Last September, my husband and I stopped at a small restaurant called LOCAL in Lyons en route home from Rocky Mountain National Park. As I wrote here, it was pleasant and the food was good. But for some reason — perhaps because there seemed to have been four or five people owning and/or running it. We all know the admonition about “too many cooks.”
The space is now named Farmer Girl, and one gifted person is in charge. Tim Payne, who ran Terroir on Longmont’s Main Street, is the chef at Farmer Girl, which calls itself a “community bistro.” The decorative touches are fewer, as are the communal tables. But it has the same congenial vibe. Its motto is “local, sustainable food with soul.” Coming up later this month is the first dinner at the Lyons Farmette, a local artisanal farm. The good news for restaurant, farm and the Lyons Arts and Humanities Commission, for which it is a fundraiser, is that it is sold out.
Long-time friends from New Jersey were coming to Estes Park for a wedding, we agreed to meet in the middle for dinner, and that meant Lyons and Farmer Girl. The simple menu lists seven each of small and large plates, plus a nice wine selection and other beverages and a couple of desserts. These change with availability of ingredients.
Freshness stressed at stylish Ballpark restaurant.
I was fortunate to attend an opening party at Aloy Modern Thai in the cold grasp of last winter. The flames in the double-sided fireplace and the piquant cuisine from a very warm country provided a welcome contrast to the nippy outside. There were so many courses and so many paired adult beverages that I hit the wall before the end of the feast, The many dishes were so very good, but I was really on overload. Read my post to see what awesome abundance came to the table. At the time I wondered how sisters Bo Bean and Arisa Chanchokpong who own this restaurant and another in Boulder stay so slim. Several months along and meeting them again, I still wonder.
I was therefore delighted that Visit Denver hosted its most recent media reception in this welcome and wonderful restaurant. Rather than the overwhelming inaugural dinner, there were select small plates. With an opportunity to savor came the full impact of the restaurant’s commitment to super-fresh ingredients, especially the seafood and vegetables that are so important in Thai cuisine. Ten local farms are credited on the men for for supplying sustainable ingredients.
Pricy, precious Japanese restaurant in Cherry Creek North.
Colorado’s first Matsuhisa opened years ago in a historic former home in downtown Aspen. The state’s second is in a fancy condo/retail complex called Solaris in Vail. And the third, Matsuhisa Denver, finally opened in Denver’s Cherry Creek North. After a very long build-up, its debut was stealth-like. For months, the website promised that it was coming.
And suddenly, it is here in the posh Steele Creek Apartments . I haven’t been there, but I’ve seen photos online of a very Zen-like, tranquil space (when it’s empty of well-heeled, stylish diners anyway) with lots of wood. Lots and lots of wood. It joins the extended family of Matsuhisa and Nobu locations around the world — all the brainchild of chef Nobu Matsuhisa, whose first venture was not in Japan or the US but in Peru.
Melange of unathenticity in chain version of Chinese food.
When we were in Australia a few weeks ago, I had a lust for Chinese food as soon as I learned that Sydney has a Chinatown. We found a good restaurant called Haymarket, uncrowded in the early evening, and enjoyed well-prepared entrees from a huge menu. Click here for my report.
Yesterday, it was my husband who wanted to go out for a Chinese dinner. I had gotten a $10 gift card to Pei Wei at some event that I can’t recall, so rather than going to China Gourmet, our standby, we headed for Twenty Ninth Street. Big mistake, food-wise.
Living in a fly-over state, I welcome Chinese authenticity.
I love Chinatowns where the food is interesting, even when not all the ingredients are appealing but where the menu features abundant options), where the decor is secondary to the food and where the waiters and cooks don’t look like me. On our last evening in Sydney, we found the Haymarket Chinese Restaurant — the kind I treasure.
Expanded, enhanced branch of Boulder restaurant in Ballpark area.
When they selected February 1, sisters Bo Bean and Arisa Chanchokpong didn’t pick the most auspicious day to open Aloy Modern Thai, an uptick from their Boulder eatery. Big snows are forecast for this evening, and I’m not sure what the chefs they’ve brought in from Asia will make of it. But snow melts and warm weather will arrive, and by then, I’m guessing that Denverites will have come to appreciate Aloy’s food, as Boulderites have taken to the original. Smaller than the Denver location and set in a Boulder strip mall, it certainly is one of the best in town.
I got a chance to sample an infinite procession of dishes during a media preview last week on an evening mild enough for a pleasant walk from the 16th Street Mall. Located in in the former Trillium space on Larimer Street, its decorative makeover was largely cosmetic. In addition to Thai classics, there is a definite Japanese undercurrent that appears here and there on the menu.
Guests were presented with 18 courses along with sips of a like number of excellent and unusual beverages to match. Even with modest tasting samples. The menu boasts of a farm-to-table connection and lists farms from which they source seasonal ingredients are sourced. The food was dazzling. Here goes with a sample of the sampling, as it were:
Uncle Joe’s: A Hong Kong Bistro is an intriguing addition to the downtown Denver dining scene. As much as I can piece together, it is the brainchild of Dr. Dennis Law, a retired physician who wants to bring Hong Kong food to the US — this being the flagship of the concept. I don’t have a Law family tree, but I think this is the Dr. Law who also produces the dazzling Shen Yun stage show of music, dance, costumes of culture. It comes to Denver again in March.
But I digress. The family’s prosperity goes back to the real Uncle Joe, who a made a fortune as the manufacturer of most of the world’s Star Wars action figures in the last quarter of the 20th century. He was also something of connoisseur, and Uncle Joe’s Bistro honors the namesake’s passion for food and the good life. “Uncle” is a term of endearment used to address male elders in the Chinese culture, and the restaurant began as a labor of love by Joe’s four sons to honor a man who loves living the good life, which includes his passion for food in general, and the pork dish called cha shao in particular.
I was invited to a tasting of some of the restaurant’s specialties, but was handicapped by come straight from a French luncheon at the Brown Palace. I ate what I could and enjoyed every bite. Uncle Joe’s is down the street from the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, so I’m betting I get back there — with room in my stomach to actually eat. The executive chef Thach Tran came to Uncle Joe’s from ChoLon, where he was the longtime executive sous-chef.
Uncle Joe’s: A Hong Kong Bistro is in the soaring Spire Building at 891 Fourteenth St., Denver; 720-330-8487.
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.