Category Archives: Restaurant & multiple restaurants

Denver Five to Cook at NYC’s James Beard House

Left to right: John DePierro, Kevin Morrison, Dana Rodriguez, Wine Director Ryan Fletter, Pastry Chef Alicia Luther, Darrel Truett,and Mixologist Gerard Collier
Left to right: John DePierro, MiJo; Kevin Morrison, KTM Restaurant Group; Dana Rodriguez, Work & Class; Wine Director Ryan Fletter, Barolo Grill;  Pastry Chef Alicia Luther, Black Eye Coffee;  Darrel Truett, Barolo Grill, and Tacos, Tequila and Whiskey  mixologist Gerard Collier.

This elite team of Colorado culinary compatriots has made an indelible mark on the Colorado dining scene with their bold, inventive fare. The group (five chefs, two “beveragists”) celebrates the collective’s ninth Beard House anniversary with an eclectic menu that highlights the evolving traditions of the Mile High City. If your pockets are deep your your appetite robust (and you are or will be in New York), the dinner costs $175 for the general public and $135 for Bear members.

The James Beard House is at 167 West 12th Street, New York; 212-627-2308. Go to the next page for the menu

Continue reading Denver Five to Cook at NYC’s James Beard House

Steuben’s & Park Burger on National List

The Daily Meal includes Denver eateries on best burger list.

DailyMeal-logoI scan every list of “best” and “top” restaurants for Colorado entries. If there is one, it is usually in Denver or occasionally Boulder, but hardly ever in the mountains.  As for the rest of the Rocky Mountain region, those sites do not seem to realize that New Mexico, Wyoming and Montana even exist. Tsk-tsk on coastal provincialism. Enough of that and on to The Daily Meal’s selection of “The 101 Best Burgers in America 2016 .” Steuben’s — a fun Denver spot with Boston roots — makes the list, as do Park Burger’s four locations.

Steuben’s

Opened in 2007, but named in honor of a famous restaurant and nightclub co-proprietor Josh Wolkon’s great-uncles owned in Boston for several decades in the middle of the last century, Steuben’s is a neighborhood diner serving American regional specialties. Representing Colorado’s neighbor, New Mexico, the menu presents what is regularly named the best green chile (or chili, as Steuben’s puts it) cheeseburger in Denver. Said to be inspired by the classic version at the Owl Bar in San Antonio, New Mexico, it’s a fat burger patty topped with American cheese into which green chile strips seem to melt. Lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, and mustard ornament the burger, which is served on a challah bun.

Park Burger

With four Denver locations, Park Burger has made a name for itself by serving fresh-ground, high-quality Angus beef from Harris Ranch on custom-baked buns. The most creative (and delicious) burger on its menu is the Croque Burger, a third-pound patty that’s given a deep crust and topped with ham, Swiss cheese, and a fried egg. Rich yet not overly so, all the components play perfectly off of each other

 

Tastes of Thailand at Aloy

Freshness stressed at stylish Ballpark restaurant.

027I 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.

Aloy's Mai Tai made with a Thai spirit called Mehkong, Triple Sec, lime, an orange/almond syrup made in-house orgaet and Aztec bitter.
Aloy’s Mai Tai made with a Thai spirit called Mehkong, Triple Sec, lime, an orange/almond syrup called orgaet made in-house  and Aztec bitters.

Continue reading Tastes of Thailand at Aloy

Ski Tip Praised but Placed in Nowheresville

The Daily Meal just doesn’t get the middle of the country.

DailyMeal-logoOnce again, a New York-based dining authority may know lots about food but seems to know little about Colorado. It includes Keystone’s Ski Tip Lodge in a list of worthy if remote eateries. Worthy it is. But remote? Not really.

This historic building is now part of the vast Keystone Resort that includes six lodging pods that stretch for miles along US 6. Except arguably in mud season, the resort throbs with activities and can be crowded visitors. It is an hour give or take from Denver, the largest city in a 600-mile radius. Interstate 70, a prime east-west route across the country, is just 6 miles away — and those 6 miles are hardly through wilderness but increasingly developed.

Still The Daily Meal included Ski Tip in its restaurant roundup called “Get Lost: 20 Must-Visit U.S. Restaurants in the Middle of Nowhere,” writing:

When the snow isn’t falling and the tourists aren’t touring, Keystone, about 70 miles west of Denver, is a town of only 1,000 residents. However, the local Ski Tip Lodge —within an 1800’s stagecoach stop that was once the home of Keystone’s founding family — has a restaurant that makes a trip here worth the trouble. Executive chef Kevin McComb offers a four-course meal daily that constantly changes, with dishes like porcini mushroom and potato purée with truffle whipped cream, hoisin cured crispy pork belly, braised and glazed al natural beef short rib, and bourbon marinated Colorado lamb chop. The romantic dining experience is enjoyable and slow-paced, which is possible because the restaurant only offers two seating times per night.

The photo caption perfectly summarizes the site’s ignorance. It reads, “This Ski Tip Lodge meal can be yours! All you need to do is travel into the middle of a forest in the Rocky Mountains.” Not exactly.

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.

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.

Chi-Mex in Loveland

Casual taqueria has surprising Midwestern roots.

005Taqueria Los Comales in a strip shopping center on the fringes of central Loveland has all the earmarks of a  real Mexican spot — a salsa bar with eight salsas and four other items, an absence of combination plates and menudo on the menu. The space seems to have been repurposed from something that wasn’t always Mexican. The black Styrofoam take-out boxes are labeled Church’s Fried Chicken.

I like the promise on the back of a waitress's T-shirt.
I like the promise on the back of a waitress’s T-shirt.

I didn’t grab a plasticized menu, and there were no paper take-out ones, so I went on-line and was surprised that Taqueria Los Comales was born in Chicago and still has restaurants there, as well as in northern Colorado and elsewhere. The graphics and menus are identical, but there is no obvious ownership or franchise link between the Midwestern taquerias and the outliers.

Multi-item salsa bar. Guests may take as much and as many little portions as they wish. The tortilla chips brought to the table are double-thick and crisp.
Multi-item salsa bar. Guests may take as much and as many little portions as they wish. The tortilla chips brought to the table are double-thick and crisp.
The fajitas come in a hot cast-iron pan, but there the resemblance to typical Colorado fajitas ends. The meat and vegetables are chopped, cooked and topped with white cheese.
The fajitas come in a hot cast-iron pan, but there the resemblance to typical Colorado fajitas ends. The meat and vegetables are chopped, cooked and topped with white cheese. Two huge flour tortillas, rice, shredded yellow cheese and mashed refried beans come on the side.
The veggie burrito contained rice, onions, peppers and a bit of tomato wrapped in a flour tortilla. Too bad it was barely lukewarm. Smothered burritos are, of course, an option.
The veggie burrito contained rice, onions, peppers and a bit of tomato wrapped in a flour tortilla. Too bad it was barely lukewarm. Smothered burritos are, of course, an option.

Price check: Tacos, $1.75 or 3 for $7.99; tortas, $5.25; burritos, $5.85; dinners, $11.99.

1518 Madison Avenue, Loveland; 970-667-9998.

Taqueria Los Comales Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato