Snooze Poised to Grow

Denver-born breakfast restaurant group gets New York investor.

snooze-logoA decade ago, when Denver’s Ballpark neighborhood was beginning to take off, brothers Jon and Adam Schlegel established Snooze, an A.M. Eatery. In fact, it was born April 2, 2006, and became an instand hit, sparking a movement toward creative, breakfast-oriented restaurants. It became known for its “atomic age’ mid-20th-century décor, energetic atmosphere and friendly service — and of course, it’s great breakfast items.

There are now 17 Snoozes in Arizona, Texas and California as well as Colorado. The capital and managerial infusion comes from York’s Stripes Group. The big name, food industry-wise, is David Swinghamer, former CEO of Shake Shack. He and two other Stripes Group partners are said to be joining Snooze’s board of directors. Will this corporatize Snooze? Will there still be lines spilling onto the sidewalk? Will it loose its Ballpark soul?

Culinary Treasure in Old Town Erie

24 Carrot Bistro serves great cocktails & sublime food.

p1120723Until last night, I’d only eaten one dinner in Erie — years ago at my friend Kuvy Ax’s birthday dinner at a now-defunct Mexican restaurant. It was at Kuvy’s behest that I ate there again last night. This divine dinner was at 24 Carrot Bistro, a farm-to-table restaurant with a stellar pedigree. The eatery’s name comes from a play on words — 24 karat relating to the finest gold and carrots referencing a key ingredient in fine classic cuisine.

Not only are partners Bianca Retzloff and Kevin Kidd both chefs, but Bianca is the daughter of Mark Retzloff, founder and owner of Alfalfa’s Market  (now Markets, because there are three).  Between them, Bianca and Kevin had worked at Alfalfa’s and in various Boulder County restaurants (SALT, Colterra, Jax and others) before crossing the line to Weld County and Erie. This town has exploded with housing developments, but it lacked any good restaurants until July 2015 when 24 Carrot Bistro opened in an 1880 building, originally a butcher shop and most recently a steakhouse. Now exposed brick walls and exposed joists create a warm, rustic and hospitable look.

24 Carrots Bistro exemplifies the aesthetic of paring a building down to its bones -- exposed brick walls, exposed joists and minimal distracting decorations. Along one side is the bailiwick of D.J. Riemer and his behind-the-bar team, who mix great cocktails and conduct monthly mixology classes.
24 Carrot Bistro exemplifies the aesthetic of paring a building down to its bones — exposed brick walls, exposed joists and minimal distracting decorations. Along one side is the bailiwick of D.J. Riemer and his behind-the-bar team, who mix great cocktails and conduct monthly mixology classes. (Oliver Retzloff photo, courtesy 24 Carrot Bistro)
24 Carrots' skilled bartenders work with house-made liqueurs, digestifs, shrubs and spirits of various sorts. Their speciality is pre-Prohibition contails -- and contemporary ones too.
24 Carrot’s skilled bartenders work with house-made liqueurs, digestifs, tinctures, shrubs and spirits of various sorts, including on-site barrel-aging. Their specialty is pre-Prohibition cocktails — and contemporary ones too.

A blackboard near the entrance lists the local vendors they buy from, but being from Scituate, Mass., executive chef Kevin Kidd has a soft spot for fresh seafood so he has it flown in six days a week.

Elsewhere, calamri can be rubbery, but 24 Carrots' tender and crsisp-fried version might just be the best I've ever had. Chef Kevin soaks it buttermilk, coats in seasoned flour and fries it till it's
Elsewhere, calamari can be rubbery, but 24 Carrot’s tender and crisp-fried version might just be the best I’ve ever had. Chef Kevin soaks it in buttermilk, coats it in seasoned flour and fries it till it’s “just right” — like Baby Bear’s calamari would be. It comes with smears of basil aioli and Romesco, two Mediterranean-inspired sauces.
An elegant and delicious salad of roasted cauliflower, sliced apple, cpinack, celery. some cheddar, hazelnuts for crunch and an elegant cherry vinaigrette.
An elegant and delicious salad of roasted cauliflower, sliced apple, spinach, celery, some cheddar, hazelnuts for crunch and an elegant sherry vinaigrette.
The lighting did not flatter the roasted quail, but the cornbrad stuffing, bacon-braised collards and apple-cranberry compote made for a lovely homage to Thanksgiving.
The evening lighting did not flatter the roasted quail, but the cornbread stuffing, bacon-braised collards and apple-cranberry compote made for a lovely homage to Thanksgiving.
Pan-roasted red snapper with seared sweet potato, spinach, fennel and pistachio in a pool of red pepper/paprika butter sauce.
Pan-roasted red snapper with seared sweet potato, spinach, fennel and pistachio in a pool of red pepper/paprika butter sauce.
The interesting sweet potato cheesecake had a moist crumbly texture, not dissimilar to a rum cake. It is served with a cranberry-tarragon couli, some maple pecan pieces and a crown of whipped cream.
The interesting sweet potato cheesecake has a moist crumbly texture, not dissimilar to a  booze-free rum cake. It is served with a cranberry-tarragon coulis, some maple pecan pieces and a crown of whipped cream.
On a warmer evening, we might have had drinks on the cute little patio, but on a cold night, we went out for a peak at the near-dormant raised boxes where 24 Carrots chefs grow their own herbs,
On a warmer evening, we might have had drinks on the cute little patio, but on a cold night, we went out for a peak at the near-dormant raised boxes where 24 Carrot chefs grow their own herbs.

Price check: At dinner, appetizers, $7-$12 plus $14 for an artisanal cheese plate; salads, $6-$8; small plates, $12-$17; entrées, $17-30 plus $12 for a Bistro Burger; desserts, $7-$8 plus just $2 for a daily selection of mini-bites and ice cream/sorbet tastes.

24 Carrot Bistro is at 578 Briggs Street, Erie; 303-828-1392.

24 Carrot Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Frasca One America’s Top Restaurants — Again

Boulder’s finest recognized by eater.com once more.

Eater-logoHere is eater.com’s list of the 38 best restaurants in the country (red highlight is mine):

Al Ameer, Dearborn, MI | ★ Alinea, Chicago | ★ Benu, San Francisco | ★ Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, NY | Cosme, New York | ★ Eventide Oyster Co., Portland, ME | ★ FIG, Charleston, SC | ★Franklin Barbecue, Austin | ★ Frasca Food & Wine, BoulderGarcia’s Mexican Restaurant, San Antonio | Herbsaint, New Orleans | Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, AL | Hugo’s, Houston | ★ Husk Nashville, Nashville | Kachka, Portland, OR | Liholiho Yacht Club, San Francisco | Milktooth, Indianapolis | Miller Union, Atlanta | ★ Momofuku Noodle Bar, New York | Parachute, Chicago | Petit Trois, Los Angeles | La Petite Grocery, New Orleans | Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix | Poole’s Downtown Diner, Raleigh | ★ Prince’s Hot Chicken, Nashville | The Publican, Chicago | Raku, Las Vegas | ★ Roberta’s, Brooklyn | ★ Rose’s Luxury, Washington, DC | Saison, San Francisco | Sarma, Somerville, MA | Spoon and Stable, Minneapolis | Sqirl, Los Angeles | Szechuan Impression, Alhambra, CA | The Willows Inn, Lummi Island, WA | ★ Woodberry Kitchen, Baltimore | ★ Zahav, Philadelphia | Zuni Cafe, San Francisco

Not surprisingly, Boulder’s stellar Frasca again makes the list. The restaurant continues to dazzle Bill Addison, the site’s restaurant critic. Click here for his 2014 review and ode to Frasca partner and master sommelier Bobby Stuckey.

Denver Rises on Top Food Cities List

Mile High City on Zagat’s list of country’s  best cities for food.

Zagat-logoThe Zagat name has been synonymous with restaurant reviews and recommendations since Tim and Nina Zagat launched it in New York in 1982 as a compilation of diner reviews. It’s now an on-line empire with correspondents in what in considers to be worthy food cities. Zagat’s newly released list of “The 26 Hottest Food Cities of 2016.”

The write-up includes the links that Zagat typically inserts into all its posts, and the image accompanying the write-up is of Denver’s hot new Central Market in RiNo.

No. 3: Denver, CO

The best city for singles. For millennials. For entrepreneurs. For outdoorspeople. Over the past few years, Denver has ranked at or near the top of virtually every U.S. index there is; it was only a matter of time before outsiders “discovered” its dynamic dining scene too. This year alone, Nobu Matsuhisa, Gregory Gourdet, Deborah Schneider and Hugh Acheson staked claims here; Jeffrey Wall of Atlanta’s Kimball House is on his way, and so is the team behind New York’s Death & Co.

Meanwhile, there’s no stopping our homegrown talent. Beard award-winners Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson (Frasca) will be opening Tavernetta soon; fellow recipient Jennifer Jasinski (Rioja et al.) is expanding her mini empire with Ultreia. Rising stars like Hop Alley’s Tommy Lee, The Way Back’s Chad Michael George, Joshua Pollack of Rosenberg’s Bagels & Delicatessen and Bar Dough’s Mac MacKissock have swiftly garnered national acclaim. The spotlight that was already trained on our impressive field of food halls (The Source, Avanti F&B, Union Station) just intensified with the opening of The Central Market; Stanley Marketplace will be even bigger. And though Denver’s long been at the craft-brewing forefront, it’s poised to break whole new ground (theoretically, at least) with the legalization of cannabis use in restaurants and bars. Innovationwise, this is the wonderfully Wild West all over again.

Ruth Tobias

Lyons Liqueur Medals in New York

Local liqueur features decaf coffee & clean alcohol.

richardosbottleRichardo’s Decaf Coffee Liqueur, a 40-proof liqueur made with naturally decaffeinated coffee, pure vanilla and neutral grain spirits, was awarded a Silver Medal at the 7th Annual New York International Spirits Competition. It is the fifth international award win for Richardo’s, which can be used in cocktails, cooking and baking, and served neat or over ice. Do alcohol and decaf coffee cancel each other out?

Richard England makes his liqueur through a patent-pending process blending neutral grain spirits with England’s signature mix of naturally decaffeinated coffee, high-quality vanilla and other ingredients, then aged for at least 30 days. England and his wife, Linda, started making Richardo’s in small batches in 1986 , mainly for family and friends. In 2012, he teamed up with Spirit Hound Distillers to take his recipe to production scale while still keeping the rich, creamy and smooth taste of the liqueur intact.

According to England, Richardo’s Decaf Coffee Liqueur is made with high-quality vanilla and decaffeinated coffee, which requires less sugar to overcome the natural bitterness of caffeine.

Made just outside Denver in Lyons, Colorado, Richardo’s is available at Spirit Hound Distillers tasting room on the east side of in Lyons. We’ve passed it a million times en route to Estes Park. We’ve got to stop next time for a distillery tour and to try some Richardo’s. If you aren’t going though Lyons, click here for Colorado liquor stores and restaurant where you can find it.  4196 Ute Highway (US Highway 36), Lyons; 303- 823-5696 (tasting room) or 720- 636-4525.

Roger Beery & His Wines in the Wall Street Journal

jcagecellars-logoA few years ago, at a wine event in a LoDo loft, I met Colorado wine-lovers Roger and Donna Beery. We chatted pleasantly and exchanged cards.  I have periodically, but not recently, checked their Bacchus & Beery wine blog.  They now split their time between Austin and Healdsburg, CA, where they established J. Cage Cellars, a winery named after Roger’s great grandfather, a Texas bridge-builder. They refer to it as “their wine-stained dream” and in fact, that’s what they named their newsletter.

The Beerys and their grown children are building a reputation with their award-winning wines, including several golds in 2014, 2015 and 2016 at the Denver International Wine Festival competition.  The Wall Street Journal profiled them yesterday in a retirement piece called “At Last, Becoming a Winemaker.” Happy to share this recognition, and I hope to try their wines along the way.

Centro’s Good Food but Poor Service

Perhaps an anomaly — or perhaps wait staff has gone downhill.

centro-logoI’m not much of a shopper, but I do my modest best to support local independent businesses on Small Business Saturday, an annual antidote to Black Friday frenzy. A downtown Boulder bead shop had the earring wires I needed, one bookstore always has good deals on calendars, another carried the Pam Houston book I wanted to read and one of the two arts coops had a jigsaw puzzle I had my eye on to bring as a host/ess gift to friends’ annual holiday open house.

Even that little shopping made my husband and me hungry (in our defense, we’d eaten tiny breakfasts and hadn’t had lunch). We decided on Centro Latin Kitchen, whose weekend brunch was still in effect. We took a table on the covered patio, ordered drinks and food. The drinks — mercifully strong enough to mellow the irritation that followed — were more or less promptly delivered, but when it came to food, we waited and waited and waited.  And did I mention that we waited? One adjacent table turned over completely, but our food was nowhere in sight — and neither was our server. Abducted by aliens?

We finally flagged down a runner and asked where out food might be.  That appeared to speed things up. When the waiter himself brought our order, he said he was “sorry” for the delay. I replied, “We’re even sorrier.” He offered to comp a dessert.

Shrimp a la plancha -- street taco size. The small corn tortilla was stuffed with shrimp4.5 corn tortilla, shredded cabbage, sliced carrot and jalapeño aioli
Shrimp a la plancha — street taco size. The small corn tortilla was stuffed with shrimp, shredded cabbage, sliced carrot and jalapeño aioli. It was a tasty mix.
Carnitas Benny is a Latin spin on eggs Benedict. On a base of a spicy smoked cheddar-green chile biscuit sit two poached eggs, slow- roasted pork and a really good roasted jalapeño hollandaise. Roasted potato chunks (called papas charros) are alongside.
Carnitas Benny is a Latin spin on eggs Benedict. On a base of a smoked cheddar-green chile biscuit sit two poached eggs, slow- roasted pork and a really good roasted jalapeño hollandaise. Roasted potato chunks (called papas charros) are alongside.

From the dessert menu, we selected tres leches cake, served cold so it should be delivered quickly — especially since by that time, the brunch crowd had gone. But again, we waited and we waited and we waited. Again, invisible waiter. This time, we flagged down a busser.

w single-0serve portion of this classic
Single-serve portion of this classic “three milk” cake sat in a milk pool and topped with whipped cream and apple-cherry preserve.

Again, I expressed my/our frustration at the disappointing service. The waiter offered to get the manager, who seemed able to determine from the register tape that we weren’t blowing smoke about our long waits. He gave us some reasons, and I said that it might have been nice it the waiter has stopped by our table with a work of explanation or at least apology. He agreed and offered to comp all the food.

For what it’s worth, Centro’s nom de cuisine is the ponderous Centro Latin Kitchen & Refreshment Palace, which no one uses. Not ever,

Price check: At weekend brunch, small plates, $3-$8; tacos, $4.5; specialties (i.e., entrees), $7-$18; sides, $1-$5; desserts, $3-$6.

Centro is at 950 Pearl Street, Boulder; 303-442-7771.

Centro Latin Kitchen & Refreshment Palace Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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.