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)

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 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

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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

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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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Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

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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Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

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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Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

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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Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)

Jan 26 2010

The Top 100 List: #90 Barolo Grill’s “Anatra al Barolo (braised duckling)”

jko

IMG00124

Barolo Grill’s “Anatra al Barolo (braised duckling)”

Location: Cherry Creek

Rating: 5.5 (out of 10)

Price:  $24

The Skinny: “Some people either love this dish or hate it” cautioned the waiter as I ordered their signature dish, the Braised Duckling.  Although I can’t say I hated it, I completely get the polarization.  The baby duck is braised in a red wine and kalamata olive liquid, giving the outside of the bird a deep purple hue and making it taste awfully bitter.  At half the price, it wouldn’t crack my must-eat list, let alone at $24.  Sure, I’ll give credit that the duck was fairly tender, but I just couldn’t get past the persistent jab of the outside flavor.

This is, however, not to downgrade the experience at the restaurant.  The service was outstanding.  Truly.  Some of the nicest staff I’ve met of all of the restaurants on this list.  And the food I had besides the duck was very, very good indeed.  I don’t know why in the hell they draw attention to this dish with the word “signature” – they’re better than this.

AGREE OR DISAGREE?

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Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

Jan 24 2010

The Top 100 List #89: Twelve Restaurant’s “Sweetbreads”

jko

12

Rating: Not Available

I’ve been to Twelve in the past 4 or 5 months and had an amazing meal.  The beef short ribs on the menu that night were nothing less than outstanding – so I was really looking forward to sampling their “must-eat” sweetbreads.  Alas, when researching their menu over the past 3 months, it has not made a reappearance.

If there is one issue with Twelve, it’s this.  The menu changes monthly, so more than likely whatever dish you had that blew your mind will be gone once you return.  I was disappointed to read recently that Jeff Osaka, the owner of Twelve, hasn’t quite had the success he hoped for with the restaurant.  And that’s a damn shame -by all accounts, the food has been excellent -  and I can say that the space is comfortable and warm, and the service is attentive.  Here’s hoping he and his ever-changing menu will stick around.  For every Troy Guard, challenging our palate with harmonious complexities, we need a Jeff Osaka, turning out simple and deep flavors.  It’s a great addition to the Denver food scene.

I’ll keep up with the menu, and report back once the sweetbreads come  around.

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Rating: +1 (from 3 votes)

Jan 22 2010

The Top 100 List #88: Fruitoin’s “Pork Chop with BBQ Sauce”

jko

Fruition

Rating: Not Available

Fruition was probably one of the top places I was looking forward to going for their must eat dish.  As it turns out, it is no longer being offered – said chef/owner Alex Seidel (in a considerate email):

“Unfortunately, because of the seasonality of our menu, I think it would be pretty hard to duplicate the dish with the same results.  Some of the produce that was on that dish are unavailable at this time.”

I’m sure there is a dish from here that will take its place, seeing as how it’s one of the best restaurants anywhere in the state.  I’ll have a recommendation up for a dish at this place before long.

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Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Jan 21 2010

The Top 100 List: #87 Capital Grille’s “Lobster Mac and Cheese”

jko

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Capital Grille’s “Lobster Mac and Cheese”

Location: Downtown

Rating: 7.5 (out of 10)

Price:  $14

The Skinny: I’ve run into more than a few people who have commented on this dish – heard it said that the lobster mac and cheese at Capital Grille will change my life.  The experience is supposedly comparable to a siren’s call and a beach sunset wrapped into one.  Needless to say, I was expecting big things.

First, I’m happy to report: it is really damn good.  Still, when I exited the restaurant, my life was roughly the same, for better or worse.  The lobster is clearly the star, with the delicious and creamy cheese sauce running in a close second.  A fork full of pasta, lobster, and melted, dripping sauce is a must eat indeed.

But, the dish isn’t without its flaws.  For instance, they heat the top of the dish to toast bits of breadcrumbs and melt some cheese, so they throw it under a broiler with the cooked pasta exposed to the high heat.  The results of which are pieces of macaroni on top that are completely dried out and hard to bite into once served.   And plating-wise, the pasta totally overflows the bowl, which is great to look at, but once you start pulling pasta elbows out to eat, the thing falls over like a  jenga set.  Even with these small warts, it’s a damn fine dish.  And at $14, it’s an excellent flavor-value.

AGREE OR DISAGREE?

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Rating: +2 (from 4 votes)

Jan 20 2010

The Top 100 List: #86 Bistro Vendome’s “Pommes Frites”

jko

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Bistro Vendome’s “Pommes Frites”

Location: Downtown

Rating: 6.5 (out of 10)

Price:  $4

The Skinny: About mid-way through dinner, I look around and try to determine if I like the fact that I’m seated outside of the restaurant, in a glorified hallway or not.  On one hand, it feels kinda like I’m outside a café, with chit-chat all around, and fake trees to make the scene.  On the other hand, I’m in a goddamn hallway – with windows next to me of a dark, closed dress store.  I decide to make the most of it and order a small feast for the table, the highly acclaimed Pommes Frites as piece de resistance.

6.5  is where I’d put them.  Better than good, but not quite great.  I don’t know what this odd trend is of putting sugar on French fries, but Vendome and TAG better cut it the hell out.  On top of the crispy, herb-seasoned fries was a sugary sweet syrup.  It deflated the crunch out of the fry and stuck to my hands after every bite.  Taste-wise, it was fine at first, but got tiresome towards the end – the novelty of the sweet flavor wearing out its welcome.  In general, I did really enjoy the herbs de provence seasoning, and thought the crust on the fries were great before it was done in by the hummingbird food.

AGREE OR DISAGREE?

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Rating: -4 (from 6 votes)

Jan 19 2010

The Top 100 List: #85 Izakya Den’s “Calamari Salad”

jko

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Izakya Den’s “Calamari Salad”

Location: Pearl St Denver

Rating: 7 (out of 10)

Price:  $12

The Skinny: Izakya Den is basically the twin brother of Sushi Den.  They share the same parent, the same style, the same taste in food – they even share their plates (mine here said “sushi den”).  Anyone who has been on a 2 hour wait at the original Den can see why it was probably a good idea to put a clone across the street.  Owner Toshi Kizaki is creating quite a little empire for himself on that corner of Pearl – recently opening Den Deli just a few steps away.  Between Frank Bonanno’s neighborhood at 7th and Grant, and Kizaki’s area of Pearl, we could have ourselves a good old fashioned turf war.   A prospect more terrifying than the time the Jet’s danced their way into a fight with the Sharks.

Den’s calamari salad nearly caused a similar war at my table for the tasty, but few, pieces of pan fried calamari.  They were slightly crisp and light, seasoned well, and gently drizzled in the excellent salad sauce.  The sauce was a mixture of capers, white wine, garlic, and lemon – a can’t miss combination so long as everything is balanced, which it was.  The calamari lays on a bed of wilted, soft spinach, and some roma tomatoes, which have been roasted and given a dab of yuzu vinaigrette.  My one complaint is that I wished the sauce didn’t drown out the crunch of the calamari, but overall, it was very well done.

AGREE OR DISAGREE?

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Jan 17 2010

The Top 100 List: #84 Duo’s “Brown Butter Cake”

jko

duo

Rating: Not Available

Regrettably, there will be certain dishes that cannot be reviewed beacause the restaurant is closed, the dish is out of season, or it is simply just not being served anymore.

The last of these was the fate of the Brown Butter Cake at Duo.  I look forward to checking back with Duo over the course of the year to see if this makes a comeback, and if it does, I will revisit it here.  Duo is an exceptional restuarant, and I’m bummed that I didn’t get a chance to eat one of their “must eat” dishes.

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