New menu, pristine location, summer specials make Balata an Edwards dining gem.
By Kat Jahnigen
While mid-priced, casual dining options in Edwards can certainly rival the rest of the area, it’s not always easy to find a restaurants with great outdoor ambiance. Obviously, having good food is the most important thing (probably followed closely by reasonable prices), but, during the gorgeous Vail summers, being able to offer attractive outdoor eating is a big part of a restaurant’s draw. That’s where Balata comes in.
Situated on one of the most scenic golf courses in the county, the recently remodeled patio of the Edwards restaurant offers not only mountain and valley views, but also a pastoral tranquility that’s hard to find in a town that’s largely sandwiched between Interstate 70 and U.S. Highway 6.
On the Sonnenalp Golf Club in Singletree, Balata is can easily be overlooked by those who assume it’s either too fancy, too pricey, or private. In fact, it is none of those things. A summer promotion offers a three-course dinner (appetizer, entrée and dessert) for $26, and other menu items are comparable in price to most mid-range dining options in the area.
With a new Southwest-inspired menu launched this summer, the dishes are innovative variations on classic favorites, with intriguing combinations of common concepts and creative flair. Maybe seafood isn’t the first thing you think of when visiting the mountains, but Balata’s menu proves you should reconsider. Appetizer options include a blue crab spring roll, “laughing bird shrimp ceviche,” rock shrimp quesadilla and tuna tacos.
Choosing an entrée proves to be a delightfully frustrating challenge. Most of the seafood is exceptional, but the Wagyu flank steak with house-made steak sauce seems to beckon. But then there’s the lamb with curried cauliflower puree and mint chimichurri. Or the New Mexico spiced pork tenderloin with apple-potato-chorizo hash covered with a bourbon ancho chili reduction.
“It takes a long time to create a new dish,” says Balata Chef Steve Topple, who is also the executive chef for all five Sonnenalp Resorts restaurants. “It took me over a month to write this menu for Balata. I wanted to create a new theme for Balata, as there is a lot of competition in Edwards. So I went with a Southwest style, as there is nothing around like that.”
While the main course may be stellar, dessert ends up being the evening’s highlight, with samplings that include coconut cream pie, white chocolate bread pudding and a delightful rendition of crème brulee with a fudgy-custard center. One of our favorites was the passion fruit tart, a great summer dessert served in a pie shell that is made of a dark chocolate cookie. It offsets the tartness of the fruit perfectly.
The recent launch of the new menu and the debut of new flavors aren’t the only new themes at Balata, however. The restaurant has a summer lineup of gustatory events to please both diners and beer connoisseurs. To begin with, there’s the Beer and Bubbles at Balata (BB&B) promotion going on this summer. For $100, participants receive a punch card that entitles them to 30 beers or 15 proseccos, plus a complimentary beer stein or champagne glass.
Another interesting offering is a series of beer pairing dinners, created by Topple in conjunction with Crazy Mountain Brewery. The first event will be Thursday, May 24, which ties in with the launch of the brewery’s summer seasonal brew.
Also, the restaurant will be featuring live music from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays and Saturdays throughout the summer. It’s open for lunch, too, seven days a week, so stop by for a midday meal.
With so many superb offerings for food, drink and entertainment, the only thing that would make Balata even more perfect would be a dessert-lovers punch card similar to the BB&B promotion for a summer’s worth of crème brulee. Oh, well. Maybe next summer.