The restaurant business can be a fickle mistress. Food and beverage managers who are masters of their craft know that one of the most important rules is to keep doing what works, and stop doing what doesn’t. We reviewed Maya last in the summer of 2013 when it was still the new concept at the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain in Avon, Colorado, so it made sense to pop in for a winter season refresh to see what was new and what had changed.
Out was the bottomless tapas brunch that made for an empty dining room. Its replacement was a pretty faithful hotel breakfast buffet with plenty of the familiar old standbys: scrambled eggs (cheesy and cheese-less) cold cuts, pastries, good sliced cheese, lovely sausages and bacon. There’s still some south of the border influence with a nice breakfast enchilada and a spicy sausage tucked into the eggs benedict. There are certainly less sumptuous $23 hotel breakfast buffets in this world; this one was enough to sate even the heartiest of appetites until an early dinner.
In were three batches of private label tequila from Herradura. Food & Beverage Manager Kayla Wittich’s enthusiasm for selecting the tequila was apparent, as she chatted happily about her experience traveling to the hacienda in Jalisco where Herradura is distilled and bottled. Wittich’s knowledge of tequila is rather comprehensive, as she was able to share everything from the legal requirements to be considered a working hacienda in Mexico (sleeping accommodations for workers, a well, a chapel, a stable, and a vegetable garden, among other things) to the legend of the horseshoe symbol used by Herradura. In seeking a private label tequila, Wittich shared that the team “wanted a tequila that would be a good introduction to new tequila drinkers. We wanted to pick something that’s approachable; something that will draw new people to drinking tequila.” She also shared that Herradura has been doing things the same way since their inception with few changes. When a plant needs to be replaced on the estate, it’s replaced with the exact same plant, so as not to change the environment that affects the open-air fermentation process.
The first tequila on offer was a blanco—the agave in its purest form, having aged in the barrels only a few months. Plenty of citrus notes are apparent in this succulent, floral tequila, yet without the accompanying bite. Next up was a double barrel resposado, which ages a bit longer—first in a used whisky barrel, then in a brand new oak barrel imported from Kentucky. Up last was the anejo, which spends the longest amount of time aging in the barrel; the oak was ever-present but not overwhelming—this was a whisky lover’s tequila. All three were stupendous, but the resposado was the most well-balanced and utterly luscious, and it was even better in the “Maya Martini”, which adds only a little bit of orange and grapefruit to the tequila to calm and coax out its inherent “sip-ability”.
The Chef de Cuisine has also changed since our previous visit, but other popular menu items remain steadfast. The Spicy Crab Guacamole (prepared tableside) had the perfect amount of medium spice in both the crab and the guacamole. Among other antojitos (starters) there was a pleasant mix of the exotic with Yucatan Octopus and Huarache Flatbreads and the familiarly Tex Mex Queso Fundido and Chicken Flautas. The Squash Blossom Quesadillas were sweet and mealy, served in a plaintain masa turnover instead of the usual tortilla, brightened with a cheery mango salsa.
Mole seems to curry ambivalence among few diners—it’s either disliked or adored. Here, the chore is simply to select one. The kitchen turns out three of the hours-long preparations: a rich poblano mole, the traditional haunt of Puebla, a bright Pipian topped with toasted pumpkin seeds, and a satisfyingly spicy Amarillo, topping a choice of four unbeatable proteins. For those utterly unable to choose, Maya offers a sharable version with all three moles and all four proteins. They’re all done perfectly, and the fat in the pork carnitas finishes with a satisfying crunch that is difficult to find elsewhere. The tried-and-true standby of fried ice cream comes out between a split and caramelized banana—despite being a gigantic portion, it’s difficult not to finish.
Maya is located on the lobby level of the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain and is open daily for breakfast from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and for dinner from 2:30. Reservations are available via OpenTable or by calling 970-790-5500. Happy Hour is available daily in the bar. Valet is complimentary for Maya guests. Our warmest thanks go out to the staff at Maya for their hospitality and for furnishing the meal enjoyed in preparation for this story.
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