The review. An analysis of new and existing restaurants in the Vail Valley.
There are a few dining spots in Vail we generally avoid simply because they don't offer what we consider a decent value for the prices they charge. Sweet Basil, despite its reputation for excellence, falls into that category.
In the off season that value equation changes enough to cause us to visit there again last night. A $33 fixed price for three courses of choice is more reasonable than what the diner experiences at any other time of the year.
Meal Highlights: We selected completely different appetizers, entrees, and deserts to better each sample a variety of items. The wine list is still quite pricey, but we found an unusual white by the glass - an Albarino grape based white from California and a Lyeth meritage red that was really fruity, young, and delightfully drinkable. The only affordable Sauterne we found on the menu and shared with desert was forgettable.
Both of our appetizers were outstanding. Sue's was a complex duck confit on a roasted beet base with a variety of treated vegetables. My nori and panko crusted shrimp was delicious on its sweet potato spread. Her double thickness pork chop entree was also superior - as was the soy scallion risotto on which it was presented. Deserts were equally wonderful - her crème Brule and my lemon flavored cake with blueberries.
Lowlights: I should have known better than to order the saffron linguine with a variety of seafood's this time of year. even though this is a popular restaurant in the off season, the probability of getting some "aged" shrimp or lobster parts was likely, and it did happen. There simply was too much fishy flavor to the sauce, and while the course was edible, it was barely that.
There's no question that S. B. continues to be one of Vail's premier restaurants. It's certainly worth a , but given the occasional misstep and our problems with the value issue, we'll visit again only when it's "on sale".
Reviewed by ORP on 10/17/04
4/22/05 Update: We again took advantage of the low season $33 three course special and frankly, this time were more wowed by the offering and presentation. Our appetizers were similar - the crusted shrimp for myself and a crab cake for Sue. Main courses were a grilled rib eye steak on flavored potatoes for me and a halibut layered over shrimp flavored mashers for Sue. Deserts were a crème Brule and a complex ice cream dish respectively. Wines were a pair of whites by the glass followed by an Argentinean malbec with the main meal. To be honest the dinner was close to perfection. We need to raise the rating to .
11/08/06 Update: Another follow up with this year's $35 special. Despite a major remodel of the restaurant this past summer, our dinners and the whole experience was under whelming. even with fewer diners on the premises service was a bit spotty. The visual presentation of all courses was outstanding, but the tasting experience of the main course left something to be desired. Both of the deserts came out way too cold, obviously having been prepped several hours earlier. This is still a good restaurant, but we'll drop it back to .
IT'S BEEN FOREVER SINCE WE'VE REVISITED SWEET BASIL. SUSPECT THE OUTPUT IS EXACTLY AS IT WAS ON OUR LAST VISIT MANY YEARS AGO. THIS REMAINS ONE OF THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN VAIL.
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