Category Archives: Denver

Hopping in at Hopdoddy

Big juicy burger after bike race.

085My husband and I took the bus to Denver for the final stage of the USA Pro Challenge bike race. After finding good viewing spots at Civic Center Park that we didn’t want to leave, we made our way to Union Station for the return ride to Boulder. We were hungry and thirsty, and Hopdoddy Burger beckoned. We ordered and sat at a window table overlooking the plaza. People wearing cycling-themed T-shirts were soon joined by those wearing baseball jerseys and even a couple of topless women celebrating the Free the Nipple movement. Click here for a report.

Tables and booths are all high-tops, and each is outfitted with a roll of paper towel -- a feature usually found at barbecue places.
Tables and booths are all high-tops, and each is outfitted with a roll of paper towel — a feature usually found at barbecue places.

But as Dave Barry often wrote, I digress — from my post about Hopdoddy. Cool fast-casual place that features art on one wall, a kitchen on another and big windows on the other two. The hard surfaces that look so good do magnify the noise — not a problem on the shaded patio, but my husband had had enough of the outdoors after waiting for and watching the bike race and the podium ceremonies. We started with tasty margs with black salt on the glass rims, followed by big, juicy burgers and shared fries brought out a brown paper-lined kitchen trays, just like Mercantile just across the way.

Classic Burger. It arrived neatly stacked, but I moved the top of the fresh-baked bun to show how well cooked the  beef patty was.
Classic Burger made from freshly ground Angus beef. It arrived neatly stacked, but I moved the shiny top of the fresh-baked bun to show how well cooked the beef patty was.
Terlingua burger with chile con carne, corn Fritos, Tillamook Cheddar and
Terlingua burger with chile con carne, corn Fritos, Tillamook cheddar and “sassy sauce”
Thin-cut fries and a generous amount of dipping sauce. Is it the same
Thin-cut fries and a generous amount of dipping sauce. Is it the same “sassy sauce” as on the Terlingua burger? I don’t know.

No price check, because I didn’t take notes, and the online menu doesn’t reveal.

Click to add a blog post for Hopdoddy Gourmet Burger Bar on Zomato

Colorado’s Top Food Trucks

The Daily Meal likes Basic Kneads Pizza.

DailyMeal-logoHere I go again with another mention from another list, but I do enjoy this stuff. The Daily Meal just listed its selection of “The 101 Best Food Trucks in America 2015.” The site didn’t mention who “the brothers” might be, but here’s the write-up about the Basic Kneads Pizza truck — Colorado’s only entry (but lots for Boston):

#89 Basic Kneads Pizza, Denver

We are suckers for a good pun and even more so for a good pizza. Basic Kneads operates four different units around Denver. The brothers eschew strict Neapolitan guidelines for D.O.C. pizza so that they can integrate local ingredients, experiment with toppings, and use the family dough recipe they’ve developed over the years: a mix of organic whole-wheat flour and refined Colorado flour (they also do a gluten-free crust). There are eight pies on the menu, starting from the basics (Margherita, pepperoni, fennel sausage) to more extreme pies like their sweet Thai chili chicken.

 

Lunching al Fresco at Mercantile

Casual lunch & fabulous companion at Union Station restaurant.

008I have an assignment to write a feature about Denver’s fabulous Union Station, and while I attended some of the opening festivities last July, have eaten in all of its restaurants and pass though every time I ride the bus to Denver and back home, I couldn’t very well write it without meeting with the extraordinary Dana Crawford, the visionary preservationist who spearheaded the preservation of the historic terminal and was instrumental in redeveloping it into the lively dining, shopping, socializing and transit hub it is now.

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But this is a restaurant blog, so I’ll stop writing about my wonderful companion and note that the beautiful summer day called for eating outdoors. Mercantile Dining and Provisions’ patio was where Dana, Julie Dunn and I ate. The system is that you order inside, provide your cell phone number and are notified when the order is ready. Then, you go in to pick it up on brown paper-lined kitchen trays. Simple but a bit slow. Still, with lots to talk about and no office to get back to when lunch hour was over, we didn’t mind. Here’s what we ate:

Heirloom tomato salad with eggplant baba ganoush, roasted corn vinaigrette and ricotta from Fruition Farms, like Mercantile, owned by chef/restaurateur/farmer Ales Seidel.
Heirloom tomato salad with eggplant baba ganoush, roasted corn vinaigrette and ricotta from Fruition Farms, like Mercantile, owned by chef/restaurateur/farmer Alex Seidel.
Grilled cheese made with excellent cheese and excellent bread, with a side of pickled vegetables.
Grilled cheese made with excellent cheese and excellent bread, with a side of pickled vegetables.
Confit chicken salad, as requested on a baguette rather than a croissant. Delicious and hearty -- more than I could eat.
Confit chicken salad, as requested on a baguette rather than a croissant. Delicious and hearty — more than I could eat.

Price check: Sandwiches, $9-$11; soups and salads, $7-$12 (plus $21 for selection of cured meats, cheese and condiments); cheese, $3-$6 per ounce; pastries, $3-$6.

Click to add a blog post for Mercantile Dining & Provision on Zomato

Denver’s Tender Belly Pork Cited for Fast Growth

Natural heritage pork is increasingly what’s for dinner.

Tenderbelly-logo Inc. magazine has announced that Denver-based Tender Belly, a nationally recognized purveyor of all natural heritage breed pork products, ranks No.  698 on the 34th annual Inc. 5000, a prestigious ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. The list represents what is said to be “the most comprehensive look at the most important segment of the economy—America’s independent entrepreneurs.”

Tender Belly was founded in 2010 by brothers Erik and Shannon Duffy with the mission to provide the highest quality of pork products on the market. The result is natural, delicious pork that foodies can eat with clear consciences. Tender Belly’s array of products including bacon, franks, ham, ribs, various cuts and whole hogs. The brand is carried by major national distributors and in specialty stores throughout Colorado,  Arizona and Texas.

Tender Belly is committed to environmentally responsible and fully traceable farming methods, as well as to animal well-being. As part of their focus on farm-to-table cuisine and local purveyors, they source from small family farms with generations of history that produce the finest quality pork.

All of the animals are fed a 100% vegetarian diet — with no rendered animal byproducts, antibiotics or hormones, and live with plenty of space to roam. This approach helps Tender Belly deliver a line-up of pork products to  distinguished restaurants across the country including those helmed by big-name chefs.  Click here for Colorado restaurants serving Tender Belly cuts of pork

Dine al Fresco at Larimer Square

Last street eats of the summer of 2015.

LarimerSquareAlFrescoOnce a month in summer, traffic is diverted from Larimer Square, which is a street and not a square, for Larimer Square al Fresco. The award-winning restaurants of Larimer Square extend their patios into the streets] for a one-of-a-kind dining experience on what is arguably Denver’s most charming block lined with old buildings and intact enough to be a National Historic District. With happy hour festivities, dinner, live music and an evening under the stars, Dining Al Fresco is one of the city’s best summer scenes.

I was remiss in not alerting you to the June and July versions, but the season’s last is on Saturday, August 15 beginning at 5 p.m. Reservations are available through participating restaurants, which are Bistro Vendome, Capitol Grill, Corridor 44, The Crimson Room, Crú, Green Russell, Ocean Prime, Osteria Marco, Green Russell, Russell’s Smokehouse, TAG, Tamayo, Ted’s Montana Grill, Tom’s Urban 24 and Wednesday’s Pie. Bon appétit!

Brunch at the Brown

The Brown Palace’s opulent Sunday spread is put out at Ellyngton’s.

025At a Brown Palace event a few weeks ago, I won Sunday brunch for two at Ellyngton’s, a steakhouse at night but the Brown’s bunch venue.  My husband and I drove to Denver yesterday on a sunny Sunday for an early-afternoon feast. He and I are like Jack Spratt and his wife in that we eat very different foods. That’s the reason we often go out to eat. And that’s the reason that buffets are so right for us.

Even in the casual times we life in, the table settings are elegant and classic. And of course, flatware is removed and replaced with every trip to the buffet.
Even in the casual times we life in, the table settings are elegant and classic. And of course, flatware is removed and replaced with every trip to the buffet.
Orange juice is poured automatically for each guest. A rose decorates each table. And when you order a mimosa, the waiter  generously pours bubbly and brings a small pitcher of orange juice for DIY proportions.
Orange juice is poured automatically for each guest. A rose decorates each table. And when you order a mimosa, the waiter generously pours bubbly and brings a small pitcher of orange juice for DIY proportions.

Continue reading Brunch at the Brown

Potager’s Splendid Table

Farm-to-table pioneer impresses and pleases.

022Potager has been around for 18 of the 27 years I’ve lived in Colorado, and despite being on my to-visit list for years, it took till friends from Vail were in town to get there. Now I wonder why I let it be so long. Potager was way ahead of its time with farm-to-table fare, well-selected wine list and a menu that changes monthly to take advantage of the freshest from leading local farms. What’s almost routine now was ground-breaking nearly two decades ago.

It is the brainchild of Terry Ripetto and her dad, Tom. Their philosophy that has carried Potager through the years is one I buy into. As the restaurant’s website explains, “We follow no style or school of cooking. We are not a French restaurant, although we serve dishes from this cuisine.  I think, basically, the unifying theme is that of being immensely satisfying, locally sourced and seasonally driven.  We serve really satisfying food and do whatever it takes to make it.  We draw upon the season and what is grown locally.”

 Flatware follows the triangle shape of the crisp, folded napkin on the crisp tablecloth. White on white with white plates.
Flatware follows the triangle shape of the crisp, folded napkin on the crisp tablecloth. White on white linen with white plates.

The restaurant is a charming country-ish place in the city just elegant enough to match the food but not really formal. In addition to a lively dining room and semi-open kitchen and outdoor dining in back. No luck getting seated there, but we were not unhappy to be  in the high-ceilinged room with one charmingly distressed-plaster all, high wine racks and a shelf full of impressive cookbooks on a room divider on one side of the kitchen.

We wanted to sample a number of dishes, so we created a tapas-style experience of sharing.

Apricot-forward fruit soup with a smiley face in crème fraiche made us smile.
Super-seasonal apricot and peach soup with a smiley face in mint crème fraiche made us smile.
A special of thinly sliced and artistically stacked zucchini with a sorel emulsion and bread crumbs.
A special of thinly sliced and artistically stacked zucchini with a sorrel emulsion and bread crumbs.

Continue reading Potager’s Splendid Table