Publication: Style section of Vail Valley Magazine
Author: Mike Spaniola
Date: Winter 2005-06

Restaurant Kelly Liken Provides All-Around Dining Experience

Restaurant Kelly Liken has a passion for providing a one-of-a-kind dining experience. Located in Vail's Gateway Building, at the main roundabout, the restaurant is the namesake of chef and owner Kelly Liken, whose penchant for high quality seasonal ingredients results in frequent menu changes.

Rick Colomitz, the restaurant's dining-room manager and Liken's husband, explains, "We serve a simple, yet exciting Seasonal American Cuisine that relies heavily on locally produced and cultivated products. In addition to offering the freshest seasonal fare, we offer more than 30 wines by the glass, a full bar and a wine list containing over 100 selections."

Kelly Liken is an owner-operated restaurant that uses a team approach to achieve a common goal: creating high standards and a consistent dining experience for each guest. "Our objective," Colomitz says, "is to 'raise the bar' in the local restaurant community, to exceed the highest expectations. Our staff is in tune with this philosophy and strongly dedicated to quality and service."

Kelly Liken's formal training as a chef included such prestigious venues as the Culinary Institute of America and The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia before heading to Colorado to join the kitchen staff of Splendido at the Chateau in Beaver Creek where Colomitz also worked. A classically French trained chef, Liken uses her culinary skills to enhance American food, working to retain the original flavor and taste. Chef de cuisine Anthony Mazza assists Kelly in the kitchen.

In the periodical's November 2004 issue, Ski Magazine opined: "[C]hef Kelly Liken rattles the village's culinary boy's club with her eponymous restaurant, Kelly Liken. The 28-year old Culinary Institute of America grad emphasizes local products in dishes such as Colorado rack of lamb shank ravioli."

For the record, other of the restaurant's regional fare includes elk carpaccio, potato-crusted trout and Colorado Wildflower Honey Glazed Duck Breast. Other stylishly prepared and described menu offerings will tempt the diner such as "Barbequed Natural Poussin with bacon-studded cornbread served with a tangle of tart slaw."

Savory and savvy appetizers include Truffled Bean Salad, Jumbo Lump Crab Salad and Hamachi Tar Tar (in carrot-ginger reduction and avocado puree). The staff welcomes requests for vegetarian fare as well.

Desserts range from a specialty strawberry shortcake to Layered Lemon Chiffon Cake with honey praline mousse and blackberry coulis to Mexican Chocolate Ganache Tartlets.

Vail regulars will recall the space as the former site of Siamese Orchid. Under Liken's direction, an extensive renovation has yielded a thematic design that quickly attracts and holds the guest's attention, serving as a fine and worthy compliment to the exquisitely hand-carved wood panels and molding to be found throughout the Gateway Building.

Honed slate inset with glass tiles provides the flooring and the ceiling displays a hand-blown glass chandelier. Metallic mesh provides a degree of separation between bar and dining area. Inviting yet intimate, the restaurant seats up to 70 patrons, and, accommodating Liken's emphasis on wine, has a 15-seat wine bar and wine-storage room.

Liken herself selected the artwork for her namesake eatery, purchasing the pieces from area galleries and commissioning other works.