Charcoal’s Own Restaurant Week

Golden Triangle restaurant puts a bargain spark into summer

P1030826Despite its subtle location, Charcoal Restaurant has built a following among Golden Triangle condo dwellers who appreciate its sleek style and fine Swedish-influenced menu at dinner and weekend brunch and people from out of the neighborhood who have read the very positive reviews since it opened nearly two years ago. To help combat late-summer dining doldrums, it is offering its own Restaurant Week right now. Why wait until winter to enjoy a value-laden three-course dinner — in this case, just $29 per person through Sunday, August 11? My husband and I had theater tickets last night, so we jumped at the opportunity to visit a restaurant we hadn’t yet experienced.

Charcoal represents a multi-cultural influences: a Swedish chef, Patrik Landberg, has created an international menu in a Denver restaurant whose owner, Gary Sumihiro’s Japanese heritage shows in the décor and a distinctive cooking style. As Landberg told a reporter when the restaurant opened, “What makes our restaurant unique is using [charcoal made with] the specially-sourced hardwood that burns at a high temperature and is virtually smokeless and odorless…[a technique that] actually comes from Asia and is referred to as ‘bincho-style’ cooking…Meat is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, and vegetables retain their flavor.”

Double-sided glass wall separates Charcoal's bar and dining room.
Double-sided glass wall separates Charcoal’s bar and dining room.

Years ago, LoDo boasted a highly honored restaurant called Adega, which in Portuguese refers to an above-ground wine cellar. That long-gone restaurant was built around a large, glassed-in temperature-controlled wine room. Charcoal’s double-sided glass adega is a divider between the bar and the dining room. Dark charcoal gray walls, big windows and wood and brick accents create a tranquil space. Pendant lights hang asymmetrically from the high, dark ceiling. Simple, clean-line chairs are pulled up to two-top, four-top and larger tables in the center of the dining room. Booths are upholstered in a striped fabric in shades of red and pink. A line of stools faces the kitchen behind glass for those who want to watch while dining at the counter. The effect is of Zen-like simplicity when the restaurant is empty and of elegant simplicity when people are in it.

Here’s what I selected from the Restaurant Week menu:

Crisp seared Brussels sprouts with a poached egg, duck confit,.pistaccihos and a red win vinaigrette.
Crisp caramelized Brussels sprouts with an egg poached in its shell, duck confit,.pistachios and a subtle red wine vinaigrette.

 

A trio of large sea scallops crusted with dukkah (rushed seasoned hazelnuts) The papdum shell, which is shaped like a tortilla shell but has a more refined taste, filled with a salad of baby arugula, grapefruit pieces, cherry tomatoes from the restaurant's roof-top garden and goat's milk Gorgonzola vinaigrette.
A trio of large sea scallops crusted with dukkah (rushed seasoned hazelnuts) The papdum shell, which is shaped like a tortilla shell but has a more refined taste, filled with a salad of baby arugula, grapefruit pieces, cherry tomatoes from the restaurant’s roof-top garden and goat’s milk Gorgonzola vinaigrette.
Salty Caramel Crème Brûlée generously sized to share. Perched on top, an olive oil cookie.
Salty Caramel Crème Brûlée generously sized to share. Perched on top, an olive oil cookie.

As so often happens, my husband was in the mood for a burger, so he eschewed the Restaurant Week menu in favor of Charcoal’s version of one of his favorite foods. Fortunately, big as the burger was, he did help me with the Crème Brûlée.

Colorado
Colorado “Never Ever” Burger is a hefty beef patty topped with caramelized onion, black pepper-dijonaise, pencil-thin hand-cut fries, lettuce and pickles — and a choice of ketchup, aioli or presumably both if one were so inclined.

Price check: This weeks 3-course dinner for $29 is being offered every Monday. On any given week, it might be a limited menu or a choice of items from the regular menu.

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