Hideaway Steakhouse Discovered

Executive chef Christopher Cina’s upmarket American cuisine now in  “suburbia north”

Old-timers surely remember the low-slung building on 112th Avenue near Federal as Gussie’s, a long-running Italianish, Americanish restaurant best known for its remarkable salad bar. That’s what I learned from Warren Byrne, host of “The Restaurant Show” on KEZW-Radio, who has an encyclopedic memory of restaurants of the past. Warren also told me about the couple who owned the restaurant but sold it to the manager after the husband was killed and the two or three Mexican incarnations that followed.

Fast-forward to 2009 or ’10, when Steve and Terrie Woodward bought the empty and neglected building, gutted it, began a remodel and looked for a chef to create an upmarket menu in a part of metro Denver that didn’t have much in the way of fine dining. Fortunately, Christopher Cina was available. He had worked in some of Denver’s best kitchens (The Fourth Story, Tuscany, Aubergine, Zenith and Jax) and was ready to build a menu from scratch in a new restaurant.

The Hideaway Steakhouse — so named because it is (sort of) hidden in a grove of trees — is at the same time contemporary and comfortable. It is modern yet warm, literally from stone fireplaces in the dining room and on the terrace, and figuratively because there’s lots of wood, flattering lighting and soothing crooner music on sound system. The walled terrace is lovely and feels secluded, even though 112th Avenue has now become a significant arterial.

As in other chef-driven restaurants, Hideaway emphasizes the local and the sustainable, giving farmers a reason to keep farming rather than sell out to developers. Hideaway Steakhouse is in an area with a lot of new cookie-cutter development, good for business but hard on the eyes. The restaurant is shaded by big old trees and adjoins open space, keeping the sprawl at bay, and when you step through the door, you’re in a unique and pleasing environment.

The Food

Cina has built a seasonally changing New American menu centered around quality steak (Certified Angus Beef, if you please). “New American” + “steakhouse” = a contemporary spin on traditional steakhouse fare and also distinctively contemporary creations. Therefore, like the decor, the dishes are a bit familiar, a bit edgy. The sauces and accompaniments are well crafted and simply plated on stylish Fortessa tableware. The wines are mostly from California and France, with some from Italy, Oregon and Australia — and one, a Cabernet, from Colorado. My husband and I were fortunate to attend a dinner with paired wines — and we came away happy and impressed.

Classic French onion soup (a steakhouse staple) but made with white veal stock, fresh thyme and Gruyere with a toasted slice of baguette. Wine: 2008 Alois Lageder 'Benefizium, Alto Adige, Italy.
Iceberg lettuce with blue cheese dressing is another steakhouse staple, but Cina uses baby iceberg with smokehouse bacon, charred red onions, tiny heritage tomatoes and a Maytag blue dressing. Wine: 2008 Bex Riesling, Pfalz, Germany.
Lobster tacos with charred tomatoes, tomatillo puree, ancho-lime crema and a topper of acho chile threads. Wine: 2007 Domaine Merlin-Cherrier Sancerre, France.
Pan-seared diver scallop perched on crisp Kobe beef shortrib hash with grilled sweet potato, foie gras butter and a bit a tarragon oil. Wine: 2009 Isabel Mondavi Deep Rose Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA.
Hand-cut petite Filet Mignon with mushroom demi-glace and glazed baby carrots. Wine: 2008 Colterris Cabernet Sauvignon, Grand Valley, Colorado.
Instead of a sweet dessert course, Cina's finale was a French cheese course: Bleu d'Auvergne, Petit Basque and Marbier with fig jam and salted Marcona almonds. Wine: Sandeman's 20 Year Tawny Port.

Price Check: At dinner, soups and salads, $5-$7; starters $8-$11; “specialties” (entrees) $12-$28; meats, $23 for a 10-ounce New York Strip to $44 for a 24-ounce Porterhouse; sides, $5-$6.

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