So I just got home from a week in Denver, a little girl time with a wonderful friend who I haven’t seen in two and a half years.
The sites were awe inspiring……Rocky Mountain National Park, Red Rock amphitheater, Garden of the Gods, Seven Falls, Boulder and their amazing Flat Iron Rocks. Spending a week reconnecting with a friend surrounded by such spectacular sites, you couldn’t ask for a better week.
The Rocky Mountains still have snow!
The totally unexpected and wonderful surprise was the food in Denver. We ate wonderful meals at amazing restaurants.
We worked up quite an appetite walking the 16th Street Mall and stopped at Rialto Cafe for lunch, we sat at the bar, because the place was packed. We ended up sitting next to the sales rep for Sam Adams Beer Company so we asked what his favorite place to eat dinner was. He suggested Lola in the Highlands section of Denver. Great choice, it is a Mexican inspired restaurant with an open kitchen and a great staff. We split the Lola Guacamole, prepared tableside, I had the Baked Poblano Relleno and my friend went with the Carne Asada. If you are looking for truly authentic mexican, this isn’t the place for you, but if you want great food, inspired by Mexico, this is a great choice! http://www.loladenver.com
The next night we went back to the Highlands section again for dinner at Linger http://www.lingerdenver.com. Linger bills itself as a farm to street restaurant with a spin on ethnic eats. The plates are all designed to share, the waitress recommended 3-4 plates for a table of two. We started with the carrot and lentil falafel. They were served in a butter lettuce leaf with a lemon tahini yogurt sauce on the side. The flavors were subtle and blended together beautifully, but my favorite part was the house made zucchini pickle under the falafel, it was the perfect complement to the dish, gave you a dash of acid to balance the rest of the vegetables, herbs, and spices. Our second plate was the Sesame BBQ Taco’s – Kobe beef short ribs, slow cooked and tender, napa slaw, radish, avocado and lime, bold flavors that paired exquisitely together! Our last course was the Popper Breakdown, an intriguing take on a deconstructed jalapeno popper. The bottom of the dish contained breaded, deep-fried cheddar cheese curds, topped with roasted shishito peppers and a side of orange Habanero jam. The curds were so yummy! I liked that the peppers were not too hot, so you could add as much or as little heat as you desired with the jam. The jam was a perfect balance of sweet and hot, the orange was such a wonderful foil for the Habanero. I think I might try to make some at home, wish me luck!
We decided to try another farm to table restaurant the next night, The Kitchen, in downtown Denver. www.thekitchencommunity.com. This was by far, our best meal of the week. We split the Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad, the beets were warm and slightly melted the goat cheese over a lovely selection of greens. The salad was dressed to perfection, you know when you go into some restaurants and they drown their greens in dressing? Here they were lightly tossed and perfectly seasoned. My friend went with the Wisdom Farm Chicken, a half chicken, tossed in harissa, cumin and yogurt and served over a salad of cous cous, cucumber, and almond. The chicken was brined for several hours and was the most moist, delicious chicken I have had in a long time. I chose the House Made Tagliatelle in a Mushroom, Marjoram Cream Sauce. The pasta was tossed with a delicate sauce, and served with a mound of freshly grated parmesan cheese in the center. They topped the entire dish with fresh marjoram leaves. It is hard to describe just how light the dish was, considering it was a cream sauce, a delightful meal on a hot summer night.
If you find yourself in Denver on a Monday night, try The Kitchen’s Community Night. They serve a family style dinner at 7pm, $ 35.00 per person, not including beverages, tax, or tip, and 20% of the proceeds are donated to plant gardens in the Denver Public Schools. You will be served a great meal, using the finest, freshest ingredients, and help to conquer childhood obesity in one fell swoop. The more kids learn about food and nutrition, the better we will all be as a society.
We ended our week at Cru, a wine bar, in the Lower Downtown section of Denver. It has been a hot, hot, hot week and neither of us was really hungry for dinner but we both love a nice glass of wine and a great cheese plate. Cru specializes in flights of wine, I choose the Spice Rack, Intense Reds with Hints of Earth and Spice. My friend had the European Vacation, a delicious selection of Old World Wines. We shared the Great American Cheese plate, three amazing selections of goat cheese. Humboldt Fog, Vermont Creamery, and a Laura Chenel’s Chevre from Sonoma. By far, our favorite was the Vermont Creamery, the texture was similar to a brie with a slightly tangy flavor from the goat’s milk. http://www.cruawinebar.com
It was so nice to be so surprised by the food scene in Denver, I can’t wait to go back and see what other delights the city has to offer!