By Kim Fuller Published in the Vail Daily
The painted image of a Hawaiian hula girl stands mid-dance on my clean share plate — the gloss-coated print soon to be filled with bite-sized portions of frisee and radicchio. The greens are served with vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, hearts of palm pieces, house mozzarella and slices of orange supreme, all mixed in a fennel-pollen emulsion, the salad dressed as lightly as Miss Hula.
When a tiki bar party meets midsummer mountain magic, you know you’ve arrived at the right place. Welcome to the Wolcott Yacht Club.
The restaurant has been open for nearly 25 years, yet not everyone who has stopped to grab a cone from the club’s roadside ice cream shack knows the deep roots of Wolcott Yacht Club history.
The family of owner Jan-Marie Jouflas has been in Wolcott for four generations. She says her grandmothers taught her about food early on — “from planting, to harvest, to skillful preparation, to table.”
It’s this true appreciation for quality food products that Jouflas grew up with that is now making a sustainable presence in Colorado’s culinary world. For years, farm-to-table was a lost art, but Jouflas is happy to see it is being found again.
PICTURED LEFT: Rocky Mountain ruby red trout comes with a vibrant ginger-carrot puree
“I think there’s a beautiful blend happening right now, with these incredible artisans who are making delicious things that you can have in a casual atmosphere,” says Jouflas. “That is what we are striving to do here — I don’t want to compromise the quality of what we are doing, but I also don’t want it to feel uptight.”
The indoor, farmhouse-style seating and open kitchen should not be overlooked, but outdoor dining is where it’s at on warm and sunny summer days. Start with a Wolcott Mule hand-crafted cocktail in a mason jar, made with a house ginger-lime shrub, soda water and your choice of spirit, adding a touch of Moscow, Kentucky, Mexico or Caribbean.
Shared plates, like the Lil’ Lamb Meatballs with sauce raita, are nice to pass around the table, but don’t miss out on the entreés that highlight all the talents of the Wolcott Yacht Club’s three-chef team. The house gnocchi is inspired seasonally, and particularly from veggies and other sauce ingredients sourced from the large, on-property organic garden.
The main dish of ruby red trout highlights catch from rivers and lakes of the Rocky Mountains, paired on plate with tri-color mustard scented orzo, atop a carrot-ginger puree, and finished with a soy ginger glaze.
It’s easy to sit and stay awhile, especially when live music is added to the mix. Visit the Wolcott Yacht Club for lunch and dinner throughout the week, and its locally renowned, band-accompanied Sunday brunches.