A Corner of N’Awlins Now in Boulder

French Quarter Brasserie now open on Pearl Street Mall. 

After months of renovations to turn the former Paradise then Panera bakery space into a restaurant, the French Quarter Brasserie opened last Friday in Boulder. We went this evening, and considering that this is the third location (Washington, D.C., and Fairfax, Virginia being the first two), this restaurant just didn’t seem ready for prime time.

The décor is simple with barely adorned brick walls and low lights. The jazz is LOUD. But then again, almost every eatery in Boulder these days is LOUD — some worse than others. The restaurant is just one door away from Broadway, so  traffic noise and busker noise (the one outside today was blowing a trumpet and tap dancing) compete with the music.

Ringside table for the passing parade on the Mall — this being one little moment when no one was walking by.

The awning says “French Quarter Brasserie and Oyster Bar.” I don’t know where they hid the oyster bar, but I sure didn’t see one. A few minutes after 6, there were a handful of happy hour lingerers on the patio,  only one party in the large restaurant area and no one at the bar. Still, service was pitifully slow. There was a hostess, a bartender and (I think) three waiters, but I wonder whether there was anyone in the kitchen. One supposed-to-be hot entrée and one salad took a very long time to come out. And even then, cold  rice was not  most promising  foundation for the classic red beans, andouille sausage (veggie version) and rice dish.

Fried foods dominate, so the still-gleaming kitchen has a six-basket Fryolator.

I don’t know what the East Coast locations are like, or whether this one will survive or thrive, but I’m disinclined to return — except perhaps for $1 oysters at happy hour. I wonder what happy hour wine pricing might be, because my very modest pour of rosé was $10 at dinner.

Red beans, andouille sausage and rice was supposed to come with corn bread but it didn’t. We didn’t notice — and neither did our waiter.
A salad of “blackened” mahi-mahi atop spinach, tomatoes and cucumbers served with an indiscernible amount of Parmesan, croutons and blood orange vinaigrette.
A shareable trio of beignets — chocolate, classic and honey — with an appropriately generous amount of powdered sugar.

Price check: At dinner, starters, $10-$25; entrées, $18-$35; entrée accoutrements (i.e., sides), $6-$12. No desserts are priced on the dinner menu. At lunch, they are $5-$8.

1207 Pearl Street, Boulder. No local phone number yet on the website.

Potato Day & Potato Fest

Celebrating the spud nationally and in Colorado.

Today, August 19, is National Potato Day — right between National Fajita Day (yesterday) and World Humanitarian Day (tomorrow).  Potato promoters offer up statistics and recipes galore, but for Coloradans, the real celebration is Saturday, September 9 when the annual Colorado Potato Festival takes place in the San Luis Valley.

Monte Vista in the southern part of the valley hosts the festival in Chapman Park (4 Chico Camino, Monte Vista), 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The day is filled with mostly FREE fun activities and events like the Tater Trot 5K Race, music, crafts, guided tours, kids’ games, chef demos using freshly harvested Colorado potatoes, the infamous Mashed Potato Dunk Tank and more.

There’s a free four-hour bus tour of the valley’s potato farms  and shipping centers and two one-hour train tours, also free  courtesy of the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad.  Contact the Colorado Potato Assn. (719-852-3322) to reserve spots on the bus. but you can just show up for the train. It departs from Fullenwider Park, so there’s a free tractor-pulled shuttle between the two parks.

At 5 p.m., a concert by country star Brooke Eden takes place at the Ski Hi Park Arena, 2331 Sherman Ave., Monte Vista. Tickets are just 15. Purchase on-line before August 25 and be automatically entered into a drawing for four tickets to Coors Field for the Rockies versus the Diamondbacks and parking.

2018 Denver Dining Passbook on Pre-Sale Now

The 2017-18 Denver Dining Passbook, known for two-for-one entrée deals and other benefits, is on pre-sale now, making the savings even sweeter starting now and valid though August 15, 2018. Hurry, because the special is on only until August 31. Even though we live Boulder, I ordered one, because it only takes a couple of dinners out to break even — and then, it’s pure savings.

The Passbook features some 90 restaurants, including 30 new ones like Mizu Izakaya, Departure, Candela Latin Kitchen and the soon-to-open FNG Restaurant.  Buy now for $39 including shipping (way down from the regular cost of $99 plus shipping) for a year’s worth of dining deals. Click here an enter promo code PBPRESALE2017.

Participating Restaurants

10 Barrel Brewing Co., 1515 Restaurant, 801 Chop House, Adelitas Cocina Y Cantina, Adrift Tiki Bar, Aloy Thai, Atticus, The Avenue Grill, Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, Bar Dough, The Berkshire, Biju’s Little Curry Shop, Billy’s Inn, Blackbird Public House, Blue Island Oyster Bar, Blueprint Bar, Brider, Brodo Italian Scratch Kitchen, Broken Rice, bubu, BurgerFi, Butcher’s Bistro, Candela, The Cherry Tomato, CHUBurger, Corner Office, Crafty Fox, Denver Deep Dish, Departure, DiFranco’s, Dos Santos, El Jefe, Element Kitchen, Esters, FNG, Fish N Beer, Gaetano’s, Go Fish, Grind Kitchen + Watering Hole, Hashtag, Highland Tap & Burger, Hopdoddy Burger Bar, Humboldt Farm Fish Wine, Ignite Kitchen + Cocktails, Ink! Coffee, Jack’s Uptown Grille, Jax Fish House Glendale, Jett Asian Kitchen & Sushi Bar, Kachina, La Sandia, Leña, Lime, Little India 6th Avenue, Little India LoDo, Lo Stella Ristorante, The Lobby, LoHi Steakbar, Lola Mexican Fish House, Los Chingones, Low Country Kitchen, Lucky Pie, Marco’s Coal Fired Pizzeria, Marg’s Taco Bistro, Max’s Wine Dive, Mizu Izakaya, Modern Market, North County, Olive & Finch, Onefold, Park Burger, The Pig & The Sprout, PokeCity, Prohibition, range, Recess Beer Garden, Revelry Kitchen, The Rosedale, Scratch Burrito, Shells & Sauce, Ship Tavern, STK, Sushi Hai, Sushi Ronin, Tacos Tequila Whiskey, TAG Burger Bar, Tamayo, Tap & Burger at Sloan’s Lake, There…, Tupelo Honey, Uno Mas Taqueria, Urban Farmer, White Pie, The Wooden Table

Fabulous Franks in Colorado

Biker Jim’s cited, but Tenderbelly is best at home.

In a feature called “America’s Best Hot Dogs,Food & Wine tagged Biker Jim’s — the usual suspect in Colorado for interesting sausages of all sorts. Of this Denver institution that started as a cart on the 16th Street Mall and now has two restaurants (including Coors Field) and five carts, the magazine noted:

Jim Pittenger emphasizes sourcing ingredients as close to home as possible, then veers as far as he can imagine from the ballpark frank: elk and jalapeño cheddar; wild boar; rattlesnake. The franks are spilt, grilled till charred and loaded with Coca-Cola–soaked grilled onions and a drizzle of cream cheese.

For the rest, most seem to have been selected for the amount of stuff piled onto the franks — perhaps to disguise the taste. Not necessary (or desirable) with Denver-born Tenderbelly pork frankfurters, which are so good that they ought to be minimally adorned.

I don’t eat very much meat, but when I do, I want it to be really, REALLY good. Tenderbelly meats qualify.
These franks are so good that all you need to do is grill them and serve them on a lightly toasted bun with a bit of relish or mustard. Corn goes well for this summer treat.
No matter how good the base, my husband likes to gild the frankfurter, so to speak, by spreading some horseradish mayo on the bun and topping the hot dog with relish and mustard. With a combo like that ,he could go commercial too.

It’s available online via the company’s website.

Julia Child’s Editor Passes Away

Judith Jones who edited Child and other cookbook authors passes at 93.

Judith Jones, then an editor at Alfred A. Knopf, Julia Child’s publisher.

Without Judith Jones, who died a few days ago at age of 93, we might never know Julia Child — one of the country’s most influential cookbook authors. Ms. Jones had lived in Paris and knew a great deal about French cuisine and technique, when, as The New York Times wrote, in her obituary…

…a shopworn 800-page manuscript by three unknown women with no literary credentials landed on her desk at the Alfred A. Knopf publishing house in New York. The book, too long and with the uninspired title French Recipes for American Cooks, had been rejected by several other publishers.

Ms. Jones, who knew a great deal about French cooking from her years in Paris, began reading the manuscript and was so enthralled, she could not put it down. She took it home and tried some of the recipes, which proved to be magnificent. It was a lucid, approachable cookbook that took the mystery out of coq au vin and boeuf bourguignon and hundreds of dishes long thought to be too daunting for the American cook.

Her excellent radar for important books was also on during her Paris years, when she discovered The Diary of Anne Frank, and caused it to be published in English.

Click  here and here for Times reports and reminisces about her.

Kudos for Denver’s Señor Bear

Pan-Latin food and dynamite drinks earn LoHi eatery honors.

Whenever Zagat lists the best restaurants in select cities, Denver is always one of them. Here’s the shout-out in the site’s “Hottest Restaurants in 15 American Cities” post about Señor Bear, the site’s choice for the Mile High City. The “powerhouse team” referred to is headlined by Max McKissock, Blake Edmunds and Juan Padro and Katie O’Shea Padro. For McKissock, it’s a bit like old home week, since he was the chef at The Squeaky Bean, when it occupied the LoHi space.

Denver: Señor Bear
Built by the powerhouse team behind Bar Dough, this bright, breezy, instant destination in LoHi showcases the flavors of Latin America — from Peru to Puerto Rico — in both food and drink.

Must-order: Start with a pisco cocktail and any of the elegantly executed dishes comprising the mariscos section of the menu, including mofongo with shrimp and crab (pictured).

Insider tip: If you’re noise-sensitive, ask to sit on the patio — the small dining room can get extra-festive.

3307 Tejon St.; 720-572-5997

Brown Palace’s 125th Anniversary Feast

Denver’s legendary grand hotel’s suitably grand 7-course dinner.

Colorado Day (August 1) commemorated the 141st anniversary of our state’s entry into the Union. Just 16 years later, on August 12, 1892, the doors open to Denver’s splendid Brown Palace — a suitable hostelry for the booming Queen City of the Plains.

The hotel is celebrating its 125th with a weekend-plus of events (August 11-13). For well-heeled gourmands, the seven-course Degustation Menu in the posh Palace Arms restaurant has no peers.  Timothy Ralphs is The Brown’s new executive chef. The alumnus of Le Cordon Bleu in Scottsdale has cooked his way around the world, including a 2014 appearance at New York’s James Beard House. He came to The Brown from a private club in Palo Alto, California, and his first major event was this anniversary dinner about two months after his arrival here.

The elegant place setting for the 125th anniversary dinner. Perfect, isn’t it!

Here is the mouth-watering menu:

  • FOIE GRAS TORCHON Colorado peaches, burnt miso, basil
  • LOBSTER MELON SALAD caviar, chili, flowering herbs
  • NATIVE STRIPED BASS creamed corn pudding, roe, local summer squash in bloom
  • MARINATED LAMB grilled cucumber, curried yogurt, green almond tapenade, freekeh
  • COLORADO WAGYU BEEF carrots cooked in carrot pesto, charred beets
  • RIVER RUNS BLUE CHEESE whipped honey, shiro plum, casatiello
  • NEAPOLITAN ICE CREAM TERRINE huckleberry, vanilla, dark chocolate, cake

And here is one of the gorgeous dishes:

Lobster and Salad, presented in a caviar tin because — yes — it is kissed with caviar.

At $150 plus taxes, gratuities and wine or other beverages, there’s no question that the dinner is pricy. But nothing like this is likely to come along for the next quarter of a century. Click here to reserve for this memorable meal.

Claire Walter's Colorado-oriented but not Colorado-exclusive blog about restaurants, food and wine events, recipes and related news. For address of any restaurant, click on the Zomato icon at the end of the post.