Seasonal Variations on The Fort’s Menu

Landmark restaurant subtly introduces new spring & summer menu.

001The Fort is arguably the Denver area’s most immutable restaurant. This brilliant recreation of Bent’s Fort has actually been around longer than the original that protected travelers and served as a trading post along the Santa Fe Trail. The original existed for only 16 years in the first half of the 19th century, while the restaurant south of Morrison opened in 1963 and has been serving foods of the Old West and more contemporary adaptations for more than half a century.

Holly Arnold Kinney grew up in this adobe landmark overlooking Denver, Her late parents, Sam and Elizabeth Arnold, opened the restaurant in 1963. Holly is now the
Holly Arnold Kinney grew up in this adobe landmark overlooking Denver, Her late parents, Sam and Elizabeth Arnold, opened the restaurant in 1963. Holly is now the “proprietess,” with an office in what had been her childhood bedroom.

 

Executive chef Matt Crow, who introduces new items carefully and always with regard to The Fort's culinary traditions.
Executive chef Matt Crow, who introduces new items carefully and always with regard to The Fort’s culinary traditions. I got a kick out of Chef Matt’s choice of kitchenwear — instead of traditional chef’s whites, he wears crow black.

The spring/summer menu features the game, the bison (aka, buffalo) and Southwestern dishes that long-time guests expect and that first-timers anticipate, as well as new dishes and lighter seasonal versions of on-going items. Among the new dishes: wild Scottish salmon;  Tlaxcan’s Tamal Nuevo, a vegetarian dish;  roasted game hen with huckleberry gastrique, and ancho chile-orange duck, plus a new variation on the popular theme of macaroni and cheese that, while not really light, is shareable and also seems to go with virtually everything. Even with these additions to the menu, it does remain meat-centric, and that means that many specialties are brown –the buffalo boudie (sausage), duck breast and various cuts of beef, bison and lamb — that taste a lot better than they photograph. Trust me on this. At a spring menu preview the other night, these were some of the items served:

The Historian's Platter is a sharable sampler of starters. Sam's Famous Guacamole; Sam's Buffalo Boudine (the French trappers' word for sausage); bison tongue on toast wutg caper aioli; Rocky Mountain oysters with cocktail sauce, and peanut butter-stuffedjalapeno escabeche with mango-sweetened whipped peanut butter. My fave? The stuffed jalapenos.
The Historian’s Platter is a sharable sampler of starters. Sam’s Famous Guacamole with the corn tortilla chips in a basket off to the side; stuffed jalapeno escabeche filled with mango-sweetened peanut butter; Sam’s Buffalo Boudine (the French trappers’ word for sausage); bison tongue on toast with caper aioli; and Rocky Mountain oysters with cocktail sauce.. My fave? The stuffed jalapenos.
Buffalo sirloin with chef's selection of mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables.
Buffalo sirloin with chef’s selection of mashed potatoes topped with seasonal vegetables.
Tlaxacan's Tamal Nuevo is a wonderful layered vegetarian offering made of yellow corn masa and oyster and shitaki mushrooms, with Anasazi bean puree and sautéed zucchini alongside. A drizzle of Dixon red chile sauce and a squiggle of avocado crema complete the dish.
Tlaxacan’s Tamal Nuevo is a wonderful layered vegetarian offering made of yellow corn masa and oyster and shitaki mushrooms, with Anasazi bean puree and sautéed zucchini alongside. A drizzle of Dixon red chile sauce and a squiggle of avocado crema complete the dish.
The name of this, President Jefferson's Favorite Mac N' Cheese, gives a clue as to how long it might have been around. The Fort's version adds red chile powder.
The name of this dish, President Jefferson’s Favorite Mac N’ Cheese, gives a clue as to how long it might have been around. The Fort’s version adds red chile powder.
The Fort now uses wild Scottish salmon for its fish dish. It is served atop Miller pilaf bathed in a skill-carrot broth and topped with a bit of orange-red onion salad with Balsamic vinegar.
The Fort now uses wild Scottish salmon for its fish dish. It is served atop Miller pilaf bathed in a skill-carrot broth and topped with a bit of orange-red onion salad with Balsamic vinegar.
It is difficult to find room for dessert after a Fort feast, but several, like this Campfire S'mores Custard slide down easily to fill whatever gaps might remain. On top, light house-made marshmallows.
It is difficult to find room for dessert after a Fort feast, but several, like this Campfire S’mores Custard slide down easily to fill whatever gaps might remain. On top, light house-made marshmallows.

I’d love to include my customer price check, but I’m afraid the online menu does not include prices, and the menu for the summer preview was literally “priceless.” Suffice it to say that dinners at The Fort do not come cheap, but the restaurant offers a true value for the dining dollar — unsurpassed ambience, excellent service, generous portions and a glimpse into Western history that you’ll find nowhere else. And come summer, have a drink — perhaps outside on the patio — gaze at the views down toward Denver.
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