Acorn Gets an Update

Acorn, the acclaimed restaurant and baby of Boulder’s OAK at fourteenth restaurant, recently renovated both it’s space and it’s offerings. In 2017, Acorn welcomed a new Executive Chef with a long history of leading lauded kitchens such as Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta, The Little Nell in Aspen, and Mourad in San Francisco. Chef Ian Palazzola’s talent and experiences are channeled into his new menu at Acorn, which features a thoughtful collection of dishes inspired by where he has been, where is he now, and where he wants to go. “His blended cuisine celebrates Colorado's bounty, but is rooted in Southern tradition and accented with bold spices and global flavors.

Booze-free, tea mocktails

Booze-free, tea mocktails

This is the first time the restaurant has undergone such significant changes since opening its doors inside The Source in 2013. In addition to their new Chef and menu, Acorn expanded into the former Western Daughter's Butcher Shoppe space this summer. The added space gave Acorn a new temperature-controlled wine room and a meat locker for dry-aging special cuts, meaning you’ll definitely see some great wines and aged meats on the new menu.

Acorn's menu still focuses on small plates, but the large-format options have become more robust with one of every protein usually on the rotation. When we dined, the offerings were robust indeed: 24-hour cured Moroccan Lamb (Palazzola’s last restaurant was a Michigan star Moroccan restaurant in San Fran). A 14-day dry aged Hudson Duck Confit, a 24oz 45-day dry aged certified ribeye, and a classic roast chicken.

To start, Chef presented us with their cured rocky mountain trout covered in colorful apple, celery, dill and flowers and an amazing seasonal dish composed of Jimmy Peppers, a smoked corn purée and greens. This madly of flavors and ingredients was unlike anything we’ve eaten before and we loved it. The one thing that remains on the all-new Acorn menu is their beloved Kale & Apple salad with candied almonds and lemon vinaigrette.

Top: Seasonal Heirloom Tomato Salad. Bottom: Cured Trout.

Top: Seasonal Heirloom Tomato Salad. Bottom: Cured Trout.

After our lovely, light starters we got a new Acorn staple off of their Heirloom grains and Veggie section, the Heirloom Blue Cornbread with surryano ham and whiskey maple butter. The special cornmeal used is shipped in from Anson Mills in the Carolinas, and they are also used to supply Acorn’s grits & golden rice. The cornbread comes with Surryano ham, America’s version of prosciutto, and really turns up the volume on that sweat and savory flavor one loves about cornbread!

Blue Cornbread with Surryano

Blue Cornbread with Surryano


The team behind Acorn aims for it to be a place where everyone can feel comfortable, from making an easy to read menu, a range of taste options and beverages, but also a menu that will excite the foodies and the chefs that dine and work here. The team also aims for as little waste as possible, not just in their restaurant, but also at the farms they purchase from. For example, Acorn will buy the early, unripe fruits and vegetables that farms generally can’t sell but need to pick, and use them in pickling, syrups, sauces, etc.

Duck Confit

Duck Confit

The desserts are always creative at Acorn, and we tried the Coconut Cream and the Pistachio Diplomat. The Coconut Cream had a pana cotta base with seasonal palisade peaches, tart ginger and a meringue candy topping. Our favorite was the Pistachio Diplomat, a lemon cake infused with rose water, topped with a pistachio and quince (a rare, pear-like fruit) whipped cream and edible flowers. It tasted as good as it looked.

Stop by Acorn for lunch, dinner, drinks or the next time you’re going to a show at Mission Ballroom. The Source Hotel provides pre-show parking with a free shuttle to and from the show for only $5.

www.denveracorn.com

Written by Tiffany Candelaria Photographed by Samantha Bliss

Uchi Denver | Modern Japanese Cuisine

Japanese tradition and culinary innovation fuse at the award-winning Uchi restaurant in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood. Uchi Denver is the fourth Uchi concept from Austin-based restaurant group Hai Hospitality, and the first outside of Texas. From the spices and sauces used to enhance their nigiri, sashimi and makimono, to the flair they pair with their specialty dishes, Uchi’s menu is diverse and interesting. You won’t find the regular rolls you’re used to seeing here, only expertly crafted dishes with the finest ingredients from around the world.

Hama Chili (top left), Suzuki Yaki (top right), Machi Cure (center)

Uchi Denver is the first to have a full bar and cocktail program, I guess they know Denverites like to drink, in addition to their comprehensive offering of sakes, beer, and wine. To our delight, they uphold the tradition of sake social with Happy Hour from 5-6:30pm nightly with $3 sake and Kirin beer, $7 wine, and a great selection of sushi and other tasty bites!

Uchi’s fabulous food and fish is due to their close relationships with local farmers and the Fukuoka and Tsukiji markets in Japan from which they fly in seafood every day. Combining seasonal ingredients with a spectrum of seafood from around the globe, Uchi invites diners to expand their expectations and boundaries. We were recommended to experience the Omakase – Chef’s Tasting of 10 courses – and we were surprised and delighted by the diverse dishes. Uchi also offers a smaller Signature Tasting (six courses) and a Vegetarian Tasting (six course) in addition to their full menu.

Kinoko Nabe - 5 types of mushroom, crunchy rice, mushroom tentsuyu (broth) and egg yolk that is mixed in at your table.

We started with a Social Hour roll and the Machi Cure (pictured below) composed of yucca chips, smoked yellowtail, pear and Marcona almonds. This dish looked like a contemporary art piece and was just as intriguing on the palate. Next was their house named Uchi Salad, beautiful local greens wrapped around jicama with a cashew pesto sauce. The greens in this salad are sourced directly from the restaurant’s rooftop greenhouse, a partnership with Altius Farms and the only Hai property to have such a feature!

Machi Cure

James Beard Award-winning Chef Tyson Cole leads the team in Denver with his signature non-traditional take on Japanese food. Having trained for more than 10 years in Tokyo, New York, and Austin under two different sushi masters, he continues his path of study and experimentation each day at the restaurants in the Hai Hospitality family. Employing classical cooking techniques with a Pacific Rim perspective, Cole marries global ingredients with traditional Japanese flavors, resulting in inspired combinations of flavor, texture, color, technique, and style.

Fried Milk

If someone in your group prefers a heartier alternative to sashimi and sushi, Uchi doesn’t disappoint there either. The menu features savory meat and vegetable dishes like their Wagyu beef taster, insanely good Brussels Sprouts, tempura veggies, chicken wings, and a 72-hour braised short rib sushi.

Everyone should save a little room for dessert as these sweet endings are just as inventive and flavor-dynamic as the rest of the menu. Options range from the decadent Fried Milk (pictured above), those golden balls are the fried milk cream, with chocolate ganache and vanilla custard. Or go light with a gluten free, dairy free dessert such as the coconut tapioca, or meet in the middle with their lovely jasmine cream (pictured below) with pineapple and a honey crumble base.

Uchi Denver has become one of Denver’s hottest restaurants, with eager eaters lining up at all hours of the night to get a taste. They do accept limited reservations, so we suggest you pick a date a couple weeks out and secure a spot!

Jasmine Cream

Words by Tiffany Candelaria @TCdoesFnB Photos by Samantha Bliss @RedCapturesherBliss

5 Neighborhoods, 5 Restaurants in Denver

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Here are some restaurants to check out in five Denver neighborhoods. This is a great list to refer to the next time you're looking for a new dining destination or happen to be in one of the areas enjoying some night life. Plan on checking them out with a group? A Denver Charter Bus Service is the perfect way to make sure you're having the most convenient and safe transportation, and it's a lot easier than ordering multiple Uber rides!

LoDo

Rioja

1431 Larimer Street

Rioja is a Spanish and Mediterranean fusion style restaurant with some seriously impressive dishes throughout their menu. Their happy hour changes each month, inspired by a different country each time. Don't miss out on their weekend brunch menu, either! It features items like donuts with lemon marscapone and blueberry compote, sweet potato hash, and the rioja benedict.

Highland

Puerto Rico 5280 Cuisine

3109 Federal Blvd

This new Puerto Rican restaurant offers a comfortable atmosphere to dine and drink when you're in the neighborhood. How can you go wrong with comfort food options like the light, flaky authentic pastries named Pastelillos? The mofongo is another amazing dish to consider ordering when you're here. It's all super fresh!

Rino

Rino Beer Garden

3800 Walnut Street

Beer lovers consider Rino to be a haven for nightlife, and they aren't wrong! With their selection of beer and enhanced bar food, this will easily become of your regular stops if it isn't already. There are large outdoor patio with fire pits and easy to share dishes, so this is always a fitting spot to gather with your friends in Denver.

SoBro

Colore Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria

2700 S Broadway

It can be hard to find good Italian food, but Colore definitely knows what they're doing. We recommend making reservations if you plan on coming here for a holiday such as Mother's Day or Valentine's Day. Some of the highlights on this menu include the roasted jalapeno artichoke dip, chicken marsala and linguine pescatore.

Cherry Creek

True Food Kitchen

2800 E 2nd Avenue

Are you looking for a healthy option? True Food Kitchen is the place to be for flavorful vegan and vegetarian eats. Try their edamame dumplings, spaghetti squash casserole, or the inside out quinoa burger if you want to stick to the tried and true favorites. We highly recommend taking a look at their dessert menu while you're here, too.

Korean BarbieQ Pop Up Experience

Last weekend, the vacant restaurant space beneath Larimer Square transformed into a special pop-up experience themed around Korean BarbieQ. Odd concept, but cool creation that blended Barbie-themed decor and drinks with Korean barbecue. The pop up experience returns again this Thursday through Saturday August 25th, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. at 1414 Larimer, Denver. Tickets include dinner and drinks - get tickets here:  https://www.thricepopup.com/#tickets

After this weekend, the BarbieQ will then be deconstructed to make way for another pop-up concept by OZ Architecture Associate Principal and Director of Brand Experience Design Abigale Plonkey. “I’ve always wanted to create a pop-up event, and I’ve seen them successful in New York and LA and thought this was an opportunity to bring it to Denver,” Plonkey said. "So we came up with the concept of Thrice — food, drink, design. It always has to have those three elements to make it unique. It can’t just drink, it can’t just be food and it can’t just be about design.” Chef Bill Espiricueta of Smok is preparing the food for this pop-up, and Shawn Campbell, lead bartender at El Five, curated the cocktails.

After the Korean BarbieQ wraps up this weekend, be on the lookout for the next concept — Cosmotropical, a David Bowie-inspired event where outer space meets tiki bar. The decor will focus on astronomy and have lots of neon. The third event will be Chroma, during which the room will change colors as different courses are served!

Photos by Josh Stephens

Bonanno Opens 16-Venue Marketplace Downtown

Acclaimed Denver Chef Frank Bonanno has created his most ambitious venture yet, bringing together sixteen individual local dining and imbibing concepts under one roof in the new Dairy Block development on Wazee and 18th Avenue. The aptly named Denver Milk Market opens June 1st - a century after the Windsor Dairy first opened in the same location. As Bonanno tells us, just as Windsor Dairy nourished the community with its dairy products, we strive to do the same with a focus on family, community and a love of celebration within our doors.” His dedication to the community is also evident in his decision to donate one percent of all sales at DMM to the neurology department at Children's Hospital Colorado. and we have the insider sneak peek of all the delicious eats and drinks you'll find inside this lovely 18,000 square foot marketplace.

Guests can grab pastries and coffee in the morning; enjoy a freshly chopped salad or hot sandwich for lunch; meet friends and colleagues for evening cocktails; and pick-up fresh meat, seafood and house-made pasta by-the-pound to enjoy at home. Bananno tells us, "Each concept is rooted in a family member, a favorite trip, or favorite dining experience, so the design is not only meant to be engaging and fun for the guest, but is also a love note to every memory that each space represents." Below are the 16 carefully crafted concepts and what you can expect at each:

Morning Jones:  Coffee and nitrogenized oat milk and almond milk lattes; hot chocolate on tap; and pastries. For convenient grab-and-go, Morning Jones features a walk-up window in the Dairy Block alleyway!

Bao Chica Bao: Celebrates the cloud-like and perfectly steamed bao buns that have been a neighborhood favorite at Capitol Hill restaurant Bones. The venue is one of only two U.S. restaurants to serve jelly beer, a popular drink in Thailand that’s likened to a beer slushie. A walk-up window in Dairy Block’s activated alley allows for quick grab-and-go.

MOO Bar: Adorned with a one-of-a-kind chandelier that speaks to the space’s former life as a dairy, MOO Bar is the striking centerpiece of Denver Milk Market that serves up craft cocktails, beer and wine. Many of Bonanno’s greatest boozy hits appear on the menu, made using house-made bitters and syrups.

Lou’s Hot|Naked: A Denver favorite has been resurrected! Fans of Lou’s can expect the same juicy and spicy Nashville Hot Chicken that made their former Sunnyside neighborhood joint famous. 

Stranded Pilgrim: Offers guests an all-Colorado list of brews previously only available at brewers’ taprooms. “Frank’s Honey Blonde” – brewed exclusively for Denver Milk Market by Great Divide Brewing Company – is a nod to Frank’s wife and partner, Jacqueline, and is only available here.

Albina by the Sea: A tribute to Frank’s grandmother, whose cooking inspired him as a child, offers seafood favorites like crab cakes and lobster rolls, along with fresh fish, house-made cocktail sauce and other necessities to create a seafood feast at home.

The Green Huntsman: For lighter fare, guests will find freshly chopped and perfectly dressed salads at The Green Huntsman, in addition to house-made drinking vinegar and nitrogenized green tea.

Mano Pastaria: Mano, meaning “hand” in Italian, features quintessential hand-rolled pastas to enjoy at Denver Milk Market or at home. Pastas and sauces are available for purchase by the pound, as well as antipasti and pizza dough from neighboring Bonanno Brothers Pizza. 

Bonanno Brothers Pizza: Named after Frank’s two sons, Luca and Marco, Bonanno Brothers Pizzeria celebrates decades, and generations, of Bonannos crafting delicious, freshly-spun pizza.  

Ruth’s Butchery: A one-stop-shop for the best meats, Ruth’s Butchery is a tribute to his wife Jacqueline’s grandmother, who famously made the best hamburger around. Guests can try it and a selection of other hot sandwiches here.

S&G Salumeria: After 15 years of perfecting cured meats, S&G Salumeria offers Frank’s expertly house-cured meats, as well as house-made and imported artisan cheeses. Guests can observe as fresh mozzarella and burrata are crafted behind the counter, while enjoying a sandwich made popular at Denver Highlands’ neighborhood restaurant, Salt & Grinder.

MoPoke: Offers the ultimate Hawaiian experience, with fresh fish over rice, and the perfect accoutrements to transport taste buds to the islands.   

Cellar: Cellar allows guests the unique opportunity to purchase a bottle of wine from a carefully curated selection and bring the opened bottle with them through the Market. Wine is also available by the glass.  

Fem: With just three ingredients (flour, eggs and milk), Fem turns out simple, yet seriously tasty crepes.  

Cornicello: Cornicello transports guests to the streets of Rome with deliciously indulgent gelato, boozy milkshakes, soft serve and other delicious dairy treats. The creamery also features a walk-up window in Dairy Block’s alleyway, ideal for warm summer evenings.

Engine Room: Open late and the perfect way to end a night out, Engine Room serves up delicious New York-style slices and Sicilian pies from the walk-up window located directly on Dairy Block’s activated alley, on 19th Street.

To celebrate the opening, Denver Milk Market is offering a variety of activations Friday, June 1 through Sunday, June 3, many of which are free and open to the public. Events will include yard games in the Dairy Block Alley, photo booths, a Rockies Rally Happy Hour with cocktail and beer specials, community yoga, a violinist brunch and more. For a full list of events, visit DMM’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/denvermilkmarket/

For more information, please visit http://dairyblock.com.

Photos by Robert Castro

Surf & Turf in Style at Ocean Prime

If you’re looking for a great date restaurant or just a great meal, you can’t go wrong on Larimer Square in Denver. We treated ourselves to a scrumptious Sunday Surf & Turf dinner at Ocean Prime on Larimer Square last week and want to show and tell you why you’ll want to treat yourself to their fabulous food.  First off, this is an award-winning modern American restaurant from renowned restaurateur Cameron Mitchell. They always source the highest quality ingredients available and use simple, pure, local and regional flavors on the made from scratch menu. Seafood is selected and flown in daily for freshness and the steaks include USDA Prime cuts and are aged for maximum tenderness and flavor.

Surf & Turf Appetizer

Surf & Turf Appetizer

Ocean Prime’s new menu addition features a Sunday night Surf & Turf special for $55 that includes a soup or salad, an 8oz filet, a choice of shrimp scampi, crab cake, or sea scallops, and a side dish. We chose, with some help from Chef Julia, the house salad, a side of jalapeno au gratin, and the shrimp. The salad was bright and crisp with candied walnuts, apple slices, and a perfect coating of slightly sweet, slightly acidic Sherry mustard vinaigrette. The filet and shrimp were succulent and full of flavor. Our side of jalapeno au gratin was so deliciously decadent we had to resist eating all of it to save room for our smoked Gouda tater tots and pea risotto (below). To top off the Sunday special, bottles of wine from their Wine Spectator award-winning wine list are half off!

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The other Surf & Turf entrée on the menu is available seven days a week and features an 8oz filet and poached lobster draped in a bright Béarnaise sauce, atop a crispy hash brown cake and sautéed spinach. This dish was a decadent deal for $60 and brought together the robust but refined flavors of their steak and crispy potatoes, alongside the lighter lobster and seared spinach. These Surf & Turf entrees are the best way to go if you want the best of both worlds, and at a restaurant like Ocean Prime we recommend you try both worlds.

Surf & Turf Daily Entree

Surf & Turf Daily Entree

Another great way to do this is by ordering their smaller in scale and much smaller in price Surf & Turf appetizer. In this dish you’ll enjoy two perfectly seared, soft supple pillows of sea scallops along with the best short ribs, they’d surely been simmering all day. Hints of parsley, a rich short rib reduction, and creamy mashed potatoes round out this exquisitely executed Surf & Turf sampling.

If you decide not to go the Surf & Turf route there are plenty of other options: sushi, raw bar, salads, seafood, chicken, chops, and a handful of prime cut steaks and sides. Some of Chef Julia’s favorite menu items include the Alaskan Halibut feature; the Teriyaki Salmon and the Chilean Sea bass are fantastic she says, and two of the most popular dishes; and the Prime New York Strip steak has great marbling & flavor.

I highly doubt you’ll be able to share a starter and eat your entire entrée with sides and still have room for dessert, so you’ll want to make sure you pace yourself because their desserts are exquisite. They include chocolate cake with ice cream, a mile high carrot cake, a chocolate peanut butter pie, crème brulee, sorbet, and this amazing creation pictured below named the warm butter cake. We blissfully breezed through the whole cake, ice cream, berries and all; even the non-dessert eaters thought it was heavenly.

https://www.ocean-prime.com/

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Words by Tiffany Candelaria    Photos by Josh Stephens

Cultures Collide to Make Familiar Dishes New Creations at Mister Tuna

With a new Executive Chef and a new season comes a new menu for Troy Guard’s Mister Tuna restaurant. We will highlight a few of the great new dishes you'll want to try this Summer, and point out a few house favorites that have carried over. The new Executive Chef, Tristen Epps, relocated from Brooklyn to Denver last year and took over the kitchen at Mister Tuna in February. Having grown up in the Southeast where BBQ is popular, combined with his travels through Asia, Chef Epps unites the flavors of these two distinct cultures into dishes that may appear familiar, but taste completely original.

Ancient Grain XO Spaghetti

Ancient Grain XO Spaghetti

Mister Tuna opened about two years ago and was inspired by creator/owner Troy Guard's childhood days in Hawaii where his dad, known as Mister Tuna, cooked meals over a grill in their backyard. The new menu combines Guard's Hawaiian history and Chef Epps Southeaster and Asian experiences. Together they have created a marvelous menu with many different flavors, ingredients, and creative combinations. The menu offers Raw Bar selections, many Shared Plates, and a handful of large Entrees meant for sharing. The whole menu in fact was crafted with the intention of sharing a meal, sharing an experience, and enjoying the flavors together with the friends or family at the table with you.

The wood fired grill is a central component here and works alongside the rotisserie that spins everything from local game to whole heritage hogs. This method showcases a style of cooking that brings people together in “Ohana”, the Hawaiian concept for family.

Bison Tongue Toast

Bison Tongue Toast

To start, the Oak Grilled English Peas are a fun and flavorful appetizer for the table. They mimic Edamame but with an entirely different flavor that comes from charring them right on the coals and seasoning with yuzu black pepper butter. The other appetizer we shared was their popular Bison Tongue Toast. The bison in this dish is brined for two weeks then cooked for a whole day to become bison pastrami. This delicacy sits atop a house made bread, Fontina cheese sandwich garnished with pickled spicy radish. This shared plate, along with the Charred Barbeque Octopus, are two of the most popular new dishes on the menu. Two longstanding favorites of Chef Guard's that remain on the menu are the broccolini, speck Gnocchi and his Roti Tacos.

Two larger standouts we tried and recommend are the Ancient Grain Spaghetti and the Smoked Cauliflower Agnolotti. While both are pasta dishes, they tasted far from Italian, especially the Spaghetti, which Chef Epps said he calls "Faux Soba". The bolognese sauce he makes is slightly creamy, but uses Asian flavors and XO sauce, simmered shrimp, smoked eggplant, and specked with Speck (cured pork). The Spaghetti is handmade with ancient grains, has the perfect amount of creamy XO sauce, and is all topped with sautéed bok choy and crispy fried shallots - what a wonderful cultural mash up!

The Smoked Cauliflower Agnolotti is similar to ravioli and is stuffed with smooth pureed cauliflower and potato. A house made calabrian chili oil, which is a spicy, mildly sweet Italian chili, surrounds the pasta pillows and provides a zesty punch. Living local greens, buffalo burrata and charred cauliflower decorate this delicious dish.

Hanger Steak

Hanger Steak

If you still have room to order an entrée after all the scrumptious shared plates, you can choose between Hawaiian Fish in coconut curry, Rotisserie Pork Collar, and Hanger Steak with their incredibly unique potatoes (gnocchi meets sponge cake gets baked, then deep fried). There’s also a Lamb Ribeye, Halibut, and Fried Rice. You can enjoy the entire menu or just a cocktail at the interactive Chef's counter, the raw and preservation (pickling) bar, the cocktail lounge, or their large outdoor patio. Mister Tuna provides plenty of spaces to match your mood and plenty of eats to please your palate.

https://www.mistertuna.com/

Words by Tiffany Candelaria

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Steuben's | Comfort Food with Some Twists

Featured on national TV shows including “Food Paradise” and “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”, Steuben’s is a local Denver restaurant serving regional comfort food at its finest. It’s is named after a famous Boston restaurant that owner Josh Wolkon’s Great Uncles, Max and Joe, opened in 1945. Hosting Big Band, Jazz, and Swing groups, Steuben’s was once the center of the Boston dining and nightlife scene. Today, the Steuben’s in Denver and Arvada are known for their casual diner vibe and home cooking.

The Rock n' Rye, the Zombie cocktail and Falafel, Pita Platter

The Rock n' Rye, the Zombie cocktail and Falafel, Pita Platter

The menu here isn’t typical diner fare however; there are all kinds of options from healthy to hardy, grilled to fried, vegetarian and pescatarian dishes. To start we had a Hummus, Falafel & Pita appetizer that was fresh and filling. Next, we wanted to try their Lobster Roll because it seemed a surprising dish to see on Steuben’s menu alongside all the decadent comfort food like burgers, six-cheese mac and cheese, and fried chicken.

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On that note, we did try out their mac and cheese and fried chicken because that’s what they’re known for. Their 4-piece buttermilk brined chicken was everything fried chicken should be, served with mashed potatoes, a biscuit, and a dish of chicken gravy. They also have a Nashville Hot version on the menu, both only $17. We ordered sides of the six-cheese béchamel mac and cheese and the Crispy Brussels, which were both extremely satisfying sides.

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Steuben’s has a whole host of sandwiches as well, like the Cubano, the Monte Cristo, Crispy Fish, and Cheesesteaks. After eating the Lobster Roll, we realized it is comfort food after all, packed full of luscious lobster tossed in a mayo-pickle mixture and placed atop a very tasty, griddled New England split-top roll with a side of crispy fries.

Steuben’s is also known to have delicious desserts; we recommend the lovely and light Lemon Icebox Bar and the chocolaty mousse Mississippi Mud Pie. We also managed to save some room for their homemade ice cream. They just debuted a brand new ice cream sundae, called Muddy Buddy, chosen from tons of online submissions. It’s got little Chex Mix “muddy buddies,” perhaps you know it as “puppy chow”, sprinkled on top with chocolate sauce and peanut butter. You can also get it, or any of their ice creams as a milk shake or malt – excellent alongside their classic burgers.

Lemon Icebox Bar

Lemon Icebox Bar

Speaking of burgers, from 10pm – close you can get one of their burgers, with fries and a beer for only $7! It’s called the Lucky 7 Happy Hour where you lucky late nighters can choose from a burger, grilled cheese, falafel sandwich, or 2-piece fried chicken for only $7 and it’s served with fries and a Genesee Lager!  Whether you come to Steuben’s for the comfort food, delicious drinks, or a tasty treat, you’ll walk away happy and full for a nice price.

https://www.steubens.com/

Words by Tiffany Candelaria      Photos by Robert Castro

Lobster Roll

Lobster Roll

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

Vesta | 20 Years Later

Vesta, the Roman goddess of the hearth, is the inspiration for this Denver dining destination that first lit its hearth over 20 years ago. Owner Josh Wolkon shares his story with us, “Vesta opened in 1997 in Denver’s LoDo. I was 25 years old and driven by pure ambition to open my dream restaurant. Surrounded by young, energetic, passionate, and fun people, we created a destination restaurant before LoDo itself became a destination. The term ‘Vesta Vibe’ was later coined and became known for combining positive energy, genuine hospitality, philanthropy and fun.” Through deliciously cooked food in an inviting environment where friends and family can gather and connect by the warmth of the fire, Vesta continues living up to its name and its “vibe”.

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The latest menu was created by Colorado-raised Executive Chef, Nicholas Kayser, whose culinary talents enhance the Vesta menu with creative interpretations and beautiful plating. Nicholas’ culinary talents and experience have come from his time working with top chefs all over the world, in restaurants from Hong Kong to New York to Las Vegas. He eventually longed to be closer to his friends and family back here in Denver and moved back and started at Vesta a couple years ago.

Ahi Tuna Tonnato

Ahi Tuna Tonnato

The menu offers seasonal, creative American dishes, plus barrel-aged cocktails, craft beers and an award-winning wine list. To start, you can try “The Full Monty” of Vesta’s own house cured meats and artisan cheeses served with house made breads and mustards, along with pickles and truffle honey. We went a lighter route with the Ahi Tuna Tonnato, a lovely sashimi grade tuna carpaccio drizzled with olive vinaigrette, aioli, and topped with focaccia. This appetizer was incredible; it was not fishy, had an easy to eat texture, and a unique combination of Italian flavors from the focaccia and aioli paired with light, fresh tuna.

We also sampled the XO Smoked Pork Ribs garnished with a fresh cilantro salad. This too was very delicious, with great flavor of a sweet heat hoisin sauce around succulent rib meat with a slightly crisp outside. For the entrée we enjoyed the Pan Roasted Branzino, which is a mild, white fish and comes with crispy roasted red potatoes which we loved, celery salad, sorrel, and winter radishes. This is a modern take on an Israeli dish and incorporates Middle Eastern spices and ingredients which was creative, but not spicy.

Pan Roasted Branzino

Pan Roasted Branzino

To cap off our dinner we were treated to sweet potato beignets. These delightful little dumplings of sweet potato and dough are rolled in cinnamon sugar and sit atop toasted marshmallow, cranberry compote, and caramelized milk. It was a sweet treat for sure, but not too intense or heavy. They have some other tantalizing treats we’d like to try next time like the Sticky Toffee Pudding with medjool date cake and their Tiramisu with chocolate honeycomb.

In addition to the great food, the restaurant has a beautiful interior with noticeable themes of warmth, sensuality and dreams reflected in the handcrafted industrial design. Curved booths, open flames from the exposed grill, and draped fabric light fixtures soften the industrial design and bring a sensuality and warmth to the space that complements the “Vesta Vibe”. Another cool component to Wolkon’s restaurants is their certification as Green Businesses through the EPA and Certifiably Green Denver. Further, since opening Vesta in 1997, charitable giving to nonprofit organizations, particularly youth-focused organizations, has been one of the restaurant group’s top priorities.

http://www.vestadenver.com/        Words by Tiffany Candelaria          Photos by Samantha Bliss

sweet potato beignets

sweet potato beignets

Ophelia’s Will Tantalize All Your Senses


Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox is a multilevel "gastro-brothel" that surrounds its guests in luxurious furnishing, flattering mood lighting, and blatantly sexy décor, aka it’s a great place for a date. In addition to dining, there’s a stage and lounge in the lower level, also viewable from the upper restaurant level that wraps around it. The name of the place is an intriguing mouthful… and you’ll find the food is as well.

Ophelia’s opened a couple years ago and is part of Chef Justin Cucci’s collection of top-rated restaurants around Denver. Located in the old Airedale building on 20th Street and Larimer, it was formerly a peep-show parlor and clearly inspired the restaurant’s décor. The menu is a tantalizing assortment of American dishes featuring globally inspired ingredients paired in intriguing ways. In addition to its vegetable forward dishes, 75% of the ingredients are organically sourced and the menu has gluten-free and vegan icons to help those with dietary restrictions.

We were delighted to dine at Ophelia’s this Tuesday and were treated to an amazing assortment of dishes that showcased the variety of foods, flavors, and ingenuity the team brings to the tables each night. We began with cocktails of course, the Never Enough gin cocktail and the Hard Eight Rye cocktail, which were both great – one sweet and citrusy the later earthy and zesty.

To start, we selected the Smoked Scallops, 600 Degree Squash and the Crispy Pork Belly. This was already more food than we could finish knowing entrees where ahead, but we are so glad we ordered it all anyway because these three dishes were outstanding. The scallops were petite, soft and smoky, served with lavash crackers, microgreens, and a chive crème fraise and hot sauce, all meant to pile onto the crackers. The creamy crème spread was a perfect balance for the smoky scallops and seed-laden lavash. We also loved the 600 Degree Squash, a collection of caramelized yellow and green zucchini with sweet, creamy goat feta and a sundried tomato sauce. The Crispy Pork Belly was especially outstanding because it was not full of fat like so often happens when we’ve ordered pork belly. It truly was crispy and candied on the outside, and soft and supple on the inside, bursting with so much savory and sweet flavor. Best pork belly we can recall!  

Next, the kitchen surprised us with their Brothel Burger and BBQ Chicken Flatbread. The burger was super succulent Elk, we didn’t even realize this while we ate it, topped with Korean BBQ, Miso candied bacon, Ponzu onions, and pickled vegetables all between a pretzel pun. We loved it. The BBQ Chicken Flatbread was accompanied by bacon, Pepper Jack, mozzarella, charred onion, bell pepper and jicama-radicchio slaw, which was an excellent addition to an overall wonderfully composed sweet, smoky, tangy pizza. All of their flatbreads and burger buns are also available gluten free.

We then made room for two of their Dinner entrees, the Steelhead Trout with Pozole and Chicken & Waffles, which were like yin and yang as far as flavors, textures, ingredients and nutrition. Pozole is a traditional Mexican stew composed of hominy, green chilies, and spices. Their pozole is topped traditionally with fresh radishes, cilantro, tomatillo salsa, and chunks of avocado, but is only mildly spicy. The trout was wonderful, not too fishy, seasoned with black pepper, and a great, local alternative to salmon. An added bonus, all of the warming spices, herbs, root vegetables and omega-3 fish make this an excellent winter dish and flu-fighter!

On the other end of the spectrum, the Chicken & Waffles were decadent, sweet and crunchy. It comes with two pieces of herb and potato laden waffle between three pieces of crispy, fried chicken topped with bacon bits, a flavorful cinnamon apple butter and chili honey – my goodness! On the side, there’s a bit of healthy greenery for you with apple slices and dried cranberries.

Throughout all of this wonderful feasting, live musicians took turns on the stage below for open mic night. Wednesday’s and Sunday’s Ophelia’s has jazz bands, and the rest of the week generally has live music events as well. Ophelia’s is much more than just a delicious restaurant; it’s a happening hangout with plenty of pleasing offerings. The bar and lounge areas provide really nice drinking spots, and the wrap around restaurant is an awesome medley of fabulous food and dynamic entertainment below. We absolutely suggest you go!

https://www.opheliasdenver.com/

Words by Tiffany Candelaria @tcdoesfnb     Photos by Samantha Bliss @redfollowsherbliss

Chicken & Waffles

The Raw Deal at Vital Root

Vegetarians aren’t messing around these days. Owner of Edible Beats, Justin Cucci, opened up vegetarian restaurant Vital Root on Tennyson Street a year and a half ago and it has been a hit ever since.  Whether you’re on the run or able to stay awhile, there’s an open seat inside or on their two patios and heaping flavors waiting for you in this fast-casual dining concept.

Using only the freshest organic ingredients in each dish, you are sure to leave feeling revitalized and satisfied, and ninety-nine percent of the menu can be prepared vegan and/or gluten free upon request. Not a vegan or gluten intolerant? Try ‘em out anyway - your body will thank you later.

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Vital Root also places a huge focus on sustainability from the front of the house to the back. Supporting over 55 growers, farmers and food artisans, 50% of the ingredients are sourced within Colorado. Edible Beats’ homegrown produce comprises 40% of the produce used in all dishes across the six restaurants. It also supports local wind and solar projects through national clean energy provider, Arcadia Power, to help reduce America’s dependence on dirty fossil fuels.

We were cordially invited to their monthly Raw Pop Up Dinner held on the first Monday of every month. Why raw vegan cuisine? Vital Root’s chef says, “Raw food has not been heated over 118 degrees, leaving all natural enzyme and nutrient activity of the ingredients completely in-tact and maximizing bio-availability. The raw diet encourages harmony with nature, a nonviolent lifestyle, boundless energy, a healthy relationship to food-as-fuel, and is a remarkable way to experience the beautiful ingredients.”

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Upon being greeted at the door, the hostess kindly led us to our seats where we anxiously awaited diving into the raw experience.

The first course presented before our eyes and our salivating palates was the Giardiniera, served on a spoon and ready to be devoured. Simple yet refreshing, the dish was comprised of eggplant relish, basil tomato and daikon thread. It set the tone for the rest of the meal and left our taste buds wanting more…which is exactly what we got.

The second course came in an array of multi-color roots. It was almost too pretty to eat, but that didn’t stop us. Served in a beautiful radicchio leaf, the Radicchio Beet Hummus executed on presentation and texture by utilizing the ingredient in two ways. We were given a variety of organic vegetables including carrots, bell peppers and cucumbers to enjoy with the hummus. To add a hint of sweetness to the dish, dates were also included.

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The third course was the one I was most intrigued by, and that was the Squash Lasagna. I asked myself, “How are they going to serve warm cooked lasagna that resembled lasagna without the power of a hot oven?” Let’s just say, I was absolutely blown away. First off, the presentation was beautiful. Secondly, cutting into it felt just like eating momma’s homemade lasagna. It was dense yet light, and didn’t come with the typical sluggish aftermath, even after eating the entire plate. What made this dish even more unique was the vegan spin on the cheese. From ‘rawmesan’ and macadamia ‘ricotta’ to walnut pesto and a winter salad—it had me more than convinced.

And for the final course: the Blood Orange Granita, a Sicily-inspired shaved ice bursting with flavor. The dessert melted in my mouth like cotton candy, and refreshed my palate at the same time with the addition of the fresh basil.

If you’re sitting there living vicariously through my words, stop. You can reserve your spot for the next raw dinner through the Vital Roots website. What makes this experience even more thrilling is that the menu is a total surprise! You won’t know what’s coming to your table until it’s presented before you. Get your palate ready and imagination going for the eccentric yet inviting meal at next month’s raw dinner.

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If raw food isn’t your cup of tea, no worries. Vital Root offers a wide array of options and is open Tuesday-Thursday from 10am-9pm and Friday-Sunday from 9am-9pm. Additionally, Happy Hour is Tuesday-Sunday from 3pm-6pm with specials including $1 off beer, $5 wine and cocktails, $2 Banh MI or Avocado Tacos, and $3 Korean BBQ Veggie Wings.

Don’t wait any longer—see what these vegetarians are raving about! http://www.vitalrootdenver.com/

Written and Photographed by Samantha Bliss-Red Follows Her Bliss Photography

Family Jones Spirit House | Unique Drinks & Surprising Eats

The Family Jones Spirit House, a distillery and tasting room featuring crafted spirits and food, opened this Saturday, Nov. 11 in LoHi next door to Root Down. The location is fitting, as one of the “family members” is Justin Cucci, chef and owner of Root Down, among other notable Denver restaurants. The rest of the “Jones Family” includes pioneering distiller Rob Masters and entrepreneurs Jack Pottle, Denielle Nadeau and Paul Tamburello, and bar manager Nick Touch creating what could be the ultimate blended family. “One of the perks of being an adult is choosing your family,” said Pottle. “Another perk is choosing your home away from home, and now we have that place: The Family Jones Spirit House.” The new venue emphasizes the relationship between distiller, chef, bartender and guest, with a focus on hospitality.

Designed and built by Tres Birds Workshop, the space was really cool, pairing industrial elements with rich wood details. The high ceiling showcases the second-floor loft where a beautiful 17-ft. copper still distills their special spirits - everything from vodka to gin, whiskey and rum. The still is a beautiful, shining focal point above the crescent concrete bar below. Guests enter the space through a large, square, wooden door made from reclaimed, on-site materials. Inside, they are met with juniper-lined concrete walls (a nod to the key flavor component in gin), low-slung seating, deep blue booths and soft lighting.

“We are making things that push the boundaries of a traditional cocktail bar; we are putting our own spin on it,” explains Masters. “This is a distiller’s dream – to create all sorts of crazy things in small batches. It’s a test kitchen: If it doesn’t work, we can try something new.” Cucci agrees and says his collaboration on The Family Jones was a no-brainer, “Getting to work with Chef Tim Dotson and Bartender Nick Touch, as well as entrepreneurs like Paul and Jack has been incredible; we are all committed to excellence. What we have come up with is a surprise, and we are excited to share it with Denver.”

Their experimentation and surprise elements extend to both the food and cocktail offerings. The menu offers 12-15 small plates, as well as a variety of cocktails made exclusively with The Family Jones spirits, which we sampled during their preview party. Both menus are designed to be clean, vibrant, accessible and had a wide range of flavor profiles and unique ingredient pairings like their classic martini that uses a house-made crème de violet and crème de cacao to add a unique twist. Their Rock-n-Rye blends Stop Gap Rye whiskey with a selection from the more than 100 botanicals and spices made in their distillation lab upstairs! Highlights from Executive Chef Tim Dotson’s menu include three-cheese fondue, served in an heirloom pumpkin with vegetable skewers, and a spin on pork and beans with house-made sausage, heirloom beans, sour cherries, pistachio, collard greens and a chorizo vinaigrette. A tableside bar-cart tasting service rounds out the eclectic, one of a kind experience at The Family Jones.

The Family Jones Spirit House is open from 4-10 p.m. Tuesday—Thursday; 3 p.m. to 12 a.m. Friday; 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. Saturday; and 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. www.TheFamilyJones.co

Words by Tiffany Candelaria          Photos by Samantha Bliss

Bremen’s Wine & Tap Brings Seasonal Fine Dining to LoHi

The Ultra5280 crew had the opportunity to dine at the new LoHi restaurant Bremen’s Wine & Tap in anticipation of their new Fall/Winter menu that debuted Monday, October 23. We were very impressed with the variety of dishes, the quality of food and flavors, and the overall presentation, complete with drink pairings. While savoring, we got to know new Executive Chef Isabel Ranney, Bremen’s eco-friendly practices, and learned the restaurant is entirely woman-owned!  Bremen’s Wine & Tap features handcrafted, seasonal, American cuisine, craft cocktails, local beers, and an extensive wine list.

“The inspiration behind the menu is based on the seasonality of the produce and of the herbs and spices that are beneficial to our bodies at this time of year,” said Chef Isabel. “Also, I cook food that I like to eat. The fall menu includes soul-warming dishes that are perfect for the cool weather. The new items are a play on comfort foods that people crave when the weather is cold, but they are refined.”  The new menu includes a Seasonal Butcher Board, Kale and Beet Salad, a Farro Bowl, Duck Breast, and a Prime Rib Sandwich. Especially fun for the season are their Pumpkin Coconut Chai Martini and the Earl Grey Old Fashion.

Maple Duck Breast

Prior to becoming executive chef, Chef Isabel was the sous chef at Bremen’s and previously at the Magnolia Hotel. She has held a number of positions across Colorado and in Washington since starting in the restaurant industry when she was 15-years-old. Aside from her spectacular, seasonal dishes, we love her commitment to the environment, ensuring good practices in both the front and back of the house. She has spearheaded the restaurant’s composting program, aims to use every ingredient in three different ways, and always works to improve their carbon footprint. Chef Isabel is a certified herbalist and uses this knowledge to incorporate ingredients that are beneficial to our health and energy per the season, “The lamb shank uses elderberries and rosehips which are packed with antioxidants and are antiviral, so they help people’s immune systems without them even realizing because of how delicious it tastes.” She also focuses on growing relationships with farmers and vendors to bring the best ingredients into the restaurant and its guests. What a woman, and what a chef!

Butcher Board

Both Chef Isabel and owner Dina Castillo have truly taken the time to make their dining experience as environmentally friendly and Colorado based as possible. Chef Isabel serves her Butcher Board on a rustic wood board from Colorado beetle-killed trees, and picks fresh produce and herbs for a farm called Rebel Farms located right here in Denver. They have a strong passion for supporting local businesses, so at Bremen’s you will see local beers and wines from all around the state, including right here in Denver. While digging into the dishes, we also learned the name Bremen’s was created from a favored children’s book that was written about the city of Bremen, Germany.

Whether you’re in the neighborhood, live on the other side of town, or are just visiting Denver, Bremen’s is a must visit within the thriving culinary scene here in Denver. With their wide variety of dishes and drinks, there is something for everyone. Bremen’s is open for dinner Monday - Saturday, happy hour daily from 4 to 6 p.m. with lady’s wine night on Wednesdays, and brunch on Saturday and Sunday beginning at 11 a.m. Read on for a detailed description of the dishes we devoured and photographed.  http://www.bremenswinetap.com/

Asparagus Tartare

Asparagus Pear Tartare: This dish is a play off traditional tartare, featuring raw asparagus finely diced, mixed with red onion, scallions, avocados, pears, pear-herb vinaigrette, and surrounded by heirloom grape tomatoes, tangerine oil and topped with crispy asparagus ribbons. Served with house made lavash rubbed with jalapeno agave syrup.

Butcher Board: Chef’s choice (changes bi weekly) of charcuterie and cheese, house made grain mustard and pickled vegetables. We tasted Prosciutto di Parma – aged 18 months, High West Whiskey Salami, Ossau-Iraty (French sheep’s milk cheese, dates back to one of the first cheese ever made), and the aged English Cheddar. Also served on this beautiful beetle kill board from Colorado, are house-pickled, seasonal vegetables. Boards come with toasted sourdough bread from local bakery, Hinman’s, “34 Degrees” crackers and salted almond crackers.

Maple Leaf Duck Breast: House made potato gnocchi that are seared to create a crispy outer glaze. The gnocchi get tossed with a wild mushroom and leek mixture deglazed with white wine and finished with butter and fried sage.

Sea Scallops with Risotto

Fresh Catch of the Day: Three pan-seared sea scallops served atop a bacon and corn risotto, topped with a red wine vinegar reduction and fried mint. (This was divine!)

Isabel’s Seasonal Crumble: Tequila-soaked pears topped with Bremen’s secret pecan crumble, served with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream.

Words by Tiffany Candelaria        Photos by Samantha Bliss

Slow Food Nations Festival | Coming to CO for the First Time

Have you heard, Denver is gearing up for Slow Food Nations, a unique food festival coming to Colorado for the first time! Their movement focuses on peoples’ access to grow and share good, clean and fair food throughout the world. The weekend will combine the energy of a street food festival, the rigor of an academic conference, and the inspiration of a cultural exchange allowing guests to pick and choose their experience. Enjoy dozens of interactive workshops, delicious tastings, local tours, educational talks, and many meals and parties around town. Slow Food Nations connects farmers and families, leaders and eaters to share our stories and shape the future of food. The main festival is free and open to the public, with select-ticketed workshops, talks, dinners and tastings.

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The free festivities include an array of culinary demonstrations, guest appearances, tastings, and other entertainment. The Taste Marketplace at Larimer Square will feature international pavilions, local producers, and a variety of concessions. Slow Food Italy, Mexico, and Turtle Island will be featured in international pavilions and over 100 exhibitors of good, clean, fair food will be featured in the Taste Marketplace to tell their stories and let you sample and buy their delicious products. The exhibitor space will be open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 15th and 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 16th. Also ongoing, The Food Underground, is a series of discussions, workshops, talks and panels located in the gallery rooms in the basement of Union Station. These free talks will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, focusing on topics like food justice and access, agricultural policy, the science and history of food, sustainable seafood, and more. Outside you’ll find The Denver Union Station Farmers Market on the plaza from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday featuring over 40 local Colorado producers and live music.

To kick off Slow Food Nations Friday night, they’ll be throwing an all-inclusive Colorado-Made Block Party on Larimer Square to celebrate Colorado farmers, ranchers, producers and chefs. Featuring Colorado food through demonstrations and tastings and drinks at the Colorado-Made bar showcasing the best spirits, beer and wine Colorado has to offer. Tickets are $69

Saturday, July 15, Chef Sheila Lucero from Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar will host an Oyster 101 Workshop with celebrated Baja Chef Drew Deckman as well as Chef Renee Erickson from Seattle. As part of Slow Food Nations’ educational curriculum, guests at this special event will get to learn about oysters from 3 different regions—Baja, the Pacific Northwest, and Virginia—and taste a signature dish from each chef, showcasing the unique qualities of each oyster. “We are so excited for Slow Food Nations,” Chef Lucero, “some of the country’s most talented, informed, and influential chefs and purveyors are coming to our city to share ideas and celebrate our country’s incredible culinary traditions.” Tickets $40

If you’re still craving more on Sunday, you should get tickets to Big Bad Breakfast Block Party with John Currence, James Beard Award winner and Top Chef Masters contestant. John gathers his big bad friends to cook up the ultimate southern brunch and Bloody Mary bar. Recipes from his best-selling book, Big Bad Breakfast, will be highlighted in this all-inclusive brunch party 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Tickets $69

Slow Food is a global, grassroots organization, founded in 1989 to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast life and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat and how it affects the world around us. Since its beginnings, Slow Food has grown into a global movement involving millions of people in over 160 countries working to ensure everyone has access to good, clean and fair food.

There are so many amazing events, demonstrations and tastings to choose from it can be hard to coordinate them all, so the site provides some curated sample schedules to help you find the best events to match your interests: https://slowfoodnations.org/sample-schedules/

Free Taste Marketplace: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 15th & 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 16th.

 https://slowfoodnations.org/

 

Brider | Fine Food, Casual Setting

Executive Chef Steven Redzikowski is known for his restaurants OAK at Fourteenth and Acorn, which regularly appear on the list of best restaurants in Denver/CO. He now leads Brider, a casual rotisserie and seasonal market concept on Platte Street that doesn’t require reservations or a special occasion to fine dine. “Our new restaurant Brider is about delivering a more casual environment, but still delivering what our guests at Acorn and Oak expect from us,” says GM Jason Isch. Brider’s passionate team delivers a level of quality and craftsmanship that is unmatched in casual dining, promising only made-from-scratch, ingredient-driven offerings prepared with the utmost care and attention. “At Brider, we'll be sourcing the same great products but simplifying them, that also makes them easy to package for take-out, which has been popular here” explains Isch

Brider offers breakfast, lunch and dinner menus focusing on a selection of composed, rotisserie-centric dishes straight from Brider’s state-of-the-art Rotisol oven along with seasonal soups, salads, and sandwiches. We ordered the OAK meatball sandwich and the rotisserie porchetta dinner plate with a side of sweet potato tots. The OAK meatball was delicious and very hearty making it worth the $12. The meatballs were seasoned and juicy, surrounded by melted provolone, pesto and fresh marinara. Overall it was one of the best meatball sandwiches we’ve eaten.

The rotisserie porchetta dinner was wonderful as well, very succulent with an herb-laden, crunchy crust. The dinner plates offer a selection of “styles” for your dish, which gives the diner different flavors and sides to choose from. We chose the lemon and chili wilted kale “style” which was a delicious accompaniment of greens with zest. Speaking of zest, Brider even makes their own dips and hot sauces which we tried a few of. There was a cilantro jalapeno aioli that came with our order of tots that was an elevated alternative to the normal ketchup or ranch dressing and an amazing hot sauce they compare to Chalula, but is much better. It has really prominent smoked/roasted chili flavors, a mild to moderate amount of heat and the right amount of thickness so it wasn’t as runny or vinegar laden as some popular hot sauces. We loved it and apparently so do many other patrons as Brider has decided to bottle and sell it!

The drink menu, led by Beverage Director Bryan Dayton is just as impressive, with as much attention to ingredients and craftsmanship going into their lineup of beer, cocktails, coffee and wine on tap. “It’s Brian’s thing, being a former ‘Bartender of the Year’, to come up with a selection of craft cocktails and homemade drinks, which then led to doing everything in house, from sodas to coffee syrups,” explained GM Jason Isch. “He’s also gotten the staff involved in the fun by teaching them all how to make homemade Kombucha and letting them get creative with flavors that change regularly.” The taps also change, with 6 for beer and 4 for wine, and the other 8 are cocktails, Boxcar Roasters nitro-tap coffee, and house made ginger beer and root beer. We ordered the root beer and it tasted like the old-fashioned, less-sugary version of todays typical can and their Chai Latte, which we were surprised to learn (we hadn’t caught on yet apparently), they also make themselves! The Chai was robust but the right blend of sweet and spicy, and would be a great complement to one of their homemade pastries.

We were told their Fritter was actually an award winner and a must try. We of course did try and fell in love with the flaky, sugar coated, treat that was somewhat reminiscent of a funnel cake but with more flavor.  Their lemon meringue cake and coconut cream pie was also featured that day and they were too delicious not to finish. As you walk into Brider you are presented with their beautiful array of desserts and specials for the day. It makes it really hard to pass up on the desserts and we recommend you take one to go.

Our dining experience was just how GM Isch described it: laid back, top-quality, delicious and easy. We were very impressed with all of the flavors, homemade drinks and desserts, attention to detail, diverse menu options, and price point. They even have free parking and fun music! We will be back~

Open daily 8:00am - 9:00pm - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Carryout.Happy hour specials 3-6 p.m. featuring $3.50 beers, $1 off all drinks, and $2 pizza slices.  http://www.denverbrider.com/

Treat Yourself this Valentine's

Now that the Super Bowl is behind us, we can turn our/our s.o.’s attention towards Valentine’s Day! No matter your “status”, it’s a great excuse to treat yourself, and we like to do that with a night out at a new restaurant. Valentine’s is next Tuesday and many Denver restaurants are offering special dinners, menu items, or events. Here are a few on our radar that showoff the delicious diversity of the Denver dining scene. Cheers love bugs~

Ace Eat Serve is offering a luxurious prix fixe meal for two for $100 Friday, February 10 – 14th. Or if you’re looking for a more affordable, fun vibe, consider entering the weekly Tuesday ping pong tourney on Valentine’s evening, or simply gather a group to play a few rounds for fun (Ace has 11 ping pong tables). Plus, the $1 spicy Asian BBQ wings, $5 Bulleit Bourbon specials, and $20 bottles of Prosecco are the perfect pairing.

Beatrice & Woodsley, the beautiful wooded restaurant on Broadway, is throwing the ultimate Galentine’s Day dinner party for 16 guests, below the main dining room in their private wine cellar. Along with a cupid piñata filled with secret gifts and treats, bubbles and delicious food will be bountiful at this female-only, community-style dinner! For $48 per person, guests will enjoy a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception at 6:30, followed by a three-course prix fixe menu, with optional wine pairings available. Reservations are required (303) 777-3505.

11th annual Wine & Chocolate Weekend at Bonacquisti Wine Co, February 11th, 6p-9p and Feb. 12th, 1p-4p. 2016. The pairings include:  Sparkling Riesling with Cashew S'more Toffee
[d] RED with Jamon Serrano and Manchego Cheese Truffle
2015 Cabernet Sauvignon with Manhattan Truffle
Sangria with Sangria Truffle

Tickets are $30 ($25 for Wine Club members). https://www.bonacquistiwine.com/collections/frontpage/products/2017-wine-chocolate-weekend

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House is celebrating Friday, Feb. 10 – Feb. 14 with Oysters & Pearls For Two, $48 Chilled Oysters on the Half Shell, Caviar Mignonette paired with 2 Glass of Veuve Clicquot Champagne or Grey Goose VX Vodka. Or Chateaubriand For Two,  $130 Roasted & Sliced Tenderloin, Butter Poached Lobster, Green & White Asparagus with Hollandaise, Peppercorn Sauce and Bordelaise.

Guard and Grace downtown is offering a full weekend of Valentine’s Day features February 10-14. Specials include an extravagant 45-Day Dry-Aged Ribeye with Périgord black truffles & sauce perigueux and for dessert an Aphrodite’s Sphere with macadamia pecan brownie, milk chocolate mousse, passion fruit cream, chocolate five-spice ganache, and caramel.

Infinite Monkey Theorem GALentine's Day! Ladies will receive 20% their tabs all night long 4-10pm. So grab your gals and head down for a little “Valenwine”. The following night, IMT will be holding a “Wine & Cheese Me” night, February 15th. 6:30-8:30pm. The Truffle Table will be there to host a wine and cheese pairing of 5 wines and 5 cheeses at $35/person. Reservations are required - email or call 303-736-8376 x4 to reserve your spot.

Jax Fish House in Glendale is offering a romantic prix fixe menu of sustainably-caught seafood specialties. Dinner begins at 4pm and is $65 per person for 3-courses, and an a la carte menu will be available at the bar as well. In addition, Jax will offer 25% off bottles of wine $50 or over.

Jax Fish House in LoDo is also offering a special prix fixe menu for the evening showcasing some of the finest delicacies of the land and the sea, with raw bar selections and an optional wine pairing. The 4-course dinner is $75 per person and the wine pairing is an additional $35.

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La Sandia Northfield and Park Meadows Valentines Day 4-course modern Mexican dinner $32 each or ala carte option. Includes soup or salad, tuna tartar, tamales, pollo, steak, and a Mexican cheesecake or chocolate mousse to savor.

La Guera, Richard Sandoval's new gastro-cantina, is having an anti-Valentine’s Day special, with all drinks buy one get one free and $2.00 tacos.

 LA GUERA - DENVER

LOLA is making date night all the more romantic this Valentine’s Day with a complimentary glass of bubbles and chef’s specials like Whole Maine Lobster Zarandeado, Lover’s Parrillada, and Mexican Chocolate Covered Strawberries (ordered in advance). Dinner reservations start at 5:00 p.m. and are not required but are strongly recommended. An abridged version of the regular menu will also be available. And the Saturday night before LOLA is hosting a Singles Salsa Mixer 9:00 -11:00 p.m. with DJ Joseph Snowhawk spinning some spicy Latin tunes for guests to get down to, cover free.

Los Chingones locations in RiNo and DTC have created a Valentine’s Day feature called Aphrodisiac Valentines Taco. It has seared swordfish, artichoke & smoked Fresno chili puree, fresh arugula salad tossed in rose water/pomegranate/honey vinaigrette, and chili-spiced pepitas for $5 each.

Mister Tuna, trendy new cocktail bar and Hawaiian-influenced restaurant by Troy Guard, is offering a 4-course prix-fixe menu for $69pp or $99pp, with beverage pairings. http://www.mistertuna.com/

Nocturne Jazz invites you to celebrate Valentine's Day in proper fashion with a special four-course tasting menu set to the music of Nat King Cole performed by the Paul Musso Trio. Tickets/Reservations required and you can choose between an early 5:30pm set or a late 8:30 pm set.

Postino Wine Café will have $5 glasses of Mercat Sparkling Rosé and Ioppa Rosé of Nebbiolo, from open ’til close (11 a.m. – 11 p.m.). Got a date? From 8 p.m. on, take advantage of the Tuesday night Board and Bottle special: a bruschetta board and bottle of wine for $20. It’s easily to fall in love with a deal that good!

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Punch Bowl Social is a great escape from a dull night with darts, wall size scrabble, giant foosball table, ping pong, skee ball and bowling! Try out the featured February punch, Shot Through the Heart, made with Old Forester Bourbon, strawberry cinnamon shrub and Teakoe pear tea. Don’t forget to grab a photo in front of the famous I Love You wall.

Retrograde Speakeasy & Frozen Matter Ice Cream are a dynamic duo, scooping up sweet treats in front and crafting cocktails behind the freezer door in one dynamic space.  If you haven’t heard of this place yet, it’s a great date spot and they’ve made a special batch of ice cream for February. Rose Tyler has rose water, elderflower liqueur and vanilla. And/or you can get a bottle of wine or two cocktails of choice and an ice cream sundae for $45.

Vesta has been named the “Most Romantic Restaurant” or “Best Date Night” spot in Denver year and again. This year, new Executive Chef Nicholas Kayser has cooked up a menu of sure-fire romantic dishes perfect for sealing the deal along with their special craft cocktails.

La Güera | High End Eats Meet Low Prices

You probably know by now the Ultra5280 staff loves tacos and that we also love delicious but affordable food. While there are many great places in Denver for tasty tacos, mile high nachos, and cheesy quesadillas, there aren’t as many that serve it in style and at a great price.

 LA GUERA - DENVER

This Mexican beauty is internationally known chef-restaurant owner Richard Sandoval’s newest culinary venue, La Güera. It’s styled as a casual gastro-cantina with an order up counter by day, perfect for short lunch breaks, but transforms come 5pm into a more swanky, sit down, full-service restaurant. However, no matter the time from 11am-11pm the affordable, a la carte menu remains. The prices get even better between 3-7pm Monday through Friday during Happy Hour though, when you can get the quesadillas, nachos, tacos, margaritas, beers and wine for a fine $4!

Starters at La Güera include Crispy Bacon Guacamole and Tortilla Soup, which we had to try. The bacon guacamole is fully loaded with bacon crumbles, onion, pico de gallo, cilantro and cotija cheese, to the point where every one of those ingredients are in each scoop you take. The Tortilla Soup was thick, flavorful and not spicy, which really surprised us that it didn’t have cream added. Instead it was all just hearty, healthy chilies! Taking the soup to the next level is shredded chicken, avocado chunks, crema fresca and tiny tortilla strips. This soup is a must get, and for $3 I seriously don’t know where you could find a better soup, at this size, at this price. Really, I’ve been on a soup hunt since our first dusting of snow. 

Antojitos are the main courses here and display the inventive cuisine for which Sandoval has become famous, yet in the form of favorites you crave when heading to a Mexican restaurant. You’ll find Carne Asada Sopes, Chicken Flautas, Enchiladas, Nachos and seven types of tacos.  We tried the veggie taco with roasted peppers, guacamole, and smoky seasoned pumpkin seeds. It was a delicious dish with winter warming flavors. The chicken enchilada was also good, but not drenched in a red or green sauce like you usually see. Instead it had pickled chilies and a light dollop of sour cream, cheese and salsa on top. The chicken flautas were also tasty and topped with chopped romaine and pico de gallo that added some healthy freshness to chicken wrapped in a deep fried shell. We also thought it important to try one of the less traditional Mexican dishes on the menu, perhaps a Sandoval original, the Tlayudas. This was described as a Mexican pizza, and while it comes close in appearance it’s very different in taste. Instead of dough it has a crispy, thin corn base then bean puree is spread on and topped with Oaxaca cheese, pico, salsa, and avocado. You can also add on spicy shrimp, chapulines, or chorizo. Sandoval displays his creative talent yet again with this Mexican pizza.

While at first glance the menu may seem small, that’s really just the size of the paper fooling you. The menu covers all the bases and leaves room for the sweet stuff with a couple of homemade desserts and Aguas frescas, Café, cocktails, craft beers, wine and more than 200 tequilas! And if all this isn’t reason enough to go, the interior ambiance of the place is really inviting, comfortable and fun. Inspired by the streets of Mexico, La Güera features hand painted murals from local artists, Mexican blankets on the booths, and other thoughtful touches. All of these qualities were important to Sandoval in creating La Güera as a place people could come to relax and transport themselves away from their busy days, whether it just be for quick lunch or for a leisurely dinner or drinks with friends. We definitely recommend you go try La Güera, as it offers many great eats one would find at a refined Mexican restaurant with ambiance to match, but with prices you’d expect at a hole in the wall. Viva los tacos!

 LA GUERA - DENVER

http://www.richardsandoval.com/laguera/

Tiffany Candelaria

Vesta gets a makeover & cocktails featured in Winter Warmer

Vesta first opened in 1997 and the original owner Josh Wolken still leads the team and continues to combine positive energy, genuine hospitality, philanthropy and fun in all that Vesta does. For these reasons, along with a wonderful menu, Vesta has been a mainstay in the coveted downtown area for nearly 20 years. Downtown and Denver as a whole has undergone many changes the past 20 years and Vesta has made sure to evolve with the times and trends, while keeping true to its roots to ensure longtime diners as well as new enjoy their visit to Vesta.

The most recent and notable evolution introduces Executive Chef Nicolas Kayser, coming all the way from Hong Kong! He fits in perfect actually, as he grew up here in Denver and received his degree from the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Colorado. After time in New York, Las Vegas and Hong Kong, diners can trust Kayser to continue the world cuisine concept of Vesta while bringing a new and fresh approach to the menu format and culinary style.

The new samplings we tried at their Happy Hour were really delicious and each unique in flavor and form. A couple standouts included their reimagined Tuna Poke spiced up with wasabi, jalapeno ponzu and fresh ginger. Their Tempura shrimp was tasty dipped in their house made sambal aioli containing 10 different chilies! (It’s much more flavorful than it is spicy). A Char Siu Pork Belly app was tender and decadent, topped with yuzu aioli, orange and cilantro. For dinner, the Colorado Rack of Lamb was phenomenal accompanied with crispy polenta, fennel, orange, black mission fig gastrique, and a tzatziki sauce.

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Dessert was also a creative, worldly blend of flavors created by pastry chef Nadine Donovan. We tried opposite ends of the spectrum with the Southern-inspired sweet potato beignets with toasted marshmallow and the tropical passion fruit tart with coconut macaroon crust and raspberry sauce. The beignets themselves weren’t that sweet for the dessert category, but all of the little sauces and sides made them magical. The passion fruit cake was very sweet, but in a fruity way that makes it seem light, despite its rich creaminess. Basically, I could gobble up four of these before realizing I was full, and then still might have a couple more bites because it’s delicious and something you hardly see on a menu.

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Vesta’s cuisine is complemented by a thoughtful, diverse six-page wine list, draft and bottled beer, and an upgraded cocktail menu offering both classic and contemporary variations with top local spirits. Vesta’s barrel-aged drinks provide the backbone for a new list of cocktails focused on fresh ingredients, seasonal flavors, and creative combinations. For dark spirit drinkers we recommend the Sherry Cobbler, The 7th Son, Apple Sidecar, and two of which you can find on the Passport Program’s Denver Winter Warmer - Do You Remember and Where the Buffalo Roam.

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The Winter Warmer Passport is a field guide for great winter inspired drinks in the form of a booklet with 2 for 1 drink offers at a collection of Denver’s coziest and booziest spots in town. The offers run from Dec 1st through March 15th, those bleak, frozen months you’ll need it the most. The warm, inviting vibe Vesta has always been known for got even hotter with new lighting and various design embellishments. Vesta’s Barrel-aged Do You Remember is made with Rittenhouse bonded rye, Montenegro Amaro, Leopold bros tart cherry liqueur, yellow chartreuse, and orange bitters. The Where the Buffalo Roam cocktail is Old Granddad 114 bourbon, Laird’s applejack, sage, house made grenadine, ginger beer, and peychaud’s bitters. For those who don’t splurge on fancy craft cocktails, the Winter Warmer offers the perfect excuse to finally treat yourself (or others) this holiday season! So get your Passport and head to Vesta for a cocktail, the ambience and the delightful dining.

Denver Winter Warmer 2016

Denver Winter Warmer 2016