Aug 19 2010

Denver Burger Battle – RESULTS

jko


Judges Choice:
#1: PARKBURGER
#2: Argyll
#3: HBurger

People’s Choice:
#1: HBURGER (151 votes)
#2: Argyll (67 votes)
#3: ParkBurger (65 votes)
#4: Colt and Gray (64 votes)
#5: Cherry Cricket (46 votes)
Encore, Deluxe, Steuben’s, Old School Burgers, and Walk-In Burger rounded out the top 10.

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Rating: +7 (from 11 votes)

Jul 29 2010

DENVER BURGER BATTLE

jko

MustEatDenver is throwing the Denver Burger Battle!

All you can eat tastes of the best 10 burgers in town, plus unlimited beer and wine from O’Dell, Great Divide, and Barefoot. Net Proceeds to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado.

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Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)

Jun 6 2010

Top 10 Burgers in Denver: Cherry Cricket’s “Green Chili Cheeseburger”

jko

Cherry Cricket’s “Green Chili Cheeseburger”

Location: Cherry Creek

Price:  $7.5

The Skinny: Any Denver burger list worth its salt simply cannot neglect the patriarch – the godfather of the local scene: Our beloved… Cherry Cricket.

While I may not be as enamored with them as my peers, I completely get the reverence.  The place is unquestionably an institution – from the curious “Duffy’s” sign out front (name of 1960’s owner), to the cramped quarters when you walk in, to the comforting way they revel in their greasy rebelliousness.  I mean, come on… who doesn’t love a place where the tagline is: “if Cherry Creek North is the diamond, we’re the flaw”?  They’re loveable in a self-aware kind of way.  But it also helps that their burgers are renowned for their taste, and the Green Chili Cheeseburger is as good as any other variety in the joint to highlight.

Why is it as good as any, you might wonder?  Because it doesn’t matter one bit what toppings you put on their burgers, the terrific meat will save it.  It’s a sure thing.  That’s what the folks line up for.  And really, the toppings don’t do a whole lot to elevate it, either.  They can be fairly flavorless and bland as an accompaniment.  They’re like the other 2 singers in The Supreme’s – it’s not that they’re bad, but you just really only remember Diana Ross.  And that’s what their patty is like: a greasy, delicious Diana Ross… without the crazy.  The green chili and cheese merely give the beef a decent platform from which to shine.  Definitely a top 10 burger in Denver.

AGREE OR DISAGREE?

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Rating: +6 (from 10 votes)

Apr 13 2010

Top 10 Burgers in Denver: Elways “Smashburger”

jko

Elway’s “Smashburger”

Location: Cherry Creek

Price:  $12.50

The Skinny: Elways, in spite of the marketing-gimmick name, actually does a lot of things right, and in some cases brilliantly.  They’re pleasant at the door, the servers are friendly and professional, the space is beautiful, and their food is absolutely rock solid. I’ve been here a few times and have literally left thinking it was one of the best dishes of its kind in the city.

At the center of this is Tyler Wiard – executive chef of Elways, and highly esteemed player in the local food community.  The guy transforms every meat dish in the place into a memorable experience – turning lamb chops and cheeseburgers into flavor milestones.  I might not remember my parent’s birthday, but I remember where I was sitting the first time I had the Elways Smashburger

I don’t know who had the idea of calling it a “smashburger” first, but the name graces the menus of at least 4 Denver restaurants I can think of.  Apparently, in addition to a catchy title, it is also a style of cooking the burger.  At Elways, they cook one side, flip it, and then smash the hell out of it.  This, according to my waiter, helps retain the juices and doesn’t bruise the beef – prime beef, for those keeping score.  However it’s done, it works.  And well.  The beef is tender and moist, and dominates the flavor of the burger, as a good patty should do.  This, along with the cheese, puts it head and shoulders above the other smashburgers (and non-smashburgers) in town.

AGREE OR DISAGREE?

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Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)

Apr 2 2010

Top 10 Burgers in Denver: TAG’s “Cheeseburger”

jko

TAG’s “Cheeseburger”

Location: Downtown

Price:  $12

The Skinny: Ok, I’ll admit to being a little bit of an evangelist when it comes to TAG.  I discovered their food while doing the list of 100, and fell madly in love.  I introduced my parents to it shortly after.  They got along well.  Siblings and friends are next, then maybe I’ll think about a ring.  It’s just that I haven’t found one thing they don’t do well, and I almost wish I did, so I didn’t come off as such a shill.  No such luck in finding it with their burger – it was awesome.

The stamp of this burger is the meat and bun -the real cornerstones of greatness.  Put all the truffles and foie gras in there all you want, but the bun and meat better deliver or it’s sunk.  Maybe the picture isn’t amazing, but take a look at that bun there – see the pockets of air in the bread?  That, along with the buttery top gives the thing a lightness and slight crunch when you bite in, almost like a croissant.  In the middle of that was the delicious meat.  Fresh, perfectly cooked, and full of moisture and flavor.  Maybe more medium-rare than medium, which was fine by me in a joint like this.  I had a few fun toppings but the meat, as it should be, was the star.

AGREE OR DISAGREE?

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Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)

Mar 19 2010

Top 10 Burgers in Denver – ParkBurger’s “Park Burger”

jko

Park Burger’s “Park Burger”

Location: Pearl St (down the street from Sushi Den)

Price: $6

The Skinny: Fresh.  It’s something you can’t really imitate, right?  You can’t make something taste fresh with more chemicals, food coloring, a clever perfume, or whatever the hell they do in food labs in New Jersey.  Fresh is earned.  It’s the crispness of the break in the lettuce, the firm edge of a tomato, the brightness of the meat.  And you know it when you taste it.

That’s the overall stamp of ParkBurger.  True, they also show some fun creativity with the menu (burger with ham, fried egg, and swiss anyone?), but the baseline part of the burger – beef, bun, cheese, the usual toppings – fresh as a daisy.  I got mine with caramelized onions and 2 kinds of cheese, but you can make a good guess that all of the options are pretty great.  They all start with this same, fresh baseline.  Mine was delicious.  I basically wolfed it down in 5-10 minutes.  It’s one of those that you can’t wait to have the next bite, so you just keep taking it.

The beef yields a perfectly medium rare center – pink and bright against the seared brown outside.  The bun toasted and steamed, holding together just long enough for me to finish – maybe not much longer.  Globs of melted cheese moving and gathering, picking up stray sweetened onions along the way.  All of it fresh, all of it delicious.  Got to be one of the 5 best burgers in the city right now.

AGREE OR DISAGREE?

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Rating: +10 (from 12 votes)

Mar 8 2010

Top 10 Burgers in Denver – Misses: Steve’s Snappin Dog’s “Smashburger”

jko

I tried the “Smashburger” from Steve’s Snappin Dogs the other day, fully expecting to be blown away. This thing gets rave reviews from people on different boards, as if it’s the hidden burger-gem of the city.

It was decent – I’m not going to say it was bad, but it didn’t make the cut. Aside from the cheese not being melted, the burger was like a softball in the middle of an umbrella of bread. Reminded me of this clip from Eddie Murphy:

Here is a pic of the burger:

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Rating: +2 (from 4 votes)

Mar 7 2010

Top 10 Burgers in Denver: Deluxe Burger’s “Denver Burger”

jko

Deluxe Burger’s “Denver Burger”

Location: E Colfax

Price: $7.5

The Skinny: The story goes that one hot summer night, Deluxe,  a successful and well respected restaurant, had a few too many drinks at the bar, and armed with lines from VH1’s “The Pick Up Artist”, started throwing his game out there.  The bait lured barfly Mod Livin, a stylish, modern furniture joint, single for 9 years and hanging out on the streets of Colfax.  Sparks fly, birds chirp, and Deluxe moves in months later.

Feb 26th,, 2010 – the birth of this union: “Deluxe Burger” – dubbed by the owners as “Love in a Bun”.  ½ rock solid food, ½ hip, mid-century design.  The result is an excellent, sweet, spicy and messy affair… much like love itself.  (And yes, that’s Shakespeare rolling over in his grave.)

On this occasion I got the “Denver Burger” – a spice and flavor guarantee with melted cheddar, sautéed chilies, onions, pico, and smoked jalapeño aioli.  That’s right, jalepeno and chilis – pico and onion.  Redundant?  Perhaps.  Especially with the pico.  You already get onions and tomato in the burger – having pico there gave only slightly more acid, but not much more flavor.  It also made the burger a bit of a mess, with the pico soaking into the bun.  Even with a sloppy bun, it was still terrific – the subtle heat from the spicy, mouthwatering aioli mixing well with the sweet onions and house-ground beef patty.

And that’s the other thing to mention about Deluxe Burger – everything, yes everything is homemade – from the fries down to the condiments and pickles.  An impressive feat, for sure, but on this visit it was the fries and condiments that were the most out of sync.  Chef-owner Dylan Moore is too good to let that go on, and I’d expect this to get smoothed out over the next few months as they find their stride.  Overall, a very strong burger.

AGREE OR DISAGREE?

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Rating: 0 (from 14 votes)

Mar 4 2010

Top 10 Burgers in Denver: My Brother’s Bar’s “Johnny Burger”

jko

My Brother’s Bar’s “Johnny Burger”

Location: Riverfront

Price:  $6.5

The Skinny: The secret to this burger is the use of pickles.

It’s an absolute dynamite cheeseburger: perfectly cooked meat, soft grilled onions, and 3 cheeses, including jalepeno cream cheese on the bun. With all of that, it’s practically begging for an acid, and that’s where the pickles take it to another level. Served alongside the burger is a tray of extra condiments, including pickles, that you jam into every bite. It’s the delicious combination of fat and acid, sweetness from the pickle, and spice from the jalapeno that makes this burger the best in the city.

AGREE OR DISAGREE?

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Rating: +15 (from 17 votes)

Feb 27 2010

Top 10 Burgers in Denver: Jack n Grill’s “The Kathy”

jko

Jack n Grill’s “The Kathy (Albuquerque Burger)”

Location: Federal

Price: $7

The Skinny: The Travel Channel is in love with Jack n Grill. The kind of love that only food obsession can bring – that maybe a 13 year old girl understands.  I genuinely wouldn’t be surprised if they dot their “I’s” with hearts while scribbling the restaurant’s name in their diary.  Maybe it’s the portions, the greasy spoon vibe, or the visible family behind the enterprise – whatever it is, they’re swooning.  They featured the place on “Man vs Food”, as restaurant owner Jack Martinez challenged the network to eat his 7 pound burrito (winner: burrito).  They list the spot as one of the top 10 places in the country to pig out, and in the top 15 on their “101 tastiest places to chowdown in America” list.  Obsession like this piques my interest – what’s the fuss about?

Answer: Size.  Sheer, circus-like size.  And their ability to pull it off and still make the food taste oh-so greasy-good.

The burger comes out all huge and freakish – like a mini basketball with meat in between.  It’s nearly embarrassing when served, except for the fact that every dish in the diner is somehow this same size.  After you manage to get your mouth around the son-of-a-bitch, it’s really an excellent burger.  Perfectly cooked meat, the outside seared to a deep brown hue, and the inside pink and tender.  This version, The Kathy, gets a topping of green chili and cheese – good mates for any burger, including this one.  If I had one complaint, it’s that the bun-to-meat ratio was a little slanted towards too much bun, but only by a little.

And, I kid you not… I had the “small”.  There actually is a “large” version of this monster.  Kudos to he or she who can conquer it… Travel channel?

AGREE OR DISAGREE?

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Rating: -2 (from 4 votes)

Feb 21 2010

Top 10 Burgers in Denver: Bud’s Cafe and Bar’s “Double Cheeseburger”

jko

Bud’s Café and Bar’s “Double Cheeseburger”

Location: Sedalia

The Skinny: This is Burger Purity.  No lettuce or tomato, no secret sauce, no fries.  It’s just you and the meat, cheese, & bun.  And it’s absolutely delicious.

Buds is exactly the kind of place you think it will be.  Exactly the kind of place you hope it will be.  Way out in the middle of nowhere Sedalia, past a few tumbleweeds and in between the railroad tracks, there it sits – like a place out of Mayberry.  I wouldn’t have been shocked to see a few rocking chairs out front, or at least a 6 string being picked.  No such luck on this occasion, but at least the inside was a satisfying scene: locals, beer, drab booths from decades ago, and 40+ year old waitresses.  Just the kind of spot that is guaranteed to serve good food.

The burger itself is simple and classic: Two patties of a proprietary blend of beef, melted cheese, and two perfectly steamed buns.  The buns deserve special recognition – they straddle the fine line between being sturdy enough to hold their shape, yet soft enough to melt into the burger in each bite.  It’s a greasy, burger purists dream.

AGREE OR DISAGREE

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Rating: +14 (from 20 votes)

Feb 19 2010

Top 10 Burgers in Denver: Larkburger’s Truffle Cheeseburger

jko

Larkburger

Larkburger’s “Truffle Cheeseburger”

Location: DTC

Price:  $6.75

The Skinny: To start off with, I owe Larkburger a bit of an apology.  While I was reviewing the top100 dishes in Denver, this was on the list, and at the time I didn’t think it was anything special – said it was no better than a backyard burger at a neighbor’s house.  The review turned out to be one of my most unpopular, getting thumbs down from most.  Curious, I decided to try it again – this time in the newly opened Tech Center location.  Was I wrong?

Yes.  Dead wrong – It’s a slammin’ good burger.

There is a lot to like about Larkburger, apart from their delicious food.  They use fresh ingredients, they recycle, they’re good stewards of the land.  They even constructed the restaurant out of reclaimed trees, which sounds admirable and decent, even if I don’t quite know what it means.  But naturally all of this would be meaningless unless they put out a great burger, which indeed, they do.

On this occasion, the burger was outstanding.  And it comes down to one thing: truffle aioli.  Owners Adam Baker and Thomas Salamunovich modeled the restaurant after a love of truffles, and it’s never better expressed than in this sandwich.  The incredible, earthy sauce drips throughout the burger, uplifting everything from the bun, to the cheese, to the perfectly cooked patty.  The meat, incidentally, was the biggest difference from my last experience to this one.  This time it was juicy and memorable, much better than my neighbor’s version in their mythical backyard.

Keep an eye out for LarkBurger.  Adam, the owner – a good and down to earth guy – told me they’re opening a new spot in Ft Collins soon, and Denver after that.

AGREE OR DISAGREE?

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Rating: +26 (from 36 votes)

Feb 18 2010

Congrats to Colorado Chefs Nominated for James Beard Awards

jko

Colorado state flag

Outstanding Restaurateur:

Frank Bonanno, Bones, Luca d’Italia, Mizuna, and Osteria Marco, Denver

Steve Ells, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Denver

Rising Star Chef of the Year:

James Rugile, Venue Bistro, Denver

Outstanding Pastry Chef of the Year:

Yasmín Lozada-Hissom, Duo, Denver

Outstanding Wine Service:

Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder, CO

Outstanding Service:

Penrose Room at the Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, CO

Best Chef Southwest:

Bertrand Bouquin, Summit at the Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, CO

Mark Fischer, Six89, Carbondale, CO

Ryan Hardy, Montagna at the Little Nell, Aspen, CO

Jennifer Jasinski, Rioja, Denver

Kelly Liken, Kelly Liken, Vail, CO

Alex Seidel, Fruition, Denver

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Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)

Feb 16 2010

Top 10 Burgers in Denver: H Burger Co’s “H Burger”

jko

IMG00167

H Burger Co’s “H Burger”

Location: Downtown

Price:  $11

The Skinny: H Burger opened 11am Feb 13th, and by noon, we were there.  Who could resist the promising combination of high end burgers, chicness of Jet owner Pete Plum, and uber-creativity of mad food scientist, Ian Kleinman?

True to form, Kleinman’s stamp on the menu is immediately apparent: liquid nitrogen milk shakes , below freezing beer, and little creative nuances here and there.

We ordered the milkshakes, which, due to the liquid nitrogen, start out as ice cream, and slowly melt into a shake during your stay.  Very good indeed.  For the burger, we got the H Burger – Angus Beef, green chili, smoked cheddar, sweet bacon, and a side of secret sauce.  A few bites in, 2 things stick out:
1.  Wow…lots of flavor.
2.  Sweet pleasant heat

If there was one flaw with the burger, its that the accompanying components are so compelling they distract a little from the meat.  The spice from the green chili and bacon is wonderfully present but not overpowering, and the smoky cheddar does well standing up for itself.  I asked Kleinman about the choice to use smoked cheddar with the chili as opposed to the traditional white cheddar or jack –  his response was that he wanted to make it unique – a “Colorado” burger (and screw you, New Mexico).  The meat, in comparison, was a little ordinary.  Mine was slightly overcooked, an error easily forgiven by the newness of the joint, but not at all bad by any stretch.

Good first visit and I’ll definitely be back.  Not sure if it’s elbowing “My Brothers Bar” out of top burger spot in Denver, but it’s in the top 10.

AGREE OR DISAGREE?

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Rating: +1 (from 13 votes)

Feb 13 2010

Denver Magazine Top 100 List Completed

jko

Jeremy Vegas

Recap:

100 Dishes

(7 not offered)

116 days

$1177.04 (before tax and tip)

10 lb weight gain

Highest rated: Rioja’s “Beignets” – 9.5

Lowest Rated: Sea Urchin from Seafood Landing – 1

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Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)

Feb 11 2010

The Top 100 List: #100 Z Cuisine’s “Assiette de Charcuterie Maison”

jko

IMG00125

Z Cuisine’s “Assiette de Charcuterie Maison”

Location: Highlands

Rating: 7 (out of 10)

Price:  $20

The Skinny: So… here we are, folks:  #100.  No doubt I will have a few lists coming up in the posts ahead -best this, best that, overpriced here, awful there.  When I make a “best overall restaurant” list, Z Cuisine will surely be on it.  Their charcuterie was an excellent note to end on.

The list of elements on the plate bears mentioning, so here it is:

-          House made Long’s farm pork shoulder rillettes

-          Pâté de Campagne ‘Country Pâté’ ,

-          local & French artisan cheese

-          accompaniments of red onion confiture

-          caramelized shallots

-          seasonal chutney

-          candied pecans

-          imported saucisson sec

-          pickled cornichons

-          marinated olives

-          house crackers

You might think with a list of components this long, you’d forgive the chef if one or two weren’t quite up to the rest.  Not the case at Z – every bit of it was good.  From the chutney to the Pate.  And they balanced well with each other – one complimenting or adding another layer to the next.  To borrow a description I read recently, it was more like a chord than a series of individual strings.  Very, very good.

Finally, I’d like to give justice to this new gem in Denver – the place was truly excellent.  Warm, comfortable feel, almost as if you’re eating in a French relative’s kitchen.  And the rest of the food after the charcuterie was incredible.  The duck skin in my Cassoulet might have been the most delicious thing I’ve eaten in this entire journey.  No joke.  The memory of the amazing flavor has stayed with me for weeks.  Probably one of the top 3-4 restaurants in Denver right now.

AGREE OR DISAGREE?

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Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

Feb 10 2010

The Top 100 List: #99 The Broker’s “Southwest Wellington”

jko

IMG00130

The Broker’s “Southwest Wellington”

Location: Downtown

Rating: 5 (out of 10)

Price:  $41

The Skinny: High prices can often be a signal of many things – quality, good service, creativity, ambiance.  In the case of The Broker, a restaurant which is absent all of that – it is simply a slap in the face.  It’s an infuriating display of raping and pillaging the good people of Denver who are foolish enough to dine here.  Consider me one of them, forking over $41 before tax and tip to eat their remarkably average and uninspired “Southwest Wellington”.  And that was on the low end – an order of Rack of Lamb will run you a cool $57.

Really Broker?  Could you possibly be this tone deaf to the economic happenings outside of your little vault in an abandoned bank?

The appearance of upscale is attempted, at least.  Diners eat in an old bank vault, the huge steel door propped open for display.  In keeping with the theme are the tables, which are like private rooms with 3 sides.  Apparently this is where bank patrons sat with the contents of their lock boxes – counting their money, poring over documents, plotting takeovers, etc.  Upon sitting down, I was handed a menu with the words “personally yours” on the cover.  Gag.  After ordering the Wellington, a big basket of shrimp cocktail was delivered to the table – a Broker tradition no matter what you order.  It’s not my thing, but I had a few anyway.  The waitress told me they would throw them out even if I didn’t touch them, so I felt compelled, you know… to honor the killed shrimp.  Below average.  The same can be said of the other 2 courses that come with the dish (soup and dessert):  Below average.  It’s not a great value if you get 4 courses and 3 of them suck.

Finally the Wellington arrives.  I break into the puff pastry and find that the meat is chopped, not whole.  Disappointing.  The rest of the dish is fine.  Flavors were fine.  Green chili had a nice kick and the meat was decent, such as it was.  Nothing special, but nothing bad either.  Sides were average.  Not at all worth $41.  Not when you’ve got TAG, Twelve, and Panzano all within 5 minutes away, serving home runs for $26.  Skip.

AGREE OR DISAGREE?

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Rating: -1 (from 3 votes)

Feb 9 2010

The Top 100 List: #98 Seafood Landing’s “Fresh Uni (Sea Urchin) from Bruce”

jko

Sea Urchin

Seafood Landing’s “Uni (Fresh Sea Urchin)”

Location: Highlands

Rating: 1 (out of 10)

Price:  $9.50/lb

The Skinny: Yes, the Urchin was just about the worst thing I’ve tasted on the whole list.  Quite possibly the worst thing I’ve tasted in years, to be honest.  But I’m going to guess that this entry was on the list due to Bruce, the owner of Seafood landing.  Not a character in town quite like him..

You walk into Seafood Landing and something just seems a little bit… different.  You look up at their chalk board at “Specials of the Day” and see a Peace sign graphic.  Apparently they specialize in peace?  Once you meet Bruce, you get it.  Ponytail of gray hair, calloused hands, and a voice and demeanor that’s as gentle and pleasant as a light ocean breeze.  He was a former civil engineer who tired of the racket and decided to buy this seafood market from the elderly owner.  He confided in his slow, warm way, “it was either the best thing I ever did or the dumbest thing I ever did.”  In any case, the guy is clearly passionate about fish, and will go above and beyond for his customers.

After asking Bruce about the Uni (which he was thoroughly confused about), he suggested we special-order it.  I went with the flow.  In it came the next morning, all black and spiny, threatening as all hell – the physical opposite to Bruce.  He broke open a cookbook and instructed me on how best to prepare it.  You break the thing open and scoop out the roe on the insides – then toss it in hot pasta.  The heat of the pasta is supposed to be enough to cook the roe adequately.  I did as I was told – throwing the roe in with my penne, and dug in.  It was wretched.  Simply awful.  Like Ocean snot.  After one big bite, I had to throw the whole bowl away.

Even with this disappointment, I’ll probably go back – got to support guys like Bruce.

AGREE OR DISAGREE?

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Rating: -2 (from 2 votes)

Feb 5 2010

The Top 100 List #97: Olivea’s “Head Cheese”

jko

IMG00128

Olivea’s “Head Cheese”

Location: 17th st

Rating: 6 (out of 10)

Price:  ?

The Skinny: Head Cheese, as most probably know or can guess, is not cheese at all.  It is, however, a “Head”.  The head of a Pig, to be exact.  At one point in the dinner, the waiter – knowing my interest in the dish – showed me a picture on his phone of the pig head they were going to cook that evening.  And there it was, all frozen and solid in the freezer, like a mafia goon or a Dahmer victim.  Apparently, they cook the head on down slowly, and remove the skull from the meat, but keep the liquid.  It is this liquid that has all of the fun collagen from the skull that will solidify with the meat once cooled.  The dish arrives to you a solid block, ready for slicing and eating with bread.

Now doesn’t that sound delicious?

In actuality, it is pretty decent.  It tastes like a good salami, which of course it is not.  It’s got a good pepper, meaty flavor that goes well with a cracker or on its own.  Nothing that I’m dying to have again or recommend to friends, mind you, but decent.

PS: I do not get the worship of Olivea.  The owners created a terrific restaurant in Duo, so I had high hopes for Olivea.  Let-down.  Nothing was all that terrific.  Not the famed “Head Cheese”, not the “Duck Meatballs”, not the “Carmel Tart”.  It was all just ok.  Nowhere near TAG, Fruition, or even Duo.

AGREE OR DISAGREE?

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Rating: -1 (from 1 vote)

Feb 4 2010

The Top 100 List: #96 The Fort’s “Roasted Bison Bone Marrow”

jko

IMG00134

The Fort’s “Roast Bison Marrow Bones”

Location: Morrison

Rating: 6.5 (out of 10)

Price:  $18

The Skinny: Ahhhh… The Fort.  What would a Must-Eat list be without this place?  The adobe walls, the roaring outdoor fire, and the bizarre one-of-a-kind meat options for the courageous.  When I tried my first Rocky Mountain Oysters, this is where I came.  No one does out-of-mainstream like these guys.  Scanning the menu, you might find choices such as duck quesadilla and bison tongue on your way to ordering the enormous must-eat Marrow Bones.

One caution: it is a hell of a lot of show for what basically amounts to a cracker spread.  And an $18 dollar show at that.  The plate arrives at the table with 4 huge bones the size of my forearms, all stacked criss-cross and rising above the plate like a small… oh hell… a small Fort.  The bone-fort is surrounded by crostinis waiting to be topped with the gelatinous spread and devoured by you, bone-eating carnivore.

I’m sure the taste isn’t for everyone, but for those who enjoy such things, it is lovely.  Light and packed full of meat flavor and grease.  For me, being a part of the group that enjoys the taste of pure fat, I found myself scraping the dried bone remains to get just one last remnant of flavor.  “Good” – but just missing “Very Good” by the incredible amount of regret involved afterward.

AGREE OR DISAGREE?

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Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

Feb 2 2010

The Top 100 List: #95 Cafe Bisque’s “Lobster Cobb Salad”

jko

bisque-logo

Rating: Not Available

The Skinny: I’ve been after Cafe Bisque for some time now about their Lobster Cobb Salad.  They’ve told me that they simply ran out of lobster.  Apparently, they also never re-ordered lobster, since it hasn’t made a reappearance in the 3 months that I’ve been hounding them.  But they’ve kept it up on their online menu, teasing and exciting , like a 6-0 Broncos squad on their way to the playoffs.

I’ll keep checking and report back once they get some lobsters in

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Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Feb 1 2010

The Top 100 List: #94 Tables’ “Sweet Corn Risotto”

jko

Tables

Rating: Not Available

I know of Tables through word of mouth.  Apparently,  2 former chefs at Strings who went out on their own.  Small spaces, good food.  That’s the reputation.

I must have just missed their sweet corn risotto in the changeover to a recent new menu.  I’ll update if it comes back around.

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Jan 31 2010

The Top 100 List: #93 Table 6′s “Rabbit Salisbury Steak”

jko

table6-246x88

Rating: Not Available

I can’t say I’ve had the pleasure of dining at Table 6 yet – and I was really looking forward to their must eat dish.  Unfortunately it’s  now unavailable, the casualty of having a seasonal, ever changing menu.  For those who remember Adega downtown, these were some of the fellows behind it.  And not too long ago Esquire Magazine called it one of the top 21 best new restaurants in the country.  I’ll update when it comes back around.

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Jan 29 2010

The Top 100 List: #92 Sushi Den’s “Wild Copper River Salmon”

jko

Sushi Den

Rating: Not Available

Sushi Den is a citywide treasure.  Run by a couple of brothers, they consistently turn out the freshest and most delicious sushi in our land-locked town.  Part of the reason for their success is just the sheer difficulty in pulling the damn thing off.  One brother lives in Japan and gets up at 4am to pick through and select the best fish in the market.  Then he vacuum seals it in dry ice and ships it here, where it arrives on our plates 24 hours later.  An impressive feat considering it happens every single day.

Regrettably, the Wild Copper River Salmon is one of those dishes that’s available for only about a month during the year (mid-May to mid-June).  As such, I could not give it a taste and report back.  I have had Copper River Salmon before and am familiar with the wonderful flavors.  I’ll be excited to give it a whirl the next time it rolls around – for such a specialty fish, there is no where else to go but here.

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Jan 28 2010

The Top 100 List: #91 Kevin Taylor’s “Foie Gras”

jko

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Kevin Taylor’s “Foie Gras”

Location: Downtown

Rating: 8 (out of 10)

Price:  $16

The Skinny: I’ll tell you what – this dish was pretty goddamn delicious.  Not that anyone noticed.  I’ve been to Kevin Taylor a few times, and each time it was so dead I swear a tumbleweed passed through during dinner.  On this trip, there was literally one other table in the whole dining room.  What’s the deal?  Perhaps if they added some cliff diving – served their food factory –style… then they would really draw the crowds.

According to my nice-guy waiter, they change the menu fairly frequently, but always have a new fois gras creation.  It’s their thing.  One bite in, I can attest that their focus shows.  It was just very well thought out – very well designed.  The foie itself is rich and full of flavor.  It sits on a small, toasted brioche, which tasted a lot like French toast, and is surrounded by a port reduction and some almonds.  Since the foie gras is soft, the brioche and almonds give a great crunch and weight to the dish, and the port and sliced grapes provide a sweetness and acid to cut through the fat.  Everything balanced, everything executed well.  The only thing missing was the pleasant buzz of conversation throughout the room.  Maybe a selection of cheesecakes behind glass would do it?

AGREE OR DISAGREE?

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