaurant known as Ludwig's in a number of years.

Given the off season special they were running at three courses for $30, it seemed an appropriate time to rectify our lack of attention to this dining room.  Happily the evening was a warm one which meant we customers were all treated to seating on the outdoor patio which is very pleasant and lets us enjoy the sounds of Gore Creek rushing by as well.

It's fascinating how different service is performed at our various establishments around the valley.  Here the Austrian ethic prevails, and while I'm sure it has its adherents, frankly we weren't wowed by it.

There's an almost overly stiff Germanic approach by the wait staff that was echoed by a young sommelier who visibly objected to our wine choices and our unwillingness to have our Viognier re-chilled in the ice bucket after opening.  He also seemed miffed at our preference to refill our glasses ourselves.  So be it.

Meal Highlights:  Sue chose the duck l'orange and I the Dover sole - the only two items on the fixed price menu.  We started with some wonderful lavosh and what seems to be the now obligatory amuse bouche.  Very nice.  Our mixed greens salad was raised and surrounded by a wrap of thinly sliced cucumber.  Not bad.

Sue's duck was very flavorful if a bit on the dry side.  My sole was a generous portion bathed in a brown butter/lemon sauce.  Not bad, but a bit over cooked.  Our accompanying vegetables were probably a bit too al dente but decent nonetheless.

The fixed menu desert was a crème brulee which we always test as an idea of how restaurant's deal with desserts.  This was a good one - nice custard, crispy crust, and some sliced fruit to cut the sweetness.

Lowlights:  At the risk of sounding overly picky, the flatware was very pedestrian and the balance of tableware similarly so.  We ordered two separate wines by the glass while reviewing the menu and the pours by the sommelier seemed way too parsimonious from our perspective - particularly for the price charged.

While the meal itself was decent and reasonably paced, there was too much variation in the level of "doneness" between the meat/fish items and the accompaniments.

While the primary wine list itself was extensive and we thought relatively fairly priced, the variety of wines by the glass and their cost were not acceptable.  This is a decent restaurant worth visiting once a year, and we'd classify it with a single .

Reviewed by ORP on 6/7/2006

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