The Review.

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

A delightful evening at Up The Creek.

Owned by a couple of long time local people, this restaurant on the banks of Gore Creek has been a staple for lunch and dinner over many years.  While Jim remains the silent partner, Peter oversees the show on a daily basis and is a charming host.

The evening menu changes on a regular basis and now has a focus that is wild game oriented.  Perhaps this latest invocation was triggered by the demise of the Tyrolean Inn (previously the Blue Cow) which while having a strongly Germanic influence in terms of cuisine, was owned by the Langegger family who raised their own wild game at a ranch near the town of Rifle.  Said wild game was often the highlight of that restaurant's menu.

enough with the background.  Up the Creek is simply but rustically decorated and is always clean and well kept.  Music is well chosen for dining and not so loud that customers cannot enjoy a quiet conversation.  Acoustics throughout the restaurant are fine.

We chose this late October evening to visit the "Creek" as it's off season and dinner specials are offered throughout the valley - allowing us to splurge a bit more than would be normal.

Meal Highlights:  We tested a couple of different wines by the glass while reading the menu and found a pair of delicious offerings at prices still in the single digits.  In fact the whole wine list, while containing some obligatory higher end wines, is generally modestly priced.  The bottle of Penfold's Syrah that we drank with the main course was a pleasant $33.

For starters Sue had a cold crab salad nested on avocados and served with toast points - delicious.  My Maryland lump crab cakes were equally tasty and very well presented on a bed of lightly cooked spinach.

She chose the grilled ostrich tenderloin as a main course.  It came with perfect mashed potatoes and a side of nicely el dente mixed veggies.  My Thai half duckling was spicy and properly cooked and came with a square of fried polenta and the same set of vegetables.  For desert we shared a well executed crème brulee - something we commonly choose as a benchmark for desert quality at a restaurant. 

Our server was a transplanted very nice young Russian lady, and we could not have enjoyed her more.  Impeccable timing and just the right amount of checking on us.

Lowlights:  While the restaurant space is comfortable, it's actually starting to show its age.  Some updating of tables and the overall decor is probably essential in the near future.  Flatware was really nondescript for the quality of the kitchen's output.  The worst feature is the stemware.  Certainly Riedel is not a necessity, but better wine glasses would definitely enhance the overall dining experience - and might influence customer's choice of wine selections.

Synopsis:  We really like this spot.  Particularly in the summer, lunches by the creek are delightful. Now with the new chef on staff, dining quality in the evenings is significantly improved.  With some improvement in the ambience and table settings, this definitely would merit a couple of  's, but for now we'll give it one and will plan to return again next season.

Reviewed by ORP on 10/26/2006


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