Saturday, September 3, 2016

Wow-its been a long time and I am happy to be back. Reading these past reviews, its almost shocking to see how much things have continued to changed in the Denver restaurant scene in just 5 years. Many of the places I previous wrote about no longer exist. And I'm happy to see some of our favorites are still going strong. I plan to back with a review a week but I will just give you a quick update on where we currently love to eat as a family and also where we love to eat when the kids are doing their own thing.

Family Favs:
Linger
Potager
Max's Wine Dive
Bones
Uncle
Blackbird
The Inventing Room

Date Night Havens:
Stoic and Genuine
Hop Alley
Ophelia's Electric Soapbox
Cafe Marmotte
Matsuhisa


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Perhaps I was too quick to judge...

I may have been a little hasty in judging Campagna Salumi Bar and Pizzeria. While it is still not the restaurant I was hoping to open around the corner, the food is definitely good and creative, though limiting in scope.

If they continue to produce high quality, ever changing specials, like the risotto with pesto and shrimp I had on the last visit, then I will most likely be returning.

One last complaint though. They have been open for over a month and the website is still under construction.

Disappointments at Bistro One

1294 South Broadway
Denver, CO 80210
(720) 974-0602
www.bistroonedenver.com

The first time at Bistro One felt like we were in on a secret no one knew about. The second time felt more like the secret your best friend tells you that really wished she had just kept to herself. This restaurant was been getting pretty glowing reviews over the last year and I expected it has only gotten better.

Though we were brought to a booth that was quite large and roomy for our family and guest, it felt very strategic that we were put as far back and as close to the kitchen as can be. The waitress was accommodating and told us options for the kids that weren't on the menu. However there was a fancy mac and cheese on the menu with bacon, jamon and crawfish (which they wanted on the side) that they loved. The appetizer portion was enough for the 2 to share. When asked about specials, the waitress told everything was special which just basically means your SOL if you didn't find anything on the menu you want.

I got the salmon as did our dinner guest and we both thought it tasted fishy. Which is evidence that it was probably frozen. Not a huge surprise for a landlocked state such as ours, but for a high end restaurant I expect a little more. It came served over asparagus fritters of which all I could taste was fried doughiness. I am not of the camp that anything tastes better fried, so they were very unappealing to me. The onion soup was fantastic, a rich broth (which I like to pretend is not made from beef) with croutons (though I prefer bread better) and lots of melty cheese on top.

The salads were tasty with creative dressings but seemed rather small portions.My husband's steak frites were good and what a bistro should be about but not worth retuning just for them.

Dessert were not interesting to us so we skipped them altogether which is even more disappointing after a less than wonderful dinner. I at least what a dessert to cover it up. I feel sad to say we won't return but there are lots of other places in Denver I can spend less money to have an mediocre dinner.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Best dish of the Month

You already know of my love affair with Table 6 (of which many other love lovers in Denver agree.) I think I may have my best meal yet there recently.

Fork and Knife artichoke dip. It was creative and original and hearty for a vegetarian dish. On bottom was a thick piece of crusty bread with melted chesse. Next came rich creamed spinach. On top was a pickled shallot and artichoke heart salad. Roasted artichoke hearts surrounded the dish as well as a slightly garlicky broth.

It was a party in my mouth.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Off to Disney

I doubt there will be any food worthy of writing back home about. So I'll be back to my eating habits the second week of April. Until then...

Fun with food at Beatrice and Woodsley

38 South Broadway
Denver, CO 80209-1506
(303) 777-3505
www.beatriceandwoodsley.com

It's easy to fall in love with Beatrice and Woodsley- a restaurant who's theme is built around a love affair. Everything about this place is unique and makes for a special dinning experience whether on date night, drinks with the girls, or brunch with the whole extended family- kids included.

The food is so different and fun with big risks being taken that usually work. My favorite dish so far combined sweet and spicy flavors, hot and cold temperatures, smooth and crunchy textures all in one dish. A rolled omelet with a slight Asian flavor, over black forbidden rice, surrounded by a carrot puree with candied ginger.
Cauliflower grantin was also a huge hit- served in it's own little skillet with sweet potatoes and creamy gruyere cheesiness and crunchy topping.

Breakfasts are equally fun and creative. And most importantly the bloody Mary's are super spicy and delicious. There are ever changing donuts holes stuffed with creamy or fruity goodness and rich delicious sauces. As well as monkey brains- sweet cinnamon type rolls that get pulled apart and devoured by all at the table. They kids opted for a cheese plate for brunch with creamy and hard cheeses and sweet breads for accompaniment. The omelets come stuffed with surprising vegetables like Brussels sprouts with are really tasty in an omelet, as well as interesting cheese combinations like ricotta.

The decor meets the uniqueness of the food. There are tree trunks decorating the room with bridges and lanterns high above your head as well as an occasional saw. The bathroom is the highlight with a Dr Seuss type door that pushes in and a sink with chains that need to pulled so the water flows from the ceiling down the chains into your hands. That alone makes Beatrice and Woodsley a favorite for the kids. (They usually have go at least 3 times during our meals there!)

Check out the March's 5280 for a another good review. There is no other place quite like it in Denver. And you if you can find it's subtle entry on Broadway, you will be coming back for more.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Recommendations from a reader

Julie Dunn says Second Home at the JW Denver in Cherry Creek has a fantastic Pajama Brunch for families every Sunday. Kids age 8 and under who come in their PJs can enjoy a pancake or waffle bar for free - and there are lots of delicious options for parents as well.

We have been meaning to check this out and hope to do so soon. Dinners there are pretty family friendly too, as long as you come in before the very loud and too cool for school bar crowd.

Thanks Julie

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hits and Misses at LaLa's

Lala's Wine Bar and Pizzeria
410 E. 7th Ave
Denver, CO 80203
(303) 861-9463
www.lalaswinebar.com

It's hard to imagine a pizza place that isn't kid friendly. But Lala's adds some nice touches that makes it especially friendly for both kids and adults.

Kids are given a heap of raw pizza dough almost the minute they sit down. There is ample time to play with it, fling it, throw it on the floor and even eat it if they are some inclined. It is then whisked away and brought back at the end of the meal- baked and covered with cinnamon sugar and honey (and they even bring handy wipes on the side.)

For the adults, the wonderful happy hour specials on the large wine list help you to ignore all the dough flinging. During happy hour, (which seems to last for a liberally long time) wines over $10 a glass are half price and wines under $10 are $5

The menu includes several choices of meats and cheeses to make your own salumi plate as well as a variety of dips that come with warm flat breads. One appetizer that did not work for me was the Roman artichokes which were overly breaded and fried and accompanied with a sauce that was too mayo heavy for my tastes. There are several large tasty salads that make a great lunch, (our favorite is the Rosso e Oro beet salad) a few sandwich type items and a variety of pizzas- some with red sauce, some naked.

Additionally every night there are several specials that include pastas, meats and fish entrees. We usually order on of these when we dine in. Some have been spectacular. This last time I had raviolis with a red pepper sauce and pesto and it all just worked so well together. Other times the specials have been disappointing- usually the meat dishes. Like the pepper steak that my husband last ordered. The only thing he could taste was pepper.

The kids menu includes pizza, pasta, chicken fingers (with a side of honey for dipping- a huge hit among our little people) and a meatball sandwich (which once arrived at the table too spicy for even the adults too eat. While we were told was a mistake, no one has ever had the courage to order it again)

The pizzas are usually a hit and we have been known to serve Lala's when we have friend over for dinner (they have a super snazzy scooter delivery guy.) I am a big fan of the Il David and the meat eaters among us love the Pizze Arista.

There is definitely a young hipster loud vibe that comes through later in the evening at Lala's but lunch or early evenings are great times for families. Ask for the table to the right of the door. It is more private and quiet and great for a loud messy family.

As I have stated before, we are not huge pizza eaters. That's why Lala's is such a great place for us. There are several other options, but the pizza rocks if we are so inspired. Oh, and did I mention the happy hour?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Not your typical Italian

NoRTH Cherry Creek
190 Clayton Lane
Denver, CO 80206
720.941.7700
http://www.foxrc.com/north.html

I was reminded of an old favorite last night- NoRTH in Cherry Creek. Though the menu sounds good on paper, everything is even better that you'd expect. The vibe is hip, open and bright. The waitresses are ultra perky. And though there is no children's menu, they are happy to accommodate children and adjust menu items or offer half size portions.

Again, just a reminder, my kids are not your typical eaters. That said, they had an amazing meal at NoRTH (silly spelling with all these capitals, even though I love Capitalizing things that should not be Capitalized!)

I had the most perfect drink. Prosecco with passion fruit juice (I could have chosen berry juice or white peach juice instead.) The drink was sweet and tart and tasted exactly like passion fruit which brought back wonderful memories.

Olives arrive as soon as you are seated. My daughter had the opportunity to learn that she not only likes green ones, now she likes the black ones too. Bread and butter arrive shortly after and while I can usually pass up bread at the table, I am a sucker for flavored butters. Last night's was sun dried tomato- creamy, smooth and slightly tart. We had artichoke hearts for a starter. They were lightly sauteed in mustard and balsamic vinegar with truffle oil liberally garnishing the plate (also great with the bread.) The kids loved them and asked for more.

I have never been able to order anything at NoRTH but the "not your typical" chicken lasagna. A few large loose sheets of lasagna noodle encase chicken, tomatoes, spinach and sauteed mushrooms, with a little shaved parm on top, all swimming in a delicious light chicken broth. My husband had.. wait for it.. meat. Short rib osso bucco to be exact which he enjoyed.

The kids were able to specify what noddle they wanted with which sauce. They choose penne in a creamy cheese sauce (what the waitress called mac and cheese.) They loved it and actually finished their small bowls (though my husband said it tasted like Velveeta)

The wrongly named Nutella cake was delicious (and ordered in honor of a friend who could finally eat nutella after years of abstaining) though I was expecting something a bit different. A warm chocolate cake with chocolate sauce, whipped cream and crushed hazelnuts on top.

Though NoRTH is part of a chain (the FOX Restaurant Concepts) this is a great place for a fantastic meal for both kids and adults alike. You can pretend you are still a little hip while you wipe that chocolate sauce off your child's forehead.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Of all the Ethopian restaurants on Colfax...

our friends choose one that was completely empty at 6 on a Saturday night. It was occupied by a sweet young Ethiopian women who slightly resembled a porn star and served as hostess, waitress, bar tender and cook.

I have recently garnered a reputation among friends for picking restaurants (read- pushy) so I try to give others a chance to recommend (read- sympathy.) This restaurant was chosen by friends because it was close to our final destination of the evening and received good reviews on Yelp.

Aside from having the whole place to ourselves, we were entertained by extremely loud music and extremely bad reality TV. There was no requisite typical Ethiopian art on the walls (which I happen to love.) And while there was a full bar, there was no drink list, making it difficult to uncover all our liquid options.

When the food finally arrived, it was cold. And while I am open to new things and do so enjoy eating with my hands, I kind of draw the line on cold food that is supposed to be hot. The injera they kept bringing to the table was also cold making me think it made been made hours before with the hope that someoone would walk in the door that night. And while the flavors were good and the spice level was appropriate, I just had a hard time enjoying my cold dinner.

Some of the other things I like about Ethiopian restaurants was also absent like warm towels before and after the meal. Oh, and a clean bathroom with toilet paper is always nice.

Luckily there are so many other Ethiopian restaurants on Colfax (and in Denver in general) that there is no need to ever return to Red Sea.

5910 East Colfax Avenue
Denver, CO 80220-1509
(303) 321-4117

Another mediocre restaurant on 6th ave.

Campagna Salumi Bar and Pizzeria
1120 E 6th Ave
Denver, CO 80218
(720) 389-8773
www.campagnapizza.com (though it still just says coming soon)

We have lived in the neighborhood for 5 years and have seen 5 different restaurants occupy the spot at 1120 E 6th ave. Each time we get super excited. And almost every time, we have been disappointed. And while we are not yet writing Campagna off, we were hoping for a better concept. To the restaurants defense, no one in our family adores pizza. We like it but could easily live without it. So perhaps we are not the best judge of this new pizza place. And yet, here I am, judging.

The menu consists of several appetizers like eggplant parm, ribollita soup, meats and cheese plates. There are also salads and several pizzas. Nothing was amazing and nothing sucked. The eggplant was tasty but totally unappealing on the plate, all sloppy and oozy. The kids liked the meats and cheeses and that is all they wanted to eat.

The chef/owner Chef Alex Gurevich has 2 other restaurants that we are big fans of(Limon and Cafe Bisque in Lakewood) and were hoping to be lovers of this one as well. We were also hoping more would be done to update and change the space, which has looked very similar in all its incarnations (that side lounge space really needs to go.) Perhaps Campagna just needs to work out it's new restaurant kinks (and maybe change the menu to add more options than just pizza for dinner, in my humble opinion.)

We will be back if only to make a final decision in a month or two. Until then, let us know your thoughts as you try out the newest spot in the hood. And check up soon for our judgement call.

Friday, March 12, 2010

This just in...

I am so excited! My favorite blog, that I read religiously-Cafe Society of the Westword,(http://blogs.westword.com/cafesociety) just reported that Daphne's Deli on Corona will soon be Waffle Brothers come April. Up until now, Waffle Brothers has been operating out of a cart on the 16th street mall and at farmers markets in the summer.

This is great news on so many accounts. First, because this will be occurring right around the corner. Second, because Waffle Brothers waffles are so incredibly delicious- sweet and crispy and made even more decedent by the numerous items you can top them with. Third, because they will be expanding the menu and serving soups and salads and additional breakfast items. And lastly because we were never quite satisfied with Daphne's as a neighborhood place and have been longing for a good one. We look forward to just stopping by to pick up a treat on Sunday morning or ice cream for a day in the park.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Deluxe Burger

5325 E. Colfax, Denver
303-333-LOVE
http://deluxeburgerdenver.com

Here's an obviously kid friendly place that adults will beg to go to. And even non meat eaters can be happily satisfied here.

Deluxe Burger shares the space with Mod Living on East Colfax. The store has fun and interesting furniture upstairs and vintage (flashback to my childhood furniture) in the basement.

The eating space is small with a handful of two tops that can be brought together for to make four tops and a counter with about 10 stools. You order at the counter and wait patiently will the amazing smells of the other lucky eaters wafts around you.

The kids meals come in paper rocket ships complete with a small alien to play with. The size is perfect- a mini hamburger came with a handful of fries and a drink.

There are several options of burgers including tuna, chicken, and falafel as well as beef. You can create your own concoction or go with the signature burgers.

There are a few different variations of fries including sweet potato, and truffle and parm. You can pick up ketchup and mustard in already portioned off containers when you get your silverware. The mustard is actually more of a sauce that goes wonderful with the truffle fries.

We also tried the tomato basil soup with was rich, creamy and fresh. There are salad options that can be topped with the various burgers or meats. And milkshakes that were making kids and adults alike smile.

This is a place that has sticking power. And guaranteed you will be begging your kids to let you go back again and again.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Restaurant Week- Hits and Misses

The Miss
1515 Restaurant
1515 Market Street
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 571-0011
www.1515restaurant.com

I was allured by the molecular gastronomy focused menu at 1515 and have been wanting to try it after months of watching intriguing techniques Top Chef and Iron Chef America. The concept of molecular gastronomy seeks to investigate and explain the chemical reasons behind the transformation of ingredients, as well as the social, artistic and technical components of culinary and gastronomic phenomena in general. I don't know what the benefits actually are more than looking really cool and being a gimmick to get people into your restaurant.

The meal at 1515 did not do much to change that image. The 3 course price fixed $52.80 menu sounded amazing. My husband ordered sous vide pork belly served cassoulet style with bacon and chicken confit. So great in concept yet it was dry. Which goes against everything we though sous vide would be. Sous vide is a method of cooking that is intended to maintain the integrity of ingredients by heating them for an extended period at relatively low temperatures. My salmon entree was the best meal of the evening. Cooked in lobster sauce, the veggies actually tasted like lobster and was quite delicious and almost playful.

Both desserts were disappointing. The chocolate and mint caviar that accompanied each dessert respectively were really nothing more than glorified jello bites and did little to complement the flavors or textures of the dessert.

In general, the meal was mediocre. And gimmick or not, it is unlikely we will be returning.

The Hit-
Firenze a Tavalo (basement of Parisi)
4401 Tennyson St
Denver, CO 80212
(303) 561-0234
www.firenzeatavoladenver.com/firenze.html

A caveat, this is the first real meal I had after a week of a juice fast detox diet. So it might not have been as good it as I thought was but that I was just so happy to be eating. Though my dining companions concurred with the delicious factor so I think this is a fair review.

There were so many options to chose from on the $52.80 menu which is a real treat for a non meat eater. Usually I just have one option so there is not really a choice. We sampled the wonderfully flavor packed tomato and basil soup, the rich and hearty ribollita, and the smokey and tender roasted artichoke.

The risotto with scallops and truffle oil was earthy and creamy and everything I hope it would be. The meat eaters enjoyed their entrees as well and everything was cooked perfectly.

The desserts were all satisfying. The bread pudding was dense and sweet with chocolate pockets scattered about. The tiramisu was different then usual, with not quite soft lady finger cookies, lots of light sweet cream and no alcohol flavor.

The wines were very Italian. The atmosphere was subterranean and cozy and the Italian accents all authentic. We will definitely be returning here (on a wed-sat. night)

What happend to February?

Wow- I can't believe it's March already and not one post in February!
We were traveling quite a bit and not going out as much as usual. Or going to old favorites like Izakaya Den, Table 6, or Houstons-not really worth a review. Or going out without kids to Encore, Bones, and Sushi Sasa.

In Steamboat, we enjoyed meals La Montana, Riggios Ristorante, and Three Peaks Grill where my daughter ordered the kids meals of crab legs, much to the joy and pleasure of all the servers.

While traveling for work to Atlanta, I had some surprisingly good meals in Decatur. A great night of tapas was had at Iberian Pig and it was even vegetarian friendly. We also went to Watershed, a restaurant owned by the Indigo Girls, which would be much enjoyed by lovers of southern food (of which I now know I am not!)

Stay tuned for tales from Restaurant Week. And more regular reviews now that March is here!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Table 6

609 Corona Street
Denver, CO
(303) 831-8800
www.table6denver.com

Every neighborhood has or needs that go to place. When you don't feel like cooking and want to just walk out our door and have someone else do all the work. Lucky for our family, that place is Table 6, literally a block from our home.

Though not a restaurant one would typically think of for taking kids, they are surprising accommodating. There is not a childrens menu but pasta and chicken are always available and customizable to your kids preferences.

The menu changes seasonally and often contains both hits and misses. One of our favorites appeertizers(I like to pretend I order it for the kids) is marcona almond tator tots with a slightly spicy tomato dipping sauce (though that changes seasonally too.) There is almost always a vegetarian entree on the menu. The soups are satisfying, the salads fresh and seasonal and the flavor combinations original and surprisingly successful.

I am not the first to rave about Table 6 here in Denver, though I might be one of the few fans to highly recommend it for a family night out.

Cherry Creek Grill

184 Steele Street
Denver, CO 80206-5216
(303) 322-3524
www.hillstone.com

Cherry Creek Grill is an old favorite and a good standby for kid friendly dining. The difference this time was it was also adult friendly (with the small exception of the waiter immediately asking my husband to remove his hat the minute he sat at the table, as if he were 6 and didn't know any better). We boycotted CCG for quite some time because the hostesses were always so snooty and rude and it did not feel like a welcoming place we wanted to spend our money.

This time, we were greeted warmly, smiled at effusively, seated immediately (because we know to show up way early) and treated well to a delicious meal.

The menu it casual and solid and doesn't change much, with the exception of fresh fish dishes of the day and soup. The salads are hearty and wholesome, the meats rotisserie roasted and well prepared, and the grilled artichoke is always a smoky tender favorite.

The kids have several options that are a cut above the usual kids fare, plus they gets toys brought to them right at the table.

The hit of the evening was the dessert which I will be dreaming about for months to come and plotting my way back for more. Not something I typically order, the banana cream pie was more a pile of goodness then any type of pie formation. The crust was cookie crumbs and ground nuts, with a light custard, fresh bananas, whipped cream, caramel sauce and chocolate chips all piled on top. So good.

Definitely a place to remember- earlier in the evening- for a great meal out.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Lobby- an American Grill

2191 Arapahoe Street, Denver
(303) 997-9911
www.thelobbydenver.com

I am still undecided about the Lobby. I find myself wanting to return, though the food was just OK.

It is located in a formerly sketchy part of town,, yet as soon as we walked into the court yard, I felt as though I had been there before. The courtyard looks like a great place to eat in the summer, for those already dreaming of May.

Inside, the dark wood gives a warm and comfortable feeling and though we were eating mostly with the bar crowd, the vibe was so relaxed and mellow.

The big hit of the evening was the fried blue cheese balls with sweet fruit dipping sauce, though really you should only eat one. I really enjoyed my blue crab wraps. My salad though, which appears to be a house special was way overdressinged. Everyone else thought their meals were OK.

And yet, we still want to go back. Go figure.

Did you know...

That restaurant week Denver 2010 is 2 weeks this year Feb. 20th to March 5th?
That's a week longer than last year.
http://www.denver.org/denverrestaurant

Did you know...

That Udi's not only has a great cafe in Stapleton but also has a great takeout and catering menu? Prefect for business meetings, conferences, trainings or events.

All the sandwiches come with different grain or vegetable based salad and a dessert (think raspberry bar, chocolate chip cookie.)
The salads (both for catering and in the cafe) are super fresh and flavorful.
They also do breakfast with fresh pastries and a delicious yogurt parfait.

There are always fresh breads available and Challah on Fridays. And that amazing granola.

Yeah Udi's!
www.udisfood.com

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Avenue Grill

630 East 17th Avenue
Denver, CO 80203
(303) 861-2820
www.avenuegrill.com

A good standby. There is nothing out of the ordinary here. Just good standard fair presented well in a relaxed yet refined atmosphere.

There was only one other family in the dining room with children but there was a large yet standard children's menu. The kids were happy, especially with dessert-ice cream sundaes- yum.

My husband cannot order anything else if cioppino is on the menu. He enjoyed it but it did not stand out among the myriad of similar dishes he has sampled.

Seared tuna was cooked to my order with fun sides and a great balance of flavors.
This restaurant fills up fast on the weekends so reservations are needed.
It is a great place if it is in your neck of the woods. But not one I would travel across the city for.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Your suggestions

I would love to hear some of your suggestions of places you'd like to see reviewed.
Places you've always wondered about, just heard about or think it might be entertaining to send us to.
Let me know!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Shells and Sauce

2600 East 12th Avenue
Denver, CO
(303) 377-2091
www.shellsandsauce.net

Once you get past the awkward entrance, through the crowded tables, and around the surly looks of the staff, Shells and Sauce makes for a great dinning experience.

The room is warm, albeit crammed with tables and the food is great.
The kids menu has the usual suspects with a few additional pasta entries like raviolis. The lobster ravioli was a big favorite with a rich creamy sauce and the seafood cioppino was a good take on a classic. There is an ever changing menu of small plates written casually (and in Italian)on the chalkboard in back.

Truly a neighborhood place and like any good neighbor- gritty on the outside but worth knowing about underneath.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Earl's- Cherry Creek

When I suggested we go to the new Earls's for dinner, my brother informed us it is only know for the hot women who work there. He wasn't far from true. The most memorable part of our meal was the noise and the waitress ( who has since called said brother after he left his card with the bill.)

As soon as we exited the car at the valet stand, (the only sane way to park in Cherry Creek at xmas time) we were told the restaurant has no high chairs or booster seats. While not a problem for us these days, it certainly sent a clear message. There is no childrens menu, but there are several kid friendly items on the menu, such as edamame, clam chowder, burgers and sandwiches, noodle dishes, cheesy garlic bread.

Though we all enjoyed our meals, they weren't very memorable. The curry chicken I had was spicy and flavorful and each plate had a slight element of surprise.

Probably a place better enjoyed with a group of men or a group of women so you can participate in the scoping and checking out that is occuring throughout the restaurant.

Flagstaff House

1138 Flagstaff Drive
Boulder, CO 80302-9510
www.flagstaffhouse.com

The view is incredible, the service impeccable, the food creative and original, equaling a memory to pull out on nights when you are eating quesdillas and beans at home.

The sheer number of items brought to our table that we didn't order is astounding. It started with a rabbit statue holding mini toasts with different dips, an amuse bouche of a chicken pot pie of sorts with duck confit, an intermezzo, an eggnog panna cotta before our ordered dessert, small bite size cookies after our dessert and a small loaf of pumpkin spice bread to take home for breakfast. So even though you pay a small fortune to eat dinner here, you do feel like you get what you pay for, with all the extras.

My favorite part of dinner at Flagstaff House is ordering coffee. A large plate comes to your table with several small compartments containing different sugars, mints, chocolates, whip cream and candy. By far the most decadent coffee I have ever created.

For a evening you won't want to forget soon, Flagstaff House is certainly a wonderful place where all you food fantasies can come true.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

New Years Promise

It's been hard to find time to go out to eat with all the holiday parties. And while there has definitely been some good eats, I'm sure a review about catered parties would put many to sleep. So stay tuned till next year when I promise there will be some new reviews.

And if you some ideas for places you would like to see reviewed, please send me an email or write a comment and I'll do my best to eat there in the new year.

Stay tuned for a review of Flagstaff House- definitely not a child friendly place. But a well deserved special occasion place for hard working parents- or anyone. And maybe if they are good, you could share the sweet bread you get as a parting gift with the kids for breakfast.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

DINR Deck

Check out this great gift for all the foodies you love. Great deals to independent Denver restaurants.
www.eatdenver.com/dinr-deck

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ondo's

250 Steele St. #100
Denver, CO 80206
303-975-6514
www.ondostapas.com

Tapas in Cherry Creek- an unexpected combination. But those in the know have been waiting for this place to open for months. And in my humble opinion it was well worth the wait.

We showed up at 6 the Saturday after thanksgiving, Ondo's 5th day of business. We were the only diners for a while- Somebody has to first. Thankfully when we left at least 5 other tables were occupied. We were hesitant to come in upon seeing the empty restaurant but we met a man on the stairs who persuaded us by saying it was very authentic and tasty food.

The service was great- as one would expect being the only costumers in the restaurant. We were definitely doted on and the wait staff hovering around us looked bored. We only had our son which was a real treat. I know most people would not think to bring a 3 year old out for tapas but you might be surprised.

The wines are all from Spain and the waitress had a cheat sheet- if you like cab you might like this. It was right on the mark. The chef sent out a small tall glass of spinach soup with a jamon crisp. The soup was rich, and creamy, and tad too salty. Our son ate half of mine, all of his and asked for seconds, which they happily brought. We were too embarrassed to ask for the third helping he wanted.

The menu was broken into these categories: Pintxos, Raciones, Ensaladas, Bocados, Cazuelitas and Postres but they weren't very well explained to us. We ordered a Spanish cheese plate from the raciones section plate with 4 different cheeses, honey and membrillo. Again, our son ate everything on the plate and ever since has been asking for manchego and turkey sandwiches! Then we had Tortilla Española- Egg and Potato Tortilla on bread which was very good but nothing more interesting than an omelet with potatoes. The Arroz Meloso de Queso Idiazábal-Creamy Rice with Idiazabal Cheese was delicous. A spanish take on risotto and enjoyed by all. Pimientos de Piquillos Rellenos de Bacalao-Piquillo Peppers with Bacalao was next. Bacalao is salt cod which we had never had before and were afraid it might be too fishy. After being assured it wouldn't be, we ordered it for our last plate. And while the waitress was mostly right, it didn't taste fishy while eating, the aftertaste was extremely fishy and took a lot of work to get rid of it. ( A coffee milkshake elsewhere to be specific)

My husband had ordered some meaty dishes and enjoyed them both. Solomillo con Salsa de Queso Valdeon-Beef Tenderloin with Spanish Blue Cheese Sauce. I tasted the blue sauce and thought it too think but was told it perfectly complemented the meat. Foie Gras a la Plancha con Puré de Pera-Seared Foie Gras with Pear Puree was well prepared and not to sweet with the right balance.

We were glad to see more people showing up as we were leaving and everyone looked happy with what they were eating. Perhaps the true spirit of tapas is alive at Ondo's and the real crowds will show up later. There are lots of reason to come back-Patatas Bravas,Serrano Ham Croquetas,Shrimp on a Stick with Pepper Vinaigrette to name a few. While definitely not your average family dinner out, Ondos is highly recommended for adventurous eaters who parents can't afford to take them to Spain anytime soon.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Argyll Pub

2700 E. 3rd Avenue
Denver, CO 80206
(720) 382-1117
argyllpub.com

2 out of 3 visits to Argylls were wonderful. The 3rd visit had us wondering if we'd ever return. But we did, with our British friend in tow to help us make a fair assessment of Argylls. There is no dispute that it is a great place to bring kids for atmosphere. In warm weather, the patio complete with a fountain is a great place for kids to be free. In the colder weather or more crowded times, it is pretty loud inside so their noise easily gets absorbed in the general pub atmosphere.

The beer list is as extensive as one would expect and hope. The guys ordered a special double IPA that is only available on the weekends. It was rich and complex and generally the best beer I have ever tasted. Our British friend agreed- it was the best beer he has had the US. The wine list was also interesting and changes frequently.

Potato crisps are brought to every table in lieu of bread. They were a little greasy but tasty and came with a thick sweet vinegar dipping sauce. We also started with pickled autumn vegetables that were a hit with the kids and reminded our friend of his parents home cooking.

There is a children's menu and we were excited that it had unexpected items, like a pizza with tomato jam. Unfortunately, though the adults were quite fond of it, it was way too peppery for the kids and none of them ate it. This was the one negative of the night since it was an item only available on the kids menu but apparently not cooked with kids in mind. They shared the other kid meals like pasta and chicken fingers that were more typical.

My husband ordered meat on top of meat, apparently having recovered from the Berkshire bacon overload. The “House” Cured “Snake River” Pork Belly w/ a Carrot Puree, Pickled Greens & an Apple Cider & Sage Reduction was a huge hit with everyone including the kids. The puree was creamy and rich and balanced all the components. He then add Choucroute Garnie- Alsatian Classic of Smoked Pork Sausages, Pork Belly, Knockwurst w/ Juniper Berries, Sauerkraut, Potatoes & Mustards. Basically a big bowl of meat which no one at the table offered to help him eat. The fish and chips were a huge hit and again the most authentic our friend has found in Denver- though he would have preferred straight up vinegar rather then the same sweet sauce that came with our crisps. My Duck Two Ways came with Crispy Duck Breast w/ Spiced Fennel Puree & Duck Confit w/ Apples, Pears, Swiss Chard & Green Peppercorns and was delicious. The confit was my favorite, very tender and well cooked.

The kids wanted ice cream for dessert and were told the flavor of the night was mint basil. We were all pleasantly surprised by how much they loved it. The banana bread pudding was another perfect replication and a big hit with the table.

So, the fourth time was the deciding factor and Argyll's has definitely restored itself in our book. With such glowing remarks of authenticity, we know Argyll is really trying and achieving something different and exciting in Denver.

Kids menu: Y
Kid friendly: **1/2
Food:**1/2
Ambiance:***

Friday, November 13, 2009

Izakaya Den

1518 S Pearl St
Denver, CO 80210-2635
(303) 777-0691
www.izakayaden.net

When given the choice of restaurants, the kids will almost always choose sushi. While we enjoy it as well, we don't want it quite as often as they do. So we find ourselves at Izakaya Den where everyone can get their needs met. The selection of sushi, Japanese and global small plates means everyone goes home happy.

We were easily seated at 6 on Friday on the second floor, which was a first for us. Apparently it's where all the families where being seated. A couple without kids actually asked to moved once they came upstairs and saw all the families.

There are several go-to dishes we always order. We also love the fact that parts of the menu change with the seasons. The sushi is as fresh, tasty and extensive as at the Sushi Den (Izakaya's big brother)One kids loves smoked salmon sushi and the other loves California rolls. Though the is wasabi still on the plate, they do remember to keep it off the actual sushi for the kids. We always start with a traditional Japanese vegetable appetizer of hijiki seaweed, asparagus, sesame soy burdock root salad which the kids also love.

Over the summer we were all addicted to the chilled lemongrass Vichyssoise soup and the cold cucumber soup with a touch of avocado topped with shrimp and cucumber salsa (the salsa was a little too spicy for the kids and had to pushed aside.) The vichyssoise was so rich and creamy and the kids loved the huge fish eggs floating in the middle. Both soups were sadly off the menu this time but replaced with other great fall flavors.

I started with a warm pumpkin and spinach salad with peaches, blue cheese and maple nuts. The flavors were perfectly complementary with the rich cheese and sweet fruit, the spinach just lightly wilted. It tasted like fall. We shared a marinated miso cod which is always perfectly cooked with a rich caramelized miso crust and a crisp burdock root salad. The gnocchi were served with ample lobster meat, porcini mushrooms, and a warm creamy parsnip puree which tied it all together.

We usually skip dessert here but we needed to appease the kids since our entrees took a little longer than they should have. One choose homemade chocolate ice cream and the other had a fruit cup with fresh berries and homemade whipped cream. My husband loves the huge sake list and prefers to order it cold in a box. I enjoy the sweet creative drinks and usually go with the Shochu Smash which is a fruity connoction of lemon, lime, and orange, muddled with yuzu juice and simple syrup, vodka, Iitomo Shochu, and topped off with Sprite.

Every family needs a go-to place. A place that makes everyone happy regardless of your tastes. A place that blends quality with ease. Izakaya Den is ours.

Kids Menu: N
Kid Friendly: ***
Food: ***
Ambiance: ***

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Berkshire

The Berkshire
7352 East 29th Street
Denver, Colorado 80238
(303) 321-4010
theberkshirerestaurant.com

Raise your hand if you like bacon? I actually don't but I was taking one for the team since it's my husbands favorite food group. The Berkshire's motto is 'swine, wine and a good time.' It has a great neighborhood feel, if your neighborhood is anywhere near Stapleton, otherhwise it was quite a trek across town for us.

We made reservations on a Sunday but they weren't necessary.Entering the restaurant, we were bombarded by TV's and were seated at a table with a prefect view of at least 3 of them. There is a back room that is much quieter and has no tv access so that would definitely be a suggestion for next time. For kids who rarely watch tv, mine completely zoned out, which actually made for a really calm and enjoyable dinner.

There is a kids menu with fun things like ants on the log. But the main menu is also really suited to kids. They shared 'The King' sandwich with peanut butter, caramleized banana, and bacon, with a side of cottage cheese and the special soup- broccoli cheddar. They happily ate while glued to the tv.

I struggled a little with the menu though there quite a few bacon free items. I started the haystack beet salad which came a little differently then expected with beets cubed and mixed with goat and then place in a big shaped heap on top of 2 pieces of lettuce. There was a date puree and chopped pistachios on the side. Though it tasted good it was confusing to eat. I then had ahi tuna sliders, which also surprised me when they came to they table with little white bread type buns. The tuna was perfectly cooked and topped with ginger and wasabi aoili and quite tasty. My sister's 'porky's inferno' sandwhich had pulled pork with pickles, cole slaw and bbq sauce which she thought was well cooked and flavorful.

My husband ordered the bacon sampler and for a while was in pig heaven. It was only after he had the pork belly for an entree that he stated he finally understood while pork belly is usually just an appetizer. He actually said it was too rich. And he hasn't craved bacon or anything pig related since. Can there actually be such a thing as too much bacon?

We did not have dessert though I really had hoped someone would try the bacon cream puffs just to say they had. Overall, a good neighborhood place, if your in the neighborhood and love TV and bacon.

Kids menu: Y
Food: ** 1/2
Kid friendly:***
Ambiance:*

Friday, October 30, 2009

Trattoria Stella's

Trattoria Stella's
3201 East Colfax
Denver, CO 80206
303.320.8635
www.trattoriastella.com

Trattoria Stella's is a surprisingly good restaurant that we forget to think about. We were underwhelmed with the original one in the Highlands and quite impressed with Cafe Star which previously occupied the spot on Colfax. Our first meal there was great but we didn't walk out thinking we couldn't wait to return. An evening event at school found us close by and hungry. We got a table easily at 6:30 on a Friday night, though those that came after us were not as lucky.

The menu was fairly standard with several pasta dishes and a few entrees as well as a children's menu consisting of the usual suspects: pizza, pasta, chicken fingers, grill cheese. I happen to prefer when there is no children's menu, because my kids eat better off the menu, but it does make life easier.

I started with a straight forward house salad with a house made basil vinaigrette. My husband started with the oyster special which he said was very good. I stay away from oysters in Denver- call me crazy, but we are a land locked state after all.

Our entrees were all delicious. Crispy Gnocchi came with Black Tiger Shrimp, Olive, Tomato, tossed in an Arugula Walnut Pesto. The gnocchi were firm and crunchy and the pesto added lots of punch to the dish. My butternut squash with Parmesan and spinach tasted like fall: sweet and rich and delicious. My husband had the special risotto with roasted garlic and chicken confit which was new for me and tasted intensely chicken.

With great wine and warm bread,(we skipped dessert) it was a fantastic meal. We will remember to remember Trattoria Stella's from now on when we want tons of flavor in standard fair with an unstandard twist.

Kids menu: Y
Kid friendly: ***
Food:***
Ambiance:***

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Potager

Potager
1109 ogden, Denver
303.832.5788
www.potagerrestaurant.com


Potager turned out to be the real celebration meal. (see Colt and Gray review below) I happen think every meal at Potager is a celebration. Though some may disagree, I love to see where my food comes from and what farms are being supported.

Every meal we have had at Potager was been a treat. We often take out of town guest here. We prefer to go in the summer when we can eat outside with the kids.There is a covered patio and an uncovered garden area allowing the setting to truly complement the food. Sitting inside with kids is more of a challenge since they don't take reservations and it's quite noisy most nights. But at 5:40 we got right in and sat in the bar area where the tables are a little bigger and the atmosphere a little quieter.

The food always matches the seasons at Potager. We started with pumpkin ravioli with brown butter, parm, and sage: quintessential fall. I had beet risotto with goat cheese, balsamic reduction and walnuts which was a little heavy but creamy and beautifully colored. I was better served by the wilted greens with garlic and lemon I had on a previous recent meal there. Served slightly warm with a wedge of lemon-they tasted bitter, and sweet and fresh- a great start to produce centered meal.

The kids meal was perfect for adventurous eaters. Hand cut noodles with apples, pears, currants, capers, cashews and marscapone cheese, all things my kids happen to love. My entree was the special- perfectly cooked and seasoned salmon over a hash of mushrooms, leeks and potatoes with a salad of sliced apples and greens on top. My husbands dish was almost too beautiful to eat. A warm lamb salad with a small pumpkin on the side stuffed with fried onion, cannelloni beans, grilled potatoes, feta cheese, candied pecans and arugula. On previous meals- mostly in the summer, the kids shared cold cucumber soup, crab cakes, peach and goat cheese pizza and anything involving pancakes.

We finally got the celebratory dessert and it was worth waiting for.The gingerbread cake was so rich it looked like chocolate yet tasted like fall, with the molasses and ginger flavors melting in my mouth. The first time I had it, there was a homemade caramel sauce and a poached pear. The second time it was paired with sauteed apples and sabayon. I would return to Potager just for that cake! We also had a delicious ganache and caramel tart with homemade hazelnut ice cream.

The service was fantastic, even involving complements as to how well the kids did. We felt welcomed and well taken care of. Just the kind of feeling and meal you expect when going out for a celebration. Or any other time, like a Tuesday night.

Kids Menu: N
Food: ****
Kid friendly: ***
Ambiance: ***

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Colt & Gray

Colt & Gray
1553 Platte St
Denver, CO 80202-6103
(303) 477-1447
www.coltandgray.com


We were so excited to try Colt & Gray. I was following the progress and fantasizing over the menu online for months before it opened. For a while the website said to check back soon for children's menu, which led to me to be very hopeful it would be a great place to bring kids. I guess I didn't read between the lines when it was no longer on the website.

Our first meal there was brunch without the kids- which is fortunate because if dinner was first we probably never would have returned to learn how great brunch can be. The french press coffee was hot and strong. It was hard to make choices from the menu as everything sounded delicious. I had Duck Confit Hash with scrambled eggs and Rosemary-Parmesan Bread Crumb. It was flavorful and perfectly balanced. My husband had Merguez Sausage, crispy Foie Gras fat fried potatoes, frisee & poached eggs. All the component worked together to make a delicious breakfast.

There were a few large parties with several kids happily eating pancakes and french toast. We couldn't wait to return with the kids for dinner.

We went on a Friday night to celebrate the fact that I have finally finished school. Our reservations were at 5:45 which was lucky since dinner took almost 2 hours.
We were seated immediately but did not place an order until 6:05. We ordered some bar snacks of Blue Cheese Dusted Gourgeres that came at the same time as the rest of the appetizers- twenty minutes later. The gourgeres (warm cheesy puffs of goodness)were a huge hit with the kids. My pumpkin soup with pepitas and creme fresh was delicious and smooth, but cold.

Dinner took another 20 minutes to come. I order barbecued duck that came with a side of ratatouille (my choice). The plate seemed incomplete and given the fact it only cost $3 less than my husbands fully composed meal, I felt cheated. Both components were fine but lacking excitement, though the ratatouille was more tomato than any other vegetable. One kid had a grill cheese sandwich and one had a slider burger. Both were tasty. My husband ordered pork chops. He usually is wary of ordering them out since he often finds them flavorless. there description was so tempting spaetzle, figs and chipotle, he thought he could not go wrong. Turned out, he was.

It took another 20 minutes for our plates to be cleared and the waitress to come back and even asked if we wanted dessert. The kids were spent by then and so where we. A disappointing meal has a way of just crushing your soul for the moment.

We left without dessert and without the feeling of celebration we came for. And without of the feeling that our kids were appreciated there. However, brunch was too good to forget so we might be back on a Sunday morning.

Children's menu: no
Food: ** 1/2
Kid friendly:**
Ambiance: ** 1/2

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Soleil Mediterranean Grille & Wine Bar

Soleil Mediterranean Grille & Wine Bar
2817 E. 3rd Ave
Denver, CO 80206
(303) 316-9100
www.soleildenver.com


I was craving French bistro food last Thursday night but didn’t want the obvious choices and couldn't find anything else close by that was good with kids. So we decided instead to go to Soleil in Cherry Creek (I know, so not French food) They have a great Mediterranean type tapas menu and I thought it might hit the spot. It had been years since our last disappointing visit so we thought it deserved another try.

We arrived a little before six (prime dining hour with kids) and were the only ones seated on the patio. In fact we were the only ones in the whole restaurant. And the service was great. I wish I could say the same for the food.
It started off fine with a antipasto platter filled with mozzarella and feta cheese, caper berries, sundried tomatoes, roasted eggplant, artichoke hearts, and a few types of meat. The kids happily ate almost everything on it. We also ordered them red pepper hummus which did not go over as well. They enjoyed the veggies but the hummus was thick and not as creamy as they are used to.

My husband ordered paella with the intention of sharing it with the kids. They were excited about the crawdads since they had never tried one before. As he was pulling out the meat, he noticed it didn’t smell great. My daughter put it in her mouth and immediately spit it out. Unfortunately the rest of the paella also tasted like rotten crawdad. I ordered a mushroom pizza as there were very few options on the menu without meat that sounded appealing. It sounded full of flavor with basil pesto and white truffle oil and exotic mushrooms but was instead dull and boring. The apple salad I ordered had lots flavor with dried fruits, candied nuts, and shaved parm but I surprised it was really an apple salad and not apples with lettuce and nuts and fruits and parm.

We were compensated for the rotten paella (though we did still pay for it) with a delicious dessert. They called it tiramisu but it was a slice of creamy rich goodness covered in chocolate and caramel sauces. Perfect for well behaved dining companions.

By the time we left, the patio had filled up. The heat was turned on and it was a cozy place to share a meal. We won’t be sharing one there again anytime soon.

Children's Menu: N
Kid friendly: **
Food: **
Ambiance: ***