Hedge Row Brunch

Cherry Creek has been known for its ritzy stores and high-end chain restaurants, however these days its restaurant scene is catching up with the rest of Denver's unique restaurants and bars, and offers more parking then you'll find in RiNo or Broadway. Hedge Row is different for a number of reasons; it's not a steakhouse, the prices are reasonable, they offer brunch, lunch, dinner and drinks, and most of the menu is locally sourced.

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Hedge Row opened in the latter half of last year and sits on the corner of Cherry Creek Blvd. across from the mall. They describe themselves as a relaxed American Bistro featuring rustic dishes from a wood-fired oven. This shone through in everything from the decor, to the open kitchen, to the menu, down to the clothes the servers wear. The restaurant is very bright and open, and has colorful touches aside wood accents. It is somewhat reminiscent of The Kitchen and that's because it is part of the same restaurant group that is dedicated to serving delicious, real food sourced from responsible and local farmers and purveyors. Not only do diners get to experience the local freshness and quality of the food, but the staff also gets to try everything and takes field trips to the farms and ranches used at their restaurant.

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We started with the Gulf Shrimp Hush puppies with hot pepper honey that were recommended. They were crispy little balls with warm, soft cornmeal and shrimp inside, atop a dollop of jalapeno infused honey that made for a scrumptious Southern starter. For our entrees we ordered the Slow Roasted BBQ Pork Spoonbread and the Char-Grilled Piri Piri Chicken Sandwich. Both were excellent and just the right size after our hush puppies and a Bloody Mary.

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The Piri Piri Chicken Sandwich comes on a local Grateful Bread ciabatta and is similar to a Vietnamese  Bahn Mi. The chicken was juicy and came with some crunchy slaw veggies and savory spices. The BBQ Pork Spoonbread features a perfectly fried Wisdom Farm egg atop house slow roasted pork and a thick, grilled price of cornbread. There wasn't any kick to the BBQ, but it was flavorful and they have an awesome hot sauce with dates, cumin and fresh carrots by Seed Ranch. Sounds kind of strange, but it tasted similar to any regular hot sauce, but better. Other brunch favorites are their Smoked Salmon Flatbread, Yogurt Panna Cotta and Wild Mushroom Toast.

Last, although we were full, we still had to try their pastries and ordered all four ($12) to go. Their cinnamon rolls are quite popular and are finger lickin good, yes, you'll be tempted to drop the utensils and pull it's sticky goodness apart with your fingers. However, it's not sticky from frosting like other places sticky rolls, but rather coated with a sugar and bourbon glaze and topped with glazed pecans for a delightfully satisfying treat. Their other pastries are also tasty and flavorful opposed to overly sugary. They offer a Pear-Cardamom Coffee Cake, the Bourbon Pecan and Sticky Bun, Spiced Carrot Muffin, and the Maple Old Fashioned Doughnut, which was sweet but in a nice way that reminds you of childhood.

Hedge Row will be participating in Denver Restaurant Week (happening now), with a three-course wood-roasted dinner menu for $35. Go try their dinner or brunch for yourself, and don't forget dessert!

https://www.hedgerowbistros.com/event/denver-restaurant-week-223-34/

Words by Tiffany Candelaria       Photos by Josh Stephens

Lifestyle | Valentine's Date Destinations | From Bae to Tinder

Valentine's Day is all about roses, red wine and paying inflated prices for a three course meal... all in the name of love. Complain all you want, but Cupid didn’t miss the target when it came to Denver dining. Whether you’re taking bae somewhere nice or trying to impress your latest Tinder squeeze, we’ve got your back… 

For those of you that have been so lucky to find someone to hold hands with on the same side of the booth, we know that upscale, classy is what you’re looking for this VDay and the following restaurants are sure to make bae swoon. 

A great starting point for a romantic dining experience in Denver is Larimer Square. Larimer Square is notorious in Colorado for upscale, delicious dining with ambience. Just stepping onto that square block greets you with twinkling lights, beautiful cars, and an array of cuisines to choose from. Here are Ultra5280’s recommendations for a memorable dinner out for those willing to indulge.

Photo Credit: Robert Castro

Bistro Vendome: Reminiscent of Paris, features traditional French bistro fare combined with seasonally-changing, local ingredients. http://www.bistrovendome.com/

Corridor 44: A classy champagne bar/lounge that also features a dinner menu designed to complement champagne, such as caviar, truffle fries, filet mignon, chocolate fondue, and crème brulée. http://www.corridor44.com/ 

Milk & Honey: This new restaurant is centered on serving approachable fine dining alongside a full bar complete with craft cocktails, elixirs, and after dinner drinks. http://milkandhoneybarkitchen.com/ 

Osteria Marco: A sophisticated Italian restaurant known for their handcrafted pizzas, meats and artisanal cheeses made on-site and a wonderful (while affordable) wine list. http://www.osteriamarco.com/ 

Rioja: A Mediterranean menu offering the best of Italian, Spanish, and French cuisine with an extensive Spanish based wine list. http://riojadenver.com/

Tamayo: Carefully crafted Mexican food with flair. Chef Sandoval blends traditional Mexican flavors with worldly ingredients and creative cooking techniques to create one of a kind dishes and drinks. Please note they are offering a special your choice 3-course Valentine’s Day menu. http://www.richardsandoval.com/tamayo/ 

Another idea for a memorable Valentine’s Dinner (or even just drinks and dessert) is adding some live music to the mix. Some great spots for this sweet combination, that will keep it romantic, are as follows.

Dazzle Jazz: This jazz gem has been showcasing amazing musicians for years and is really a great venue to relax while soaking and sipping it all in. There are still tickets available for their 9pm and 10:30pm shows Saturday 13th, free admission (reservations required) to their amazing bottomless brunch with live jazz 9:30am – 1:30pm, and tickets for the 5:30 show on the 14th.  http://dazzlejazz.com/ 

Jazz at Jack’s: This award winning jazz club is set above the 16th Street Mall and offers live music, special events, dance classes and a small bites menu. Tickets are available for their Saturday and Sunday night shows http://www.jazzatjacks.com/ 

La Cour Bistro & Art Bar: The live music performed here is tucked away in the upstairs of a charming historical house on South Broadway. In the summer months they migrate to the outside patio. Either way, La Cour makes for an intimate setting with delicious drinks and a decadent dessert menu. Best of all, there is no cover charge (but reservations recommended)!  http://www.denversartbar.com/ 

Nocturne: A beautiful, new music venue in RiNo fashioned after 1940s Supper Clubs. They will be holding two shows on the 13th and on the 14th along with a special four-course tasting menu and music from Wellington Bullings and the Scott Martin Trio Valentine’s night. Their menu is made up of small and large plates, desserts and a “Renditions” menu that changes seasonally and based upon an iconic jazz album. http://nocturnejazz.com/

Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox: A subject of our most recent Edible Beats restaurant series, this eclectic “gastro-brothel” is putting on a special show for their Valentines patrons; a 3-course dinner complete with a burlesque peepshow! They are also holding their usual live-music Sunday brunch and a “Heartbreak Ball” Saturday night at 9pm. Ophelia’s delivers memorable on a whole different level.  http://www.opheliasdenver.com/ 

If forcing conversation for 3 hours while you politely chew on foie gras sounds like a special kind of hell, take a look at our top picks for getting boozy and handsy:

Photo Credit: Robert Castro

Torchy’s Tacos: A rather new staple to the Denver dining scene, but already burning a flame straight to the hearts of taco lovers everywhere. Share a green chile queso Lady In The Tramp style and down some margaritas under the twinkling lights of their DAMN GOOD sign. Trust us, nothing says romance like Torchy’s. 

Gov’s Park: Known for being the oldest bar in Denver (probably not true) and for being the favorite local watering hole of John Hickenlooper (also, probably not true), Gov’s Park is perfect for letting your hair down and while downing strong beverages. If you’re trying to go cheap, show up during happy hour and impress your date with a round of Fireball shots. 

Arby’s: Curly fries. 

Illegal Pete’s: Burritos, queso, margaritas and punk rock. If your date isn’t impressed and leaves you, at least you still have a burrito. Burrito = Bae. 

Taco Bell: Quesalupa, need we say more!

Whatever you do this Valentine’s Day, remember that food is the quickest way to win any heart and alcohol will help ensure you get lucky at the end of the night. Happy Love Day Denver, be ours forever? 

Lifestyle | A Restaurant Rooted in Seasonally Local Ingredients & Creative Cooking

Ultra5280’s visit to Root Down, Justin Cucci’s first Edible Beats Restaurant, wraps up our series we began late December. If you happened to miss the previous two, scroll down and start at the beginning with Linger, then Ophelia’s. And by the time you’ve finished reading this article you’ll see why we felt it was important you knew about this trendy trio and how their focus on flavor, quality, sustainability and creativity makes them a staple in the Denver food scene.

Devils on Horseback

Devils on Horseback

Root Down opened back in December 2008 in a former mid-century gas station, and in pure Cucci fashion he incorporated many of the original elements into the new décor. A style that has rung true in each restaurant debut since. Root Down’s menu is focused on offering sustainable protein and vegetable based dishes using produce from their gardens, local growers and purveyors to create globally influenced seasonal cuisine.

We started with their most popular starter, Devils on Horesback, which we noticed is on the menu at Linger too. What’s cool though is each restaurant’s version is different to reflect their individual style. At Root Down the Devils are smoked almond-stuffed Peppadew Peppers, wrapped in tender belly bacon, and sauced in Gournay cheese fondue. Take my word that these little Devils rode us straight to taste bud heaven.

Next we had the Butternut Squash Risotto with the Root Down/local touch of purple quinoa from Southern Colorado. The dish itself was beautiful and the texture was dense and creamy even with the added the quinoa. The butternut squash flavor was rather subtle, but I could be a tough critic having just returned from ten days in Italy. My bad!!

The next dish was even more interesting, one because we didn’t order it, two because it was the nightly special thus not on the menu, and third because it required you to work for the meal and get a little messy. The dish consisted of two diver scallops atop prawns in a Thai based sauce with jam, baby carrots and Brussels Sprout garnish. The scallops were soft and buttery, but the prawns underneath took a fearless eater, some figuring out and extra napkins.   

The Longs Peak Rack of Lamb was a pleasant surprise after defiling a couple prawns in the previous course.  The dish consisted of two large bone-in lamb chops atop Farro with baby carrots, a layered sweet potato and apple tower with a melted cheese top, and Pear-Pepita Salsa. The creamy sweet carrots and potatoes were perfectly offset by the crisp tartness of the pears and apples and rounded off by the hearty herbed Farro base. The lamb was exceptionally tender and flavorful without tasting gamy and was the perfect dish to satisfy winter warmer cravings!

If you’re looking to surprise us with something, we’d tell you to follow suit of the Root Down staff and surprise us with a free dessert trio! The kind and gracious staff and Executive Chef Jeremy Kittelson prepared a sample of the first three desserts listed on the menu: Chocolate Bombe, Eggnog Bread Pudding and Banana Crème Brulee Pie. So this “Pie” … its texture was more like flan than a crème brulèe and was topped with whipped sour cream instead of the traditional caramelized sugar crust, the banana slices next to it had a brulèed crust though. The base of the pie was that amazing flavor combo of crunchy peanuts and creamy chocolate. The Eggnog bread pudding was fluffy and saturated with rich eggnog flavor, but our favorite part was the side of Bourbon ice cream! And for the chocolate aficionados there’s the almond brownie tucked inside a whipped chocolate ganache wrapped in a chocolate shell with vanilla cream, appropriately named the Chocolate Bombe. They’re right, it’s bomb.

Based off their names none of these desserts were what you would expect, but now that I’ve said that I realize nothing is really quite what you expect at Cucci’s restaurants. Everything they create has its own twist and incorporates unique local and seasonal ingredients, like the risotto that unexpectedly had little specks of purple quinoa!

We were happily surprised to see all three of Cucci’s restaurants participating in Denver Restaurant Week February 26 to March 6th which offers a three course menu for only $30 per person. If you’ve never treated yourself to any of these restaurants there’s no better time than snagging that special someone for a Valentine’s Day retreat!

Tiffany Candelaria