Category Archives: Award

Frasca Named One of the 101 Best Restaurants in the US

TheDailyMeal.com, issues 2016 list.

DailyMeal-logoIt’s never a surprise when Boulder’s Frasca Food and Wine appears on yet another “best of” and “top” restaurants lists. I’m again thrilled about Frasca’s inclusion, and I note that editor Colman Andrews has addressed my biggest gripe: the snooty reverse provincialism of the list. He wrote (and I liberally condense his intro to the list):

We expect to hear complaints… because we haven’t included any of the doubtless excellent restaurants in, say, Providence, Charlotte, Cleveland, Detroit, the Twin Cities, Santa Fe, Phoenix, San Diego — or any of the hundreds of smaller towns across the U.S. …Yes, we’re food snobs who recognize only the restaurants of New York City, Chicago, the West Coast, and a few token municipalities scattered around other corners of the country…. But here’s the thing: There are more than 600,000 restaurants in America, counting fast-food outlets, dinner house chains, small places…. Our list has room for only a tiny fraction of these, and not surprisingly they tend to be concentrated in those cities that are, for reasons that are probably cultural as well as economic, our best “food towns.” Chief among these are Las Vegas (four restaurants), San Francisco (six restaurants), New Orleans (six restaurants), Chicago (seven restaurants), Los Angeles (12 restaurants), and (grumble if you wish) New York City (27 restaurants).

Given these constraints and the fact that New York is credited with more than one quarter of the allotment, it is remarkable that Frasca is not only honored but was promoted from #71 last year to #32 this year.

Here’s what The Daily Meal posted about Frasca:n the Friuli region of northeastern Italy, a frasca is a roadside farm restaurant, serving simple regional food. Frasca Food & Wine captures the spirit of these venues, while also championing the vast diversity of Colorado’s unique culinary resources. Owners Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson have created a warm and inviting space that can accommodate an impromptu dinner or an evening of fine dining. They offer a unique menu that includes salumi and cheeses along with entrées like Broken Arrow Ranch quail; gnocchi with Buckner Farm lamb sausage and broccolini; and raviolo of veal ossobuco, bone marrow, cipollini onion, and salsify. Just be sure that you don’t miss the frico caldo, a crispy pancake of potatoes, onions, and Piave cheese — a Friulian specialty. Stuckey and Mackinnon-Patterson have a new restaurant in the works, slated to open in Denver by the end of the year, and it’s one of the year’s most anticipated openings.

Daily Meal’s March Madness Foul

Coohills the most convenient good eatery to Pepsi Center.

DailyMeal-logoI don’t customarily put up gotcha posts, but IMO, The Daily Meal committed a foul with its Denver selection in “The Best Restaurant New Every NCAA March Madness Arena.

The site’s selection is one of what I call “the usual suspects,” that is restaurants that appear on many a list, even where they are arguably not the most logical selection. To wit:

Pepsi Center, Denver (Mountain West Conference)

Seafood might not be the first thing you’d think of in a city that’s a mile high, but Stoic & Genuine is fantastic, and it’s only a mile from the Pepsi Center. “Fresh is everything” is the motto of Jennifer Jasinski and Jorel Pierce, and it applies to every dish, whether it’s the scallop poke, octopus mortadella, oysters (from both coasts), crab legs, a whole Maine lobster, or the intimidating “Seafood Tower of Power.” There’s also a “Surf in Turf” option, which features New York Strip-wrapped Ahi tuna, and an extensive wine list with a surprising amount of sparkling options.

Now I like Stoic & Genuine an awful lot, but it wouldn’t be my for first pick for good eats near the Pepsi Center. I would have selected Coohills, an excellent restaurant within sight of the arena. More to the point, Coohills is doing real March Madness specials as befit its location. From the restaurant’s own website:

MARCH MADNESS AT COOHILLS!

March Madness is coming to Denver and what better place to spend before and after the games then at Coohills – Just a short walk across the street from the Pepsi Center!

We will be opening early for the March Madness games at the Pepsi Center on Thursday, March 17, 2016 and Saturday, March 19, 2016 from 12:30 pm – 11 pm. Chef Tom has created the perfect lunch menu (click HERE to view) for you to enjoy before and after the games! This menu will be available from 12:30 – 4:00 pm on those days. Happy Hour starts at 3 pm and our regular dinner menu will begin at 4 pm. Call and make reservations: (303) 623-5700.

Any argument about that?

Colorado Finalists for Beard Awards

One restaurant, one chef and one Who’s Who inductee.

BeardAwardWhen writing about the James Beard Awards, I’ve often written that being a semifinalist (Beardspeak for “nominee”) is an honor. Being a finalist is a great honor. And winning is over-the-moon culinary recognition.

Colorado has two finalists for the 2016 awards:

  • Boulder’s Frasca Food and Wine is one of five finalists in the Best Restaurant category, whose requirements are: “A restaurant in the United States that serves as a national standard bearer of consistent quality and excellence in food, atmosphere and service. Eligible restaurants must have been in operation 10 or more consecutive years.”
  • Alex Seidel is a finalist for the Best Chef, Southwest award. The honor comes for Fruition, his first Denver restaurant. Since then, he has been operating Fruition Farms down in Larkspur and opened Mercantile Dining & Provision, the beguiling restaurant/bar/market at Union Station.  Of the four finalists in this six-state region, Seidel is is only one not from Texas.

The third Colorado honoree is the remarkable Temple Grandin, one of five nationwide added to the list of 2016 James Beard Foundation Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America Inductees. She is described as and “Author and Animal Rights Activist” from Fort Collins. A champion of animal rights, she has pioneered research livestock behavior and implementation of humane standards in facilities design and humane slaughter. Dr. Temple Grandin is the public face of high achievements despite the challenge of autism, and as such her accomplishments reach beyond ranching and slaughterhouse practices to acceptance of those with developmental differences.

Mizuna Denver’s Top French Restauant

French-flag-mapTimeOut.com, which I don’t normally check out, ran its selection of “The 21 Best French Restaurants in America.” I’m glad they selected Mizuna to represent Denver, but if they’d included Boulder, I would think L’Atelier should have been a worth contender. But here’s what they posted about Mizuna:

Fifteen years may be a millisecond in the history of some cities’ dining scenes, but in that of one as young as Denver’s, it’s an aeon, which makes Frank Bonanno something of an elder statesman who—after launching, on average, nearly a concept a year since 2001—could be forgiven for coasting a spell. Instead, he just keeps pushing himself and the talents he nurtures further, and his contemporary French flagship on Capitol Hill is the ultimate proof. With low-key decor that belies its high-energy atmosphere, Mizuna presents a monthly changing menu that’s as full of surprises now as it was when it opened. Think ostrich strip with confit chanterelles over Idiazabal fondue; slow-braised octopus with chorizo-poached mussels, green-cabbage marmalade and pine-nut butter. The beverage program, meanwhile, may be the best it’s ever been, thanks to the combined efforts of wine director Kelly Wooldridge and bar manager Austin Carson, both gentlemen and brilliant scholars of their craft.

Steuben’s Grilled Cheese Lauded

Thrillist.com likes  Steuben’s “decadent cheese bomb” sandwich.

Thrillist-logoThrillist.com never seems to run out of ideas for its “top” and “best” lists. I always scour them for Colorado inclusions.  Thrillist’s latest is “The 21 Best Grilled Cheeses in America,” and Steuben’s made the cut. The description was written by senior writer Lee Breslour, who lives in Colorado. No wonder Denver often appears on a list. He wrote:

Steuben’s is Denver’s unofficial source for top-notch comfort food, and it has been since it opened its doors 10 years ago — if you translate that age into “restaurant years,” it’s practically 100. But it still looks damn good. Its sandwich is a decadent cheese bomb, with two slices of Texas toast needed to structurally support the yellow, white, American, and Muenster cheeses within, and it’s somehow only $4. With that low of a price point, the restaurant is begging you to add green chile (because it’s Colorado) and bacon (because it’s sourced from local pork geniuses Tender Belly). It comes with a side of chips and a pickle, but we’re guessing you won’t have room.

Steuben's Food Service Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

1515 Restaurant’s Swank Bar

New menu, new cocktails & new style at Rewind.

0011515 Restaurant has been a downtown Denver staple for nearly two decades. The street-level bar is known as a congenial place for a drink and bite, while the second-floor restaurant is a fine-dining tradition under the careful operation of owner Gene Tang.  Because it’s been around for so long, 1515 never makes it onto any hot lists anymore, but it has a long history of good food, hospitality and service.

Gene Tang, long-time owner of 1515 Restaurant.
Gene Tang, long-time owner of 1515 Restaurant.

With a makeover, a new menu including molecular gastronomy tricks and a new name, Rewind) has become a very cool place. Gene’s wife Paula resigned the space, using reclaimed wood, cool lighting and seating (and standing) choices. Rena Day, a well-known and well-liked bartender at Zeno, now Rewind’s bar manager, oversees a program of new cocktails and a fab selection of craft beer. Did I mention the award-winning wine list?

It is possible to get food from the main restaurant menu, but the new pub’s intriguing bar menu is part of the experience. Bottom line: you can order new, traditional or a combo at Rewind.

Rena Day, mixing away.
Rena Day, mixing away.
Back to the glam forties cocktail culture.
Back to the glam forties cocktail culture.
The Chinese-inspired steamed bun category of food is represented with these plump pork-filled beauties.
The Chinese-inspired steamed bun category of food is represented with these plump pork-filled beauties.
A line of vrisp-vegetarian spring rolls with ginger-soy dipping sauce.
A line of crisp-vegetarian spring rolls with ginger-soy dipping sauce.
A tray of fresh Dover sole en papillotte draws on 1515'classic European heritage.
A tray of fresh Dover sole en papillote draws on 1515’s classic European favorites.
Cutting into the parchment package in which the sole was steamed.
Cutting into the parchment package in which the sole was steamed.
Modern molecular magic as a mozzarella ball is inflated.
Modern molecular magic as a mozzarella ball is inflated.
An ecelctic plate of an oyster Rcokefeller on a nest of greens and mozzarella ball with Balsamic vinegar drizzled on top, plus a little Caprese tower.
An eclectic plate of an oyster Rockefeller on a nest of greens, a mozzarella ball with Balsamic vinegar drizzled on top, and a classic Caprese salad combination .
Ultra-thin slices of Coloado Wagyu beef seared on a hot stone.
Ultra-thin slices of Colorado Wagyu beef seared on a hot stone.

Price check: Rewind’s small-plate prices are $5-$8. 1515 Restaurant’s appetizers are $15-$22.

Rewind and its progenitor, 1515 Restaurant, are at  1515 Market Street, Denver; 303-571-0011.

1515 Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Colorado Italian Restaurants on Top 50 List

Lifestyle site’s list of America’s best Italian restaurants includes 3 of our own.

Thrillist-logoThrillist.com is fond of lists, the most recent being what it deems the top Italian restaurants in the country. “The 50 Best Italian Restaurants in America” includes the whole gamut: pizzerias, casual family restaurants, fancy white tablecloth fine-dining restaurants, and Colorado’s three are represented by one of each.

Frasca Food & Wine, Boulder (#6)

In the Friuli region of northeastern Italy, a frasca is a roadside farm restaurant, serving simple regional food. Frasca Food & Wine captures the spirit of these venues while also championing the vast diversity of Colorado’s unique culinary resources, and it very well might be the finest restaurant in all of Colorado. Owners Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson have created a warm and inviting space that can accommodate an impromptu dinner or an evening of fine dining. They offer a unique menu that includes salumi and cheeses along with dishes including cured grouper cheek with ricotta and mint, rye flour gnocchi with pork ragu and cauliflower, and guinea fowl with farro and carrot. Just be sure that you don’t miss the frico caldo, a crispy pancake of potatoes, onions, and Piave cheese — a Friulian specialty.

Il Posto, Denver (#26)

Il Posto means, “The Place” in Italian, and chef and owner Andrea Frizzi has largely backed up his contention that his breezy spot in City Park West is hot ― it’s routinely mentioned as one of the city’s best Italian restaurants for years now. Frizzi, originally from Milan, imports many Italian ingredients, incorporating them into a seasonal menu that changes on the chalkboard each day — “Cooking in the present,” he calls it. “It can be a rainy day, sunny and dry, or windy, or snowing — we as people react differently with the weather, so too with food.” Ah, Italians… poetry. And he may be right, but most don’t react differently to Frizzi’s food, especially his risotto, so don’t miss it.

Luca D’Italia, Denver (#34)

“Strictly Italian spoken here,” notes the Luca D’Italia website. “Chefs Frank Bonanno and Eric Cimino execute Sicilian-style meats that are cured in-house; pastas, breads and cheeses made fresh daily, and recipes that change monthly to reflect the finest seasonal ingredients.” This spot in Central Denver named for Bonanno’s son pays homage to the food the chef grew up eating in his mother’s kitchen in New Jersey. A meal can include grilled octopus with borlotti beans and ‘nduja, dill cured salmon with lemon ricotta, tagliatelle lobster fra diavolo, and Barolo-braised bone-in short rib. But if you only have time for one thing, be sure not to miss the pappardelle Bolognese.