As I was recently researching hot restaurants in Colorado ski resorts, whenever I asked Vail locals for suggestions, the names Dish (upstairs) and Eat! Drink! (downstairs) in Edwards came up. I was in Edwards today on an assignment for Vail Home magazine and had lunch with Stephen Lloyd Wood, my editor there. When he asked where I might want to eat, I didn’t hesitate to ask about Dish.
Dish is open only in the evening, so we settled in at a window table at Eat! Drink! downstairs. This bright, imaginative establishment — with each wall painted a bright contrasting color — serves light fare and sells about 150 artisanal cheeses and other gourmet products in part of the space and displays some 600 wines in the other. Christopher Irving and Pollyanna Forster opened Eat! Drink! in August 2004. Both came from the restaurant business, so they set up the wine retail area like a restaurant wine list, grouping the wines by varietal and posting what Chris described as “tutorials” about each.
Steve and I started with an Olive Boat, half-a dozen kinds of green and black olives arrayed in an dish that must have been nine inches long. From the small lunch menu, we both honed in on the panini in general and the Provence in particular: fresh chevre, sun-dried tomatoes, chopped artichokes and mesculin on tasty toasted flatbread. He ordered his with Boulder chips; I ordered mine with a simple green salad. At $9 each, panini here represent a real Vail Valley value. Steve, a former bicycle racer who has chowed his way through Europe covering the Tour de France, kept saying this was the best panini he has had outside of Italy.
Chef Jenna Johansen partnered with Chris and Polly to open the upstairs restaurant and wine bar. She trained at Johnson & Wales and also in the heart of Italy’s Chianti area of Tuscany. She holds forth in a spacious open kitchen. We popped upstairs for a look while the prep work for this evening was underway. If I ever get there for dinner, I want to perch on one of the six stools at the kitchen bar and watch Johansen cook and plate.
The menu changes weekly (and is updated on the restaurant’s website). She specializes in small plates, carefully prepared and exquisitely presented — like the organic beet salad (above left). “I love to watch people enjoy the food,” she said. She also likes it when they ask about something she is preparing. Dish’s dishes are available a la carte or for $25 for a six-course chef’s tasting menu, which is an even more impressive Vail Valley value.
Dish Restaurant and Eat! Drink! are at 56 Edwards Village Boulevard, Edwards; 970-926-3433 (Dish) and 970-926-1393 (Eat! Drink!).