Culinary jewel in East Colfax’s most interesting bulding
In May 2005, St. Charles Town Company, a visionary developer, purchased the vacant Lowenstein Theater and embarked on a $16 million project to turn it into an exciting retail and office complex that respects its midcentury design while meeting 21st-century needs. The Tattered Cover Book Store moved there from Cherry Creek North and Twist & Shout Records located there too, both facing Colfax Avenue.
Encore on Colfax, which tongue in cheekily calls itself “the Colfax Country Club,” is a long narrow space with art on the walls, tables and booths of various sizes, a large glassed wine room (and some privately held wine lockers), big terrace for warm weather and an open kitchen, presided over by chef/owner (or partner) Paul C. Reilly. Early reviews were mixed but recent ones were favorable reviews about Encore and the two-part Chef & Tell interview with Reilly in Westword, but I didn’t get there until this past week.
My husband and I are very fond of the parents of my Mile High On The Cheap partner, Laura Daily, and we try to get together when they are in town for the holidays. This time, we chose Encore. It was our first but probably not the last time there. The food is contemporary American, which to me has come to mean a combination classic American comfort food, often with a modern spin, plus dishes inspired by Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Latin and Asian cuisines. The five of us have very different tastes and appetites, and we all found temptations on the Encore menu. Everything was really good, and the presentations were pretty simple but very pretty, if you get what I mean.
Service was a bit hiccupy, especially when we were first seated. We never got bread, and when I asked, the host said they only bring it on request since so much goes to waste. I understand and approve, but I do think the waitress should have offered it, since some of us like a piece of good bread with a soup or salad. Hot tea ordered along with wine never arrived, and two small soups were delivered as large ones — no extra charge when the waitress realized the error. The best part of the service, however, outweighs that. We feared the worst when a party with three small children with very loud voices and no restaurant manners was seated next to us, but they were quickly relocated to a small private dining room across from the kitchen — and next to the restrooms. Good move. Everything else was forgiven.
Note to self: Either 1) Turn on the flash, or 2) Boost the ISO when taking food shots. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don’t. And when I don’t, as at Encore, I’m doing the restaurant and the chef an injustice and also not showing you how attractive the food really is.
Price check:At dinner, starters, $4-$11; salads, $12-$16; “signatures” (burgers and sandwishes with thin cut fries, apple slaw, redskin mashers, or seasonal vegetable); seasonal entrees, $15-$21; desserts, $7.