Bar Helix | Easy on the Eyes & the Tongue

Bar helix, located in the RiNo District, recently launched a special, supplementary menu of twelve creative versions of the classic Negroni cocktail, becoming Denver’s only Negroni bar. Bar helix is a modern, sexy bar + lounge concept created by Advanced Sommelier Kendra Anderson (aka @SwirlGirlDenver) that showcases 16 sexy, innovative cocktails, alongside an extensive wine list and decadent small plates. Grape based spirits served up sexy is the underlying theme there.

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The Negroni was always Owner Kendra’s cocktail of choice, but it wasn’t always available at bars or the bartender wouldn’t know how to make it. In case you don’t know either, a Negroni is a classic Italian cocktail, made of one part gin, one part vermouth rosso, and one part Campari, garnished with orange peel. Bar helix’s signature Negroni features a Vermont gin that’s barrel aged and infused with honey, and a lesser known Campari - this drink glides down your mouth.

Kendra wanted to share her love of the Negroni with Denver through introducing and “educating” her guests to this classic cocktail, along with a variety of classic Negroni spin-offs, so everyone can find a version they love. She relishes in the opportunity the bar provides her to chat and interact with others about her extensive knowledge on spirits and wine - her and Bar Manager Victoria really know their stuff!

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On their new Negroni menu, guests will find a variety of versions from the familiar (Campari, Death’s Door gin, Dolin sweet vermouth) to the esoteric (Cappelletti aperitivo, Casa de Valor cava brut, and Casa Mariol vermut). From December 1 through 31, guests who drink any twelve full-sized negroni cocktails will win a holiday-themed negroni gift package, a $25 gift card to bar helix, and get entered in a drawing for a chance to win a $200 gift card to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts! They’ve coined it “The Twelve Negronis of Christmas”. Or, guests who sample twelve baby Negroni cocktails during the month of December will also win a special Negroni themed gift.

The luscious bites are also not to be missed. Kendra (who was once a chef) developed a “sexed-up bar food” menu along with Chef Sam who runs the kitchen. Bar helix makes 85% of the menu items in house, from deviled eggs and shrimp cocktail to the garnishes in you cocktail.

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Kendra’s vision to make great things accessible, like fine wine, champagne, caviar, and Negroni is absolutely apparent in bar helix and the aesthetics provide a sexy, yet sophisticated environment to take your mind off the mundane. We recommend you stop by for “Woman Crush Wednesdays”, a date night, or for an “Afternoon Delight” aka happy hour 4-7pm Wednesday-Sunday.

Visit barhelixdenver.com & follow @barhelixdenver on Facebook and Instagram

Words by Tiffany Candelaria @TCdoesFnB & Samantha Bliss @redcapturesherbliss

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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

The Perfect Place for Vegetarians and Carnivores to Dine Together


Cordon Bleu Sandwich

Cordon Bleu Sandwich

The Pig & The Sprout restaurant in Denver’s Union Station neighborhood embodies the dual nature of its name - featuring hearty, meat-based items and lighter, veggie and based items. The physical layout of the menu is split down the middle with meat-based, heavier ingredient dishes listed under “The Pig” side and vegetarian, even some vegan, dishes listed under “The Sprout” side. This place is perfect for those couples who each have entirely different eating habits or large groups! The same goes for the cocktails; you’ll find bold, whiskey, bourbon and beer based drinks and then light, clear spirits with fresh citrus or herbal ingredients on the other side. We can’t recall any restaurant we’ve been to with such a contrasted, and clearly divided menu as this… and we think it’s wonderful.

When Andy Ganick opened his long dreamed of The Pig & The Sprout last summer, he called it his "dream restaurant that would satisfy all." Ganick is on site most nights, but is also the owner of Stapleton’s popular Berkshire Restaurant that’s been serving “Swine, Wine and a Good Time” since 2007.

Eggplant Bruschetta

Eggplant Bruschetta

We had a good time and a great feast at The Pig & The Sprout last week and want to share our thoughts with you. We started with the Eggplant Bruschetta ($8) that was a very tasty "Sprout" starter consisting of fried eggplant, Boursin (soft, herbed) cheese, smoked tomato jam, and arugula which we really enjoyed. For our “Sprout” entree we ordered the Gnocchi, ($18) which was a wonderful vegetarian dish, but don't order it because you think it'll be lighter than something on the "Pig" side of the menu. In addition to the potato pillows (aka gnocchi), there were golden raisins, sunflower seeds, candied walnuts, butternut squash, Boursin cheese and arugula, all drizzled with browned butter sauce. This dish was decadent, filling and full of flavors.

Next, the Cordon Bleu ($14) sandwich was spectacular and is one of their most popular entree items, we get why. Every component from the toasted and mayo/fondue-slathered bun to the fantastic fried chicken made this sandwich a hit. The fried chicken is actually breaded with garbanzo beans, which gave it a more savory, nutty taste opposed to just fried crunchiness, and also makes it gluten free! In fact, you can make the whole sandwich gluten free with their special buns if you prefer.  

The Brussels Sprouts & Hogger

The Brussels Sprouts & Hogger

The final dish was over the top and was a popular item we just had to try for ourselves (and to tell you about!) It was a towering assortment of pulled pork, bacon, a kurobuta pork patty from Berkshire Farms and topped with apple slaw, pig chips, and mayo. It is aptly named The Hogger ($17) and is served with fries, but we got their Brussels Sprouts ($8) instead because we were told how great they were. We were very pleased with that suggestion and got a heaping dish full of the glazed, Parmesan dusted sprouts. These however are not on the "Sprout" side of the menu because they are cooked and served with bacon. We could barely have more than a bite of this final dish after everything that came before, but I can tell you the leftovers were just as great the next day.

We only ordered one cocktail and choose the Wild Boar, consisting of El Dorado 12 yr. rum, honey, black walnut bitters and served with a spear of Luxardo cherry and prosciutto. It was like a sweet Manhattan and tasted more like bourbon than typical rum, apparently 12 years of aging will do that. Some of the other cool cocktails are their four different Mules, a Chocolate Mint Porter, and an Apple Pie Martini and Mimosa. During Happy Hour (3-6pm & 11pm-2am), ALL drinks are 25% off!

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The space lends itself to a variety of personalities as well; climbing vines by the bar, antique books, garage door walls that open up to two outdoor patios, and sleek couches for lounging and community tables for making new friends. We thoroughly enjoyed this restaurant because it provides thoughtful, creative seasonal fare for vegans, vegetarians, gluten-free, and carnivors alike. Even the large drink menu nods to their split personality with clever, one of a kind cocktails paired to both palates.          https://www.pigandsprout.com

Words by Tiffany Candelaria        Photos by Samantha Bliss

Marcella's Ristorante | Italian Favorites & Our New Favorite Happy Hour

Outside & Inside

Outside & Inside

Italian cafe and restaurant, Marcella’s Ristorante, Pizzeria and Wine Bar, recently opened on Central St. in LoHi. Just by the looks of the beautiful façade and the extremely inviting, comfortable yet upscale interior, we knew this place would be a worthy addition in the distinguished Highlands restaurant scene.

Marcella’s was named after a house manager and chef at a villa in Tuscany, Italy, that founder Cameron Mitchell visited with his family. Cameron is an Ohio-based restaurateur who also runs two Marcella’s in Ohio as well as Ocean Prime on Larimer Square. Their Executive Chef Jacob Glowacki worked at several Cameron Mitchell Restaurants and also relocated to the Denver venue to head up Marcella’s here.

Braised Veal Meatball

Braised Veal Meatball

The menu features dishes such as a braised veal meatball with tomato sauce, wood-fired pizzas, pastas, chicken entrees, and Italian desserts. Their drink menu is just as expansive with a selection of 50 Italian wines served by the bottle, half bottle or glass, sangria, draft beers, and over a handful of interesting, Italian-geared cocktails with house-made liquors and syrups. What we were most impressed by was that such an upscale, lovely place offered such an incredible Happy Hour every Monday through Friday from 4 to 6pm! All the drinks are half off, meaning all the beer is only $3 and fancy cocktails $5.50! For Happy Hour food, the entire menu is half off minus the entrees, so salads, cured meats, cheeses, antipasti, appetizers, and even pizzas (gluten-free available) are half priced!

From Left: Milan Manhattan, Grapefruit Basil Fizz, Italian Rye

From Left: Milan Manhattan, Grapefruit Basil Fizz, Italian Rye

We sampled so many of these Happy Hour dishes that by the end it was clear Marcella’s definitely has one of the best bang-for-your-buck and largest Happy Hour selections in Denver. Our favorites were Grappa Cured Salmon, Braised Veal Meatball (they are known for this one), Melted Pecorino with crostini, apple and truffle honey, their Sweet Sausage with roasted peppers and cheese, and of course the Pizzas. We sampled the Crispy Potato Pizza which was a flavor overload in a good way, and the lighter, more mild Pesto Shrimp.

Crispy Potato Pizza top, Pesto Shrimp bottom

Crispy Potato Pizza top, Pesto Shrimp bottom

After all of this Happy Hour goodness we really didn’t need anymore food, especially as we already had full to-go boxes, but we forged ahead and tried their Gnocchi Bolognese and Spaghetti alla Carbonara. The Carbonara is made of only a few basic ingredients but was overly saturated with oil or butter, the Gnocchi was great however, hearty, flavorful and melted in our mouths. Other entrées we didn’t try but want to include a daily risotto, chicken marsala, linguine & clams, and the Chianti braised beef short rib.

Tiramisu and Chocolate Almond Cake

Tiramisu and Chocolate Almond Cake

For dessert we were treated to a traditional Tiramisu, a moist Chocolate Almond Cake, and their flaky Cherry Crustada that has a hint of almond and vanilla gelato on top. All three were delicious and met different flavor palettes, but the Cherry Crustada was our favorite.

We recommend you make your way to Marcella's  someday soon to fully indulge in all their Happy Hour has to offer - it's worth skipping out of work early for or fighting that 5 o' clock traffic! https://marcellasrestaurant.com/locations-menus/marcellas-denver/

Words by Tiffany Candelaria      Photos by Samantha Bliss