Regular is not what Justin Cucci’s Edible Beats restaurants are about. While each of his three restaurants are distinct in style and cuisine, they share the underlying qualities of sustainability, creativity, quality and hospitality that tie them together and set them apart as a Cucci creation. Another distinct feature we found at each restaurant is that their focus revolves as much around the experience of dining as it does around the ingredients. If you haven't caught on by now, we here at Ultra5280 love to eat, so follow us on our food journey into Justin Cucci's Denver Staples: Linger, Root Down, Root Down at DIA, and Ophelia’s.
We began at Linger for their Prix Fixe 3 courses for $30 special that happens the first Tuesday of each month. Nowa days, the former mortuary turned-multicultural restaurant Linger is lively and packed with people every single night. It's near impossible to get a same day reservations.. The menu at Linger consists of "global street food," representing regional specialties in Asia, Eurasia, Middle East, Africa and America and uses 75% organically sourced ingredients.
To start we had the Chinese Takeout Ribs that come dressed with peanuts, mint, and sesame seeds, accompanied by Tahini-Mustard and Asian pear slaw and the Devils on Horseback which are Medjool Dates stuffed with herbed goat cheese, wrapped with Applewood smoked bacon and topped with Sambal Gastrique. These two smaller plates were our favorites of the night; they were each incredibly flavorful and complemented each other well. The ribs were not hearty enough to be an entrée by any means but they were savory, a little smoky and a little sweet. The bacon-wrapped stuffed dates also had a nice balance of sweet and savory, but more on the sweeter side and a distinct yet delicious flavor when eaten alongside the ribs.
For our entrees we ordered the Wagyu Sliders topped with peppered bacon, aged Cheddar, curried sour cream and a side of sweet potato waffle fries & homemade Chipotle Ketchup. This was a safe selection and was very tender and juicy and surprisingly satisfying for two sliders. The more exotic entrée we ordered was the Moroccan Lamb Kofta Kebabs, which were three skewers of what looked like a lamb sausage. These were atop 3 leafs of Bibb Lettuce filled with Israeli Salad, Feta, Mint Chermoula and Pomegranate Yogurt, with pink pickled turnips on the side. This was a colorful and healthy dish with the lean lamb, herbs, and vegetables. We pulled the skewers out of the lamb and wrapped the lettuce around it all turning it into a lettuce wrap or burrito style that allowed all the ingredients to meld together into a tasty and gluten-free kind of gyro.
To finish off the night we had the most fascinating dessert we'd ever tried. It's called Taiwanese Snow Ice and is a weird blend of shaved ice and ice cream that comes out looking like fluffy layers. It's so strange, but super delicious! You spruce it up with some similarly unique toppings like mochi or coconut jelly or cereal milk crunch and then a sweet sauce like caramel. Wow, what a creation, we didn't even know what half of the options were but our waiter walked us through the dish and we made some sweet treats. Give this creative concoction a try next time you're at Linger if you can save room for dessert, it's pretty light, I promise.
Justin Cucci, Director / Chef, Shannon Jones, General Manager.