Typing out the restaurant's name, with or without the Germanic umlaut, in the search field, will yield no results. There’s also no signage. VüE is currently in the embryonic stage of development, having opened with a “soft launch” this past weekend. It’s a modular attachment, a way to increase yield, a way to maximize boom from a boom-and-bust cycle within a ski town. It’s also a means of circumventing long wait times from a lack of dining options in Red River.
In pragmatic terms owner Matt Dietz defines the business model, “we’re here to serve a need more than anything. It's not just to put a restaurant in and make a bunch of money; it's because when our guests come and there's a five-hour wait it makes for a negative guest experience and we're trying to contribute in a way that allows people to have a seamless experience and not have to wait forever to eat.”
In order not to fall within the same trap of long wait times, they intend to serve high-quality cuisine made from scratch at a fast pace. The kitchen is sandwiched between Pioneer Lodge, a complex of cabins surrounding a big pond, and an old caboose converted into a trendy coffee shop named Steam Coffee Co. All of which belongs to Dietz, who operates these amenities as a family business.
He explained how it started and how he expects it to unfold. “So this whole thing used to be a little apartment. And we just converted it into a kitchen," he said. "It's kind of a little hole in the wall.”
Standing in the kitchen with Matt, his daughter Alexis, and the chef Bryan Bock, felt somewhat cluttered and claustrophobic. About two outstretched people splayed on the ground in a row would be close to the length of the kitchen. Outside by the entrance to the kitchen there’s a heavy duty Pit Boss Vertical Pellet Smoker with a clear window and decked out with temperature monitoring systems to make light work out of smoking a thick piece of meat, such as brisket or pork butt, over a 24-hour period.
It would be interesting to see how the space would deal with high volume considering the limited size and the limited staff. For now it wouldn’t pose too big of a problem as they’ve got a smart game plan.
“Right now what we're doing is we're opening at five in the evening and we go until we sell out of product and the last three nights we've sold out by eight o'clock," Dietz said.
In addition to the short hours they’re also targeting a specific niche within the Red River food and beverage industry.
“Right now we're really focusing on doing food delivery service, because there's nobody in Red River whatsoever doing food delivery. So we're connected with GrubHub, to launch a GrubHub service as a GrubHub restaurant and we'll serve as our own delivery. We’re trying to capitalize on that without a dining room this winter … But what we're going to do this spring is we've got the patio next to the coffee shop. And we're going to convert it into a dining space. And next fall, we'll enclose it with glass, all the way around. Which is the whole Vüe concept. An outdoor experience in an indoor space.”
Residents of Red River and those staying in town for a weekend on the slopes this season have reason to rejoice. Even without an actual dining room, something plenty of restaurants have resorted to doing post-lockdown, the elevated street food concept made from scratch, is some of the best food you can have in that ski town.
Chef Bryan Bock, a West Virginian transplant, has incorporated the New Mexican craving for chiles with his affinity for waffles. Take for instance the fried chicken and green chile rum waffles ($8). The Belgian waffle recipe includes black rum and bourbon as well. The fried chicken skin is not exactly immaculate but as a flavorful piece of chicken in the middle of two crunchy-on-the-outside but soft-in-the-inside waffles drizzled with a mango habanero maple syrup, it’s quite divine. Think of a highly-refined version of a McGriddle.
Then there’s the smoked green chile meatloaf mac n’ cheese sandwich ( $16). Visually it’s just a brick of meat with macaroni and a plain looking ciabatta. The texture and the flavor of the meatloaf make the dish. It’s soft and velvety. It holds its shape, it isn’t grainy, and it’s not mushy. You can taste the smoke and you can taste the heat, and of course you can taste the tender meat. The ciabatta does its job well of holding everything together but not getting in the way of your bites.
Birria is a traditional stewed beef Mexican dish made popular again through social media foodie culture. Ordering two birria beef tacos with a side of elote sweet corn ($15) from VüE is not a mistake. They do things right. The tortillas are dipped in the rich and hearty consommé from the stew, then grilled on the flat top. The result is a stunning ochre colored marbleization. The beef tastes like it’s been cooked for a long time in a broth. As is the new Americanized manner, the tacos come with a small side of stew for dipping. These seemed to be the highlights of the menu, but the rest were interesting in their own right as well.
Later on, the restaurant plans to incorporate a Bahn Mi, and a Caprese flatbread, into the menu.
For takeout call: 575-754-4811
Hours: 5 p.m. till close